Best time to japan

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  • Always wanted to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, but not sure when to go? This year is the best time to visit Japan – here’s why…

    Japan is on many a hotlist this year. Travel experts Lonely Planet have listed this country in their annual ‘Best in Travel’ list, and countless tour operators and holiday providers are predicting a huge increase in popularity for this Asian destination.

    Research done in 2019 even showed that there has been a 700% increase in travellers purchasing Japanese Yen over the last year, according to ICE, the International Currency Exchange.

    This is all very likely to do with the Rugby World Cup, which kicked off in September 2019, or the Olympic Games which will take place in summer 2020. But it’s likely also down to the increasing number of affordable flights now serving the region, coupled with its beguiling culture, stunning scenery and promise of the world’d best sushi.

    We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

    Exceptional Japan holiday deals

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    ICE’s Head of UK, Louis Bridger, said: “We’re expecting interest in Japan will continue to skyrocket after the World Cup as it’s sure to inspire holidaymakers to tick it off their bucket lists. Japan often has a reputation for being an expensive place to travel, but with a bit of planning ahead it’s absolutely possible to have an affordable trip to Japan and it can even be a cheaper holiday destination than several places in Western Europe.”

    It seems that now is the time to visit Japan, so we’ve got tips on how to beat the crowds, get a great deal, and see the cherry blossom on your Japan holiday. Here’s why you should visit Japan now (or as soon as possible!).

    1. There’s a party going on this summer

    The world will all be watching Japan this year as the Summer Olympic Games come to Tokyo. Set to begin with a dazzling opening ceremony on the 24th July 2020, there will be everything from the usual athletics and gymnastics to new sports, such as baseball and karate.

    Tickets aren’t yet on sale for internationals, but if you’re looking to buy you can expect to spend between £40 and £2,000 depending on the event you choose. Visiting Japan during the Olympics will no doubt be an unforgettable experience, as the entire city will be celebrating sporting achievements.

    2. It’s not as expensive as you might think

    Japan is wildly misunderstood when it comes to money. It has a reputation for being expensive to get there and expensive to stay. But while staying during the Olympics will likely be much pricier than usual, it doesn’t have to be unaffordable. Lots of cheap flights serve Tokyo’s airports, often requiring a stopover in Europe, and with more accommodation than ever before, you’ve got much better options for where to stay.

    Plus, if you book now – and travel outside of the Olympics season – you can still lock in a great price if you’re quick.

    3. Japan is spectacular in all seasons

    The absolute best time to visit Japan is in late spring (March-May), when the cherry blossoms come out and the country celebrates with picnics and parties in the parks. But there are other spectacular times to visit Japan too. Late autumn (September-November) is great for mild temperatures, low rainfall and beautifully clear, crisp skies. Winter in Japan can be incredibly romantic, with even a little light snowfall in January or February, and summer is hot and sticky – perfect for an unusual beach break.

    More like this: Postcards from Japan: 13 photos that will make you want to visit right now

    4. There are some amazing places to stay

    Japan is known for its exceptional hospitality, and the country has some of the best places to stay in the world. There’s the traditional ryokan – a little bit like old English inns but Japanese style. These are minimalist, small-scale bed and breakfasts where you’ll sleep on cosy futons laid out on the floor and tatami mats scent the air throughout. Ryokans range in price, from humble boltholes costing from £50 per night, to more luxurious properties costing up to £200 per night.

    At the other end of the scale, there are also high-end, luxury hotels well worth splashing out on. In 2020, there are a host of new openings in Japan to cater for the thousands of visitors to the Olympics. We love Tokyo EDITION – a brand new addition to the stunning global boutique hotel portfolio – and the new MUJI Hotel Ginza, a spin-off of the Japanese lifestyle store.

    We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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    5. 2020 is your next chance to see the cherry blossom

    Cherry blossom season (March to May) is by far the most beguiling time to visit Japan, and the pink blooms are celebrated all over the country with festivals and picnics. You won’t just find cherry blossom (sakura) on the trees: it’s in snacks, on souvenirs, and even sprinkled on Starbucks. The arrival of the blooms is forecast on television: a petal-by-petal analysis of Japan’s most enchanting season.

    The tables below list average daytime high and nighttime low temperatures and average percentages of sunny and rainy days for selected cities. A rainy day is defined as a day on which at least 1 mm of rain falls, while a sunny day is defined as a day on which the sun shines at least 40 percent during daytime.

    (Source: Japan Meteorological Agency)

    January

    New Year is one of Japan’s three major travel seasons with intensive domestic and international travel activity. Many shops, restaurants and tourist attractions are closed for at least one day between December 29 and January 4. Read more about visiting Japan during New Year.

    The remainder of January is a good time for visiting Japan, as the weather is usually sunny and dry and sightseeing spots are not very crowded (except possibly around Chinese New Year). Only in northern Japan and along the Sea of Japan coast, there is lots of snowfall, and conditions are good for winter sports. The downside of a visit in winter are the relatively short days (sunset is around 5pm in Tokyo) and the vegetation’s barren state.

    February

    Like January, February is a good time for visiting Japan as the weather is usually sunny and dry and sightseeing spots are not very crowded (except possibly around Chinese New Year). The downside of a visit in winter are the relatively short days (sunset is around 5:30pm in Tokyo) and the vegetation’s barren state.

    Northern Japan and the Sea of Japan coast receive lots of snowfall. At the peak of winter, February tends to be the best time for winter sports and viewing winter sceneries, such as the drift ice off Hokkaido and the snow-covered farm houses of Shirakawago.

    March

    Early flowering plants and trees, such as plum trees, deliver the first signs of spring, while the weather is getting noticeably milder. Towards the end of March the cherry blossom season starts in certain regions, while in northern Japan conditions are still good for winter sports. Domestic travel activity increases in the second half of March due to spring school holidays.

    April

    Besides autumn, April is often considered the best time to visit Japan because the cherry blossom season takes place in most regions of the country and the weather is pleasantly mild. Domestic travel activity is increased in early April due to spring school holidays, in late April due to the start of the Golden Week and during most of the rest of the month due the cherry blossom season.

    May

    Golden Week, one of Japan’s busiest travel seasons, takes place in the end of April and beginning of May and can be the cause of various travel related concerns.

    However, the remainder of May is one of the best times for visiting Japan, as the vegetation has become lush, the temperatures are still comfortable and tourists spots tend to be pleasantly uncrowded. In Hokkaido, the progress of spring is delayed by about one month compared to Tokyo. At the other end of the country, in Okinawa, the rainy season (tsuyu) typically lasts from early May to mid June.

    June

    From the beginning of June, the rainy season (tsuyu) visits most parts of Japan except Hokkaido. While it does not rain every day, the weather tends to be overcast and dreary. The duration and intensity of the rainy season can vary quite strongly from year to year.

    Hot spring resorts like Hakone and the wooded temple mountain Koyasan are some places that can be quite attractive in rainy weather. Hokkaido is an attractive destination in June as it is least affected by the rainy season. Also, the weather in Okinawa takes a dramatic turn to the better after the end of the rainy season there in late June.

    July

    The rainy season (tsuyu) typically ends in the first half of July. It is hot and humid in most of Japan, and just standing outdoors can make you sweat. The conditions are more comfortable in higher elevations and in Hokkaido, a highly popular destination among outdoor lovers during the summer months.

    Many local festivals and fireworks are held. Mount Fuji is opened for climbing. Cormorant fishing can be observed. It is also a very good time of the year for beach holidays in Okinawa. With the summer school holidays from late July through August, domestic travel activity increases considerably.

    August

    August is hot and humid in most of Japan. The conditions are more comfortable in higher elevations and in Hokkaido, a highly popular destination among outdoor lovers during the summer months. Many local festivals and fireworks are held in August. Travel activity is high during the entire month due to summer school holidays, but is especially intensive during the Obon week in mid August.

    September

    The typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September. Typhoons usually hit the coasts of Okinawa, Kyushu and Shikoku and cause strong rain and wind in wide parts or all of Japan for about two days. Luckily, typhoons are often followed by perfectly clear weather. The weather in September can still be quite hot and humid, but the crowds of August have mostly disappeared.

    October

    October is one of the most pleasant months for traveling in Japan as the weather remains warm, but is not hot and humid anymore. Trees begin turning colors in the northern regions and higher elevations.

    November

    November is one of the best times to visit Japan, as the weather is relatively dry and mild, and the autumn colors are spectacular in many parts of the country. Travel activity tends to be low except around popular autumn leaf spots.

    December

    December is a good month for traveling thanks to generally dry weather conditions. Domestic travel activity remains low during the first half of December until the beginning of winter school holidays around December 23. The downsides of a visit in winter are the relatively short days (sunset is around 4:30pm in Tokyo) and the barren state of the vegetation. From around December 29 some tourist attractions close down for the New Year holidays. The ski season starts in December.

    What’s the best time to visit Tokyo? What’s the weather like in Tokyo in each month? When are the best festivals and events in Tokyo? Here is my comprehensive guide.

    The Takeaway

    • You can visit Tokyo at any time of year because the weather is temperate.
    • The best times to visit Tokyo are fall (late September to November) and spring (March/April/May)
    • Summer (late June to the end of August) in Tokyo is hot and humid.
    • Winter (December/January/February) in Tokyo is cold but not too cold for traveling.
    • The rainy season goes from mid-June to late July, but it does NOT rain every day and you can travel.

    Tokyo Weather In January

    • Average high (C/F): 9/48
    • Average low (C/F): 1/34
    • January tends to be clear and cold. It rains or snows a few times during the month. The snow usually doesn’t stick. Most businesses are closed from December 29th to January 3rd for the shogatsu (New Year’s) holiday. This is a quiet month in terms of crowds (except for at the shrines during shogatsu).
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In January:
    • 1, 2, 3 January: Hatsumode (first shrine visit of the New Year). Popular spots include Meiji-jingu Shrine,Yasukuni-jinja Shrine and Senso-ji Temple.

    Tokyo Weather In February

    • Average high (C/F): 10/50
    • Average low (C/F): 2/34
    • Winter continues into February. This is generally a dry month but it can rain or snow a bit. If it snows, it doesn’t usually stick on the ground. This is another good month to visit if you don’t like crowds.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In February:
    • 2 February: Imperial Address at the Imperial Palace. On this day, you can enter the inner courtyards of the Imperial Palace to hear the Emperor give his New Year’s address.

    Check Tokyo Hotel Availability

    • Average high (C/F): 13/56
    • Average low (C/F): 4/39
    • March is when it starts to warm up in Tokyo, but the weather can range from cold to quite warm, so be prepared for anything (bring clothes that are easy to layer). In mid-March, the plum blossoms come out. At the end of March, the cherries usually start blossom. Most of March is uncrowded, but the last week tends to be busy with tourists (book well in advance).
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In March:
    • Third weekend in March: The Tokyo Anime Fair. Held at the Tokyo Big Sight event hall in Odaiba, this is one of the world’s top gatherings for anime fans.
    • Late March: Hanami (cherry blossom viewing): The cherries usually start opening in late March. Top spots to see the cherries include Ueno-koen Park, Yoyogi-koen Park and Shinjuku Gyoen.

    Tokyo Weather In April

    • Average high (C/F): 19/67
    • Average low (C/F): 9/48
    • Spring really starts in April. The first week or so is peak time for tourism in Japan due to the cherry blossoms. If you want to visit in April, book well in advance! The tourist areas of the city will be packed during this time. The cherries usually peak sometime in the first week of April and usually hang on until around 15 April (but fall earlier in rainy years). The weather can range from chilly to quite warm, so bring clothes you can layer. The second half of the month tends to be uncrowded and lovely.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In April:
    • Early April: Hanami (cherry blossom viewing). The cherries usually peak in the first week of April. Top spots to see the cherries include Ueno-koen Park, Yoyogi-koen Park and Shinjuku Gyoen.

    Tokyo Weather In May

    • Average high (C/F): 23/74
    • Average low (C/F): 14/57
    • May is perhaps my favorite month in Tokyo. It’s warm but not hot and the skies are often sunny. There are lots of things in bloom in the parks and gardens and the new green of spring is beautiful. And, it’s not a busy tourist season. Evenings and mornings can still be a bit cool, so bring a light top layer.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In May:
    • Early May (bi-annually): Kanda Matsuri. Held every other year (the next one will be in 2017), this huge festival is held in the Kanda district of central Tokyo.
    • Third weekend of May: Sanja Matsuri. This is Tokyo’s biggest festival (making it one of Japan’s biggest). The action takes places all around Asakusa. Don’t miss it!

    Tokyo Weather In June

    • Average high (C/F): 25/77
    • Average low (C/F): 18/65
    • June is a great time to visit. The weather is reliably warm but it’s not yet hot. It’s usually sunny at the start of the month and then the rainy season starts later in the month. It doesn’t usually rain every day or all day (but you can expect a lot of afternoon showers – so bring a portable umbrella).
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In June:
    • Mid-June (bi-annually): Sanno Matsuri. Held every other year, this festival and parade centers on Hie-jinja Shrine. The next one will be held in 2016.

    Tokyo Weather In July

    • Average high (C/F): 29/84
    • Average low (C/F): 22/72
    • The rainy season lasts into July and it is usually hot and humid with frequent rains. Still, it’s possible to travel in Tokyo in July and it’s not crowded. The rainy season ends at end of the month, and then it becomes sunny, hot and humid.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In July:
    • 13-16 July: Mitama Matsuri. This festival, held at Yasukuni-jinja Shrine, is held to remember the dead (mostly Japan’s war dead). It’s a nationalist event that might be of interest to those interested in Japanese history.
    • Last Saturday in July: Sumida-gawa Fireworks Festival. This awesome fireworks festival is held at the Sumida-gawa River in Asakusa. Highly recommended!

    Tokyo Weather In August

    • Average high (C/F): 31/88
    • Average low (C/F): 23/73
    • August is the hottest month in Tokyo. It can be sweaty work sightseeing in August, but the advantage is that there aren’t many other foreign tourists. Long-distance transport like shinkansen (bullet trains) are crowded during the Obon holiday, which usually falls in the middle of the month (check online for this year’s dates).
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In August:
    • Mid-August: Obon. This is the Buddhist festival of the dead, when Japanese return to the their hometowns to offer prayers to their ancestors. Transport is crowded during this time. The dates vary by year so check online for this year’s dates.
    • Mid-August: Tokyo Pride. This LGBT pride event is held in Yoyogi-koen Park and continues into nearby Harajuku. Check online for the latest details.
    • Last Sunday in August: Asakusa Samba Carnival. Japanese fans of samba, many of whom are Brazilian-Japanese, perform a fantastic samba dance through the middle of Asakusa. The event is popular with photographers who clamor to get the best shots of the scantily-clad ladies.

    Tokyo Weather In September

    • Average high (C/F): 27/81
    • Average low (C/F): 20/68
    • September is an excellent time to travel in Tokyo. It’s usually sunny, hot and humid at the beginning of the month, moderating to sunny and warm at the end of the month. This is low season for tourism and hotels can be a bargain.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In September:
    • Mid- or late August: Tokyo Game Show. Fans of electronic games gather at the Makuhari Messe event center in nearby Chiba to check out the newest offerings.

    Tokyo Weather In October

    • Average high (C/F): 22/73
    • Average low (C/F): 14/57
    • October has some of the best weather of the year: sunny and warm days are the rule, with cool evenings. It’s a very comfortable time to travel. At the very end of the month, the leaves start to change color in the city’s parks and gardens.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In October:
    • All month: Chrysanthemum festivals: These events are held at various gardens, shrines and temples around town to celebrate these flowers, which come into bloom in October. Ask at the tourist information center for details.

    Tokyo Weather In November

    • Average high (C/F): 16/61
    • Average low (C/F): 8/46
    • November rivals May as my favorite month to visit Tokyo. The weather is usually cool and sunny skies are common. The leaves turn color this month and the foliage in the city’s parks and gardens is spectacular.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In November:
    • 3 November: Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages). Held on National Culture Day, people dressed in costumes representing various historical periods in Japan march in a parade in Asakusa.
    • All month: Fall foliage. The autumn colors are spectacular in the city’s parks and gardens this month. Popular spots include Koishikawa Koraku-en,Ueno-koen Park

    Tokyo Weather In December

    • Average high (C/F): 12/54
    • Average low (C/F): 3/37
    • Winter really starts in December and temps range from cool to cold, but it’s certainly not too cold for sightseeing. This is generally a dry month but it can rain or snow a bit (it usually doesn’t stick on the ground). If you don’t like crowds, this is a good time to visit, but keep in mind that things shut down from December 29th until January 3rd for the shogatsu holiday.
    Tokyo Festivals And Events In December:
    • Early December (bi-annually): International Robot Exhibition. Held every other year at Tokyo Big Sight event hall in Odaiba, this is a gathering of the world’s top robot makers (many of them from Japan). The next will be held in 2017.
    • 31 December: Shogatsu (New Year’s): People gather in their homes to celebrate the New Year. Many people visit temples to ring the temple bells at midnight approaches. After midnight, many people visit a shrine to pray for good luck. A good spot to see this is Meiji-jungu Shrine.

    Where Are These Places Located?

    See these places on the Truly Tokyo Google map:

    • Open the Tokyo map
    • You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
    • Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
    • Map pins are color coded – BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
    • If you’re using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.

    Tokyo Vacation Checklist
    • For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
    • Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
    • Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
    • You can buy a Japan SIM card online with Klook for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
    • See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
    • Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
    • If you’re visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here’s why it’s worth it
    • A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier – here’s how.
    • It’s essential you have travel insurance for Tokyo – we recommend World Nomads

    Tokyo District Map

    Click a Tokyo District for detailed info on attractions, places to eat and accommodation