From "hello" to "sayonara" – timing your trip to Japan
Traveling to a foreign country can be a bit daunting. When is the best time to go? What's the weather like there? These typical questions that pop up after you decide on your destination of choice can be solved by doing a little research. Lucky for you, you don't have to go too far for that. Learn when is the best time to visit Japan.
When is the best time to visit Japan?
To get the most out of your Japan travels, there are two must-visit times during the year. The first is during cherry blossom season. The best time to see these beauties in full bloom is between mid-March to the end of April. In addition to being known for its fresh sushi, amazing ramen noodles and anime, the country is also popular when it comes to spring blooms, and let me tell you, the cherry blossoms are breathtaking.
The second best time to visit is during Japan's fall season around the month of November. Like the cherry blossoms, the foliage during the fall is a can't-miss experience, and since a good portion of the country is covered with trees, the change in colors is definitely a sight for sore eyes.
How many seasons does Japan have?
Due to Japan's location in the Pacific Ocean, the country has four seasons: Spring generally occurs between March and May; summer happens between June and August; autumn starts in September and ends in November; and last but not least, winter starts soon after in December and ends in February. Although there isn't really a bad time to visit Japan, the country's typhoon season is from May to October, with September being the most common month for a typhoon to hit. You should definitely pack a jacket and layer up during the autumn and winter seasons, but summer is a different story. Summer usually means hot, hot, hot weather, and Japan's rainy season starts in late June to mid-July.
When is tourist season and how can I avoid huge crowds?
It's easy to assume the best times to visit Japan coincide with large crowds of tourists, but that's not completely true. Although there will be a slight bump in travelers during cherry blossom season and the fall, peak travel times to the country occur during the end of the year and the New Year holidays; Golden Week from April 29th to May 5th; and the Bon festival season during the week of August 15th. Golden Week and the Bon festivals are holidays in Japan, so not only will there be tourists traveling around the country, the locals will be out and about celebrating these holidays as well.
Where in Japan are the best places to see the cherry blossoms?
The cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan, so with that in mind, they are everywhere. But, to get the full cherry blossom experience without a ton of tourists popping up in your pictures, one of the best parks to visit is Chidorigafuchi in Tokyo. Admission to Chidorigafuchi park is free, and it has hundreds of cherry blossom trees surrounding the river that encircles the park. Boats are available for rent if you're itching to go on a water excursion in the city. The best part about Chidorigafuchi is that there isn't a bad time to check out the cherry blossoms. If you have a lot to do during the day, stop by the park at night and you will not regret it at all. Not only are there food stands set up at the Yasukuni Shrine nearby, the trees in the park are lit up for your viewing pleasure.
If Tokyo is not on your list of cities to visit during this trip, but Kyoto and Osaka are, the Osaka Castle and Maruyama park in Kyoto are great parks to see. The cherry blossoms in both places are in full bloom during the first half of April, but of course the main sight to see at the Osaka Castle is the castle surrounded by the beautiful trees and the tall weeping cherry blossom tree which also acts as the centerpiece of Maruyama park.
Remember, if you're only planning on traveling to Japan once in your life, make it during cherry blossom season. You won't regret it at all.