Spring, from the end of February to the end of May, is a mild season suitable for all kinds of activities. It is of course the period when sakura (cherry trees) bloom, the perfect occasion to admire them (hanami). Their blooming period is between March 20 and April 10 for Tokyo and Kyoto areas, while it is possible to admire them earlier in the south of the country and later in the north. The cherry blossom period is very popular and generates a lot of crowds. However, there are other beautiful flowers that bloom during this season: plum blossoms, with their sparkling pink at the end of February; fabulous azaleas in April-May; hydrangeas of all colors or irises during June.
Summer, from June to August, is generally synonymous with heat with a rainy season in the last two weeks of June during which you can expect rain several days a week. During this very hot and humid season, it is possible to enjoy fireworks (hanabi) in July and August, as well as matsuri, traditional Japanese festivals. Among the most famous are the Gion matsuri, which is held in Kyoto in mid-July or the Obon Matsuri in mid-August.
Then comes the high wind season (taifu), which reaches its peak between August and September, but it is not necessary to avoid going during this period. Indeed, there is little chance that they will involve changing your travel plans, few of them even reaching the main island.
Autumn, from September to November, is the season when temperatures are generally the most pleasant, quite similar to the continental European climate. It is also the season when the country is decorated with red tones and when one can admire the momiji (literally red leaves) which are usually visible in Tokyo, Kyoto and their region during the last two weeks of November.
Finally, winter, from December to February, is the coldest season but also the opportunity to admire the striking beauty of winter landscapes. December is a period of calm before the holiday season, while January is marked by a drop in temperature and the presence of a number of festivals. In central Japan, temperatures usually range from -4 to 10°C. In the mountains and the north of the country, temperatures drop significantly, while in Kyushu and Okinawa, winter tends to be milder.
The most touristic periods are :
- in February, the 10 days around the Chinese New Year, which marks a strong influx of tourists from all over Asia;
- between the end of March and the beginning of April, the cherry blossom period;
- between the end of April and the beginning of May, during the "Golden Week", a period with many public holidays and during which many Japanese go on vacation;
- mid-August, during the Obon Matsuri;
- at the end of November, the best period to observe the momiji;
- early January, for the New Year, when many businesses and activities are closed.
So, if you want to go during a less crowded period, Japan Experience recommends you to go :
- in February, outside the Chinese New Year period, for the cool but nevertheless pleasant weather and the splendid blooming of plum trees, before the cherry trees;
- between mid-May and early June, to take advantage of the mild weather, lower traffic and the blooming of hydrangeas, azaleas and irises;
- from September to early December, to take advantage of good temperatures, a reasonable level of tourism and the momiji period in late November.