When Is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

What is the country like during the different seasons?

Japan Winter
••• Yoshio Tomii / Getty Images

If you've decided to visit Japan, you may be wondering when the best time to visit the country is. Fortunately, Japan is a place that appeals to tourists all year round. Whether you're interested in attending a festival, taking part in athletic activities or doing some power shopping, there's a season for it in Japan. Ultimately, the best time to travel there depends on your own personal preferences.

There is no wrong or right time to visit for the most part.

It's important to remember, however, that Japan is made up of several islands and the climate and weather conditions vary significantly depending on which region you visit. If you were to visit the United States in March, for example, it might be snowing in some places, raining in others and mild or warm in other regions. Moreover, just like Western counties such as the U.S., Japan has four major seasons.

Let's see what happens during each of them!

Japan in Spring 

Spring in Japan takes place from March to May, and during this period many flower-related events are held around the country. These festivities include ume matsuri, or the plum blossom festivals, as well as the cherry blossom viewing, which is a major cultural tradition there, dating back thousands of years. In Japanese, cherry blossom viewing is called hanami.

In addition to festivals, springtime also marks a break in classes for Japanese schools that generally begins in mid-March and continues until the school year resumes in the first week of April.

Transportation and tourist attractions get crowded during this time, so it's important to make your reservations for hotels and travel as much in advance as possible.

Golden Week is another major event that occurs during spring. This week takes place from the end of April to about May 5. It is called Golden Week because several major holidays are observed in Japan for a stretch of 10 days, including a day to honor the Showa emperor.

Summertime Events 

Japan's summertime typically occurs from June to August. In Okinawa, the rainy season usually begins in early May. In other regions, it runs from early June through roughly mid-July.

Although July and August can be hot and humid in most parts of Japan, summer is a lively season with many events. The Obon festival, for example, is a Buddhist tradition in which the Japanese pay tribute to their ancestors. Obon takes place in mid-August. In addition to festivals, many Japanese people take vacations during the summer and travel to visit their hometowns.

Fall in Japan

Fall takes place in Japan from September to November. Leaves beautifully turn red, orange and yellow. Japan's fall foliage season begins in October and extends through early December. Many autumn festivals are held throughout the country to give thanks for the harvest.

Wintertime 

Winter occurs from December to February in Japan. Colorful holiday illuminations can be seen across the country in November. Christmas isn't a national holiday, but it's celebrated in Japanese style. For example, Christmas Eve has become a time for couples to enjoy a romantic evening with each other. Wintertime is a great time to go skiing in Japan as well.

New Year's holidays are important for the Japanese. Winter is the busiest travel season. Transportation is crowded during the last week of December to the first week in January. Jan. 1 is a national holiday, and many businesses and other establishments close during this period. However, department stores offer their biggest sales of the year, so it's a great time to shop. Temples and shrines attract millions of visitors, as the Japanese reflect on their lives and spirituality.