The Best Time to Visit Japan

The Climate in Japan

Japan has six different climate regions. These include Hokkaido, the West Coast of the Sea of Japan, the Central Highlands, the Seto Inland Sea, the Pacific Region and the Ryukyu Islands. The climate is generally influenced by the rainy season Tsuyu, in English “plum rain”, which takes place in the summer months. During this time, precipitation is particularly high and with the combination of high temperatures and high humidity, it can be tough for European visitors. The winds also play a big role in the climate in Japan. Cold winds come from Siberia and they bring cold weather and snow to the north of Japan. The winds coming from the Pacific in the summer also bring typhoons and monsoon rains.

In order to determine the best time to visit Japan, I would divide the land of the rising sun into three sections: Southern, Central and Northern Japan. Southern Japan consists of the Kyushu region and the southwestern islands such as the Ryukyu Islands. The largest of the Ryukyu Islands in Okinawa. Southern Japan has an almost subtropical climate. Here you’ll find warm winters and hot summers. In the Autumn months, typhoons can often hit the shores of the country.

In the mild winter between January and February, the temperature can fall below the 20 degree Celsius mark. From the middle of January, you’ll begin to see the famous cherry blossoms. Central Japan is where you’ll find the largest island, Honshu. The climate in this area is very diverse. The central area reaches from the north with cool temperatures and right down to the south its humid subtropical temperatures. Due to the seismic activity on the island, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not uncommon and have already led to some disasters.

In northern Japan, you have the island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido has a short warm summer and long cold winters. You’ll find a lot of snow especially in winter which makes it a popular ski holiday destination. in the following articles, I’ll show the best times to visit the amazing country of Japan. You’ll find climate data for cities like Naha, Tokyo and Sapporo in the individual regions. Have fun!

 

Climate Data for Sapporo (North Japan)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature in °C -1 0 3 11 17 21 25 26 23 16 8 2
Min. Temperature in °C -10 -9 -5 1 6 11 16 17 12 5 -1 -7
Hours of Sunshine Per Day 3 4 5 7 7 7 6 6 6 5 4 3
Rainy Days per Month 17 14 12 10 8 9 9 10 11 12 12 15

 

When is the best time to travel to Northern Japan?

The best time to visit northern Japan can be divided into two sections – summer and winter. If you like warm, mild temperatures you should travel to the north of Japan in the months of May, June, July, August and mid-September. For those of you who really love their winter sports the best time to travel is during the months of December, January, February and the beginning of March.

If you decide to visit during the summer months, then you can expect temperatures of up to 26 degrees Celsius and seven hours of sunshine. During this time, it is worth exploring the eclectic natural landscapes of the island. For example, you can explore the area around Toya Lake, which is located in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Here you’ll be able to see the white smoke clouds of the active volcano of Mt. Usu. It’s not just the summer months where you can get a good hiking tour. The mild temperatures after summer are great for trips like that.

In the mid-August the three-day Obon festival takes place. During this festival, you’ll be able to check out places of ancestral worships and the amazing traditional dances. If you want to get to know the Japanese culture better then theres no better chance than this festival. An unforgettable sight awaits you on the last evening of the Obon Festival. Lanterns and fires are lit everywhere and the night sky shines in golden splendour. the whole week around the festival is one the peak tourists periods in Japan. Therefore if you want to get tickets and hotels you should definitely book early.

During the winter months theres a lot of snow in the North of Japan. For up to 17 days a month, the snow can envelop the landscape with a white blanket. The perfect weather for all of you winter sports enthusiasts. Pack your skis, snowboards and winter shoes and get ready for fun, but some tiring days during you Japanese holiday. In February an internationally known snow festival takes place in Sapporo. Odori Park is home to a Winter Wonderland, in which snow and ice sculptures create a special atmosphere. Here you can chill out after a long day of skiing and enjoy the luscious landscapes with a warm drink.

The Best Time to Visit Northern Japan at a Glance:

  • May: 17°C, 7h of Sunshine, 8 Rainy Days
  • June: 21°C, 7h of Sunshine, 9 Rainy Days
  • July: 25°C, 6h of Sunshine, 9 Rainy Days
  • August: 26°C, 6h of Sunshine, 10 Rainy Days
  • September: 23°C, 6h of Sunshine, 11 Rainy Days
  • December: 2°C, 3h of Sunshine, 15 Rainy Days
  • January: -1°C, 3h of Sunshine, 17 Rainy Days
  • February: 0°C, 5h of Sunshine, 14 Rainy Days
  • March: 3°C, 5h of Sunshine, 12 Rainy Days

hotel2

 

 

Climate Data for Tokyo (Central Japan)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature in °C 9 9 12 18 22 25 29 30 27 20 16 11
Min. Temperature in °C -1 -1 3 4 13 19 22 23 19 13 7 1
Hours of Sunshine per Day 6 6 6 6 6 5 6 7 4 4 5 5
Rainy Days per Month 6 7 10 11 12 12 11 10 13 12 8 5

 

When is the best time to Visit Central Japan?

The best time to visit Central Japan is during the Spring and the Autumn. From the end of March, it starts to get warm again and the summer rain season won’t be in full flow. In April and May, the temperatures are around 20 degrees and you get around six hours of sunshine per day. During this time you’ll be able to check out the legendary cherry blossoms.

Another great time to visit it Autumn, ie the months of October and November. During this time, the leaves turn all sorts of beautiful colours and the rainy season is fully finished. With an average of 20 degrees Celsius during this time the temperatures start to get milder. This is a perfect time for a walk through the city of Tokyo or for a visit to Rikugi Park. Here you can stroll through the beautiful landscape architecture and fall in love with the colourful and unique atmosphere.

One thing to be aware of when planning your trip is that Japan is a country heavily affected by typhoons in the months of September and October. A good thing to do is to follow the safety recommendations of the authorities not all of them are as dangerous as the bigger ones. June and September are the months you should aim to avoid for your trip to Japan. The rainy season or Tsuyu begins in June and as a result, it can be hot, muggy and stuffy especially in big cities like Tokyo.

If you have a problem with the heat and high humidity, you can travel to central Japan this time of year. Generally, the winter months of December, January, February and early March are not very popular among tourists. During this time, temperatures can fall below zero degrees Celsius. If you don’t mind the cold and are a fan of winter sports there are some great ski holidays to be had on the island of Honshu at this time.

The Best Time to Visit Central Japan at a Glance:

  • April: 18°C, 6h of Sunshine, 11 Rainy Days
  • May: 22°C, 6h of Sunshine, 12 Rainy Days
  • October: 20°C, 4h of Sunshine, 12 Rainy Days
  • November: 16°C, 5h of Sunshine, 8 Rainy Days

Tokyo Skyline View

 

Climate Data for Naha (Southern Japan)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature in °C 19 19 20 24 27 29 31 31 30 27 24 20
Min. Temperature in °C 14 14 16 19 22 24 26 26 25 22 19 16
Hours of Sunshine per Day 3 3 4 5 5 6 8 7 7 6 4 4
Water Temperature in °C 21 21 21 23 24 27 29 29 28 27 26 24
Rainy Days per month 11 11 12 10 12 12 10 13 11 8 8 10

 

When is the best time to Visit Southern Japan?

The best time to visit southern Japan depends on your plans for summer, autumn and winter. The mild winter over the months of December, January and February are suitable for endurance sports like running or cycling. For example, in February you can test your skills at Okinawa Marathon. City trips are also a good idea during this time. The air isn’t that humid just yet and you take a long walk through the streets of these historic cities.

Due to the subtropical climate, the south of Japan is ideal for diving and snorkelling. The best time to travel for this is during the months of July, August and September. DThe official rainy season is over and temperatures are starting to rise to over 30 degrees Celsius. At a temperature of around 29 degrees Celsius, the sea isn’t as pleasant as it once was but it can still be refreshing. Around Okinawa, you can find beautiful coral reefs and gorgeous diving spots. You can also find white powdery beaches which is a popular spot for a lot of people to get married.

The end of September is when the typhoons start to get stronger and you would be surprised by the strength of the rain showers. Therefore when you are chilling out in the sunshine you need to keep an eye on the weather. The typhoon season goes from the beginning of November and lasts until the end of October. So you should expect a couple of rainy days during the autumn months as well. The hot temperatures are starting to cool down but you can still enjoy your holidays with average temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius. The water temperature is still around 27 degrees and is very inviting for a swim. Due to the rainy season, May and June get the most rainfall and the temperatures are already quite high. Therefore you should probably avoid travelling during this time.

The Best Time to Visit South Japan at a Glance:

  • July: 31°C, 8h of Sunshine, 29°C Water temp., 10 Rainy Days
  • August: 31°C, 7h of Sunshine, 29°C Water temp., 13 Rainy Days
  • September: 30°C, 7h of Sunshine, 28°C Water temp., 11 Rainy Days
  • October: 27°C, 6h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp., 8 Rainy Days
  • November: 24°C, 4h of Sunshine, 26°C Water temp., 8 Rainy Days
  • December: 20°C, 4h of Sunshine, 24°C Water temp., 10 Rainy Days
  • January: 19°C, 3h of Sunshine, 21°C Water temp., 11 Rainy Days
  • February: 19°C, 3h of Sunshine, 21°C Water temp., 11 Rainy Days

Beach in Okinawa

 

When is the Best Time for Activity-Based Holidays in Japan?

The best time for activities in Japan depends on the particular weather conditions you are looking for. Below you’ll find some ideas for exciting adventures during your holiday and let you know some information on the best time for your trip.

Best Time to Visit for the Japanese Cherry Blossoms

The best time for you to see the blooming of the cherry blossoms differs from region to region. In southern Japan, you can admire the cherry blossom in mid-January, in central Japan the perfect time is from late March to early April and in Hokkaido its May. The Japanese cherry blossom, also called the sakura, is one of the most important symbols of Japanese culture. The flowers shine in the colours pink, rose and white and they offer a spectacular sight. They make the perfect backdrop to the cityscape.

The Best Time for your Tokyo Trip

Tokyo is located in the warm climates and typically has humid summers and mild winters. The best time to explore the Japanese capital is from March to May. During this time it is starting to get warmer and the rainy season has really begun yet. Since Tokyo has many attractions to check out you should really give it a go. Some of the sights include checking out the Imperial Palace of Tokyo or treating yourself to some gorgeous sushi in one of the amazing restaurants. When planning your trip, keep in mind the fact that every year from the end of April to the beginning of May, the golden week takes place. During this period a lot of Japanese people go on holidays and the prices can explode.

Best Time to Visit for Hikers and Mountaineers

Japan has a lot to offer hikers and mountaineers with its many long mountain ranges and volcanoes. Incredible mountain panoramas, crystal clear lakes and vast forests attract hikers and mountaineers from all over. If you want to climb higher mountains and volcanoes like Mount Fuji, the most famous volcano in Japan, you only have a short window. The ascent is only possible from the beginning of July to the end of August. The rest of the time, the top of the volcano is covered in snow and the trails are closed. During this time even covered in snow Mt. Fuji makes a popular photo subject. If you’re travelling alone, you should always keep an eye on the weather. Sudden changes in the weather are not uncommon and there also some bears in the more remote areas.

The Best Time for Wintersports

The best time for a winter holiday is between December and March. The most snowfalls in January and February. The best conditions for winter sports are on the island of Hokkaido. A lot of snow and excellent ski areas means that theres plenty to do for fans of winter sports. On the island of Honshu, you can check out the ski resorts like Naeba. Japan is known for its powdery snow. If you love to ski down the slopes it’s definitely an ideal location for your holiday. If you’re looking to recharge your batteries in between skiing missions I would recommend checking out the natural springs also known as Onsen.

When is Typhoon Season in Japan?

Typhoon season in Japan usually begins around the late summer. As a general rule of thumb typhoons usually occur in the months of September and October. During this time, heavy rains and gusts can occur. Short and heavy rains often lead to floods and landslides. The speed of the winds can also cause considerable damage in the cities. A typhoon is strongest on the coast and then as you go further inland it begins to weaken. Inland a typhoon generally brings rain showers but without the destructive forces.

japan skyline

My Conclusion on the Best Time to Visit Japan

Japan is a big and diverse country. With its elongated shape and six different climatic regions, it’s hard to define the best travel time. Depending on your preferences and plans, there are plenty of options for your trip. Southern Japan is at its best during the months of July to February. Lots of sunshine and pleasant sea temperatures make visits to the beach an inviting prospect. If you want a trip in Central Japan then the best travel time would be spring or Autumn. Especially the months from April to May are great with their mild temperatures. October and November are also mild with mild temperatures, but you have to bear in mind the risks of rain and typhoons. The North of Japan is perfect for extreme sports enthusiasts with its winter sports. With plenty of snow and excellent ski resorts, the best time to travel is between December and February. Theres plenty to explore in this amazing country so don’t hesitate to visit.