Want to travel to Tokyo but don’t know when? Japan has four distinct seasons, but they vary a lot from Europe due to the country’s position in the Pacific Ocean. We put together this simple guide to help you get your head around Japan’s climate and get prepared for your trip.
An avenue of cherry blossom trees in Tokyo
March to May is one of the best times to visit Tokyo, but it is also the busiest. Tourists flock to the city during this time to experience the magical cherry blossom season. The cherry blossom display is immensely beautiful but is unfortunately fleeting, and only lasts for around a week each year. The best time for ‘Hanami’ (cherry blossom viewing events) in Tokyo is at the end of March or the beginning of April.
Spring is a very pleasant season to visit Japan, the temperature is comfortable during the day, but can get quite chilling in the evenings so make sure you have a jumper or coat with you. You can expect to experience a few spring showers during these months, but nothing that a light waterproof jacket can’t handle.
Japan celebrates Golden Week from April 29th to May 5th every year. It’s a huge celebration because it is the longest period of holiday that many Japanese employees get throughout the working year. Some Japanese people leave the city to go on holiday at this time, but a lot stay in the city due to expensive travel. It is, quite frankly, the busiest time to visit Japan, so stay prepared and book your accommodation and transportation well in advance. The cherry blossom displays are a sight like no other, and for many, this alone makes a trip during this period worthwhile.
Fireworks display next to Tokyo Tower
June to August is prime tourist season in Japan, so hotel prices might be slightly elevated compared to other seasons. Despite the rise in expense, many hotels, flights, trains and attractions are fully booked, so make sure you book ahead of time if you intend to visit during this period.
Unfortunately, summer in Tokyo also means high heat and humidity – the average summer temperature is 26.7 degrees Celsius, but the humidity makes it feel much hotter. During June, Japan experiences it’s rainy season so that is a factor to consider for your visit.
If you do choose to visit Tokyo during this time, make sure you stay hydrated and pop into air-conditioned shops whenever you need to. We recommend wearing light, comfortable clothing to leave you feeling cool. If you aren’t well accustomed to humidity, you are probably better off travelling in spring or autumn where the temperatures are slightly cooler and the humidity less extreme.
During July and August, Japan celebrates ‘Natsu Matsuri’ (Summer Festival) and ‘Hanabi’ (Fireworks). In Tokyo, firework shows are usually held by the river, where the nearby streets are filled with food and games stalls. Many Japanese people dress in ‘yukata’ (a casual kimono) for the event, so it’s a great time to witness the beautiful Japanese culture.
Beautiful autumnal trees in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo
September to November is an excellent time to visit Tokyo, as the trees are ablaze with fiery autumn colours. Much like the cherry blossoms, many people gather in parks to enjoy the colourful display.
Along with spring, autumn is the most comfortable seasons in Tokyo, as the weather remains warm and dry. The only exception to this is September when Japan has its typhoon season. Most of the typhoons occur over the ocean and are in the form of thunderstorms by the time they reach Tokyo but it’s still something to keep in mind. The strong wind that accompanies the rain has been known to disrupt the transportation systems on occasion.
The humidity will have dropped by October, with the temperature remaining pleasant during the day. By November, it will be starting to cool off, so layered clothing is a great way to go.
New Year decorations over a busy shopping street in Tokyo
December to February is considered the low season in Tokyo, however, the Christmas and New Year period can get quite busy. New Year is the most important holiday in Japan, as the start of a new year marks the opportunity for a fresh start. Many tourist attractions, shops and restaurants close over this period, which can frustrate and disappoint many visitors who weren’t already aware.
If you are lucky you might get slightly cheaper accommodation rates than you would in summer, but don’t count on it. For the most part, Tokyo hotels maintain at a relatively steady rate throughout the year.
Although the highlands in Japan get lots of snow, Tokyo gets very little to none and remains quite crisp and dry. A winter coat and jumpers will be enough to keep you warm. If you don’t mind the cold, this is a great time to visit Japan as the crowds will be smaller and queues will be much shorter.