Seasons of Japan: When is the Best Time to Plan Your Trip?

Dreaming of cherry blossoms? How about sandy beaches, fall foliage or snowy slopes? Each of the four seasons of Japan has something appealing to offer, which means the hardest part of planning a trip to Japan is deciding when to go.  

Japan has seen a major uptick in tourism post-Covid, and our partners are recommending that travelers book their Japanese adventures at least 10- to 12 months in advance. But when is the best time to visit and what can you do while there based on the time of year?   

Autumn in Kyoto Japan with a Pagoda on a lake

Autumn in Japan

Japan in the autumn months is filled with vibrant colors in Kyoto, across Hokkaido Prefecture and in the Hachimantai mountains.   

Couples’ Getaway 

Soak in a local onsen at Lake Akan as you watch the autumn leaves float across the water or enjoy a wine-tasting tour in the Koshu Valley with views of Mount Fuji. The summer heat has finally gone, which makes fall the perfect season to explore Osaka Castle and the Golden Temple in Kyoto or take a multi-day bike tour around the country.   

Family Travel 

Most kids are back in school, which means you can avoid some of the crowds in the autumn months. Join a Family Tokyo Street Food Tour where knowledgeable guides will bring you to one of the coolest neighborhoods to sample some of Japan’s best cuisine. If your kids need some age-appropriate entertainment, consider popping into the Osaka Aquarium, which is one of the only aquariums in the world with whale sharks. You can easily add on a stop at the Kids Plaza Osaka (a children’s museum), the Open-Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses and even Universal Studios Japan while there.    

Winter in Japan at a Yuzawa ski resort

Winter in Japan

Japan is quickly becoming a hot spot for winter sports, offering up some of the best powder and plenty of bluebird days for visitors. If you are looking for low-key adventure, you can visit the famous snow monkeys that love a good soak in the hot springs; witness the marvel of drift ice in East Hokkaido; go on a wildlife and birding tour; or experience the Sapporo Snow Festival.   

Amie and her son in Japan- credit Amie O

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Couples’ Getaways 

When you head to Tokyo in winter, you can expect sake tasting, ramen slurping and even traditional German-themed Christmas markets. Not to be outdone, Sapporo hosts its Snow Festival — a must for any winter enthusiasts who want to see giant snow and ice sculptures, or simply enjoy the hot springs, sento bathhouses and saunas of the region.  

Family Travel 

Families will love the family-friendly ski resorts in Japan, including Furano, Tomamu and Rusutsu resorts, which have loads of family activities as well as excellent powder throughout the season. If you want to see the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park, the Shiga Kogen Ski Area will allow you to ski and see the monkeys without having to change hotels.   

Cherry blossoms in Kyoto Japan

Spring in Japan

Spring is all about sakura (cherry blossoms), but did you know that you can see more than just these beautiful blooms when you visit?   

Couples’ Getaway 

Mid-May is the best time to visit Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park to see the pink moss flowers that cover this area of Hokkaido. Best of all, the cherry blossoms on the north island also bloom later in May, which gives you more time to see the blooms if you miss Tokyo or Kyoto. Plus, you can avoid the school vacation crowds.   

Family Trip 

Spring break means adventure, which is easy to find in Japan. Whether you want to walk the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto to admire the cherry blossoms, or you’d rather hop on an Anime & Manga “Otaku” Tour of Akihabara (the anime district) in Tokyo, in spring you can combine outside time with learning. If you have a young warrior, consider the Hands On with Samurai Culture in Kanazawa tour, which will transport you back to Edo times.  

Bridge in Okinawa Japan

Summer in Japan

Even though Japan can get steamy in the summer months, it is the best season to hike Mount Fuji if that is on your bucket list. You can also visit the gorgeous beaches sprinkled throughout Okinawa.   

Couples’ Getaway 

By July the spring rain has passed, and Okinawa comes alive! Enjoy the cool sea breezes while you watch fireworks and savor beachside dining. Those who want to learn more about the natural wonders of Japan can tour the inner depths of caves or hop on a guided kayaking adventure through mangrove forests. Okinawa Prefecture is also perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts who love to admire life below the surface.   

Family Travel 

Just because school is out doesn’t mean education has to stop. Families love the cultural experience to be found in Japan, from a Sumo Training Experience to a walking tour of Kyoto highlighting the traditional arts and crafts that grew during the Edo period (you can even learn how to make them yourself while there). If you are craving beach time, chat with your Family Travel Advisor about a city and sea tour that will take you to the sunny beaches of Okinawa as well as the thriving cities of Japan.   

Relevant Links:

Browse all accommodations and activities in Japan on Ciao Bambino

Best 1-week Japan itinerary with kids

When is the best time to visit Japan? All year round

Skiing in Japan: How to plan a stellar family ski holiday

72 hours in Tokyo with kids

9 favorite day trips from Tokyo with kids

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