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Best time to visit Japan – Lonely Planet

Best time to visit Japan – Lonely Planet

Japan may be small, but with its captivating blend of tradition and modernity, and its bustling cities and stunning countryside, it offers a mighty experience to visitors. No matter when you choose to visit, you’ll find a wealth of experiences waiting for you.

In spring, the blossoming of the sakura (cherry trees) creates a beautiful natural display that transforms the country into a vision in pink that lures travelers from all over the globe. Fall ushers in the resplendent koyo (autumn foliage) season, while summer opens the two-month window for summiting Mt Fuji. Winter is a great time for skiers, as Japan’s slopes are dusted with some of the finest powder on the planet. 

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Whether you’re looking to dive into the crowded streets of downtown Tokyo or find Zen-like peace amongst tree-cloaked mountains, there’s a season that’s right for you. Here’s our guide to choosing the perfect time to visit Japan.

April to May is the time for cherry blossoms

The cherry-blossom season from April to May is the peak travel period in Japan. Locals and inbound tourists flock to parks, gardens, tree-lined brooks and castle moats to partake in hanami, the annual ritual of observing the spring blossom. Picnicking under a canopy of cherry blossom is a top bucket-list experience, though travelers are advised to weigh up the undeniable beauty against the drawback of the vast crowds.

The cherry blossoms arrive and depart over a two-week period, dictated by weather patterns and local geography, and the exact timing can be hard to predict in advance. Along Japan’s so-called “Golden Route” – a popular tourist trail running along the east coast in the center of the country – the flowers typically emerge between late March and early April, so April is a fairly reliable month to book a trip.

As the last petals fall, there is little reprieve for crowd-weary travelers. Golden Week arrives in early May, with warm and sunny weather and a string of national holidays. Hotel and flight prices soar as the crowds surge into Japan’s cities, and public transport, city streets, shrines, temples, museums and other tourist attractions are crammed with sightseers. 

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August to November is the time for hiking through fall foliage

Late summer and fall bring another surge in visitor numbers and big crowds of…

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