Climate & Weather Guide: When to Travel to Japan

A guide to Japan's climate and popular visiting times

By Ignatius Koh   May 31, 2018 - 9 min read

Japan is a temperate country that has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own merits that make the country an attractive travel destination. Here we provide an overview of the seasonal variations, weather/temperatures to expect on your trip and potential attractions worth visiting at that time of the year:

Winter:
December – February

 (Photo: www.en-aomori.com)
(Photo: www.en-aomori.com)

Winter in Japan is characterised by blankets of snow across Japan, especially in the northern regions of Tohoku and Hokkaido. This is the best time to hit ski resorts and participate in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. While the temperature usually does not drop below 0°C in Tokyo, it is frigid in the north and travelers are advised to put on thick coats while visiting.

The winter is also dry and sunny, making it perfect for outdoor activities if the cold is manageable. The daylight hours are short during the season so many illuminations are set up for people to enjoy the early darkness. Note that many shops will close over the New Year holidays from 29 December to 4 January.

Expected winter temperatures in Japan

Area High Low
Tokyo 10°
Osaka 10°
Sapporo -6°
Fukuoka 11°
Naha 20° 14°
Area High Low
Tokyo 50° 36°
Osaka 50° 36°
Sapporo 32° 43°
Fukuoka 52° 37°
Naha 68° 57°

Top 3 spots to visit in winter

  1. Hakuba, Nagano
  2. Sapporo, Hokkaido
  3. Zao, Miyagi

Spring:
March – May

 (Photo: www.en-aomori.com)
(Photo: www.en-aomori.com)

Plum blossoms usher in spring as the first signs of nature coming alive start to show. This is followed by a splendid sight of the famous cherry blossoms that bloom as early as January in Okinawa, and until as late as May in Hokkaido. During this time, many other flowers are blooming as well and complement Japan’s stunning natural scenery well.

The vibrancy of the country in spring, coupled with the cool weather, makes it one of the most popular times to visit Japan. This peaks during Golden Week, which lasts from late April to early May, where increased domestic traveling may add to the bustle of Japan. Temperatures are a cool 21°C on average so light jackets will be comfortable.

Expected spring temperatures in Japan:

Area High Low
Tokyo 18° 10°
Osaka 19° 10°
Sapporo 10°
Fukuoka 19° 10°
Naha 24° 19°
Area High Low
Tokyo 64° 50°
Osaka 66° 50°
Sapporo 50° 36°
Fukuoka 66° 50°
Naha 75° 66°

Top 3 spots to visit in spring

  1. Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo
  2. Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki
  3. Fuji Five Lakes, Yamanashi

Summer:
June – August

 (Photo: www.en-aomori.com)
(Photo: www.en-aomori.com)

The rainy season in early June signals the start of summer in Japan. Lasting about three to four weeks, this period builds up into a hot and humid weather in July. Beach-goers will head to some of Japan’s best coastal resorts, which can become crowded during this peak season. Many people will also travel up north to escape the heat. Japan’s summer is well known for its numerous festivals, including spectacular fireworks festivals all over the country, best enjoyed in traditional yukatas and kimonos.

Expected summer temperatures in Japan

Area High Low
Tokyo 28° 22°
Osaka 31° 23°
Sapporo 24° 16°
Fukuoka 30° 22°
Naha 30° 26°
Area High Low
Tokyo 82° 72°
Osaka 88° 73°
Sapporo 75° 61°
Fukuoka 86° 72°
Naha 86° 79°

Top 3 spots to visit in summer

  1. Akita City, Akita
  2. Kyoto City, Kyoto
  3. Tokushima City, Tokushima

Autumn:
September – November

 (Photo: www.en-aomori.com)
(Photo: www.en-aomori.com)

Autumn provides a brief respite after the summer’s heat; temperatures start to fall and Japan once again transforms into a colorful scene. The leaves begin to turn into various hues of red, orange, and yellow to create a burst of colour that enhances most natural attractions in Japan, making autumn another popular time for visiting. However, this is also when typhoons and heavy rain are regular, beginning in August and lasting until September. After that, the country prepares for winter when the last vestiges of Japan’s plants disappear after their stunning show of beauty.

Expected fall temperatures in Japan

Area High Low
Tokyo 22° 15°
Osaka 23° 15°
Sapporo 15°
Fukuoka 23° 14°
Naha 27° 22°
Area High Low
Tokyo 72° 59°
Osaka 73° 59°
Sapporo 59° 45°
Fukuoka 73° 57°
Naha 81° 72°

Top 3 spots to visit in autumn

  1. Nikko, Tochigi
  2. Naruko Gorge, Miyagi
  3. Chichibu, Saitama
Japan Travel Editor

Join the discussion

Renford Esau Sinangote 4 months ago
A good read for when one decides to visit Japan. What to see, where to go and what to do may depend on when it's the right time to go.
Kim B 4 months ago
I think my favorite time of the year in Japan is the autumn months - but all times of year have something beautiful to enjoy! One of my favorite things about the rainy season, for instance, are the beautiful hydrangeas that are starting to pop up everywhere!