Best Time to Visit Japan Including Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo

Best Time to Visit Japan Including Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo

One of the first questions most people ask when planning a trip to Japan is when is the best time to visit?  There is no simple answer as it depends on your particular interests.  Also, many people are constrained to visit at specific times such as school holiday periods which limits your options, or depends on a good airfare deal in a non peak time.  Other people visit Japan with an intent to attend a specific event such as the sumo wrestling or a particular festival, so it is worthwhile to do your homework on these activities before you book.

Further below I also have further details about the upcoming Rugby World Cup which is being held in Japan over September to November 2019, and also about the Summer Olympics which are also begin held in Japan in 2020.

You are also welcome to join my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Japan Festivals and Events

To plan ahead in terms of events occurring in Japan during your visit, there are some good sources of information as follows:

  • For the major events and festivals in Japan check out this article from the Japan National Tourist Organisation.  It includes a clickable map for each region of Japan.  Japan Cheapo also has a good searchable website for all of Japan, including both major and smaller events.
  • For events in Tokyo including festivals, markets, and many other options you can get great information through Tokyo Cheapo.  If you are interested in looking for sporting, musical and other events in Tokyo another surprisingly good source of information (and to purchase tickets) is viaGoGo – you can easily search by date and type of event that you are interested in.
  • For events in Kyoto check out Inside Kyoto for a good overview of the main events.  For more detail on day to day events check out the Kyoto Visitors Guide.
  • For events in Osaka check out Osaka Info for a good level of detail.
  • For the sumo wrestling tournament schedule check out my article for more information.
  • If you love attending music festivals then check out this article for an overview of summer music festivals in Japan.

Japan Weather and Seasons

Weather in Japan is quite variable depending on what season you travel in and which parts of Japan you travel to.  I have put together a detailed guide for Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo seasonal weather and major events to help you plan your visit.  You may also like to check out my detailed Japan itinerary guides for either a two week trip or a 10 day trip to Japan.

Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo and Japan Weather in Spring – March, April and May

Spring in Japan is renowned as the cherry blossom viewing (Hanami) season – the time of the flowering cherry blossoms (sakura) – click this link to see the latest forecast for the Sakura Blooms across Japan.    In Tokyo Hanami usually occurs in late March.  Across Japan Hanami progresses south from Okinawa to Hokkaido in the north by early May.

At the end of April/early May is Golden Week, when there are four national holidays in close proximity – and many Japanese people take the days in between off work.  In 2019 Golden Week is scheduled to occur over the week of 27 April to 6 May 19.

Hanami and Golden Week usually cause a significant increase in pricing for accommodation and other travel related activities.

Typical Spring weather  in March, April and May is shown in the below table.  Overall the weather is progressively warming across the season.  If you are travelling in the mountain areas plan for the weather to be cooler.

Japan Weather - Spring

Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo and Japan Weather in Summer – June, July and August

June is usually the start of Japan’s six week rainy season.  July gets quite hot and humid, and school holidays start in mid July.  August  becomes more sunny and is very hot and humid however is more festive and is a real summer holiday month for most of Japan.  August and September are the major typhoon months,with southern Japan more likely to be affected than northern Japan.

​The official climbing season for Mt Fuji will is over 1 July to 10 September 2018 – noting that it can open later or shut earlier if weather conditions deteriorate.  Check out more details on the official Mt Fuji website.  If you are interested in booking a Mt Fuji Climbing Tour please check out my article at this link.

Typical Summer weather in June, July and August is shown in the below table.

Japan Weather - Summer

Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo and Japan Weather in Autumn – September, October and November

September and October are usually warm and very rainy with temperatures progressively cooling.  September is one of the main months where typhoons can occur.  November kicks off drier sunnier weather again and the beautiful autumn leaves.

Typical Autumn weather in September, October and November is shown in the below table.

Japan Weather - Autumn

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in Japan
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in Japan in early October

Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo and Japan Weather in Winter – December, January and February

Early December has dry and cool autumn like weather.  In December the Christmas celebration kicks in in earnest with many lovely Christmas lights.  January and February are the coldest and sunniest months.  In northern Japan and in the alps it is the skiing season.  The very popular Sapporo Snow Festival will be held from 31 January to 11 February 2019 – if you are planning to attend then ensure that you book your travel and accommodation as quickly as possible.

Tokyo and Osaka typically experience 1-2 snowfalls per winter season which quickly melt.  Kyoto typically experiences 2-4 snowfalls per winter season which also melt quickly.  In Sapporo snow starts to fall from early November but quickly melts at that time.  From December to February Sapporo experiences regular snowfalls so you need to plan ahead with regards to clothing and footwear.

Typical Winter weather in December, January and February is shown in the below table.

Japan Weather - Winter

Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan

The Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan over 20 September to 2 November 2019. You can already see the match draw at this link. Be aware that the general ticket ballot will be open over 19 September to 12 November 2018, with open ticket sales commencing on 19 January 2019. Click here to see more details about ticket sales.

A great option to guarantee that you get the tickets you want and that everything is arranged is to book a sports tour package​. If you click on this link you will see the Rugby World Cup Official Ticket Agents so you can check out the tour packages on offer – there are options from fully escorted through to more independent travel options, plus they should also be able to arrange your flights. If you plan to use this option you should plan to book your package as soon as possible to avoid missing out on your preferred option.

​Once the initial batch of ticket sales are finalised I expect that flights and accommodation will also be quickly booked by those who are successful.​ Therefore you should start preparing now so that you can book your flights as soon as they become available.

For those of you planning to visit Japan in September 2019 but who want to avoid the Rugby World Cup I suggest that you also check out the match fixture to see the locations and dates for each match, and plan your itinerary to avoid these locations on and around match dates.​

Summer Olympics 2020 in Japan

The Summer Olympics will be held in Japan over 24 July to 9 August 2020.  For more information about the Olympics here is the link to the official Olympic website.

Flights to Japan

To find the flight to best suit your trip to Japan click on the Skyscanner flight deal box below.

Best Time to Visit Japan Including Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo
This is a final reminder that you are also welcome to join my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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2 Comments

  • Hi Anne

    Just looking for some guidance re: spending a few days in the Nagano / Kanazawa / Takayama area after spendig a few days in Tokyo and then travelling on to Kyoto. Is it best to contact you here or via the facebook page or via email for specific advice?

    Thanks

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