Choosing When to Travel to Japan

First Step:

Choosing when to buy a flight!

So you have a current and/or future plans to visit Japan?

Whether you are a student about to study abroad, on a business trip, or just visiting, knowing when you will be in the country will change what you can experience there.

Japan is very unique in each season and festivals are dependent on the seasons as well.

Let’s break it up in terms of flying on a low or high budget.

Budget Friendly

If you want to travel cheaply from outside of Japan, the best times to go are “off season.” In this case, it means seasons that are not heavy with festivals and major holidays.

Off Season:
• Mid-January to Mid-March
• Mid-May to Mid-June
• Late July to early August
• September to Mid-December
Basically, all of these time frames are the cheapest to go. Many hotels and travel options are open. Also the streets, trains, and shops are less crowded.

Traveling with a Bigger Budget

High Peak Seasons:
• Late December to early January is Holiday and New Year’s celebrations.
• Mid/Late-March to mid-April is Cherry Blossom Season! Many people travel to see cherry blossoms bloom and fall during this time (trees bloom depending on the region).
• Late April to Early May is Golden Week where several major holidays occur. Many companies are on holiday and many Japanese travel.
• Mid-July contains many big summer festivals where people travel frequently. Many major fireworks festivals as an example.
• Mid-August is the Obon Festival. During this time, many people travel ‘home’ to pay respects and honor their ancestors.

Although these peak seasons are more expensive to travel, it is more fun and more to see/experience in Japan during these times. I personally prefer to go during these times. If booked early enough, nice/cheap Airbnbs can be obtained during your stay there.

Other Factors to consider:

Rainy Season: Mid-June to Mid-July

• It doesn’t rain every day but when it does, it rains very hard. Some days can also be short heavy spurts of rain, and others can be full day drizzles. Some days, it rains so hard that the rain will bounce off the ground and soak your legs, socks, and shoes.
• Don’t go during this time if you want nice blue skies and sunshine (especially if you love taking photos in nice weather)
• Many Airbnbs/homes don’t have dryers, but rather hangers/clips to air-dry clothes. With many rainy days, your thick socks/shoes can smell like mildew if you don’t properly dry them or find a laundry place nearby.
• There are also rainy days in May and early June as well, but not as heavy and as frequent. But these days can be cold compared to Mid-June to July.

Seasons:

Winter: It is very busy during Xmas time through New Year’s. Japanese don’t celebrate Xmas as a religious holiday but to rather spread joy and give gifts. Many couples love spending Christmas time go on dates and travel to onsens. New Years has its own fun and interesting traditions as well if you happen to be with a family during this time. If you love holiday lights then this is also the time to go. In my opinion, no other country sets up illuminations like the Japanese, and it is absolutely beautiful. Other than this, winter is pretty calm compared to the other seasons. There are interesting snow related festivals that occur throughout Japan during this time if that interests you. Also if you enjoy snowboarding/skiing, this is the time to go. It does get pretty cold during this time so keep warm.
Spring: This is perhaps one of the most beautiful seasons to go see Japan especially during Cherry Blossom Time. Cherry blossoms come and go pretty quickly, so book well in advance in a city that you know the cherry blossoms are blooming during that time. The blossoms bloom and fall at different times of the month depending on region/winter. It blooms only once a year. If you do go see the cherry blossoms, be sure to check out views during the day and night. It is a different experience for both times of day. Each city has unique cherry blossom views/spots and some are more beautiful than others. Also dress warm during this season and prepare for plenty of pollen in the air!
Summer: SUPER HOT and HUMID. It’s a little gross during this time since you have to constantly use a hand towel to wipe sweat from your face. For those using makeup, your makeup is likely to run off. However, there are many fun summer festivals during time. Despite the heat, I enjoy going to Japan during this season. The fireworks festivals in Japan are out of this world where some continuously fire about an hour long. If you are in the south, beaches are really nice during this season as well.
Fall: A cooler season than summer. Depending if you are in Japan at the beginning of the season or the end of it, it’s hotter or cooler. There are clearer skies, lower humidly, and less rain. It is also beautiful to travel during this season. The leaves changing color is a spectacle in Japan since there is so much greenery. There are many festivals that happen during this time as well. Except for mid-August, this is probably the best time to go in terms of cost and weather reasons.

Unfortunately, there is no exact time to buy plane tickets to get a good offer. What I have found is buying 2-4 months ahead of time have shown to have decent prices. Any earlier has been more expensive. GOOD LUCK!

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