You can leave Japan but Japan hangover never leaves you. It’s been more than three months since I returned from Japan but i still can’t stop raving about it to every stranger or known person I meet. There is some magic in Japan that rubs on you when you visit it. I am often asked which is the best time to visit Japan. My answer – open season is the best time to visit Japan.
But as a first time visitor to Japan, you want to be there at the very best time to make the most of your stay. If you’re booking a tour, you might want to think about the different sights you want to be on the itinerary and when the most appropriate time would be to visit these in particular. The Travelholics like me might argue that you should make the most of any opportunity to visit Japan, but just in case, here are some of the best times to travel to Japan and some of the main things to see and do while you’re out there.
Quite possibly the best time of all, and the most popular, to visit Japan is the spring. Depending on your location in Japan, spring lasts from mid-March to May. The Sakura (cherry blossom) starts to bloom at in this time, infusing Japan with a real floral beauty that really endears it to the hearts of all who come to see the country.
If you’re planning to go on any sort of luxury tour to Japan at this time, you’ll need to book it well in advance, given the popularity of the season, especially during Golden Week. The Japanese really do feel like having fun in Golden Week. A trip to the onsen (hot springs) out in the countryside is a quintessentially Japanese way of celebrating Golden Week. Give it a try!
Autumn, between September and November, is an excellent time to take a tour of Japan if you’re planning a stop in Tokyo (the capital is an essential stop, of course!). The humidity eases off, the autumn colours start come into their own in the Tokyo parks and the sky stays clear and blue.
While you’re there, you should visit the Tokyo National Museum, which includes an array of Buddhist sculptures, ancient pottery, samurai swords as part of the world’s largest collection of Japanese art. If not the museum, take the time to savour the view from the Tokyo Sky Tree. From this 634 metre you can gaze out over the capital and, at peak visibility, see as far Mount Fuji, which is 100 kilometres away. The view at night is even more beautiful.
The Japanese enjoy a good festival, so if you like this kind of celebration summer – May to July –is a good time for you, although the weather does get very warm. If you’re on a tour in July that includes Kyoto – another essential stop when visiting Japan –then you’re in for a treat, as you’ll be able to soak up some of the Kyoto Gion Festival.
The festival lasts the whole month of July and is one of the most important events in the Japanese cultural calendar. Mid-July, the procession of the Yamaboko floats takes place over a three-kilometre route down the Shijo, Kawaramachi and Oike streets. You can reserve a seat in front of the city hall to watch the procession, but there’s not really any need, as there are plenty of good places to stand and view the procession.
Japan boasts cultural splendour and natural beauty by the bucket load, regardless of which season you visit. Whether it’s the summer, the autumn or the spring, you should always make the most of an opportunity to go to Japan. You might even consider going in the winter when Japan’s highlights are even more special. Either way, you’ll have an amazing time.