I told you here about the season you SHOULD NOT travel to Japan during the high season in Japan and the period of uncomfortable climates.
Honestly, I don’t want to say not all high seasons told here are totally not worth traveling.
It depends on what you want to focus on,
you want to travel calm and healthy, or save budget, you should avoid these season.
But if the reason you want to travel to Japan because you want to have JAPANESE ordinary and extraordinary experiences
you may consider to travel JAPANESE TRADITIONAL EVENTS seasons.
During seasons that I am going to talk about, the airfare, accommodations, Shinkansen fare will be increased, and also harder to book.
Moreover, it gets likely packed and crowded everywhere you go,
You might be squashed between passengers on public transportations.
Even though you will jump into the crowd, there are beautiful traveling seasons you better visit Japan.
Cherry Blossom Season
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, you should travel to Japan once in your life during the cherry blossom season.
The cherry blossom view is actually stunning more than you expected.
From the windows on cars, trains, and buses, Everywhere you go, you can see full of pink blossoms streets, riverbanks, parks, gardens, temples, and shrines.
In general, cherry trees begin to bloom from late March to early April,
from southern islands to Tokyo, to cold regions and northern regions, and finally to Hokkaido.
The peak of bloom doesn’t last long, and somehow it often rains around the peak.
|Southern Island(Kyusyu), the main island(Honsyu)|
|Last For 7 days after 80% of full bloom|
|Northwestern region(Hokuriku), Northern region (Tohoku)|
|Last For 5 days after 80% of full bloom|
|Last For 4 days after 80% of full bloom|
Things To do
There are lots of “SAKURA Festivals”(桜祭り、さくら祭り) held throughout Japan during the cherry blossom season.
Many visitors enjoy SAKURA, cherry blossoms in Japanese, and food (junk food, not great taste mostly) from Food stalls.
Enjoy “Ohanami”(お花見) as Japanese people do!
“Ohanami”(お花見) means literally “Watching blossoms” which has been loved by the Japanese people for thousands of years. Until 2000 years ago, “Ohanami” was “watching Japanese plum bloom”, and it had changed to “Watching cherry bloom” instead of the plum after then.
Today, the meaning “Ohanami” is a picnic party under cherry trees. Bring foods and drinks (you can have alcoholic beverages if you don’t drive a car) and enjoy cherry blossoms.
Japanese people are looking forward to having “Ohanami” with family, friends, and colleagues every spring.
Don’t litter, take care of your garbedes after the “Ohanami” party.
|Yodogawa Kasen (River) Park||Kyoto|
Fall Colors Season
Since Japanese ancient times, people have appreciated the beauty of fall foliage. Japanese people traditionally enjoy “Momiji-gari”( 紅葉狩り), which means going to see colored leaves to the mountains or gardens.
“Momiji”(もみじ-Japanese maple) and “Icyo”(銀杏-a ginkgo tree) are popular in Japanese fall colors.
Whole pink during cherry blossom season in Spring but the color of red and yellow dyes mountains, woods, gardens, and city streets during fall.
It depends on the regions and temperature.
Leaves begin changing colors when the temperature gets colder in October.
Generally, it comes to the peak from the middle of October through the middle of November.
Things To do
Waking through the beautiful gardens in Kyoto, enjoy the dynamic view of the fall color from the gondola lift in Nagano and Gifu prefectures and the romantic light-up the colored leaves in several places such as Korankei Valley in Aichi.
|Temple / Garden||Mountain/hill|
|Enkoji ( Kyoto )||Daisetsuzan ( Hokkaido)|
|Rikugien ( Tokyo )||Senjojiki Cirque ( Nagano )|
|Adachi Museum of Art ( Shimane )||Nasu Kogen ( Tochigi )|
|Ooyamadera ( Kanagawa )||Korankei ( Aichi )|
|Kenrokuen ( Ishikawa )||Naeba Doragondora (Niigata)|
*There are more popular places in Japan, and this is not ranking.
*Many popular places in Kyoto, so that only one temple is listed here.
Better avoid the period of “Silver week”, the length varies on the calendar annually but still Japanese people like travel around during “Silver week” holidays.
Japanese traditional “Matsuri”(祭り-festivals) takes places annually to celebrate the local prosperity, seasons and historical events throughout the year all over Japan.
More than 30,000 festivals have been inherited from generation to generation with strong local connections and pride.
People participating in these festivals wear traditional festival costumes (法被-Happi & はちまき-Hachimaki) or without clothing but only wear Fundoshi(ふんどし).
Parade carrying “mikoshi”, “Omikoshi” (神輿、お神輿) to bless the towns and people.
Feel Japanese tradition and power from local men parading “Dashi” ( floats), listening to their unique screams and music.
Traditional & Dancing Festival
There are not only dynamic (men) festivals, but also the festivals that show master craftsmanships of “dashi”, “mikoshi” works, such as “Takayama Matsuri”, “NagahamaHikiyama Matsuri’, “Gion Matsuri”.
Or, the festivals which people dance all night such as “Awa Odori”, “Yosakoi Matsuri”, “Gujo Odori”, “Okinawa Eisa”.
Best Famous Summer Festival
|Gion Matsuri |
( Kyoto )
|Tenjin Matsuri |
( Osaka )
|July 24, 25 (Main events)|
( Aomori )
|From August 2 through 7|
|Takayama Matsuri |
|April 14, 15 / October 9, 10|
|Sanja Matsuri |
( Tokyo )
|Third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of May|
|Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri|
( Shiga )
|April 13 – 16|
|Chihcibu Yo Matsuri |
( Saitama )
|December 1 – 6|
Japanese summer time includes even in the night, extremely hot and humid.
Drink plenty of water, and take rests frequently in cool places.
It can be also in the typhoon season, please read here carefully to save your life and trip.
The New Year’s Holiday
The weeks from the day after Christmas until the 7th of January is the biggest event for Japanese people.
They start preparing for the year-end and New Year events, such as *spring cleaning (* Japanese do at the end of the year to welcome Shintoism God ), grocery shopping for the family reunion and celebrating New year’s day, so that you can feel the lively atmosphere rather than other seasons in Japan.
Typically, the holiday has two sections, which are “the New Year’s eve” and “the New Year’s day”.
To do on New Year’s Eve / December 31
New Year’s Eve is called “Oomisoka”(大晦日) in Japanese.
Visit local temples at midnight
The Traditional activity at “Oomisoka” is visiting a local temple around midnight to ring a bell. (Generally, start after 11:00 p.m. through 1:00 a.m)
The original meaning of ringing the bell on “Oomisoka” is to get all 108 evil desires (煩悩-Bonno) out among Buddhists.
However, it became one of custom for Japanese people beyond the meaning of religion. Today, anyone can participate to ring a bell.
Go to a local temple, get in a line and ring a bell once.
You can ring a bell one time only, and give a turn to the next person.
Eat “Soba” noodles
Eat “soba ( buckwheat ) noodles” to wish for long-lasting life.
The custom is called “Toshikoshi soba” (年越し蕎麦), year-crossing soba noodles”, Japanese people eat soba noodles wishing their long-lasting life (because of its length) and also releasing hardship of the year (because soba noodles are easily cut).
To do on New Year’s Day / January 1
Go for ” Hatumoude”
“New Year’s Day” is called “Oshogatsu”(お正月) in Japanese.
The first thing to do in Japan after getting up on the new year’s day, greet the fams to celebrate the New Year.
So learn how to say “A happy New Year” in Japanese.
Then, go to “Hatsumoude”(初詣) to local temples or shrines.
“Hatsumode” literally means ” the first temple/shrine visiting” to pray for good luck for the new year.
Wear “Ki mo no“
Many women wear “Kimono” for Hatsumode.
Find a rental “kimono” shop for tourists, have the Japanese traditional experience of “Hatsumode” wearing “Kimono”.
Try “Omikuji” and buy “Omamori”
“Omikuji” ( おみくじ） is the fortune-telling little piece of paper written about the luck (and unhappiness) waiting for you in every aspect of life, including love, health, friendship, career, and education.
You can find temples and shrines throughout Japan.
It usually costs only 100 yen, and you can get an English copy when you visit popular temples and shrines for international tourists.
“Omamori”(御守) is a Japanese amulet, charm, talisman, to protect someone from bad luck.
There are many kinds of “Omamori” depends on wishings such as well harmony of family connection, safety drive, good health, successful business, education and learning, romance and baby safe.
It’s going to be the unique gifts for your fams.
There are many kinds of “Omamori” for your wishes and hopes such as well harmony of family connection, safety drive, good health, successful business, education and learning, romance and baby safe.
It will lose power if you open it, so don’t open.
Popular shrines and temples
|Naritasan Shinsyo Ji||Chiba|
These popular shrines and temples from January 1 to 3, millions of people visit. It’s hardly walk to get to the main shrine or temple, also hardly to buy “Omikuji” and “Omamori”. If you don’t want the crowd, visit there after on January 3.
“Osechi”(おせち) is the special foods in a beautiful three-layered bento box (お重-oju) for celebrating New Year.
Each item of foods in the bento box represents a particular wish for the next year, however, in recent years, there are more varieties of the menu for “Osechi” foods.
You can buy “Osechi” at department stores and grocery stores.
Here is more about how Japanese people spend the New Year’s holiday…
Book Your Trip IN ADVANCE
If you want to travel to Japan in these seasons, make an arrangement of your trip further in advance.
Booking accommodation and public transportations are super hard because other tourists and patrons already book their trips in advance too.
Just remind you, ticket and accommodation prices get increased during these busy seasons.
Japan Rail Pass
In the spring and the fall, you can hop popular “Cherry Blossoms blooming spots” or “Fall colors spots” throughout Japan smoothly with Japan Rail Pass.
In the summer, it is very pain in the neck to drive a car during the festival, and most festivals take over near the train station. You can use Japan Rail Pass for JR local lines too.
It could possible to visit temples and shrines from Tokyo to Kyoto, or Osaka in a day. (but it’s gonna be the super tight schedule.)
It is just the option to have Japan Rail Pass if you want to travel around to see the traditional and cultural aspects as much as you can.
Japan is the wonderful country to feel Japanese tradition, history, beauty and uniqueness.
If you love to have Japanese authentic experiences, these high seasons are worth to travel around.
These events I told about, not only overseas visitors are interested in and also Japanese people too.
It is difficult to avoid the crowd, but planning smartly may help little like avoiding weekends, long holidays, the specific day, I mentioned.
Do you want to review the worst seasons to travel to Japan?
Do you want to consider saving money?