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What Is the Best Time of Year to Travel to Tokyo?

Due to its temperate climate, the Japanese capital is a year-round destination, but certain times may suit you better than others. Here's a handy guide to help you discover the best time of year for you to travel to Tokyo.

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Paul A

9. September 2019

When travelling, there is a lot to think about and plan such as the places you want to visit, the things you need to bring with you, how much you can afford to spend and when you want to leave.

The best time to visit Tokyo depends entirely on what you would like to see and do, and the type of travel experiences you want. So let's start with the wonderful Sakura (cherry blossom) season. 

Best Time for Cherry Blossoms

Sakura forests near Yoshino. Sakura forests near Yoshino. Photo: Canva. 

Japan loves cherry blossoms, so much show that there are blogs, talk shows and festivals dedicated to the trees as they go into bloom across the country. They only bloom for a very short period, and typically cherry blossom season in Tokyo starts in the last week of March and the first week of April.

They start blooming around March 25th and tend to hit full bloom on April 2nd. However, these dates should only be taken as an average because they can bloom a few days or a week earlier or later. When they are open, it's a joyous sight to behold. Among the best places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo are:

  • Shinjuku Gyoen (pictured below) - one of the city's largest gardens features around 1,000 cherry trees of more than a dozen different varieties. 

 

  • Inokashira Park - home to approximately 500 cherry trees. A good spot to see them is from the Nanai Bridge in the middle of the park's Inokashira pond, especially as the lower tree branches are reflected in the water.

 

  • Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens (pictured below) – these 17th-century gardens were built for a feudal lord and feature weeping cherry trees by the entrance gate. 

 

  • Aoyama Cemetery - this is one of the largest cemeteries in the city and boasts a beautiful promenade that is lined by hundreds of cherry blossom trees.

Cherry blossom trees in Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Spring in the Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Canva/voyata. 

Amazing pink and purple coloured flowers on the trees of the Koishikawa Garden, Tokyo. An amazing colour palette at the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. Canva/para827. 

 

Best Time for Festivals

If you want to let your hair down and participate in vibrant and colourful celebrations coincide your Tokyo trip with one of the city's major happenings. There are many throughout the year and among the most popular are:

  • Sanja Matsuri (see video below) - Tokyo's biggest festival takes place on the third weekend of May in the Asakusa district. It celebrates the founders of the Sensoji Temple and during the three-day event portable shrines are paraded through the streets and there are food stalls and festival games amid a very lively atmosphere.

 

  • Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival - an annual fireworks festival held on the last Saturday in July that attracts massive crowds and sees pyrotechnic companies showing off their latest fireworks. The event lasts for approximately 90 minutes and top viewing places include the banks of the Sumida River between Sakurabashi Bridge and Umayabashi Bridge.

 

  • Tokyo Pride - this LGBT event is held in mid-August and is for everyone no matter their gender or orientation. Expect floats, parades, colourful outfits and performances.

 

  • Jidai Matsuri - this is also known as the Festival of the Ages and held in Asakusa on November 3rd which is National Culture Day. You'll witness hundreds of years of history in a single day as people parade through the streets in fascinating costumes representing numerous eras.

 

Other cultural happenings you might want to mark down on your travel itinerary are:

  • The Imperia Address at the Imperial Palace - takes place on February 2nd and is when you can enter the inner courtyards of the palace.

 

 

 

  • The International Robot Exhibition - the largest robot trade show in the world takes place in December and is held every two years. Many of the world’s top robot makers turn up to showcase their latest technologies and innovations.

Best Time To Shop for Bargains

Three Japanese women with shopping bags in Tokyo. Tokyo is a superb place to shop. Canva/kato.84. 

There are always bargains to be had in any city if you're prepared to look. Having said that bargain hunters are in for a real treat in Tokyo during the winter and summer when stores throw open their doors for their clearance sales. 

The winter sales take place during the end of the year/New Year holiday season while the summer sales start at the end of July. There are great deals to be had in big department stores as well as small shops especially if you’re looking to restock your wardrobe. You’ll find up to 50% of some fashionable items of clothing.

Best Time for Sightseeing

The Kaminarimon gate, Tokyo. The Kaminarimon Gate of the Sensoji Temple. Canva/janerix. 

You can visit Tokyo's shrines, temples, shopping malls and other major attractions at any time of the year. However, March, April, October and November are particularly good months because they’re outside of the rainy season and you'll avoid the extreme heat of the summer. Therefore, you’ll find it very comfortable to move around.

If you don't mind the weather a little on the frosty side come during the winter months of January and February. This is the best time to travel if you want to do so cheaply because it is outside the main tourist season and consequently hotel and flight prices are a little bit cheaper. 

There is an added bonus too in that the crowds are smaller. Consequently, you will have more room to move when you visit attractions and you should experience little or no trouble booking a meal at a fancy restaurant.

If you do come in the winter, note that it isn’t too cold for travelling. The average daytime temperature in December is 12°C, while in January and February it’s 10°C.

Best Time for the Slopes

A funicular cab at the Gala Yuzawa ski resort, Japan. At the Gala Yuzawa ski resort. Canva/yuuurin. 

If you want to swoop down slopes that are generously covered in snow the best time to come to Tokyo is during January and February. Although the capital doesn’t have its own ski resorts there are several within a one to two-hour ride on the Shinkansen or bullet train. They include:

GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort in the Niigata Prefecture.

Naeba Ski Resort also in the Niigata Prefecture.

Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort in the Nagano Prefecture.

Best Time for Nightlife

A Japanese woman singing in Karaoke. Luckily, every season is Karaoke season in Tokyo! Canva/bbossom. 

Any time of the year is a great time to party until dawn because the capital city never sleeps. Among the top nightlife districts for pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants are Shibuya, Ginza and Roppongi.

The Peak Tourist Season

If you can, it may be a good idea to avoid Tokyo during the peak summer season. June ushers in high heat and humidity and along with it the rainy season which lasts for about six weeks.  The hot and sticky weather continues into July and so does the rain. During some days you may experience an intense downpour while on others just occasional sprinkles. 

Japanese woman walking with an umbrella in Tokyo. The rainy season usually lasts from May to July. Canva/kato.84. 

August is the hottest month with the average daytime temperature hitting 29°C. The high heat and humidity can be unbearable if you are not used to them. The crowds are also at their densest as students are on vacation and many adults take their annual break at this time of year.

However, if you are a mountain climber, the summer is the best time of year to come to Tokyo. The official Mount Fuji climbing season is from July through to mid-September.

Best Time to Visit for Colourful Foliage

Mt. Fuji with beautiful autumn foliage in the foreground. Beautiful autumn colours near Mt. Fuji. Canva/Leung Cho Pan. 

The city's cherry blossoms are truly awe-inspiring, but nature puts on another spectacular show between mid-October and mid-December with the fall foliage providing Tokyo with a beautiful backdrop of colourful leaves.

The leaves start to change colour in October, peaking sometime around mid-November. In some areas, the trees keep hold of their coloured leaves until the middle of December. Among the best places to see Tokyo's fall foliage are:

  • Meiji-jingu Shrine - The forest surrounding this shrine contains a variety of trees.

 

  • Meiji Jingu Gaien Park (pictured below) - This is one of the most popular spots for autumn leaves. It features an avenue lined by more than 100 ginkgo trees that turn a golden colour.

 

  • Hibiya-koen Park - a compact park between Ginza and the Imperial palace that dazzles when its many trees burst into colour.

 

  • Nezu Museum - The garden behind this museum is one of the best places in the city to be wowed by patterns of crimson and gold during October and November.

 

  • Shinjuku Gyoen Garden - This large park with its many tree species impresses with a blaze of autumn colours.

Autumn leaves in Meji Gingu Park, Tokyo. Beautiful foliage in Meiji Jingu Gaien Park. Canva/Umarin Nakamura. 

Start Planning

With beautiful weather, festivals every month, gorgeous natural scenery and captivating history, the best time to go to the Japanese capital is, well, any time. Personal preference will play the biggest part in your decision. So investigate the calendar, draw up a list of the things you want to do and see and then book your tickets. Happy holidays!

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