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5 Best Reasons To Visit Japan In Spring

Japan in spring is the best time to visit the country, in my opinion. I have visited Japan two times, once for two months at the end of autumn and into winter, and the second time for two months in springtime, specifically from the end of March until May.

Both times had their own unique charms, but it was the spring months that were truly magical for me, and that’s partly down to the cherry blossoms (sakura) and the milder weather.


Why You Should Visit Japan In Spring

Japan in spring, park scene in Sapporo.
Street scene in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, Japan in springtime is a celebration of renewal and vibrant life.

This season offers not only the iconic spectacle of cherry blossom viewing but also a myriad of festivals, traditional ceremonies, and culinary delights that collectively create an immersive and unforgettable travel experience.

Here’s why Japan in spring is the best time to go to the country.


Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami)

Walking under cherry blossom trees..

The cherry blossoms in Japan, known as “sakura,” are a significant cultural symbol and a highly anticipated natural event. Cherry blossoms typically bloom in the spring, usually between late March and early May, depending on the region and weather conditions.

The blooming of cherry blossoms in Japan in spring is a spectacular sight, transforming the landscape with beautiful pink and white flowers.

People in Japan celebrate this ephemeral beauty with a tradition called “hanami,” which involves picnicking under the cherry blossom trees and enjoying the fleeting beauty of the blossoms. This tradition has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries and is a time for people to appreciate the transient nature of life.

Cherry blossoms hold deep cultural and symbolic significance in Japan, representing the fleeting nature of life and the beauty of impermanence.

The blossoming period is closely monitored, and the Japan Meteorological Agency provides cherry blossom forecasts to help people plan their hanami outings.

Top places to see cherry blossoms in Japan in spring:

  1. Ueno Park (Tokyo): Ueno Park is a popular destination for hanami, featuring over a thousand cherry trees. The Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival is held annually.
  2. Maruyama Park (Kyoto): Located in Kyoto, Maruyama Park is home to the iconic weeping cherry tree and is a popular spot for hanami parties.
  3. Philosopher’s Path (Kyoto): This scenic path along the canal is lined with hundreds of cherry trees, creating a picturesque setting for hanami.
  4. Hirosaki Castle (Aomori): Hirosaki Castle is surrounded by a large park with thousands of cherry trees. The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival is a major event in this region.
  5. Chidorigafuchi (Tokyo): The area around Chidorigafuchi, near the Imperial Palace, is known for its beautiful cherry blossoms, especially when illuminated at night.

If there was ever a main reason to go to Japan in spring, this is it.


Weather

Nice weather to walk in kimonos.

Spring in Japan is characterized by mild temperatures which makes it perfect for walking around and enjoying the cherry blossoms, temples, etc.

However, weather conditions can vary, so it’s advisable to bring layers, as evenings can still be cool. It can also be rainy at times so bring an umbrella! Overall though it’s one of the best times weatherwise to visit the country.

It’s important to note that Japan’s weather can vary significantly from north to south and from the coast to the mountains. Northern regions such as Hokkaido experience a later arrival of spring compared to southern regions like Kyushu.

Additionally, Japan’s spring is characterized by the blooming of various flowers, not just cherry blossoms. Many parks and gardens showcase a vibrant display of azaleas, tulips, wisteria, and other flowers during this season.

When planning a trip to Japan in spring, it’s a good idea to check specific weather forecasts for the region you’ll be visiting, as well as the cherry blossom forecast, to ensure you catch the blossoms at their peak.

Information on the different months in spring:

  1. March:
    • Early March can still be chilly, especially in the northern regions, and there’s a chance of lingering winter weather.
    • As the month progresses, temperatures gradually rise, and cherry blossoms (sakura) start to bloom in southern regions like Okinawa and Kyushu.
  2. April:
    • April is a popular month for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in many parts of Japan.
    • Temperatures become milder, with daytime temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
    • Spring showers are common, so it’s advisable to carry an umbrella or raincoat.
  3. May:
    • May marks the end of spring and the beginning of warmer temperatures.
    • Daytime temperatures can range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), depending on the region.
    • The chance of rain diminishes as the month progresses.


Visit Temples and Gardens

Kanazawa Castle in spring.

Spring is an excellent time to visit historical sites and gardens. Kyoto, in particular, is known for its beautiful temples and traditional tea houses.

There was a serene charm when I explored the temples and gardens in Japan in the wintertime, with the cooler weather and fewer tourists.

However, spring was my favourite time overall, despite the extra crowds, due to the cherry blossoms blooming and minder weather.


Mild Weather and Still Escape The Tourist Crowds

Escaping the crowds on Rishiri Island.

Japan in spring is easily the busiest time of year for tourists, and for good reason, however, you can still escape the crowds and enjoy a more serene Japan.

The trick is to stay away from Kyoto or Tokyo and go to less touristy areas such as Kyushu prefecture or Shikoku prefecture. Shikoku in particular is easy to get to from Osaka, Kyoto, or Hiroshima and you will see far fewer crowds but still enjoy the cherry blossom and many temples.

One trick is to spend some time in Kyoto as it truly is a stunning city and a must-visit and then go to Shikoku if you want a more local and quieter vibe.

There are many other options apart from those mentioned. I spent some time in Japan in spring in the far north on the remote islands of Rishiri and Ruben off the coast of Hokkaido province and still enjoyed seeing the cherry blossom there with almost no tourists around.


Festivals

Many festivals take place during spring. The most famous is the cherry blossom festivals, but you can also encounter other local festivals featuring parades, traditional performances, and street food.

I managed to catch a few festivals while there in spring and they are a great cultural event to see.


Downsides of Spring in Japan in Spring

With all the advantages there is always a downside and in this case, it’s very simple. As spring in Japan is the best time to visit, it’s also the busiest time for tourists and can get very crowded.

Popular attractions and accommodations can get very, very, busy. Make reservations in advance for hotels and popular restaurants.

Cities like Kyoto are especially busy at this time of the year as people flock to see the cherry blossoms and enjoy the good weather.

Other cities, like Tokyo also, get very crowded.


Spring in Japan

Embarking on a journey to Japan in spring is an exquisite choice that promises a tapestry of natural beauty, cultural splendour, and delightful experiences.

As the weather turns mild and nature awakens, the allure of Japan in spring extends far beyond its scenic landscapes, inviting you to partake in the rich tapestry of Japanese culture and the ephemeral beauty that defines this captivating season.

For more reading on Japan take a look at my articles about a 2 Weeks in Japan itinerary and a guide to Japanese onsens.


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