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When Is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

Shinjuku's Memory Lane Tokyo

When is the best time to visit Japan?

It depends on what type of trip you’re looking to take. However, spring and autumn tend to be the most beautiful weather-wise. We’d recommend a trip between March and May or September and November. If you’re looking to steer clear of crowds, then a trip in May after Golden Week is for you.

When is the best time to visit Japan for cherry blossoms?

Cherry blossom season is one of the most popular times to visit Japan . Crowds of people excitedly welcome spring with the blooming of the beautiful Sakuras, with various festivals popping up across the country to celebrate.

The blooming timeline does depend on what region of Japan you’re in. For example, the bloom time in southern Japan is slightly earlier than the other regions, while the middle of April is the peak month for Tokyo. We recommend checking out the cherry blossom forecast via the Japan Meteorological Corporation if you want more information on the regions you’ll visit.

Need more inspiration? We've rounded up all the best reasons to visit Japan in 2024 after it was voted the best country in the world in our 2023 Readers' Choice Awards .

Boats Tied Up On The Uji Canal In Kyoto City

When is the best time to visit Japan for good weather?

The weather is the most mild and sunny during the spring months between March and May or autumn from September to November. The summer months see higher, humid temperatures with increased rainfall.

What is the cheapest time to go to Japan?

It’s always cheapest to travel during the off-season, which would fall between mid-January and March. The winter months see a decrease in the number of tourists, meaning airlines and hotels are eager to greet visitors.

Aerial Tokyo City View with Tokyo Tower Minato Tokyo Japan.

When is the busiest time to visit Japan?

Cherry blossom season and Golden Week are the busiest times to visit Japan. The Sakura season sees many international tourists arrive, while Golden Week (a collection of four national holidays) at the beginning of May shows increased domestic tourism.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveller .

japan time to travel

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Six Senses Kyoto

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Planning a Trip to Japan: DOs & DON’Ts (2024)

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This post is based on an amazing guide our friend Amy Dunn-Cham compiled us full of her Japan tips on how to plan a trip to Japan years ago. We have since visited Japan five times and update this post regularly with what we’ve learnt.

Ah Japan, irasshaimase! Welcome to the land where everything just works. The land of convenience, the land of delicious food, paradox, naked strangers, and where respect permeates through every part of society and culture.

In Japan the food can be described as clean and minimalist, but never simple, which probably sums up Japan as a whole. It’s a place that both lives up to, and out does, any expectation you have upon arrival.

Uh-huh, they have the fastest, sleekest, most efficient trains (ever!), but they still have paper posters pegged up on their Tokyo subway. Yeah, they have amazing futuristic architecture, but they also have countless traditional wooden buildings in amongst it all. 

Yes, they have the busiest people crossing in the world (Shibuya), but at no point is it ever chaotic, no need for anyone to bang on a cab screaming, “Hey, I’m walking here!”. 

Yes, they have scores of scarily trendy, funkily clad young people who like to cosplay on weekends, but they also have evening family outings to sentos (public bathhouses).

In this Japan travel guide, we’ll help you make sense of it all and share our best tips for planning a trip to Japan.

Elegant women in Tokyo - Japan travel tips

2024 Update: No Japan Travel Restrictions

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Japan reopened to independent international tourists on 11 October 2022.

Remaining restrictions were dropped on 29 April 2023, so visitors no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.

The government also dropped the indoor masking recommendation. Many Japanese people still wear masks (on our late 2023 trip, I’d say about 30-40% of people wore them), but you are unlikely to be required to.

With the yen at the lowest it has been for decades, now is a great time to travel to Japan.

Health care is expensive in Japan, so I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance that covers Covid-19 medical expenses.  SafetyWing Insurance  is an excellent budget option, especially for travellers on longer trips and families (as children under 10 are free). It’s available worldwide.

If you want a more comprehensive policy with cancellation cover, check out Heymondo travel insurance , which we used on our last Japan trip (it came in handy when Simon broke his foot!). It’s also available worldwide and offers 5% off for our readers.

Are you planning a trip to Japan? Here are the dos and don'ts to follow to help you make the most of your time in this crazy and wonderful country.

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We’ve visited Japan in all four seasons and don’t think there’s a bad time to go. 

In winter , it’s chilly and gardens are a bit bare, but crowds are lower, you’ll find great deals on accommodation, and you’ll really appreciate those onsens (hot springs). You can also go skiing or snowboarding and have the best chance of seeing snow-capped Mount Fuji.  

In summer , it is steaming hot and humid (and June is the rainiest month), but there are fewer foreign tourists around and lots of local festivals to enjoy. It’s also the best time to visit the many beaches and the only time you can climb Mount Fuji. 

The most popular and best overall times to visit Japan are spring (March-April) and autumn (October – early December). This is when you can enjoy the gorgeous cherry blossoms (sakura) or autumn leaves (koyo). It’s more crowded and expensive, but the weather can be ideal and it is just stunning. 

See our guide to visiting the Kyoto cherry blossoms for more information on the popular sakura season. 

On our recent autumn trip, we had warm weather (up to 77ºF/25ºC) with very little rain from October until mid-November, when the temperature in Kyoto suddenly plummeted ahead of the leaves turning colour.

Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms at the Arakurayama Sengen Park in the Fuji Five Lakes area

Shoulder seasons May and late-September/early October  are also good times to visit with warm weather and lower crowds.

Two times of year I would avoid for a vacation to Japan are:

Golden Week in early May – In 2025, Golden Week will be from 29 April – 6 May. This is a series of national holidays so many Japanese travel domestically, trains and hotels book up, and popular spots will be extra crowded.

New Year – Late December to early January. This is also a busy time with local travellers and most businesses close for up to four days.

How long do you need in Japan? As long as possible!

There is so much to see—we have spent months in the country and still have a long bucket list.

For first time visitors, I recommend visiting Japan for two weeks. This is enough time to see some highlights—Tokyo, Kyoto, and one or two smaller destinations. See our Japan two week itinerary for suggestions.

A week is the minimum time I recommend for a Japan trip. For a more relaxed Japan vacation, spend the whole week in Tokyo or Kyoto and take day trips. Or if you don’t mind rushing about, visit both major cities with an overnight stop on the way (such as Hakone).

Read our guide on the best places to visit in Japan to decide where interests you most and come up with an itinerary. You’ll find some suggestions at the end of this guide.

Watch this video for Japan trip ideas.

  • Check if you need a visa . Visa-free travel is possible for citizens of 68 countries for stays of up to 90 days (including US, UK, Canada, Australia and the EU). Do have a return or onward flight out of the country as they may grill you upon arrival. It was the nicest immigration interrogation we’ve ever had, though.
  • Purchase your Japanese Rail Pass exchange order before you travel to Japan (if needed, more on that later).
  • Learn some Japanese —numbers are especially useful! While you can get by with Google Translate, it’s much more fun to learn some Japanese (which isn’t as hard as you might think) and locals really appreciate it. We are currently learning with the comprehensive Rocket Japanese online course , which includes audio lessons with natural dialogue, grammar and culture tips, and voice recognition to test your pronunciation. It’s a little pricey but unlike most subscription-based courses, you get lifetime access and discounts are often available.
  • Get an International Driving Permit . You’ll need this for go-karting on the real Tokyo roads dressed as your favourite character. Insanity but one of the most fun things we’ve done in Japan.
  • Arrange travel insurance. Healthcare is expensive in Japan, so make sure you are covered in case the worst happens. We’ve used and recommend Heymondo and  SafetyWing (both available worldwide) and True Traveller for UK/EU residents.

Safetywing travel insurance

  • Apply for a Mastercard credit or debit card – If you don’t already have one. Some Japanese websites don’t work with Visa so it’s good to have a backup. We used a Starling Bank debit card (UK only), which has free international transactions and cash withdrawals.
  • Walk as much as possible – You will walk a lot in Japan cities so it helps to get some training in beforehand (and wear in some comfy shoes).
  • Practice using chopsticks – You’ll need them to eat in almost every restaurant (curry is the exception as it’s eaten with a spoon). Getting used to sitting on the floor is a good idea for some restaurants and experiences too.

Vegan ramen at Chabuzen in Tokyo

  • Buy a pre-paid transport IC card  for local trains, metro and buses. You just tap on and off and don’t have to worry about buying a ticket. In Kyoto and Osaka, it’ll be an ICOCA card, and in Tokyo, it’s a Suica or Pasmo, but you can use any of the cards all over the country. Physical cards are currently in short supply (due to a chip shortage), so I recommend adding Suica to Apple Wallet on your phone or watch. Visa doesn’t work as a payment method so use Apple Pay, Mastercard, or American Express to top up. We just tapped on transport with our Apple watch and didn’t even need to open the app. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for Android phones bought outside Japan.
  • Set up an Airalo eSIM – You’ll want affordable data on your phone as having access to maps and Google Translate makes life so much easier. A digital eSIM is simple to set up before you arrive and prices at Airalo start at just US$4.50. We used it on our last Japan trip and it worked great. If your phone doesn’t support eSIMs, you can buy a physical Umobile SIM from a vending machine at Tokyo Narita Airport (make sure your phone is unlocked).
  • Sign up to the Timeout Tokyo newsletter – To learn about special events during your stay.

Meeting Totoro at the bar at Ghibli Park in Nagoya, Japan

  • Buy tickets for Ghibli Museum and Ghibli Park – If you are a Studio Ghibli fan, you might want to visit the museum in Tokyo or new park in Nagoya. It’s essential to book ahead. See below for details.
  • Research what else to book in advance – Many attractions and restaurants in Japan require advance booking so decide what’s important to you (ideally at least three months ahead) and set reminders for when bookings are available. At the end of this post you can see the timescale for what we booked for our latest trip.

Simon dressed up as Yoshi on our go karting experience in Tokyo

  • Consider a Japan Rail Pass . The luxury of shinkansen (bullet train) hopping is exhilarating. No need to book seats in advance, just choose a train, wave your pass and hop on. These passes are only available to foreigners and you can order online from  JRailPass.com . Read our guide to whether a Japan Rail Pass is worth it for everything you need to know after the price increase in October 2023 (it’s still worth it for some trips if you are travelling a lot).

Hello Kitty Shinkasen bullet train in Japan

  • Bow if you are being bowed to . If you can manage it too, don’t turn your back upon exit. Don’t overdo it though or you’ll be a total gaijin , no need to bow to the supermarket checkout person!
  • Pre-book accommodation. Wise anyway as the more affordable accommodation fills up fast, but also in line with the whole respect thing, Japanese people like to be prepared for your arrival.  So don’t just randomly rock up at a ryokan for the night! Booking.com is our favourite site for finding hotels and guesthouses, and we also use AirBnb and Vrbo  to find apartments in the big cities (which are often cheaper than hotels). See our Japan accommodation guide for recommendations.

Hotel Mushashiya ryokan in Hakone

  • Go onsening! You might want to skip this in summer as hot doesn’t even come close to describing the water temperatures! But soaking in a hot spring is one of the most typical things to do in Japan and is ultra relaxing once you get over your fears of public nudity (yep, no clothes allowed!). Best of all, visit an onsen town where you can onsen-hop dressed in a kimono. See our Kinosaki Onsen travel guide for details on this lovely onsen town as well as hot spring etiquette. 

Erin in kimono by the cherry blossom lined canal in Kinosaki Onsen

  • Stay in a ryokan (traditional inn). Pricey but worth it for at least a night or two for the unique experience and the amazing meals that are often included in the room rates (and many can cater for vegetarians/vegans). Our favourite ryokan is Tsukihitei in Nara, so traditional and with a magical forest setting. We also loved our private bath overlooking the scarlet maple trees at Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo in Kyoto (book a suite not a standard room). A more budget-friendly option is Morizuya Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen, which is perfect for onsen-hopping.
  • Stay in a traditional tatami mat room.  If you can’t stay in a ryokan, a much cheaper way to stay in one is a traditional room in K’s House hostels—they have branches in Hakone  (with onsen), Kyoto , Izu Peninsula (in a 100-year-old building with onsen), and all over the country. We never had a bad experience with this hostel chain in our budget travel days.

Suite overlooking maple trees at Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo in Kyoto, Japan

  • Appreciate the zen-like calm on all modes of transport – no need for quiet only carriages here! Just remember that it’s rude to speak on your phone on trains in Japan.
  • Use Google Translate . Many people don’t speak English, so the Google Translate app is helpful for communicating. Write what you want to say in English then show the Japanese translation to the person. Even more impressive is the feature to translate images—point your camera at a sign, menu, or food label and it translates the text instantly. It’s not perfect but when it works, it’s brilliant.
  • Translate websites too – Many Japanese websites (especially restaurants) are only in Japanese so using Chrome or Safari, refresh the page and select the English option at the top. On Safari on my iPhone, I tend to select a block of text and tap translate from the popup.
  • See some sumo . If you’re lucky enough to be in the country when one of the sumo tournaments is on, go! The pre/ post game rituals are fascinating to watch. If you aren’t there during a tournament, you can see a practice session at a sumo stable in Tokyo . It was one of our favourite experiences in Japan—it felt like such an honour to see these huge, impressive sumotori training so close.
  • Expect bursts of freakery!

Weird statue in Kyoto - expect bursts of freakery when planning a trip to Japan for the first time

  • Get your paper fortune at a Japanese Buddhist temple. Okay, we cheated and got an English one at the Golden Pavilion (see our guide on the best things do to in Kyoto ), but what the hell! You can also get one at the gorgeous Sensoji Temple in Tokyo . 
  • Love the Japanese for their never-ending capacity to help you out , and they won’t stop until they do!
  • Read these Japan books before you visit for a greater understanding of this weird and wonderful culture. 
  • Have some sushi – Sushi is the essence of Japan, plus sushi-train/ sushi stand up bars are so much fun watching the chefs take your order, and all shout in unison, “samon!” or “tamago!” etc. Vegetarian sushi isn’t very common, but we did find some—see our vegetarian Japanese food guide .

Simon wearing a kimono for our vegetarian sushi feast at Morizuya Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen

  • Appreciate the plastic food models as works of art!
  • Pack slip-on shoes. You’ll be taking your shoes on and off a lot in temples and restaurants. I wear the comfy ballet flats Allbirds Tree Breezers in warmer weather and Allbirds Wool Runner sneakers (for men and women) in cooler weather—they keep your feet cosy but can be worn without socks and easily slipped off without untying the laces. See my detailed Allbirds review .
  • Shop at the 100 Yen shops.  Like pound shops BUT BETTER! Daiso is a great one.
  • Play in the arcades dotted around cities, the taiko drum game rocks! 
  • Make use of the many vending machines EVERYWHERE . You will never go thirsty in Japan that’s for sure.  You can even get hot coffee…in a can! (Simon’s saviour when we had early morning trains to catch.) In fact, you can get friggin’ anything from vending machines from cheap 100 yen sake (yuk!) to hot chips (not surprisingly we did not try!) and SIM cards. In Tokyo you can use your Suica transport card to pay. 
  • Press random buttons on the panel next to you on the loo . It will make you giggle ;o)!  Also, if it’s cold then appreciate the absolute miracle of heated toilet seats.
  • Fall in love with seeing toriis (shrine gates) everywhere , especially small red ones in rows behind each other. Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is our favourite (but go early as it’s popular). 
  • Love and appreciate the beautiful presentation of absolutely everything from the amazing architecture to the way bento boxes are wrapped in a napkin tied in a knot just so, to amazing manhole covers!
  • Pack light.  It will be much easier to hop on and off trains while travelling around Japan if you pack light, and hotels have limited storage space for luggage. Best of all, travel with just carry-on luggage . The Away Bigger Carry-On was perfect for our trip and fit overhead in trains.

Erin and Simon with their Away bigger carry on suitcases in Japan

  • Consider luggage shipping – We haven’t used this yet, but if you have large luggage, it’s common to send it between hotels (it takes a day, so pack essentials in an overnight bag).
  • Withdraw cash from 7-11 ATMs.  They are the most reliable no-fee option for international cards and can be found everywhere. Make sure you always have cash on hand as many places don’t accept credit cards (although this is improving). Note that some 7-11 ATMs in popular spots (the airport, Gion), do now charge, so try to withdraw in less touristy areas.
  • Use Navitime to check train times and prices (and to work out if a Japan Rail Pass is worth it for your itinerary ).
  • Visit BIC Camera if you need any kind of electronics. These massive stores have everything you could imagine. Take your passport if you are making a large purchase (over 5000 yen) and get it tax free. I bought a camera here and ended up getting lots of extra discounts and free accessories. It’s also a good place to buy a SIM card if you didn’t pick one up at the airport.

DON’T:

  • Rent a car – For most visitors the best way to travel Japan is by train. Elsewhere we love road trips, but renting a car in Japan is just not worth the hassle unless you are travelling far off the beaten track.
  • Open the door if taking a taxi. They are either automated or the driver will open it for you. It’s also a good idea to have your destination’s address written down in Japanese to show the driver as most don’t speak English.
  • Feel bad if you need to take a break from Japanese food – Japan isn’t always an easy destination and indulging in a comfort meal can be restorative (we’ve had some excellent pizza in Japan).

Pizzeria Yuki in Kyoto Japan

  • Forget to check opening hours – Japanese restaurants aren’t usually open all day and both restaurants and attractions usually have a last order/entry 30 to 60 minutes before closing.
  • Go whizzing around the country too much. It can save energy to base yourself in one place and take day trips as we did in Kyoto and Okayama .
  • Wear holey socks. You’ll only be embarrassing yourself when you take your shoes on/ off constantly!
  • Go into an onsen without washing first , that’s just dirty dude!  Also, don’t go into the bathing area with a towel wrapped around you, you’ll just look stupid. Embrace the nudity! Everyone’s naked so no-one cares. My Kinosaki Onsen guide has more etiquette tips for newbies.

Autumn themed dishes and chefs at work at Monk restaurant in Kyoto

Japan is a popular destination and many hotels, restaurants, and attractions book up in advance. While you can still have a wonderful last-minute trip, it’s worth researching what you’d like to do months in advance to see what needs reservations.

On our most recent trip to Japan (in the busy autumn October/November season), this is what we booked ahead:

5 Months Before

  • Flights – This is personal preference and earlier or later could also work. Tokyo Narita (NRT), Tokyo Haneda (HND), or Kansai International Airport in Osaka (KIX) are all good options to fly in to.
  • Accommodation – Ryokans and hotels in smaller towns are most important to book ahead. Some hotels don’t take bookings more than 3 or 6 months in advance, though. We used Booking.com and almost all had free cancellation.

4 Months Before

  • Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta – Our favourite place to stay in Japan is right inside the best Disney park in the world. Rooms go on sale 4 months in advance at 11am JST and sell out in minutes, so it’s essential to do some practice runs.

3 Months Before

  • Harry Potter Studio Tour, Tokyo – We booked 7 weeks in advance and only got an afternoon slot, so earlier is a good idea. Check Klook and the Warner Bros Studio Tour website as they have different availability.

2 Months Before

  • Ghibli Park , Nagoya – Tickets go on sale on the 10th of the month at 2pm JST for 2 months later (it changed recently from 3 months). So May tickets will be on sale on 10 March. These sell out quickly, so be prepared.
  • Teamlab Planets , Tokyo – Book early if you want a specific time for this interactive digital art exhibition (we wanted the first slot). We booked on Get Your Guide . The new TeamLab Borderless is also selling out fast (tickets available on Klook or direct ).
  • Some Restaurants – We booked Monk in Kyoto exactly 2 months in advance at 12pm JST (after five attempts—see our Monk Kyoto review for how) and Shigetsu in Kyoto (as we were visiting during peak autumn colour). Creating a Tablecheck account is a good idea as quite a few restaurants use it for bookings.
  • Saihoji (Moss Temple) , Kyoto – It’s expensive and might not be a priority with limited time in Kyoto, but it’s our favourite temple. Reservations open 2 months in advance.
  • Universal Studios Japan Express Passes – These are essential to skip the lines at this very busy park in Osaka, and they do sell out. We bought the Express Pass 7 on Klook (much easier than the official site which is in Japanese only). We bought our USJ entrance tickets on Klook at the same time. See our Universal Studios Japan guide for more tips.

japan time to travel

1 Month Before

  • Ghibli Museum , Tokyo – Available at 10am JST on the 10th of each month for the following month.
  • Shibuya Sky , Tokyo – Bookings open 4 weeks in advance at midnight Japan time. Book fairly soon after that to get the peak slot (one hour before sunset).
  • Tours – I booked a sumo stable visit (highly recommended) and Shinjuku bar hopping tour in Tokyo. Go-karting is another fun option we’ve done before. I used Get Your Guide for most tours. Klook is a good option for tickets and attractions too.
  • Tea Ceremony Ju-an , Kyoto – Learn the traditions of tea in a temple. One of the highlights of our trip.
  • Sakurai Tea Experience , Tokyo – If you love green tea, don’t miss the tea tasting at this modern tea room.
  • More Restaurants – I booked Saido in Tokyo, Uzu Vegan Ramen in Kyoto (reservations essential), and Ristorante di Canaletto at DisneySea (one month in advance at 10am JST exactly).
  • Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland tickets – I booked on Klook. The parks probably won’t sell out, but we didn’t want to take the chance.
  • Japan Rail Pass – If you decide to get one, allow plenty of time for your exchange order to arrive by post, just in case (you activate it on arrival).

2 Weeks Before

  • Shinkansen Train Seat Reservations – We used the SmartEx website , which can be difficult to set up (use a Mastercard and keep trying to authenticate the payment method) but very handy. When booking a train from Tokyo to Kyoto, choose a seat on the right side of the train for Mt Fuji views (if clear). If you have large suitcases, you’ll also need to make an oversized baggage reservation .
  • Airport Taxi Pickup – From Narita Airport we get the Narita Express train, but from Haneda Airport (which is closer to central Tokyo), we prefer a taxi for ease. We booked this Haneda airport pickup on Klook .
  • More Tours and Restaurants – Book any more priorities as you finalise your itinerary.

Takayama, one of the best stops on our Japan 2 week itinerary

Japan has so much to offer but here are a few places to get you started.

  • Tokyo – The best of modern Japan. This huge city has incredible food, diverse neighbourhoods, and some unique experiences. Try these cool things to do in Tokyo and enjoy the best vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo . 
  • Kyoto – The best of traditional Japan with many stunning temples to explore . Read the best things to do in Kyoto .
  • Takayama – A smaller, quieter alternative for traditional Japan with a beautiful historic centre of preserved wooden houses. 
  • Hakone – For the chance to see Mount Fuji, mountain scenery, lakes, onsens, and fun transport options (cable cars and pirate ships!). 
  • Kawaguchiko – Even better views of Mount Fuji at Lake Kawaguchiko . 
  • Nikko – Stunning temples in the forest. Could be visited as a day trip from Tokyo. 
  • Hiroshima – Visit the moving peace memorial that commemorates the atomic bombing and don’t miss nearby Miyajima Island. 

See our Japan 2 Week Itinerary for a detailed guide to visiting many of these places including things to do, transport, and where to stay and eat.

Or our guide to the best places to go in Japan has more ideas.

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171 Comments

My family is planning a 2 week celebratory trip to Japan in 2025. There will be 2 seniors (grandparents), 3 couples (two DIL’s speak some Japanese) with 6 children between them (ages infant to 8), and 1 adult with Down Syndrome. We are hoping to spend some time in the country and small towns as well as Tokyo and Kyoto. Is it crazy for the 15 of us to travel together as a group? I assume that we will spend the days in smaller groups as we search out what feeds our interests. But what about hotels/inns for the group? We would all prefer to stay in more traditional lodgings if possible. What about meeting up for a meal at the end of the day? What about traveling between towns/cities? Some of us in the group are great planners, so what should we be thinking about to make this a trip that everyone will fondly remember.

Reply ↓

Thank you for this insightful site. My daughter (who is in the Navy) is taking me to Japan for one week at the end of September. She has already purchased the plane tickets and taken leave. We are flying into Narita, and wanted to spend some time in Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka. Does that seem too ambitious for the time we have (Sept. 24 – Oct. 2)? Also, do you recommend getting first class tickets for the bullet train in order to be sure we can get reservations? I have to admit, planning this trip feels a bit overwhelming, so your site and help are appreciated more than you can know! Thank you!

I do think that’s a bit much in that time frame. I would skip Osaka or just visit on a day trip from Kyoto if you have the energy.

First class (called the Green Car) is a bit more comfortable and spacious and we sometimes like to book it for longer train trips. You aren’t more likely to get a reservation though – you can reserve the regular cars just as easily. You shouldn’t have a problem getting reservations at that time of year a few days in advance.

You can just go to the train station when you get to Tokyo and book them all at the counter (it helps to write down which trains you want). Queues can be long though. There are also self service machines but they can be confusing.

We now prefer to use the SmartEx website to book the shinkansen: https://smart-ex.jp/en/ It can be hard to get the credit card set up at the beginning but keep trying (Mastercard often works better than Visa on Japanese websites). Then once you’ve booked you can collect the tickets from machines at the station which is pretty easy.

Good luck with all the planning! Erin

Hi, Good Day! Great Information for people read this including me. Arigatou Gozaimasu. I wish i can go travel to Japan Its my Dreams when i was kid 7 years old when i already know and read Manga books Doraemon. Geertings from Indonesia.

THanks for your recommendation on hotels and restaurants, i know something about it.

Thank you for the lovely Japan Blogs – it is making our travel planning fun! It would be really helpful to understand the areas to stay in within the cities, especially first time travelers to Japan.

Thanks JK! Our Kyoto guide has tips on the best area to stay (Gion or downtown) and in Tokyo, we recommend Shinjuku for first time visitors. Enjoy Japan!

Wow, an amazing blog, Erin. This is helping us so much plan our trip. It is great to see you updating it regularly too. It’s becoming a daily read.

Kind regards,

Thanks so much for this post! As is often the case I am following you around the world and now I’m going to Japan. Look forward to reading everything you’ve written on it!

Good to hear you are going to Japan, Ruth! I hope you enjoy it as much as we always do!

We are a very active retired couple and love exploring different cultures, sights, and exploring nature. We are planning on going to Japan for the first time for 3 -4 weeks, around the third week or so in Sept to mid October or later. We will travel with just carry on luggage and backpacks. We love touring on our own, or booking individual tours at the different places. We are open to basing in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima(?) plus other places and doing day trips from these places. What would be a good itinerary for our 21+ day trip? Thanks so much! We love your website! Bunny

Hi, I lost my comment somewhere on your blog 😅 So, me and my partner are going to Japan for 4-6 weeks in sept/october. We want to travel in a slow pace and want to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, hiking around Kiso Valley (and Kumano Kodo?), Nagano, Kanazawa? We also want to explore some nice nature, visit onsen, sleep at a roykan etc. Hokkaido would be cool but i don’t know if we will have time with that. Do you have any tips where we must go? I think our plan is to be at least 7 days each in Kyoto and Tokyo, we want to stay for minimum 2 nights at each place. Would you recommend to start in Tokyo? Is it worth to start a week in a busy town with jetlag? Should we go somewhere else (where?) for a nice start on the vacation?

Thank you! /Johanna

Hi Johanna!

I’m planning a solo trip from ~May 21-June 21, but i’m worried i’ll hit the rainy season and humidity. What to you advise? I’m limited to May 21st as my earliest trip start date due to school!

I think it makes sense to start with Tokyo if that’s where you are flying in to. That way you don’t have to worry about travelling elsewhere and you have enough time there that you can plan for the first few days to be pretty relaxed – wander some neighbourhoods, eat etc.

Sounds like you have plenty of time to do everything you want. You could easily use that time in central Japan, but you could add in Hokkaido if you really wanted (we still haven’t made it there). Enjoy!

Hi Erin, is it advisable to visit Lake Kawaguchiko in November? And, do you think it is possible to do a day trip to Lake Kawaguchiko having Tokyo as the base?

We haven’t been in November but we definitely would. You will likely see the autumn colours too (generally peak around mid-Nov), which would be beautiful.

It will likely be colder than Tokyo, but as long as you are prepared with warm clothes it should be enjoyable.

And yes, it is possible as a day trip from Tokyo – many people go by train or on bus tours. Just be aware that Mt Fuji is often hidden in cloud, so if you stay overnight you increase your chances to see it. But you could also try to choose a clear day for your day trip. Enjoy!

Our Lake Kawaguchiko travel guide has more details.

Thank you for creating this! I’m making my way through reading all of your posts. I will be visiting Japan for 14 days for the first weeks in April with my husband, a 7 year old, 10 year old and my two of my adult siblings. We’ll be a big group but I’m very excited as this is my first time and have always dreamed of going. Wondering if you have any advice for the younger kids or any kid entertainment? Thanks again!

Travelling with kids isn’t our area of expertise so I don’t have any specific recommendations except for Tokyo Disney, which we love. Tokyo DisneySea is our favourite park—it’s the only one in the world and has plenty to offer for kids and adults. Enjoy!

Absolutely love this perspective on travel! It beautifully captures the essence of what it means to explore the world. Travel isn’t just about ticking off destinations; it’s about slowing down, immersing yourself in new cultures, savoring moments, and absorbing the rich tapestry of life that the world has to offer. 🌍✈️🌏

Thank you so much for this! I have started notes and saved the page so that I can come back and check out all the links. :) I am wanting to take my 14 (would be 15 then) daughter alone (we do girl’s trips every year without dad) to Japan. She loves all things Cherry Blossoms! We try and do her spring break time (next year will be the first week of April), but I am concerned about that being too short of time period. Could we do it? If that is all the time you had, would you have a ‘base in Tokyo and then do some excursions from there (which is how we like to travel)? I am also worried about the language barrier and us being able to navigate since sometimes Google translate will not work. Thanks again!

Hi Jennifer, With one week I would focus on Kyoto, which is a better location for cherry blossoms and also has so many beautiful temples and gardens. It’s more traditional Japan (although there is a modern part too). Ideally, you’d fly into Kansai Airport which is closest.

If you have to fly into Tokyo, you could spend a few nights there before taking the shinkansen train to Kyoto (the quickest one is just over 2 hours).

If you really want to see the more modern side of Japan or don’t want to take the train, then Tokyo would be a great base. You can still see plenty of cherry blossoms there.

We don’t speak Japanese (although we are trying to learn this year) and have always managed. The Japanese are very helpful and will always try to help you out, even with a language barrier. And there are an increasing number of signs in English. Just make sure you have data on your phone as Google Translate and Maps are super helpful (you can download Japanese offline in Translate too).

Be sure to book accommodation far in advance for the cherry blossom season (ideally 6 months+).

Enjoy Japan! Erin

Hi Erin, My husband & I are travelling to Japan in August as he is competing in the world masters swimming competition. We have to be in Fukuoka for the competition and then he have 9 days to explore the country ending up in Tokyo for our flight home. Could you advise what we should do at this time of year. Do you think it is sensible to base ourselves in Kyoto and then take daily trips from there using the JR Pass, (do you recommend we get the Green pass). Your advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanking you in advance.Pia

Hi Pia, that’s exciting!

If you don’t want to move around too much then I do think Kyoto is a great base. There’s so much to do (including festivals in August) and lots of possible day trips. You could finish up with a couple of nights in Tokyo.

If you want to add some extra places you could stop in Hiroshima on the way to Kyoto for the peace memorial and nearby Miyajima Island. It’s a quick journey on the bullet train from Fukuoka.

You’ll need to work out your route first to see whether a rail pass is worth it. It probably won’t be worth it for day trips but could work out worthwhile including the shinkansen up from Fukuoka and on to Tokyo.

We’ve never used a green pass but if you want a bit more space you could consider it.

Also bear in mind that around the Obon holiday (13-16 August) the trains will be busier than usual so book your seat in advance.

Enjoy Japan!

Hi Erin – great post, thanks for your comprehensive insight! My partner and I are heading to Tokyo for NYE and planning on heading from there to Kyoto around the 2nd for a couple of nights. I understand that Japan can be very quiet during the first week of January. Do you have any experience travelling at this time? If so, do you have any suggestions about how to make the most of the trip while the country is a bit quieter? Thanks in advance :)

Hi Sarah, We haven’t been to Japan at New Year. The important thing to bear in mind is that many businesses will be closed on some or all days between 29 Dec and 4 Jan. So make sure you look at the hours of any restaurants and attractions you want to visit and work around them.

I think Kyoto will be lovely at a quieter time of year especially as it does get so busy. There are so many temples and shrines to explore and they stay open over NY. Enjoy!

Wonderful website and tips. I know one of your dont´s is rent a car, but we are hoping to visit Shirakawa-go, Gokayama and Takayama, and have found no easy way to get there from Tokyo or Kyoto on train. Do you have any recommendation on how to do that?

Many many thanks¡

Hi Natalia. You can get to Takayama from Kyoto or Tokyo easily by changing trains in Nagoya. The journey from Nagoya to Takayama is beautiful.

The other villages can be reached by bus from Takayama (Shirakawa-go is easiest), but yes, a car would give you more flexibility to explore the countryside around here.

Maybe look into renting a car for a few days in Takayama? Just remember you’ll need an international driving licence, which you’ll need to get in your home country.

While a car could be useful in the countryside, I wouldn’t want to drive in the cities and the train between cities is probably quicker.

I’ve written a bit about Takayama in our 2 week itinerary: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/japan-2-week-itinerary/

Have a wonderful trip to Japan! Erin

Hello Enrin, your tips makes me very enthousiatic to plan a 4week trip to Japan. Is that a good way to tour? (Will be half september-half oktober).

forgot to say ;-) we plan to travel with a campervan: is that a good way to tour?

That’s a great time to visit and a nice amount of time to explore. I don’t think a campervan or any rental car is the best way to travel though. Driving (and finding parking) in the cities is a challenge and it’s much easier to travel by train.

A campervan would only be advisable if you want to focus on rural areas like Hokkaido.

Remember you’ll need an international driving licence, which you’ll need to get in your home country.

Hello Great Blog. full of advices How do you suggest to travel the “alps” from Kanazawa that one can reach by train to takayama and around ? would that be the place where you rent a car?

You can visit places like Kamikochi by bus from Takayama so a car isn’t essential.

Hi Erin, would like to ask is hiring tour guide better or do it yourself to see all nice place in Japan?

It depends how you prefer to travel. I definitely think it’s possible to travel by yourself. A compromise might be to hire a guide for a day (or join a tour) in Kyoto and/or Tokyo.

Good Day Erin. Just doing beginning research for our yearly trip this year, and we are considering Japan. Your excellent article is the first I started with. We like to spend minimum of 2 weeks, usually longer at our destination. You suggest that using public transportation throughout the country and not to rent a car. My husand and I are seniors. My husband has difficulty (pain) after walking a short distance (100 yards). Would this destination be a wise choice for us? Before going further in my research an answer to this question is most appreciated. Regards

Hi Diane, yes, trains are definitely the best way to visit Japan’s cities. You could hire a private driver for day tours within places like Kyoto, though, which could minimise the need to walk as much when sightseeing.

It would probably be best to minimise the places you visit (such as Tokyo and Kyoto or even just Kyoto) as train stations are quite large and do involve walking. If you fly into Kansai airport you could take a taxi to Kyoto and see a lot based there.

Perhaps renting a wheelchair is worth considering. There is also an overnight luggage delivery service where you can send your bags between hotels to make train travel easier.

As we don’t have any experience of travelling Japan with mobility issues, I would look for advice from those who have. Here’s one post that might be useful: https://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+132386

Diane: As someone who recently travelled to Japan having had double knee replacement surgery less than 12 months previously, I can offer a little insight! While I agree that travelling by train is a fantastic way to get around Japan (I covered a LOT of miles!) you should be aware that not all train stations have lifts or escalators. Many stations in Tokyo have quite long flights of stairs which can be a challenge to anyone less able or in pain, especially when you have luggage. Even when there is a lift, it’s typically right at the end of the platform (often the “wrong” end for where you want to be), so I would do some research before deciding how much urban train travel you will do; it’s less of an issue when taking the shinkansen to cover a reasonable distance. I much prefer trains to coaches, but I did use buses in places and that was fine. On the topic of car hire, I probably wouldn’t bother myself but I know someone who travels widely across Japan with a couple of kids and she swears by it, not least because they can easily reach locations that would otherwise be a hassle to get to. She doesn’t use one in the cities though. Lastly, I don’t think you should be put off going to Japan – it’s an amazing country and I found everyone to be unfailingly helpful. No problem is insurmountable!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Sue.

Hello Erin,

Would you recommend visiting Jaoan with a 1.5 year old? Do the onsens have babysitters?

We don’t have any experience travelling with kids but our friends took their toddler and loved it. The onsens don’t have babysitters as far as I know.

Thank so much for all the amazing info! Heading to Japan in June for two weeks with my daughter. It’s especially wonderful to know there are some great vegan/vegetarian options.

Hi Erin… I stumbled onto your website as I’ve started looking into planning for a trip in 2024 for my daughter’s High school Senior trip. Is Mid June a good time weather wise? Super hot? Also, are there food/restaurants that are gluten free for Celiacs? You mentioned beaches are those places more expensive than the cities? I will check out all your links too. TY for all the info, this will truly help.

It will be hot but if that’s the only time you can go, I wouldn’t let it stop you and it’s cooler than July and August.

I don’t have any experience being gluten free in Japan but our friend has written this guide: https://www.legalnomads.com/gluten-free/japan/

Beaches shouldn’t be more expensive than the cities but it depends where you go. We haven’t spent much time at the beaches.

Have a wonderful trip!

hi Erin, lovely website with a lot of good information. Do you list of places to visit / see – for a 4 week trip. We wanted to do the North part of the country as well. thanks for any tips and help. We are vegetarians as well but saw that you all managed to get delicious looking vegetarian food : ).

We haven’t actually made it very far north as there’s always so much to do in the central part. See our guide to the best places to visit in Japan for our favourite places: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/best-places-to-visit-in-japan/

And yes, vegetarian food in Japan is great if you plan in advance (use the Happy Cow app).

Thanks for the info Erin. Cultural.differences are amusing at least.

Thank you so much for this guide Erin! It’s really helpful. I’m planning a 2-3 week trip to Japan around September. However, I’ve read and seen a lot of people saying to avoid this time of year due to typhoon season. Would you recommend visiting Japan around this time despite the typhoons that might hit?

We’ve been in September and enjoyed it. We did get some rain but nothing that disrupted our trip. I wouldn’t let it stop you visiting.

Hello Erin! Great information. Thank you! What percentage of small businesses (resturants, clubs, rooms, etc) are open this month (March)? What percentage may be open in May? Should I wait until September to experience Japan? Take care,

Everything should be open now so any month this year is good to visit!

How easy is it to navigate in Tokyo and Kyoto with a group of 8? We’re concerned about everything from attractions to train travel to being able to eat together. This is a trip to celebrate our friends’ 40th birthday and logistics just seem to be overwhelming!

Hi Laurie We’ve only visited Japan as a couple, but I’d say it might be a bit challenging in a big group. Many restaurants are quite small and trains can be crowded (although you can book seats together for the longer trip between Kyoto and Tokyo).

I’m sure it would be possible if you plan in advance (book some restaurants etc) and maybe break into smaller groups for some of the time. Perhaps discuss what everyone definitely wants to do and do those things together, but then have some time doing your own thing.

Good luck with it and enjoy Japan!

I’ll be visiting Japan for 10 days in March! Could you give me a little insight on the paying methods there? How much cash should I bring/have on hand? Do they mostly accept cash or do most places accept credit cards?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Susan When we visited Japan previously we needed cash for most places. We just withdrew from an ATM (the ones at 7-11 were most reliable for foreign cards) when needed so we didn’t exchange any cash in advance. Just make sure you use a card that doesn’t charge international transaction fees (this will depend which country you are from).

But I have heard that since Covid more places accept credit cards and contactless payment methods, so I’m really hoping there’s less of a need for cash now. I would still recommend always having some with you just in case.

Hello . I want to visit Japan with my 13 year old granddaughter in June. I have never been in Japan, but have traveled widely. We plan to visit Kyoto and its environs mostly but want to spend couple days in Tokyo. We do not speak Japanese but will find a way to learn some. We are coming from the US, but my home country is Finland (very Japan friendly :)). We definitely want to get bullet train passes and need to learn about cell phone communication. And we are both into adventure and are looking forward to seeing Japan. Thank you for any advice you can give us.

I plan to visit Japan soon, spiritualy a home I have never been to yet. This is due to my work and my partners need for beach and sun. I’m hoping I can convince her soon to travel with me there. Or it’s over… the Japanese have a way of life with nature that we miss here in the UK….. I have so much respect for the people of Japan. We could learn a thing or two….. I plan to beg konami tsukamoto to mentor me in order I can preserve British trees as she does her native species…… much respect.

Excellent post Erin. You’ve included some great examples of things specific to Japan that it would be great to know in advance for new travellers.

I especially liked your recommendation not to try and cram too much in and whiz around the country. This is a common mistake people make when visiting Japan. Also, not wearing socks with holes in! Once you’ve done this in Japan, you’ll never do it again LOL!

Also, an upvote for your suggestion to visit Takayama – a wonderful place that has a charming historical district that’s like stepping back in time.

Good information given u

I’m doing a project on Japan for school, your posts on Japan were all SUPER helpful- thank you so much!

Glad it helped!

Hello We are looking to travel to Tokyo with out 2 year old in October. We were told that we would need to book travel guides for us to have a visa to enter in Japan. As great as that all sounds, it’s also more then we intend to spend for our trip. How true is needing the visa to enter Japan? Should we do a tour guide for a couple days? If that is allowed.

Hi Vee, As things currently stand, Japan’s borders are still closed to independent travellers. You can only enter the country as part of a package tour that is very restrictive (you can’t do any exploring alone), and, yes, it would be expensive. You would need a guide for the whole trip.

There is a chance borders will reopen by October but really there’s no way of knowing right now. If you decide to go ahead and book in the hope they do reopen, I would make sure everything has free cancellation.

So I’m trying to plan a trip to Japan with my family next year July (4kids) but I keep hearing super expensive, anyways nanny suggestions on where or how to plan n book.? Also my chance do you have any info on Tokyo Disneyland?

yes, japan can be quite expensive but if you plan your stay well and get a rail pass if you’re hopping between cities then you should be able to manage it :)

Should we rent a car or is public transportation the preferred mode of transportation for tourists?

Public transport is easier to deal with. I wouldn’t rent a car unless you are going somewhere remote.

Is it better to custom plan everything? Like book 2-3 week stay and go whichever places we want to visit ourselves or get a package that offer planned trips?

I think it’s best to book everything yourself, but it really depends on how much experience you have travelling and how much time you have to plan it all.

I’m going to Shinjuku. Next year in June this has really helped thank you

This helped so much, im going to Japan in 2 years with my dad (to film a documentary) and this helped so much

Thanks Lillee and have a great trip!

I’d love all the great tips, but should add make sure that you keep eyed out on your train timetable…I’d went to the Takayama Festival and didn’t watch my time. I’d miss my train and got stuck in Nagoya for six half hours trying to get back to Asakusa. (Never again?)…watch your JR Rail or Metro timetable. Japan trains are on point.

Oh no, what a nightmare!

Bravo, your article full of good advice with beautiful pictures. A small precision for foreigners who wish to drive in Japan, they have to translate their driving license at a JAF center.

Now this I call a detailed guide! We are hoping to visit Japan next year so I am gathering all the info I can before I start any serious planning. This post was really helpful!

Thanks Julia! Good luck with your planning!

Hi thanks for sharing this Me & my nephew are planning to visit japan for the 1st time this September can you pls recommend any place to stay or eat and should we do tour or should we go on our own ? We kinda nervous abt the trip .

You should be fine without a tour. The train system is very comfortable and efficient and if you buy a rail pass, you don’t even have to worry about buying tickets for each trip. If you ever get confused, the Japanese are very friendly and will help you out.

Here are a few posts that should give you some ideas on where to go with accommodation and restaurant recommendations: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/japan-2-week-itinerary/ https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/best-places-to-visit-in-japan/

Good luck and enjoy!

Wonderful and very Insightful Information.

I am a solo traveler from India, planning to travel to Japan for this first time, this summer for about 7-8 nights (June’2020), do you recommend going through some tour company or going on my own. How difficult is managing through Japan, without any knowing any Japaneses. Would you have a recommendation for a tour company.

I think Japan is fairly easy to manage without a tour company. The trains are a great way to travel and with a rail pass you don’t even need to worry about buying a ticket each time.

It helps to buy a local SIM card so you can use Google Translate on your phone. The Japanese are also usually very helpful even if they only speak a little English. We only speak a few words of Japanese are always manage fine.

Hello Erin, this is very useful. Thank you for sharing. Can you suggest us an 8 days itinerary for Japan. We’re visiting Japan for the first time and wish to enjoy the natural beauty and culture.

I would probably just focus on Kyoto and Tokyo in that time, perhaps with some day trips. Enjoy!

Hi! I’ve already been to Japan 2 times in the summer. The first time I visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and the Island of Shôdoshima. The second time I browsed a bit more around Tokyo and in the countryside (mainly in the Gunma prefecture – gorgeous landscapes!). I am going back in February. Two places I will visit for sure are Yokohama (first stop) and Sendai (2nd stop). And I and am wondering if there are “musts” I should not miss at that time of year (are snow festivals worth it? Or anything else?) and if it would be worth it to go as far south as Hiroshima? I should have about 12 days for Sendai onwards. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to fly back to Canada out of Tokyo (I could fly out from elsewhere too). Many thanks for your help and for sharing all of this! You’re doing a tremendous job!

Honestly this guide is incredible. I’ve booked marked this as I’m currently planning my things to do for March/April 2020! Any website booking recommendations?

Thanks Alyssa! Spring is such a lovely time in Japan.

Do you mean websites for booking accommodation or tours? We use Booking.com for hotels, Airbnb for apartments (in the big cities like Tokyo), and Voyagin for tours. You might find this post helpful: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/things-to-do-in-japan/

Good afternoon! I’m planning a 1-month trip to japan in two years and would like to know how much money you think I should save up. I already have the places I wanna visit in mind and would just like some bit of info.

Thank you. :)

That’s a difficult question to answer as it depends so much on your travel style. Do you want to stay in hostels or fancy ryokan or a mix of both? Do you want to do expensive tours and activities or are you happy just wandering? Are you happy with cheap ramen or do you want to try a pricey kaiseki meal?

As a rough idea, on this two week itinerary ( https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/japan-2-week-itinerary/ ) we spent about US$120 per person a day which I’d say is a mid-range budget. There is more info in the itinerary post.

“Well there it is” I shouted as I scrolled through this fantastic information resource. An superb honest, unbiased view and answer to all, yes all, my questions. Except one…. Did you get to visit Okinawa? I desperate to get there… I will have 3-4 weeks….

Thank you so much Brian!

Unfortunately, we haven’t visited Okinawa yet. You’ll have plenty of time to add on a flight down there though. Enjoy Japan!

Awesome post! Thanks for sharing the knowledge and keep up the good work.

Thanks Brian!

Those photos of the dog pulling the mans underpants!?! My child was looking at this with me and now he is scarred for life!

Oh dear! You do find some very strange things in Japan.

I really enjoyed the detail you gave on your trip to Japan! This is 100% helpful as someone planning a trip there for the first time.

Thanks and enjoy Japan!

Hi Erin, thank you for taking the time to put all this great info together. One question I have is in regards to Takayama. Did you like it more than Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go, if you went? We originally planned to stop for a night in each place, however, because of availability in Shirakawa-go, we had to switch up our itinerary a little bit. To adjust, we have considered skipping Takayama and just doing Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go, but this makes me think twice. We also have the option of leaving Tokyo a day early (currently booked for 4 full days there) to keep all 3 places in the line-up. Would love to hear your input! Thank you!

I did like Takayama more than Kanazawa. It’s smaller and cuter and is surrounded by countryside. But then I do prefer small towns to big cities so it depends on your preferences. If you can fit it in I would.

We didn’t visit Shirakawa-go in the end. We were thinking of visiting as a day trip on the way between Takayama and Kanazawa but it would have meant having to use buses rather than take the train which we prefer (and we had a rail pass). If we had had time for a night’s stay there it would have been better I think.

Whatever you choose you’ll have an amazing time though!

Thank you so much for your post! It’s incredibly informative :)

I have one question, I am a woman traveling alone is there anything I need to consider? I have heard that Japan is a safe country, as you have the real-life experience, I’d love to hear what you think!

Thank you for your time, and excellent blog post!

I don’t think you need to worry – Japan is a very safe country. Have a great trip!

Nice list, and pretty accurate- thanks for sharing all the info!

I have to say though- DO try non-Japanese food. Things off the top of my head: bread from the local bakeries, 600¥ cake from fancy department stores, Starbucks (the seasonal things!). Pork buns in Yokohama, Pirozhki in Kamakura… The list is endless. Of course eat all the Japanese food too, because it’s amazing too.

But, I’m also so sorry you had such a bad experience (I’ve been there too)! The size of the nan though? Oh-my-god, right? :)

I do think non-Japanese food has improved a lot in recent years. We had some fantastic Italian food on our last trip (as vegetarians it’s a good backup option for us!).

Which places do you wish you would have stayed longer?

Kyoto (even though we had three weeks there!) and Tokyo.

Great list! It’s made me even more excited to get to Japan now!

I love saying ‘moshi moshi’ – i used to hear it when I worked in an international call centre – it’s so much better than plain old ‘hello’!

Excellent post – interesting, funny and very informative! Currently planning my Japan trip, this was a lot of help :)

Have an amazing trip to Japan!

I am visiting my daughter in Singapore and on the way back to the US my wife and I are visiting Japan (3Jun-8Jun). It is only for 5 days so unfortunately our time there will be very short. Originally I wanted to climb Fuji but the guided trip company I emailed claimed they only had a 1 day guided trips and crampons were required. Although we love to hike this may be too much for such a short trip. If anyone has hiked Fuji in crampons in 1 day I would love to hear about the experience. I still want to see Fuji up close, Kyoto, old family member used to live in Nagoya so would like to stop by there and perhaps Hakone. I just started looking for any special events that take place in the first week of June. Looking forward to this trip and a longer one next time.

Hi there :) Loved your post. I’m from Portugal but I’m a Japan fan. Went to Tokyo las year on March but this time I’m planning on 3 weeks travel around Japan. Can you help me? I already have the places to visti but I need help spliting the time… Oh and if yo see any of the plaes below that arenot woth to visit or less mportant please I’d aprreciate if you tell me: – Chiba – Nikko – Nagano and Matsumoto – Kawagoe – Kanagawa – Mt. Fuji (just planning on going near to have a view – Lake Kawaguchiko) – Magome – Takayama – Nagoya – Kyoto – Nara – Osak – Himeji – Hiroshima – Miyajima – Tokyo (and surroundings)

Thank you so much if you can help me.

Kind regards

Hi guys! I’m planning a trip to Japan in January with mum (I know it’s cold over there, but that’s the only break we’ve got!). We’re planning for a stay for around 8 days, any tips on where to go? I heard that an ideal short trip will consist of arriving at Tokyo and departing at Osaka, is that true? I really don’t know much about Japan so any advice is appreciated!

I would focus on Kyoto and Tokyo and take the train between them. Maybe include a day in Osaka if you can get a flight out from there.

We’ve written lots more about Japan: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/japan-round-up/

Good advice. I hope to use this on my up come trip.

This is a great post! It is very helpful. I am planning to go to Tokyo this June. I will be staying in Shibuya/Shinjuku area. I don’t know which hotel to stay in and where to go first. Do you have any advice for the first time traveler? Thank you very much! :)

I am planning a trip in March 2015. Reading your website has got me extra excited already

Hi Matthew, I’m planning to travel to Japan at the beginning of March 2015 as well. If you got any great idea, we can discuss. Thanks

I am planning a trip to Kyoto to see where Reiki was started, your insights are great. Thank you

Are you house sitting for a friend or do you use a website to find/sign up for sitting jobs?

We used mindmyhouse.com

Hi guys, great blogs-thank you for sharing it. We’re planning to do a trip in December 2013 14-27/12.

Could you advise which cities we should visit using the shinkansen. We have 14 days to spend with the first 3 days in Tokyo, so it’ll leave us with 11 days in other cities.

I am confused with the the shinkansen map and which one we should take and which cities we can visit that is on the way. We are targetting to return to Tokyo on the last 3 days to do some shopping.

It is basically that 8 days, we need to use to the cities that can be visited using the shinkansen line.

Thank you in advance for your help

Hi Hemmy. I wrote up an itinerary I followed with a one-week JR Pass that might be of some help. It includes other useful tips for planning as well. Find it at:

http://www.lengthytravel.com/saving-on-travel-in-japan-with-a-jr-rail-pass-my-itinerary-tips-and-cost-savings/

Hi Jeff, thank you for your prompt reply. I really appreciate it. You’re really helpful

This site is really helpful about Japan and shows a route map: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2018.html

I would definitely recommend Kyoto and probably Hiroshima as well. These are the details of where we visited: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/japan-round-up/ .

Have a great trip!

Hi I was wondering if you could help. Basically I want to pay my mum and dad back for being such brilliant parents and helping me bring up my little boy. My dad went to Japan about 40 yrs ago he has always wanted to go back. I want to plan a surprise trip next year to Japan. I’m planning about 10 or 14 days away but not too much travelling maybe a few days in 3 places and ending up in Tokyo for 4 days to finish . Can you recommend anywhere that would be a must. I am completely lost as am not familiar with hotels or places etc. Any help would be brilliant Thanks nadya :)

It really depends what you are interested in but I’d definitely recommend Kyoto as well as Tokyo. Have a read through our Japan posts and see what you like the sound of. Good luck with it.

Thanks had a look and they’re into history so definitely Kyoto . Cheers for ur help Nadya

I going to Japan next year and through out my researches I always came across those dos an don’ts and I have to say this is really nice and short one but has a lot of information in it, which is something I really like! Keep up the good work ;D

Thanks and have a great trip.

Hello, i am starting a trip around the world in february. I start in Tokio and end in Canada in december. How many days do i need to see Tokyo and are there some real good hidden secrets? Gr. Bert

That’s a difficult question. There is so much to do in Tokyo you could spend a few days or months. We didn’t spend that much time there so can’t really advise.

Hello, with one of your Dos its not mushy mushy its moshi moshi aka (もしもし). I’ve been leaning japanese for about 9 years now i was wondering id you could correct it please

ありがとうございます (^_^)

Done. Thanks for letting us know.

Your topic is amazing, I learned a lot but can you tell me what money should i required for 1 month to travel in Japan.

It’s hard to say but you can see our budget post for an idea of what we spent: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-travel-in-japan/

Very nice and interesting article plus points. Japan is a place I really have wanted to go forever!

I am planning a 10 day trip with my two teenage girls. We really want to see Tokyo well. I keep hearing about Kyoto is it worth seeing, it seems far from Tokyo (8hrs) and expensive to get to?

I don’t think it’s that far if you get the bullet train. You can look up train times and prices on this website: http://www.hyperdia.com/ . You might also want to consider a rail pass if you are planning to visit other places. Compare the prices on that site with the rail pass.

Great Post. I lived in Japan for a few years and loved it. I would suggest going to any matsuri (festival) that are going on during your stay. There is lots of culture to be seen at those events. Plus there is good food. Depending on the location you’re at in Japan, during August or September, there are festivals for Obon.

In the planning stages for 9 days in Japan during June 2012 (flights booked). Can anyone help me with how long to see Hiroshima/Miyajima and whether we should base in Osaka or Kyoto to do the Osaka / Kyoto / Nara and possibly Takayama?

Hi Leonie, Two days would be enough for Hiroshima/Miyajima. I would chose Kyoto as a base as we much preferred it to Osaka and there’s more to see there. You can easily visit Osaka and Nara as day trips. We didn’t go to Takayama but it is quite a bit further away so it’s up to you how much you want to rush around. You could definitely find enough to do in Kyoto with a week.

Very useful! I wish I could go soon!!! Do you recommend any specific time in the year?

We were there in summer which suited us as we like hot weather. It is more scenic in the spring or autumn as you have the cherry blossoms or autumn leaves. The spring is peak season though. My friend went in the winter and loved it as the snow is beautiful, you can ski, and you can warm up in onsens (it was too hot for those when we were there). It really depends what you are looking for but anytime has something to offer.

I think Japan is going to be my next trip abroad, and this list is extremely helpful. I love that it addresses those smaller opportunities and moments and not just the big sites to see. Bookmarking right now!

Glad you found it helpful. Yes, for us travel is always more than just about the big sites. So far we are really enjoying Japan and soaking up the cultural differences.

Oh I forgot one of the highlights of Kyoto (besides the monkey park) is a trip on a little train that takes you outside of Kyoto and up into the mountains to Kurama and Kibune. You can then do a walk up over the hills from one village through to one of the big shrines at the other village. There are onsens at the end to rest in. A really lovely walk out in the countryside and the train trip is so much fun.

Sounds wonderful!

We stayed in Kyoto in 2008 for a week and went back there last year for a quick day during a week long trip to Osaka. The best thing about Kyoto is it’s location to other places for day trips – Osaka, Nara, Kobe, Himiji (although the castle is covered in scaffolding). You can get a cheaper Kansai Japan rail pass for four days (about $80?) to get to all these places.

Make sure you get to the Nishiki Market for fresh food – our post at is a big band width one with loads of pictures and we have more posts on our trip last year. Also, the rice burger at MOS burger is vegetarian and yum.

We will be in Tokyo from Sep 23 for a week of exploring Tokyo and surrounds. Thanks for the onsen tips nearby, will be looking for some there.

Thanks for all your tips Alison. Your post on the Nishiki market is fantastic – we will definitely visit although I’m not sure I’ll know what most of the things are! Looks like we’ll be in Tokyo around the same time as you!

Oh yeah, JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) has an excellent series of booklets on different topics. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have Kindle versions, but probably worth the price to pick up one or two. For example: http://www.amazon.com/Look-into-Japan-Your-Pocket/dp/4533013813/ref=pd_sim_b_1

I love Kyoto though it has been years since I was in Japan and longer since I was specifically in Kyoto. My recollection is that it was easier to find English speakers there, though I tend to agree the not speaking the local language is harder in Japan than many places. To make up for that though, the people are probably more willing to be helpful than anywhere else I have ever traveled. Anyway, the number of incredible temples in Kyoto is impressive. Also, if you will be there for the fall foliage (Kouyou in Japanese) you will indeed be fortunate as it is incredible in Kyoto.

I would also point out that Japan is definitely one of the safest places in the world to visit.

Also worth mentioning is that Japan is a country where many towns and cities are famous for something very specific (knives, a certain type of food, pottery, etc.) so always try to find out what a place you are visiting is famous for.

I can’t recall how far away it is from Kyoto, but I think not too far is a place called Takayama which is one of my favorites. Especially if you can make it to the Fall festival which is one of the most impressive festivals in all of Japan, though there are many all around the country and throughout the year. Good festival street food is always available too, though I can’t recall if any of it is vegetarian friendly.

Many famous things in Japan come in 3s – 3 famous gardens, 3 famous shrines, etc. One of the 3 famous shrines is Ise Jingu which is a bit south of Nagoya and one of my favorites if you get a chance to see it. Nara is also quite special and not too far from Kyoto.

Speaking of food, you’ll have no trouble satisfying a sweet tooth as there are many good bakeries to be found, especially in the train stations. And, a popular chain of restaurants called Mister Donut is good and ubiquitous. You may also be surprised by how many people get a quick meal at the local convenience store.

If I think of anything else I’ll add it later. Ganbatte ne! (“good luck”)

Thanks so much for the advice Jeff! Unfortunately we are only in Japan until the end of September so I think we’ll miss the foliage. I had been considering Takayama though so glad to hear you like it.

Great post and very informative. The Japan Rail pass is a must if you plan to to a lot of traveling and the 100 yen shops are great for souvenirs.

Japan Australia

Am really hoping to make it to Japan sometime in the next 12 months – bookmarking this!

Hopefully we’ll have lots more posts about Japan when we get there next month.

Hi, it’s Mariko, came to check out your blog. Interesting article but I can’t keep my mouth shut on a few things. Please DO try non-Japanese food in Kyoto… we have such a great selection of Brazilian, Nepalese, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian restaurants it would be a shame if you stuck to only Japanese food. Also, Kyoto is probably the vegetarian capital of Japan if there ever was one. There are a lot of veggie and vegan places as well as a special kind of buddhist vegan meal that you have to pre-book, but is very nice.

A lot of people speak English here (not necessarily GOOD English, but…) . Almost everywhere in Japan there are English translations of Japanese signs (subway, trains, buses etc. ).

….I swear I’m not a jerk! I just want your information (and the info for anyone else who reads this) to be up to date. Don’t hate me, Amy!

It sounds like Kyoto is a lot more cosmopolitan than other parts of Japan. We are really looking forward to trying the vegetarian food, especially the Buddhist meals.

Thanks for your comment and of course you’re not being a jerk, :o)! The post is based on our 3 week experiences in Japan so obviously would never be definitive in anyway. I’m sure that other non-japanese food is great (apart from the Indian curry we had in Fukuoka!) but I guess my point for fellow travellers is that Japanese food is so delicious why waste your stomach and yen on other food during your stay!

I’m sure too that many people do speak english, in our encounters this was rare even in Tokyo, but again Japanese is such a beautiful language why not go ahead and dive in and try to speak it!

Lastly too, in our 3 weeks there were indeed occasional english transport signage to be found, but we also had many experiences standing at a bus/ subway terminals not having any clue as to where to go or what to pay. Again though, this isn’t a bad thing, sometimes the best thing about being intrepid travellers is being able to figure things out!

I certainly don’t hate you (!), in fact I apologise if you found anything in the article to be of offence. I certainly did not mean to, and again after only 3 weeks in your amazing country, the list was only ever meant to be a broad guide to anyone else going to visit.

All the best,

Totally agree about the non-Japanese food!! I loved Japanese pizza so much I would go back just for that :D

Awesome Amy my husband and I who have never been overseas before have chosen Japan as our first overseas destination for our honeymoon and soaking up any information we can get ?

Glad everyone likes the post! Love your story too Erin! I remember our friend Noriko said that, after living in Manchester for awhile, she was glad to return to her homeland of convenience!

Oh, how I want to see Kyoto! Bamboo grove, old temples, aaaah…

I know about this website: http://www.vegietokyo.com/info4vegie/articles/article2.html Though it’s for Tokyo mostly. Hope it’s helpful :) Have fun on your trip!

Thanks for that – the article is really useful.

100 Yen shops are soooooo brilliant. Get some tabbi socks too. Shinkansen, though expensive, are so worth it – you can travel vast distances so quickly and it is a breath of fresh air to use any Japanese public transportation after the British version! Gavin and I were due at Tokyo airport one cold wintery day. Woke up at 4.30am to catch our bus to Tokyo (4 hours away) to find snow knee deep. Freaked out, how would we get to Tokyo now? Needn’t have worried – Japanese workers were all out clearing the roads and our bus rolled in right on time.

Really good post, Amy you sure squeezed a lot into your 3 weeks! Erin x

I love that story! I can’t wait to try the bullet trains and enjoy everything being super-efficient and on time.

Really great posts, I have been to Japan several times and you are spot on!

Oh I love Japan so much and I haven’t even been there yet! This is a great list – it solidified everything I was thinking about our upcoming trip to Japan. My 3 years of Japan in college might finally pay off…haha.

I’m excited to hear about your 3 weeks in Kyoto too!

When will you be in Japan Ashley? We can’t wait for our trip too. Kyoto seems like the perfect place to base ourselves.

Won’t be there until January! But super excited cause I’ve wanted to visit fooooorever.

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

GREAT post – you’ve got a little bit of everything here =) Let me know if you need any ideas on Tokyo – I spent about 10 days in and around that area last year =)

Any highlights of your trip in Japan that you can share would be much appreciated!

Toni, I am going to Japan for 10 days at the end of June. Can you give me the scoop of MUST SEE sites that you really liked?

I DO :) would love some recommendations if still relevant

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The Best, Worst, and Most Affordable Times to Visit Japan

Whether you want to see the cherry blossoms or avoid the crowds, these are the best times to visit Japan.

A snowy getaway in Hokkaido, a beach vacation in Okinawa, or a photography trip to capture cherry blossoms in Tokyo — the best time to visit Japan depends entirely on what you want to do when you arrive.

As a country with a seemingly endless amount of activities and festivals on offer throughout the year, there really isn't a bad time to visit. But if you're interested in shrine-hopping in Kyoto, seeing the pink hues of cherry blossoms, or gazing at fall foliage, you'll want to carefully time your visit. Here are the tourist seasons to be aware of when planning your trip.

  • High Season: March to May and September to November
  • Shoulder Seasons:  June to August and December
  • Low Season:  January to March

Use this guide to find the perfect time for your dream trip to Japan.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Smaller Crowds

Travelers from all over the world come to Japan to admire the cherry blossoms, so it should come as no surprise that sakura season (late March to April) marks the busiest time for tourism. Domestic travelers also take advantage of Golden Week (a series of four national holidays in Japan) from the end of April to the beginning of May. You'll want to avoid visiting during that time, unless you meticulously plan ahead, since trains, hotels, and sightseeing spots can often be overcrowded or booked out entirely. Stunning foliage tends to draw crowds in the autumn, especially when the leaves reach their colorful peak between mid-October and early November.

If you're looking to avoid the crowds, plan your visit during the rainy season, which typically begins in June and lasts until mid-July. Though this period tends to be humid and drizzly, it's one of the best times to enjoy the popular tourist spots without the crowds. Japan is also quieter between January and March, making it a perfect time to pair sightseeing with snow sports and onsen visits.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Good Weather

Japan, while not especially large, is surprisingly varied when it comes to weather. Frigid winters at the northernmost tip of Hokkaido make the subtropical islands of southern Okinawa seem worlds away. The rainy season typically runs from early June to mid-July throughout most of the country — Tokyo included — except in Okinawa where showers begin in early May. Meanwhile, in Hokkaido, summertime brings mild temperatures and blue skies.

If you aren't hitting the ski slopes, March to May and September to November are generally considered the best times to visit the country for pleasant weather. That's when travelers can find the iconic cherry blossoms that seem straight out of a postcard, or, on the other hand, vivid autumnal leaves. During these seasons, rainfall is minimal, skies are clear, and temperatures are mild, ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit most days.

For those not averse to heat and humidity, summer brings a different tempo to Japan. It's a time of year perfect for exploring nature — ideally, somewhere cool up a mountain or as far north as possible. The lusciously cooler climes of Hokkaido are heaven in the summer, with rainbow-bright flower fields and countless outdoor activities, from hiking to horseback riding.

In the winter, the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido is undeniably the best place to ski or snowboard, but areas outside of Tokyo, such as Niigata, are only a Shinkansen ride away and boast great alpine resorts. Those who prefer the warmth would do best to fly south to Okinawa during the winter for a more subtropical climate.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Lower Prices

Japan has a reputation for being a pricey destination, but there are times of year when it's less expensive to visit. During the low season, between January and March, you may be able to find deals on airfare and hotel rooms. Prices tend to spike during the holiday season, especially around the New Year, so it's best to avoid the beginning of January if you're trying to save money.

Costs rise again in late March and April for the peak cherry blossom season and remain high throughout the spring and summer. For your best bet of scoring reasonably priced accommodations while also enjoying mild weather, aim to visit in September or October.

Best Times to Visit Tokyo Disneyland

Spring and autumn are generally the best, most temperate times of year to visit Tokyo Disneyland. It's worth avoiding weekends and national holidays — particularly Golden Week, which is one of the busiest periods at the theme park. The extreme heat in July and August can make it difficult to enjoy outdoor attractions. On the other hand, the temperatures rarely exceed 50 degrees in January and February, making those months less popular.

The period from mid-September through the beginning of December offers a combination of pleasant weather, thinner crowds, and seasonal entertainment. Spooky decorations and fall-themed events can be enjoyed in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Starting in November, the theme park celebrates the holiday season with its Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort programming, which includes magical parades, characters in festive costumes, and heart-warming decorations that help offset the chill in the air.

Best Time to Visit Japan for Cherry Blossoms

If you're hoping to time your visit to Japan with the peak cherry blossom season, bear in mind that the bloom dates vary depending on the weather. The cherry blossom front — meticulously studied and broadcasted across the country — edges its way up, starting at the southernmost tip of Japan as early as January. The best times for cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Tokyo, and the surrounding regions are often from the last week of March to the first week of April. And for more northerly cities such as Sapporo? Don't expect to see any pink at least until May.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Food Lovers

Japan is a great destination for food lovers year-round — but it's also seasonal. So, if you have a favorite Japanese cuisine or ingredient, it's worth finding out when to visit to avoid missing out completely. Summertime treats include light, cool sōmen noodles, kakigōri shaved ice, and delicious unagi (eel); autumn is heaven for matsutake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and sanma (Pacific saury); winter is all about warming nabe hot pots, citrus fruits, and kaki (persimmon); and spring goes hand in hand with sea bream, takenoko (bamboo shoots), and sakura mochi rice cakes.

Worst Times to Visit Japan

While there's no bad time to visit Japan, some months are worse than others, depending on your goals. If pleasant weather is a priority, avoid the rainy season, which typically runs from early June to mid-July throughout Japan (except in Okinawa, where it begins in May). This period is often preceded by extreme heat and humidity, with cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto being especially unbearable during the peak summer months of July and August.

Those looking to save money and avoid crowds should steer clear of Golden Week, which runs from the end of April to the beginning of May. This is when many domestic travelers take their holidays, so expect higher prices, less availability at hotels, and larger crowds.

Related Articles

japan time to travel

When is the Best Time to Visit Japan in 2024? Here’s When to Go & How to Dress For the Season

When is the best time to visit Japan? When is the best time to visit Tokyo? You have decided you want to travel to Japan - great! But now comes the hard part: planning.

Here's the best time to visit Japan

Pros and cons of traveling in each season in japan, best season to travel in japan, the least crowded time to visit japan, the cheapest time to visit japan, list of annual events and japan national holidays 2024, what to pack for japan, try ‘any wear, anywhere’ to reduce your suitcase space.

Everyone says to visit during cherry blossom season , but is that really the best time to travel? The pictures you’ve seen of cherry blossom festivals look really crowded. From flower viewing in spring , festivals in summer , and skiing in winter , each season is a brand-new Japan! That’s why careful attention needs to be paid to the when, not just the where, when planning your Japan adventure! To help you with your planning, we’ve created the ultimate guide to Japan’s seasons , weather, and trends. Use this information to pick a time confidently and get the Japan you’ve dreamed of!

Calendar of when to expect crowds in Japan

The best times to visit Japan are the spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) seasons , with May and October-November being the optimal months to balance good weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. The periods between March to May and October to November have the best weather. These times, which line up with spring and most of autumn , are filled with calm days and comfortable temperatures. Nature lovers will appreciate the blooming flowers of spring , including the famed cherry blossoms, along with the equally stunning foliage of late autumn . September-November are recommended as good alternatives to avoid the peak crowds and prices, while still enjoying pleasant weather and scenery. Finally, the winter months can also be a good time to visit, with fewer tourists (except for snow resort areas like Niseko in Hokkaido ) and lower prices, though the weather may be colder, especially in northern regions.

It all depends on you!

Japan is a beautiful country 365 days a year, and you won't regret your trip no matter when you go. However, depending on the season , you may see a very different Japan from the one you imagined. That's why it's essential to create a list of goals for your trip, then compare them against each month to find the Japan you want to see the most.

Pros and cons of traveling in each season in Japan

To help you choose the best time to visit Japan, we've compiled a handy pros and cons list for each season . After you've decided what you'd like to see and do, use this list to select the best time to go!

  • Pros: Excellent skiing conditions in Hokkaido, calm and clear winter weather in major cities, and widespread festive light festivals.
  • Cons: Busy New Year holiday period with potential closures and unpredictable, sometimes harsh winter weather leading to travel disruptions.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in January , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in January
  • Pros: Peak ski conditions, vibrant snow and illumination festivals (such as the Sapporo Snow Festival and the Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival ), and Early-blooming cherry blossoms and plum blossoms can be enjoyed.
  • Cons: Coldest month with sub-freezing temperatures, snow and ice disrupting transport, and potential influx of tourists during Lunar New Year .
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in February , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in January , Visiting Hokkaido in Winter , Enjoy Early-Blooming Sakura in February
  • Pros: Warmer, calmer weather starts; cherry blossoms bloom from Kyushu to Tokyo in late March.
  • Cons: Crowded cherry blossom spots, especially on weekends; persisting cold, wintry days north of Tokyo.
  • Pros: Pleasant weather with gorgeous skies; blooming Japanese flowers like roses, tulips, wisteria, and rapeseed; late cherry blossoms in northern areas.
  • Cons: Cold weather in Tohoku and Hokkaido; crowded cherry blossom spots in the north; busy travel and accommodation during the Golden Week public holidays .
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in April , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in April , Visiting Hokkaido in Spring
  • Pros: Continuation of fantastic weather; dazzling wisteria tunnels in bloom; picturesque flooded rice fields; large festivals like Sanja Matsuri kick off.
  • Cons: Golden Week leads to packed travel conditions and fully booked accommodations.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in May , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in May , Visiting Hokkaido in Spring , 5 Fun Tours & Activities for Golden Week in Osaka & Kyoto
  • Pros: Quieter tourist spots due to no public holidays; comfortable temperatures; easier travel with fewer people outdoors; mild weather in Hokkaido.
  • Cons: The rainy season brings humidity and heavy downpours; famous landscapes like Mt. Fuji often obscured by clouds .
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in June , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in June , Visiting Osaka in Summer , 25 Beautiful Traditional Festivals in Japan
  • Pros: Rainy season winding down by late July; vibrant summer festivals like the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Ise Shrine Fireworks Festival ; colorful decorations for Tanabata, the Star Festival .
  • Cons: Persistent rainy season until mid-July, continuing the issues from June.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in July , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in July , Visiting Osaka in Summer , Tokyo Fireworks Guide
  • Pros: Weekly summer festivals featuring parades, fireworks, and concerts like Fuji Rock ; clear skies perfect for beach outings; quieter large cities during Obon.
  • Cons: Intense heat in August; typhoons risks increase , with potential transport disruptions; lots of insects; congested travel during Obon.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in August , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in August , Annual Events & Festivals in Japan
  • Pros: Decreasing heat from August; blooming Spider Lilies and cosmos in late September; quieter tourist attractions post-summer holidays; end of peak international tourism season.
  • Cons: Continued summer heat into early September; peak typhoon season brings potential transportation disruptions.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in September , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in September
  • Pros: Stunning autumn colors make an appearance in northern Japan; cooler, pleasant October weather; widespread Halloween parties , particularly in Shibuya.
  • Cons: Crowded parks and mountains for autumn leaf viewing; packed streets and trains during Halloween; increased tourism during Chinese holidays and the Mid-Autumn Festival in early October.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in October , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in October , Visiting Osaka in Autumn: What to Wear & Must-Visit Attractions , Autumn in Japan -Fall Foliage Forecast
  • Pros: Comfortable cooler weather; low rainfall; vibrant red, yellow, and brown autumn foliage.
  • Cons: Chilly evenings with winter onset in Hokkaido; busy parks due to autumn sightseers.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in November , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in November
  • Pros: Start of Japan's ski season with favorable conditions in Hokkaido; beautiful illumination festivals and Christmas markets ; feasible outdoor sightseeing; common clear, sunny days in Tokyo and Osaka.
  • Cons: Return of cold weather across Japan; many ski resorts in Honshu may not have sufficient snow to open early in the season.
  • Read More: Best Things to Do in Tokyo in December , What to Do in Osaka & Kyoto in December , What's Christmas Like in Japan? , What to Do During New Year’s and New Year's Eve

Best season to travel in Japan

Japan has four seasons . Each begets a new set of activities, so you should first consider your objectives, then choose when to go. For example, if you want an outdoor adventure, such as hiking , then the cooler weather of spring and autumn is ideal. If beaches are your thing, then late June and August are perfect! If a ski holiday is on your mind, you should pack your bags for January, February, and March. Plan your activities first, then use this guide to find the season that will suit your needs best!

Visiting Japan in spring

Visiting Japan in spring

Spring weather in Japan Spring brings serene, warm days and cool nights, with common but quickly clearing rain. Low humidity makes outdoor activities enjoyable. In April, Tokyo sees highs around 19°C (66°F) and lows around 10°C (51°F), while cooler Sapporo averages highs of 11°C (53°F) and lows of 3°C (37°F). End of March – Mid-April: Cherry Blossom Season High crowds. The cherry blossom (sakura) season is a spectacular but extremely busy time of year. The beauty of the blossoms draws large crowds, making major tourist sites very crowded. Accommodations, especially in Kyoto, often need to be booked 6 to 8 months in advance. End of April – Around May 10: Golden Week (Japanese Holidays) High crowds. Golden Week is a peak travel period in Japan, as there are few public holidays and many people travel simultaneously. Expect high accommodation rates, with bookings required months ahead, and heavy congestion at popular sights and on transportation networks. After May 10 – End of June: Green Season /Early Summer Low crowds. This off- season period marks a transition from the unpredictable weather of early spring to a pleasant early summer , ideal for enjoying a variety of blooming flowers. Tourist sites are quieter, and accommodation prices are more attractive due to the lack of major holidays. Although occasional early summer rains occur, they are generally mild.

  • In terms of clothes, bring both light clothes, along with a few jackets, sweaters and pants.
  • Be prepared for crowds, even before peak cherry blossom bloom, and try to get most of your sightseeing finished before rush hour, starting at around 6 PM.
  • Hotels in Kyoto get booked out as far as 6-8 months ahead. Reserve your accommodations as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
  • If you’re allergic to pollen , spring may be a bad time to come to Japan.

Recommended spring clothing

Bottom Line In terms of weather, spring is one of the best times to visit Japan. However, choosing another season is recommended for those wanting to avoid crowds.

  • Japan Cherry Blossom Forecast: When & Where To See Sakura in Japan
  • Tokyo Sightseeing Done Right: What to Wear in Spring

Visiting Japan in summer

Visiting Japan in summer

Summer weather in Japan Summer in Japan, particularly during the rainy season in June and July, is often unpopular due to high humidity. Rainfall, though not significantly more than in spring , is heavy. August brings sunny and hot weather, with Tokyo averaging highs of 31°C (88°F) and lows of 24°C (75°F), while Hokkaido enjoys milder temperatures of around 26°C (80°F) on average. July – Mid-August: Summer Season Moderate crowds. Japan's summer is hot and humid but is punctuated by vibrant festivals, which are free to attend, and lively beach resorts and beer garden activities. Early to mid-July might still see some summer rains, but they are generally sporadic. Mid-August / Obon Week High crowds. This period is akin to Golden Week in terms of busyness, with widespread travel across the country. Due to the heavy congestion, it's advisable to avoid traveling during this time. End of August – End of October Low crowds. Post- summer , when everyone returns to work or school, is an excellent time for off- season visits. The weather is warm, around 30°C (86°F), but less humid, making it more comfortable. Typhoons can occur but are typically short-lived, and indoor alternatives like museums and spas provide excellent rainy-day options.

  • You'll need plenty of light, breezy clothes to endure the heat.
  • If you’re planning on mountain climbing or visiting Hokkaido, then pack some jackets and pants.
  • The humidity will make you sweat a lot, so bringing or buying deodorant is also recommended.
  • The summer sun is very glary, especially on concrete streets, so decent sunglasses are necessary.
  • Buy a cheap plastic umbrella at a convenience store if you’re out on a rainy day.
  • Lastly, be careful of crowds at events, especially fireworks shows . Some of the larger ones will overburden trains for hours, and you may get stuck somewhere.

Recommended summer clothing

Bottom Line Despite its reputation, summer is a great season to spend in Japan. Through the huge array of local festivals, it is arguably when the roots of traditional Japan are felt most strongly. For those sensitive to humidity, perhaps wait for another time.

  • Complete Guide to Surviving Japan's Rainy Season
  • 18 Things to Know About Visiting Japan in Summer

Visiting Japan in autumn

Visiting Japan in autumn

Autumn weather in Japan Autumn brings variable weather, requiring both summer attire and jackets. By October, cities like Sapporo and Sendai become chilly, with lows around 7-11°C (45-52°F), while Tokyo maintains a warmer climate, with highs around 22°C (72°F). Beware of typhoons, especially in September, which can disrupt travel and daily activities. November / Fall High crowds. Autumn is a prime time for tourism, driven by the stunning momiji ( autumn leaves), which begin turning in mid-November. This season is very popular, often requiring accommodations to be booked months in advance, and it features cooler, rainier weather.

  • To beat the crowds, avoid foliage hotspots on weekends and public holidays. Aim to visit mid-week instead.
  • If a typhoon is predicted to hit your area, ensure you have accommodation and supplies for that period, and refrain from venturing outside. Keep an eye on the news for landslides or flood warnings, and ask your accommodation staff for information on evacuation points if the weather worsens significantly.

Recommended autumn clothing

Bottom line If you can successfully navigate around typhoons, you'll be rewarded with amazing scenery, fantastic weather, and quiet tourist attractions. Autumn is a strong contender for the best time to visit Japan.

  • Autumn in Japan: Autumn Leaves & Fall Foliage Forecast
  • Visiting Tokyo in Autumn: Travel & Weather Guide

Visiting Japan in winter

Visiting Japan in winter

Winter weather in Japan In January, temperatures drop to around 5°C (41°F) in southern Japan and 1°C (34°F) in Tokyo. Skiing destinations like Niigata and Nagano often see temperatures below freezing, while Sapporo experiences lows around -8°C (18°F). Snowfall is minimal in Tokyo and Osaka but common in regions near the Sea of Japan and in Tohoku, with Yamagata receiving up to 11 meters of snow. December (Until around Christmas) Low crowds. The early winter off- season period offers some of the clearest days, ideal for outdoor activities and viewing autumn leaves or Mt. Fuji. Hotel rates are more reasonable, and there's better availability compared to the peak seasons . December 20 – January 5th: Year-end Holiday Season High crowds. Travel during the year-end holiday season is not recommended due to the influx of both international and domestic travelers and widespread closures of tourist facilities. Accommodations are often fully booked far in advance due to the holiday demand.

  • If you're planning on enjoying cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, or Hiroshima, simple winter clothing, such as sweaters, jackets, and scarves will suffice.
  • However, if you're heading to ski resorts, mountains, or snowy regions, specialized snow boots, puffer jackets, raincoats, and other winter protections are a necessity to survive the harsh conditions.
  • Train delays are common during heavy snowfall, along with heavy traffic on the road. Be prepared for your trip to be affected.
  • Be wary of New Years, known as oshogatsu , which is a public holiday week. While it is common for most Japanese to stay home, shops, restaurants, ski resorts, and other attractions are usually busy, and some may decide to close. Be sure to double-check the places on your itinerary before you go!

Recommended winter clothing

Bottom line While winter is not for everyone, most major cities enjoy mild and consistent weather. However, some prefectures are prone to harsh conditions, and care should be taken before traveling. Crowds will be thin and most attractions quiet outside New Years and public holidays. For skiers, there's no better time!

  • Complete Guide To Visiting Japan In Winter: Weather, What To See & Do
  • Complete Guide to Skiing in Japan: Best Time and Where to Go
  • Fun Things to Do in Winter: 12 Best Destinations to Enjoy Winter in Japan

The least crowded time to visit Japan

  • As seen in the above chart, August to December is low on international tourists, with the quietest month being September. For those looking to beat the crowds, this is the best time!
  • January and February are also scarce on European and North American travelers; however, mostly due to the Chinese New Year and summer holidays, thousands of additional tourists will flock from Asia and Oceania, making it not as ideal.
  • To avoid crowds of local travelers, stay clear of these three periods.
  • March: Very busy due to the good weather and cherry blossoms.
  • Late April/early May: The week-long holiday of Golden Week occurs.
  • Mid-August: The most popular time for Japanese to travel due to the Obon holiday period.

The cheapest time to visit Japan

Airfares to Japan often decrease from September as tourist numbers dwindle and flight prices adjust. Depending on your travel dates, you could find flights for less than US$1,000! For accommodation, winter , excluding ski resorts, is typically the least expensive period. Many hotels offer off-peak specials, including weekday discounts. However, note that hotel rates often increase during public holidays, so check the calendar to prevent unexpected costs.

List of Annual Events and Japan National Holidays

Following are Japan's national holidays . Particularly around the row of holidays in May (known as Golden Week ), you can expect sightseeing areas, attractions, and major cities to be more crowded. If you plan on traveling around these dates, be sure to make hotel , train, and activity reservations in advance to avoid inconvenience. You may also wish to consider booking tables at popular restaurants as well.

  • January 1 - New Year
  • January 2-3 New Year (Obs.)
  • February 12 - National Foundation Day (Obs.)
  • February 23 - Emperor's Birthday
  • March 20 - Spring Equinox
  • April 29 - Showa Day
  • May 3 - Constitution Memorial Day
  • May 4 - Greenery Day
  • May 6 - Children's Day (Obs.)
  • June 15 - Sea Day
  • August 12 - Mountain Day (Obs.)
  • September 16 - Respect for the Aged Day
  • September 23 - Autumn Equinox
  • October 14 - Sports Day
  • November 4 - Culture Day (Obs.)
  • November 23 - Labor Thanksgiving Day
  • February 14 - Valentine's Day: Not a national holiday but celebrated in Japan, women present chocolates to men, including male colleagues, on Valentine's Day.
  • March 3 - Doll's Festival ( Hina Matsuri ): Families with girls observe this day for their happiness and success, displaying special hina dolls at home and participating in community events.
  • March 14 - White Day: This day mirrors Valentine's Day, with men giving chocolates or sweets to women.
  • July/August 7 - Star Festival ( Tanabata ): This festival period, rather than a national holiday, commemorates the meeting of deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. Notable celebrations occur in Hiratsuka in July and Sendai in August.
  • Mid-August - Obon: From around August 13-15, this Buddhist event honors ancestral spirits and is a period for family reunions.
  • November 15 - Seven-Five-Three Day ( Shichi-Go-San ): This day marks a traditional rite of passage where families visit shrines and temples to pray for their children's well-being and growth, according to customs established over 800 years ago.
  • December 25 - Christmas: While not a national holiday in Japan, it brings festive decorations and intimate celebrations, often involving a chicken dinner with loved ones or seeing Christmas illuminations .
  • December 31 - New Year's Eve ( Omisoka ): Despite not being a national holiday, many businesses close early in preparation for New Year celebrations.

japan time to travel

With Japan’s four distinct seasons and subtle climate changes, travelers often question what clothes to pack. But bringing extra clothes “just in case” can make for one crammed suitcase!

japan time to travel

‘Any Wear, Anywhere’ is an innovative service that allows you to rent stylish clothes for all seasons and most sizes, making travel in Japan lighter and more eco-friendly. By using surplus and used garments, this service not only reduces luggage weight but also cuts down on carbon emissions in partnership with Japan Airlines. Enjoy exploring Japan with a lighter load and a clear conscience!

japan time to travel

Using ‘Any Wear, Anywhere’ is easy. Simply access the official website from your PC or smartphone and reserve your wardrobe before traveling to Japan.

japan time to travel

When you arrive in Japan, simply pick up your stylish rental clothes at your hotel . After use, return the clothes to your hotel without the need for cleaning.

japan time to travel

Clothing sizes range from S to XL, in a total of 36 patterns. Clients can choose from a combination of styles (for men or women), season ( spring / autumn , summer / winter ), usage scenario (casual, smart casual, or a mix of both), and number of clothing items included in the set (basic or variety pack). The basic set includes three tops and two bottoms, while the variety set includes five tops and three bottoms, with the option of adding outerwear as needed.

Take a look at these examples of seasonal garments for rent

Next, let’s look at some of the menswear and womenswear rental clothes in three different seasonal styles: spring / autumn , summer , and winter !

japan time to travel

First up is clothing for spring and autumn . In Japan, spring and autumn are both mild with daytime temperatures of around 20°C (68°F). However, it often gets chilly during the evenings and overnight, and there’ll occasionally be an uncharacteristically hot or cold day, making clothing selection particularly tricky at these times of year. ‘Any Wear, Anywhere’ boasts a line-up of shirts and T-shirts that can be easily layered to cope with temperature differences.

japan time to travel

Summer in Japan is hot, humid, and sunny. If you reserve rental clothes during your summer travels, you’ll receive light and airy items such as T-shirts and sleeveless tops to help you stay comfortable while sightseeing under the hot summer sun. Heavy rainstorms and typhoons can be expected between July and September, so short-length pants can alleviate any worries about wet legs and feet in the event of sudden showers.

japan time to travel

Warm clothes are essential for winter in Japan. It can get so cold that the temperature drops below freezing in some areas! The ‘Any Wear, Anywhere’ winter line-up also includes down jackets and other outerwear to protect against the cold. Winter jackets are bulky and take up luggage space, so renting one at your destination makes life so much easier. Popular rental clothing items to wear underneath your jacket include sweaters, long-sleeved tops, and other clothes that’ll help you stay warm. *All accessories belong to the stylist.

No matter when you visit Japan, you'll have a good time! Japan is a country that celebrates each season accordingly, making for year-round fun! However, if you have a specific activity or interest, choosing the best time to visit Japan for you is extremely important. Balancing this with crowds and costs will also help you get the most out of your Japan trip. By reading this guide, you'll have all the information you need to enjoy Japan's wonders to their fullest extent!

japan time to travel

  • Category Other Sightseeing
  • How To: Sightseeing

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Autumn in Kyoto

When is the best time to visit Japan?

  • Month-by-month

The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). This is when Japan is at its most vibrant, with delicate cherry blossom or bright red leaves adding contrast to the scenery. Remember, it can also be very crowded at this time.

The summer months (June to August) offer ideal conditions for hikers and lovers of the outdoors, but only in the mountains of the Japanese Alps and Hokkaido’s wild national parks. Elsewhere, the weather is hot and humid. Rainy season occurs from the end of May until the middle of June or July.

For a very different experience, head to the north of Japan in winter (December to February). It’s snowy, but the people brighten the dark days with a variety of festivals and events.

It’s a good idea to take Japan’s national holidays into account, too. Shogatsu (Japanese New Year), Obon (in mid-August or mid-July, depending on the area), and the Golden Week (between April 29 and May 5) are busy times for residents.

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Month-by-month guide for traveling in Japan

Winter Onsen

Visiting Japan in January

The weather is usually cool, dry and sunny during January and sites are much less crowded than later in the year. In northern Japan there is heavy snowfall making conditions good for skiing.

Shirakawago in the snow

Visiting Japan in February

February is the peak of the ski season in northern Japan. Across the country days are generally cool, dry and sunny and many attractions are less busy than at other times of the year.

Events & Festivals

  • For one week in early February, Sapporo is overrun with enormous ice and snow sculptures, built in the central Odori Park as part of the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Cherry Blossom in Kyoto

Visiting Japan in March

The weather starts to get milder in March and blossom on the plum trees marks the beginning of spring. Toward the end of March the cherry blossom begins to emerge in the south of the country, which is celebrated by the Japanese with picnics in local parks. As this season is a popular time to visit Japan, the country gets very busy toward the end of the month.

  • The cherry blossom spreads north through mainland Japan.

Kawaguchi-ko near Mount Fuji in Japan

Visiting Japan in April

This is the peak viewing time for the cherry blossom as the trees start to bloom further north. The blossom during this time is beautiful and provides a magical experience, but if you travel during this time you have to expect everywhere to be very busy, and hotel rates escalate too.

  • Known as one of Japan’s top three most beautiful festivals, the Takayama Matsuri is held in the old town of Takayama where floats and shrines are paraded through the streets.

Temple pond and bridge, Kyoto

Visiting Japan in May

The weather in May is pleasantly warm and usually dry, and the vegetation is green and vibrant. Cherry blossom only reaches the northern parts of Hokkaido by this month, while in Okinawa , May is the rainy season. The first week of May is Golden Week, a national holiday and one of the busiest weeks of the year for domestic travelers.

  • Asakusa in Tokyo is the center for the Sanja Matsuri, held on the third full weekend in May. Colorful floats and shrines, accompanied by musicians and dancers in traditional Edo period costumes parade between Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine.

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Japan

Visiting Japan in June

This time of year is hot and humid and there is typically rain in most parts of Japan. This means that the trees and plants are at their most vibrant, and Japan’s gardens are particularly beautiful.

Mount Fuji

Visiting Japan in July

There are numerous festivals held all over Japan in July, making it a lively time to visit. The rainy season generally ends across most of Japan by the end of the first half of the month, but the humidity continues. July is also one of the best months to climb Mount Fuji , a hike which is only possible during the more favorable conditions of the warmer months. This is the peak season for domestic tourism and also sees the highest levels of rain and threat of high winds in Okinawa.

  • Japan’s most famous festival, the Kyoto Matsuri, is held in Kyoto and dates back to the 9th century when it began as a religious ceremony to appease the gods. Enormous floats are marched through the streets throughout the month, although they are most impressive on July 17th.
  • In the 7th lunar month, as part of the Obon Festival to honor the dead, the Awa Odori is held in Tokushima on Shikoku Island. Musicians and dancers flood the streets in vibrant costumes.

Showa Shinzan, Toya, Hokkaido

Visiting Japan in August

Festivals continue across Japan during August and this is a busy domestic travel period as it is the school vacations. The weather is generally hot and humid across the country, with Hokkaido  being cooler and more comfortable.

Sunset over Miyajima

Visiting Japan in September

The domestic crowds associated with August have usually dissipated by September and skies are often clear and blue, although the weather can still be hot and humid. In late September the leaves start to change color in Hokkaido , a process which makes its way south over the next few weeks. Toward the end of September there is a five-day national holiday known as Silver Week, during which prices increase dramatically as the Japanese travel about the country. Silver Week only occurs every few years.

Sagano-Arashiyama bridge

Visiting Japan in October

This is the start of the fall season for mainland Japan and brings striking red and gold hues to the landscape. The weather begins to cool down from the heat of the summer, making October a pleasant time to visit.

Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Visiting Japan in November

This is the peak time to see the colorful leaves in mainland Japan. Traveling around tends to be much quieter during this month, and the weather is pleasantly cool and mild.

Japanese snow monkeys, Yudanaka Onsen

Visiting Japan in December

The weather is cool and typically dry in December, and the country isn’t busy for the first couple of weeks which makes it a good time to visit if you don’t mind the chilly temperatures. Ryokan properties don’t tend to have much in the way of heating so staying here can be cold. However, outdoor onsens can be really special experiences during the winter months, particularly in the north of Japan where you can be bathing in natural thermal hot springs yet surrounded by snow. Towards the end of December it gets busier as the school vacations start, and some attractions close in the run-up to the New Year.

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The Best Time to Visit Japan

japan time to travel

TripSavvy /  Elise Degarmo  

Weather changes, typhoon season, and busy festivals should all be taken into account while deciding when to go to Japan. The best time to visit Japan is during early spring when the short-lived cherry blossoms are blooming but before or after the busy stretch of Golden Week holidays.

Although avoiding lousy weather is usually the goal of vacations, consecutive sunny days draw bigger crowds to East Asia. You'll have to share transportation and attractions during high season. Hotels are already a bit pricey in Tokyo, but they skyrocket during some of Japan's busiest festivals.

The Weather in Japan

With an archipelago of close to 7,000 islands spread north to south in the Pacific, the weather in Japan can differ significantly between regions. Tokyo can be near freezing while people enjoy T-shirt weather just a little south.

Most of Japan enjoys four distinct seasons, with snow in the winter. However, Okinawa and the islands in the south stay warm throughout the year. Northern Japan often receives heavy snowfall that melts quickly in spring. Tokyo itself doesn't ordinarily receive much snow. The megalopolis got a dusting in 1962, and then snow made headlines again in 2014 and 2016. In January 2018, a massive snowstorm caused disruptions in Tokyo.

Rainy Season in Japan

Even when no typhoons are spinning nearby to mix things up, Japan is a relatively wet country with ample rainfall and high humidity.

The rainy season in Japan typically hits in the summer months , around the middle of June to the middle of July. In Tokyo, June is a stormy month. Historically, showers slack off just a bit in late July and August then return with force again in September.

Adding to the meteorological madness is the threat of typhoons. Typically, most typhoons cause trouble for Japan between May and October. As you can imagine, a typhoon in the area completely changes everything weather-related—and not usually for the better.

Dry Season in Japan

A better way to call the time of year most travelers visit Japan would be the "drier" or "less rainy" season. Rainy days are a thing throughout the year, so building too tight of a sunshine-based itinerary could lead to disappointment.

Fortunately, Japan has some exciting ways to spend time indoors during rainy afternoons.

The driest months in Japan are typically December, January, and February. November and March are "shoulder" months between the seasons—often an ideal time to visit any country to avoid peak-season prices and groups.

Typhoon Season in Japan

Typhoon season for the Pacific Ocean runs between May and October, although Mother Nature doesn't always go by the Gregorian calendar. Storms can arrive early or drag on later. August and September are usually the peak of typhoons in Japan.

Even if they don't threaten Japan, big typhoons in the area can cause severe delays and congestion for air traffic. Check the Japan Meteorological Agency website for current warnings before you plan to travel. Your ticket may be refundable if your travel insurance covers trip cancellation due to acts of nature.

Key Events & Festivals in Japan

Visiting Japan when big festivals are in progress is a great way to get in on the fun and see locals enjoying themselves. But on the other hand, you'll have to compete with crowds at popular sites and pay higher prices for accommodation. Either make a point to arrive early and enjoy the festival or avoid the area altogether until regular daily life resumes.

  • Christmas and New Year: Celebrations for Shogatsu (Japanese New Year) can get busy. From the week before Christmas until a few days into January, malls and public transportation are even more crowded. During the holiday season, the Japanese public gets a rare chance to see the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace. This happens on only two days a year: the Emperor's Birthday (December 23) and on January 2.
  • Obon : Temples and shrines get busy in the summer during the three-day Obon festival . Dates for Obon vary, depending upon the place in Japan. Obon, in Tokyo and eastern parts of Japan, is usually observed around July 15. Hachigatsu Bon, an even busier time, is celebrated around August 15. Although Obon, commonly just called Bon, is not an official holiday, many Japanese families take leave to pay homage to ancestors around that time of year.

When to Go to Kyoto

Kyoto is a favorite cultural destination for tourists in Japan . The busy season months here can become very crowded. Spring and fall are the busiest times in Kyoto; October and November are the peak months for tourism. Consider booking your trip to Kyoto in August when rain slacks off a little but crowds haven't surged yet. If cold weather doesn't scare you, January and February are good months to visit Kyoto. You'll certainly want to book accommodation in advance if visiting Kyoto in November.

January is winter across much of the country, although some areas like Okinawa remain semi-tropical year-round. This can be a much quieter time to visit, especially after the rush of the New Years holiday.

Events to check out:

  • Seijin no Hi (Coming-of-Age Day) is celebrated on the second Monday of January. This date is considered the collective birthday for all who have turned 20, the country's age of majority, in the past year. 
  • Shōgatsu is celebrated from January 1 through 3 each year. Many families gather together for meals and other celebrations.

February is generally Japan's coldest month, but if you like to ski, it's among the best times of year to visit. Many times, plum ( ume ) blossoms begin blooming toward the end of the month, signaling that spring is on its way. Temperatures in Tokyo typically average around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, while it can be as cold as 20 degrees up north in Sapporo.

  • More than two million visitors head to Yuki Matsuri in Sapporo. This annual snow festival includes an international snow sculpture contest, ice slides, and more.
  • February 3 marks the first day of spring on the traditional lunar calendar, and it's also celebrated in Japan as a day in which one must ward off evil. People often visit Buddhist temples and ward off the devil, while welcoming fortunes in.

Japan is extremely enjoyable to visit during the spring . Large crowds of people flock to local parks for picnics, parties, and to enjoy hanami —the deliberate viewing of cherry blossom and plum blossom flowers . Families, couples, and even entire offices get in on the fun. The timing of the blooms depends entirely upon the warming weather. The flowers begin in Okinawa and warmer parts of Japan around mid-March, then move north as the weather gets warmer until early May. Forecasters predict the timing as blooms appear from south to north.

  • Tokyo's international anime fair, AnimeJapan, is the world's largest anime festival, held each March.
  • By late March, Japan is in a full-blown cherry blossom craze. While it's hard to predict when exactly the season will fall, the last two weeks of March are typically a safe bet.

A tradition all over Japan, Hanami literally means viewing flowers. Picnic under the beautiful flowing trees in any public park during this special season. Usually lasting for only two weeks in March, the sakura (cherry blossom) schedule changes a bit every year, so it’s hard to nail down exactly when to come.

April gets extremely busy in Japan, as cherry blossoms are usually peaking. But why not join in on the fun? The weather is sunny, crisp, and clear. Beware, though: School holidays and Golden Week, at the end of the month, can cause crowds to swell.

  • Takayama hosts a famous spring festival each year in mid-April. It includes floats lit with lanterns and a festive lion dance.
  • Miyako Odori runs throughout April in Kyoto . This festival showcases geiko dances and music. Buy tickets in advance!

Golden week is the most significant, busiest holiday period of them all in Japan. It's the busiest time to travel in Japan; you'll have fun, but watch out! Golden Week starts up around the end of April and runs into the first week of May. Several consecutive national holidays fall within a seven-day stretch. Many Japanese families tack on a valuable week of vacation away from work, so transportation and accommodation fill up quickly on both ends of the holiday. Public parks will be busy.

  • Golden Week officially begins with Showa Day and concludes with Children's Day. However, many families take additional vacation days before and after. The impact of Golden Week stretches to around 10 to 14 days.
  • Sanja Matsuri is Tokyo's largest festival, bringing more than 1 million visitors to Asakusa. The highlight is an exciting parade of men and women in traditional dress.

Early June in Japan is quite nice, but tsuyu (rainy season) sets in later in the month. While it doesn't rain all day, the gloomy and wet weather is the norm. Despite this, there are still plenty of things to do in the rain: Hot springs and wooded mountain temples are still quite serene, rain or shine. Additionally, hiking season kicks off as the snow melts in the Alps.

  • In June, Osaka is home to a major rice-planting festival that dates back more than 1,700 years. During this celebration, 12 women plant rice seedlings in the paddy at Osaka's Sumiyoshi Shrine.
  • Yosakoi Soran Matsuri is an annual folk dance festival held in Sapporo. The event attracts almost 40,000 dancers from all over the country and even more visitors. Dancers perform all over the streets and throughout city parks.

Luckily, the rainy season in Japan is short-lived, and it's typically over by the end of July. The country is hot and humid this month, but abuzz with events and activities. This is a great time for a beach visit to Okinawa.

  • Mt. Fuji officially opens to climbers on July 1.
  • Gion Matsuri , one of Japan's most popular festivals, is held from July 17 to 24 in Kyoto. Intricate floats are pulled through the streets. This is a busy time to visit, so book well in advance.

August is also hot and humid and can be crowded as many school children, and their families take holidays within the country. Hokkaido is a popular destination in August since the weather is prime for outdoor activities.

  • Obon, in mid-August, spans three days of honoring the dead, whose spirits are said to return to the earth during this time. Graves are swept and presented with offerings, while lanterns are floated down the country's rivers.
  • Many Japanese cities host dramatic displays of fireworks in August. One of the best shows is the Lake Biwa Fireworks festival, held near Kyoto in early August.

September is still warm, but humidity begins to die down. This is the peak of typhoon season though, so Okinawa, Kyushu, and Shikoku are at risks of periods of extremely hard rain and high winds.

  • Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is an interesting festival held in Osaka each year. Danjiri (festival floats) are released in the streets.
  • Seto is famous for its ceramics and commemorates the craft each year during the second week of September. The eponymous festival features pop-up stalls selling affordable pottery and other handicrafts. Around 500,000 people attend each year.

October is a fantastic month to visit, marked by bright, warm days, with little humidity. Fall foliage peaks in the Japanese Alps during this month.

  • Roppongi Art Night is held each year in mid- to late October. Arts venues stay open all night and host large-scale installations and performances throughout this exciting weekend.
  • Japan loves celebrating Halloween, and it's worth a visit to Tokyo's Shibuya district on October 31, if you want to see thousands of costumed revelers.

November has beautiful weather, with temperatures beginning to fall at higher elevations and further north in the country. Temperatures in Tokyo range from 45 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees, while Sapporo is as cool as 35 degrees at night.

  • The Ohara Festival, held in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, features a street parade of more than 20,000 dancers.
  • The Momiji Festival in Kyoto includes five incredible period-decorated boats that are meant to recreate the atmosphere of Japan's Heian court. Re-enactors play traditional instruments and recite noh and kyogen . (P.S. The best views of the event are from the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.)

If you are planning to visit Japan in December , avoid visiting during the last week of the month and the first week of January. While Christmas is not a celebrated national holiday, many people still take time off working during this period, which books up hotels and makes transportation more difficult. Many businesses close over the period leading up to New Year's Day.

  • On December 31, temple bells ring 108 times at midnight as part of Joya-no-kane , an annual purifying ritual.
  • Kyoto celebrates the unique Daikon radish during the Sanpoji Daikon Festival. The vegetable becomes available in late Autumn, but the festival takes place in mid-December. More than 10,000 people eat the hot radish, which is believed to have health benefits.

In March and April, you may be able to catch the cherry blossom season while enjoying crisp and sunny weather.

Japan's rainy season falls over the summer with June and July being the rainiest months. Late July and August tend to be a bit drier, but it gets rainy again in September.

Typhoon season typically lasts between May and October, reaching its peak in August and September.

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When Is the Best and Cheapest Time to Visit Japan in 2024?

japan time to travel

From skiing in Hokkaido to sunbathing in Okinawa, there's so much to enjoy in Japan over the year. For the best experience, we recommend researching the seasons to find a time that suits your plans. However, accidentally picking a popular period can result in increased costs, so finding out the cheapest time to go to Japan is also vital! To help you pinpoint the best and cheapest times to visit Japan, we’ve compiled all of Japan’s holidays, festivals, seasonal weather trends, and more into this guide!

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

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Understanding the Climate and Seasons of Japan

While Japan is not the largest country by area, it has an extremely varied climate. Its northern areas such as Hokkaido  see long, snowy winters, while its southern Okinawa  islands (shown as the "Ryukyu Islands" in the above photo) have sunny, subtropical climates. Popular tourist destinations like Tokyo , Osaka , and the Mt. Fuji area are located on the Pacific Ocean side of the country. These areas see four distinct seasons, with hot, humid summers and cold winters.

For visitors, this means it’s best to consider not just the season but the climate of the specific areas you plan to visit. A winter trip to snowy Hokkaido will be entirely different to a visit to the Okinawa islands. Your destination will also impact when you can see seasonal highlights like cherry blossoms or autumn foliage.

If you like to think ahead, we've prepared month-by-month guides to the climate and seasonal highlights for major tourist destinations in Japan. Check them out for info about exactly what to expect, what clothes to pack, and what to do to make the most of the season!

  • Guide to Hokkaido's Weather & Climate
  • Guide to Tokyo's Weather & Climate
  • Guide to Yokohama's Weather and Climate
  • G uide to Kyoto's Weather and Climate
  • G uide to Osaka's Weather and Climate
  • Guide to Fukuoka's Weather & Climate
  • Guide to Okinawa's Weather and Climate  

What Are the Best Times to Visit Japan?

Cherry blossom season: march - april.

Spring in Japan is synonymous with cherry blossoms, which bloom all over the country around April each year. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful times to visit Japan, and the sight of Japan’s cities and parks tinted in shades of pink draws visitors from all over the world.

Cherry trees only bloom for around two weeks, with the much-anticipated full bloom period lasting as little as a few days. However, because of Japan's varied climate, the trees bloom in a wave through the country over the course of around a month. To ensure you’re timing your trip just right to see the trees in full bloom, it’s best to check our cherry blossom forecast  (yes, Japan forecasts the cherry blossoms!). Also be aware that popular tourist areas like Tokyo and Kyoto can get very busy during this period, so book your accommodation and other tickets well ahead if you can. To avoid the worst of the crowds, you can also check out our roundups of little-known cherry blossom spots in Tokyo and Kyoto .

If you can’t catch the cherry blossoms, spring in Japan has plenty of other flowers and scenery to offer. Plum blossoms are in bloom around February and March, while wisterias , tulips, roses, and nemophila bloom around April and May. While these flowers aren’t quite as prevalent as cherry blossoms, we're confident there will be more than enough  beautiful flower fields , gardens, and parks to satisfy you!

Our Top Tips

JR Pass for Whole Japan

Explore Japan in the most convenient and economical way with a Japan Rail Pass! It is valid for the majority of railways and local buses operated by JR. 

Festival Season: June - August

If you’re interested in Japan’s matsuri (festival) culture, summer is the best time to visit. Japan’s “big three” festivals are the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto (July), Kanda Festival in Tokyo (May), and Tenjin Festival in Osaka (July), but festivals are held throughout the country in the summer months. Japanese matsuri are important religious and cultural events, often with public performances like parades and dances to enjoy. The festive atmosphere, chance to dress up in summer robes called "yukata", and festival food and games are another highlight, particularly if you’re visiting with kids. To learn more about Japan's matsuri culture and when the dates fall, read our comprehensive  guide to festivals in all 47 of Japan's prefectures !

Summer is also an amazing time for fireworks! Many of Japan's top firework shows usually happen during the summer months, drawing in spectators from all over Japan and even abroad. Some are so popular that you need to reserve the best viewing spots well in advance! Food stalls will often be set up near popular spectating spots, so even if you choose not to attend a festival, you can always have your fill of Japanese festival food at a firework show.

Of course, since Japan is an island country, summer is also a great time to visit its many coastal resorts and islands. Visitors flock to Okinawa in the south and the Seto Inland Sea area in the summer to soak up some sun and scenery. In Japan, many beaches are closed for swimming and surfing outside the summer months, so if you’re dreaming of a beach getaway, check these dates in advance. For beach holiday inspiration, we've covered TripAdvisor's top 10 best beaches in Japan here !

Fall Color Season: October and November

For many people in Japan, the fall color season is just as an exciting time of year as the cherry blossom season. The change of the trees signals the end of a long, humid summer, and in October and November (and sometimes even December), people in Japan flock to parks and gardens to see stunning red maples and brilliant yellow ginko trees. Many shrines and temples hold special evening viewings on their grounds, and "otsukimi", or moon viewing festivals, are also a popular activity at this time of year.

An autumn trip to Japan has many benefits: while popular autumn color hotspots may be busy, the scenery is stunning, and the weather can be more comfortable than the winter and summer months, too. This milder weather makes it easier to enjoy all kinds of foods, including local autumn delicacies such as persimmons, grilled Pacific saury, and roasted sweet potatoes.

For more about fall foliage spots and dates for different parts of Japan, we highly recommend checking out our nationwide fall foliage forecast . Keep in mind that the Okinawa islands have a subtropical climate, so you won't find any fall foliage spots there.

Ski Season: December - April

Japan’s mountainous geography is paradise for fans of winter sports. The ski season in Japan falls around December to April, with major resorts clustered around the Nagano area in the Japanese Alps and the northern island of Hokkaido, which is particularly prized among ski fanatics for its high-quality powder snow. There are around 500 ski resorts big and small throughout the country, including world-class resorts like Niseko in Hokkaido and Hakuba in Nagano. For more information on these, we've put together a guide to some of the best resorts for powder snow in Japan .

One highlight of a ski trip to Japan is the abundance of natural hot springs, delicious food, and great sightseeing to round out your trip. Here are some fantastic open air hot springs in Hokkaido to get you inspired!

Do be aware that the winter season coincides with New Year's, which in Japan means a peak in domestic travel and scheduled holidays for many shops and attractions. Keep that in mind as you plan any activities from around December 29th to January 5th.

What Times Should You Avoid When Visiting Japan?

Public holidays: domestic travel peaks.

Just like Thanksgiving or Christmas in other countries, Japan has certain times of the year where domestic travel peaks as people travel home to celebrate the holidays with family. Japan’s work culture also means that many people plan their travel around certain clusters of public holidays, particularly Golden Week, where some 20 million people travel in Japan. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, it’s worth considering avoiding these four domestic travel peaks: 

  • Golden Week: April 29 - May 5
  • Bon Festival (Obon):  August 13 - 15
  • Silver Week: September 19 - 23 (Note: This occurs every couple of years when two public holidays in September align to form a five-day holiday)
  • New Year's:  December 29 - January 3 (Note: Japan doesn't have any official Christmas holidays, so this is actually like Christmas and New Year's combined)

*Please note that the exact dates of these holidays will vary from year to year.

If you do travel during these times, be prepared for very busy planes and bullet trains, traffic jams on highways, and peak pricing for accommodation (particularly true for Golden Week).

If you know your trip is going to coincide with these dates, book ahead where possible. If you can, staying within major cities and avoiding inter-city travel around the beginning and end of these periods will help minimize the hassle. When you're planning, refer to our up-to-date Japan Holiday Calendar for all the public holiday info you need to know.

Rainy Season

Japan’s rainy season, called "tsuyu" or "baiyu", typically falls between June to mid-July. While you may picture heavy monsoonal rain, Japan’s rainy period doesn’t mean you’ll be battling non-stop downpours every day. However, if you’re planning a lot of outdoor sightseeing, the rain and accompanying early-summer humidity can get in your way. Here are the average dates for the rainy season in Japan at popular spots, but keep in mind you can also expect some extra rainfall as the weather cools in September and October, too.

Okinawa: May 9th - June 23rd Fukuoka: June 5th - July 19th Kyoto/Osaka: June 7th - July 21st Tokyo: June 8th - July 21st Nagoya: June 8th - July 21st Sendai: June 12th - July 25th Hokkaido: Doesn't have a rainy season

For everything else you need to know about tsuyu before your trip, including sights in Japan that are actually best seen during this time, check out our  guide to Japan's rainy season !

Climatic Extremes: Mid-Summer, Mid-Winter

Another factor to keep in mind is climate. While internationally speaking, the Japanese climate does not typically go into extremes of heat or cold, spending your day sweating or shivering can impact how much fun you’re having. In the peak of summer, temperatures in cities like Tokyo and Osaka will reach the high 30s (80s in Fahrenheit), often with intense humidity that can make the days feel hotter. In winter, on the other hand, it can dip below zero (32°F).

Your tolerance for this will depend on the environment you were raised in. If you’re coming from a warm part of the world, Japan's winters can be tough to handle. You might have to factor in the cost of buying cold weather clothes that you don't need at home. On the other hand, even people from warm countries can find the hot and humid summers in Japan intense, so if you're from a cooler climate, you might find a spring or autumn visit a safer bet.

Typhoon Season

Typhoon season, which peaks in August and September, can also present issues for travelers. Japan's building codes and infrastructure are built to handle these types of storms, so there is no need to reconsider a summer trip simply because of them. However, if you are in Japan from May to October, be aware that public transport, shops, and attractions may temporarily close if a typhoon is predicted. In severe cases, power outages and other disruptions are possible. So that you're not caught out, we recommend installing the Safety Tips app  from the Japan Tourism Agency. This app gives early warning alerts in multiple languages for typhoons, earthquakes, tsunami, and other adverse weather events.

Japan Shinkansen, Narita Express (N'EX) & Express Train Tickets

Plan ahead by booking your shinkansen, airport train, and express train tickets online in English. Have the tickets sent to you by mail or collect them at the station once you're in Japan.

Lunar New Year

One element some overlook when planning a trip to Japan is the timing of other international holidays. For example, in 2019, a little over 50% of visitors to Japan came from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, all of whom celebrate Lunar New Year in late January or early February. While Japan doesn't celebrate the Lunar New Year, the holiday period means that sightseeing areas can be a bit more crowded with sightseers and tour groups taking advantage of the holiday.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

Cheapest Times to Visit Japan: Tips for Off-Peak Visits

Some of the most beautiful times in Japan, like the cherry blossom season, can mean dealing with crowds and paying a premium for flights and accommodation. On the flipside, while some people may consider a rainy day a vacation disaster, others don't mind the rainy season if it means seeing the hydrangea-dotted temples and brilliant green foliage without the crowds.

If you’re budget-conscious, paying attention to the high and low seasons in different parts of Japan can be a profitable exercise. For example, the ski season in the Japanese Alps is justifiably busy with winter sports fans, but a trip in the low season offers breathtaking scenery, hot springs, and stays at luxurious resorts at lower prices. In recent years, more and more ski resorts are offering activities like glamping or adventure sports to attract summer visitors, too.

Winter in Okinawa can also be a great escape if you need a break from the cold, and flights and accommodation will be cheaper to boot. While it might be a little chilly for swimming, you can indulge in fresh seafood, explore the fascinating Ryukyu Kingdom (the former name for Okinawa) culture, and enjoy your run of gorgeous ocean scenery, including Japan's earliest cherry blossoms! Check out our guide to 50 things to do in Okinawa  for more ideas.

Low seasons are the cheapest time of year to fly to Japan, so think outside the box to free up some extra funds for souvenirs!

Travel Smart and Enjoy Your Time in Japan!

Japan's culture and geography really does mean that there's something to enjoy whatever time of year you visit. When thinking about when to come, it's good to consider practical matters like your tolerance for heat or cold, and also what excites you about Japan. If it's gorgeous scenery, consider the cherry blossom or autumn foliage season. If you're interested in Japan's unique culture, a trip full of the music, dance, and local traditions of Japan's summer festivals might be the right pick for you. On the other hand, if you'd like a relaxed trip without crowds, maybe you'd prefer to visit Japan during an off-peak season instead.

Now that you have a sense of when the best time of year to visit Japan for you is, it's time to think about where to go! If you're still deciding, check out our comprehensive guides to some of Japan's most popular locations for inspiration:

  • The Ultimate Kyoto Travel Guide
  • The Ultimate Tokyo Travel Guide
  • The Ultimate Osaka Travel Guide
  • The Ultimate Mt. Fuji Travel Guide

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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japan time to travel

The best times to visit Japan

Jordi Lippe-McGraw

Editor's Note

There are many reasons visitors flock to Japan , the Land of the Rising Sun.

Here, you can immerse yourself in ancient traditions intertwined with modern innovation while appreciating majestic temples that coexist with bustling city streets. Each season paints a different picturesque landscape, creating something new to admire with every visit.

Given all the unique aspects of this captivating country, deciding on the best time to visit Japan can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are several times that stand out, whether you wish to witness the magical cherry blossom season, visit Tokyo Disney Resort or take advantage of flight and accommodation deals .

Here's everything you need to know about the best times to visit Japan so you can plan a memorable trip based on your priorities.

When to go to Japan for good weather

japan time to travel

Japan's weather pattern exhibits four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season offers its own unique attractions and experiences to enjoy.

Spring (March to May) is renowned for its cherry blossoms and comfortable temperatures. With most days hovering between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll generally find perfect conditions for outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

Japan's summer (June to August) can be hot and humid, often exceeding 80 degrees. Even with the heat, the season draws visitors keen on trekking the country's stunning mountains and lounging on its beaches. Also, summer's long daylight hours allow ample time to get outside and experience all the country has to offer, including numerous vibrant festivals.

Autumn (September to November) brings a refreshing break from summer's humidity. The temperatures range from 50 to 70 degrees, making it possible to comfortably enjoy various outdoor activities. The changing colors of fall foliage , known as koyo ("red leaves" in Japanese) or momiji (the Japanese word for the red-tinted maple leaves in the fall), transform Japan's landscapes into riotous red, orange and gold hues.

Lastly, winter (December to February) can be cold, especially in the northern regions with heavy snowfall. Despite the chilly conditions — average temperatures sit between 40 and 50 degrees — winter illuminations and opportunities for snow sports in Japan's world-class ski resorts make the season a worthwhile time to visit.

While temperatures vary widely from season to season, each time of year brings noteworthy opportunities. The best time to visit for superb weather ultimately depends on your interests and preferences.

Related: Reader success story: How this couple used travel rewards to cover an epic $50,000 anniversary trip to Asia

Best times to witness Japan's festivals

japan time to travel

Japan's festivals, known as matsuri, are colorful, vibrant affairs that provide unique insights into the country's cultural and spiritual life.

One of Japan's most renowned festivals takes place every summer in Kyoto. Gion Matsuri, a monthlong celebration in July, features elaborate processions with traditional yama and hoko floats.

If you're a fan of lively dance, the Awa Odori festival, held every August in Tokushima on Shikoku Island, is a must-see. It's one of Japan's most prominent dance festivals and is part of the Obon season, a Buddhist event that honors the spirits of ancestors. Thousands of dancers fill the streets to perform the characteristic Awa dance while spectators cheer, creating infectious joy and excitement.

As autumn begins, visitors head to Osaka to attend the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri. Held annually in Kishiwada, this September festival is among Japan's most thrilling. It is known for its danjiri (ornately decorated wooden floats), which local teams pull through the city streets at incredible speeds. This daring festival is a heart-stopping spectacle that symbolizes community strength and unity.

The Takayama Festival, a charming event in the mountainous city of Takayama, is another one you won't want to miss. Taking place twice a year in October and April, the festival showcases traditional Japanese puppet theater, mikoshi processions and stunning lantern displays.

For winter visits, time your arrival around the Sapporo Snow Festival in February. This spectacular event in Sapporo showcases massive snow and ice sculptures, attracting millions of visitors.

Or, end the year with a flourish by partaking in December's Chichibu Night Festival. A fantastic winter event in Chichibu, just 90 minutes northwest of Tokyo, this celebration is considered one of Japan's top festivals featuring floats — and for a good reason. The dazzling floats adorned with intricate woodwork, detailed tapestries and gilded decorations are a sight to behold. Additionally, the festival includes a spectacular fireworks display, adding a sparkling finale to the year.

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan

japan time to travel

Japan's cherry blossom (or sakura) season is a treasured time when landscapes transform into romantic canvases splashed with delicate pink hues. Sakura season typically begins in late March and runs through early April, though the exact timing varies from year to year and from south to north.

Popular cherry blossom viewing spots include Ueno Park and Chidorigafuchi in Tokyo, Maruyama Park in Kyoto and Hirosaki Park in Aomori. Hanami parties, where people gather under blooming sakura trees for picnics and celebrations, frequently occur during this time of year and shouldn't be missed.

Flower-watching celebrations happen across Japan from mid-March through early May, though peak bloom dates vary slightly depending on location. For 2024, the earliest peak bloom dates are expected by March 26 in Kochi, with peak bloom estimated for March 30 in Tokyo and April 1 in Kyoto. For estimated dates for more than 1,000 viewing locations, see the Japan Meteorological Corporation's 2024 forecast.

Related: The best places to see cherry blossoms around the US

Best time for skiing in Japan

japan time to travel

Japan's winter sports scene is internationally recognized thanks to its powdery snow, top-notch facilities and stunning mountain scenery. The onset of snowfall typically occurs in mid-November on the northern island of Hokkaido, resulting in the first ski resorts — usually Niseko, Rusutsu and Kiroro — beginning to open during the third week of that month.

Related: How (and why) to plan a ski trip to Niseko, Japan, with points and miles

The powder snow, renowned in Japan, is usually abundant from December to February. For those seeking optimal powder conditions, January and February are the recommended months to visit. On Honshu, Japan's main island, Nagano — the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics — also offers excellent skiing opportunities at resorts like Hakuba.

Related: Why it might be cheaper to fly abroad to ski

Best times to visit Tokyo Disney Resort

japan time to travel

Visiting Tokyo Disney Resort, home of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, is a magical experience for all ages, with thrilling rides, enchanting parades and a chance to meet beloved Disney characters.

The parks are open throughout the year, but if you want to avoid the largest crowds, consider visiting between mid-January and mid-March or between mid-September and mid-November. The weather is generally comfortable during these periods, with fewer local and international tourists.

To truly bypass hordes of tourists, avoid visiting during Japan's major holiday periods, such as Golden Week (late April to early May) and Obon (mid-August), as these are peak times for domestic travel and can result in overcrowded conditions.

Related: A beginners guide to visiting Tokyo: Everything you need to eat, see and do

Cheapest times to visit Japan

japan time to travel

For budget-conscious travelers, visiting Japan during the shoulder seasons — late May to early June and late November to early December — can be more economical. These times fall right after Golden Week in spring and autumn's koyo season but before the busy summer and winter holidays. You'll find fewer tourists, so flight prices can be significantly cheaper, costing up to 18% less than the average yearly prices, according to Skyscanner. Hotel rates also historically take a dip in these slower seasons.

In addition to the shoulder seasons, winter is an excellent time to visit when sticking to a tight budget. Japan becomes notably affordable once you steer clear of the holiday season. Moreover, from mid-January to mid-March, you can relish the added benefit of experiencing a less congested environment while out and about.

Related: The best ways to travel to Japan with points and miles

Bottom line

Ultimately, the best time to visit Japan depends on your interests and the experience you wish to have. Whether you want to view the ephemeral sakura, ski down powdery slopes, immerse yourself in vibrant festivals or witness the magic of Tokyo Disney Resort, Japan always has something to offer.

Each season and festival has its unique charm and allure, inviting you to uncover the multifaceted beauty of this incredible nation.

Related reading:

  • 2024 cherry blossom forecast announced for Japan
  • Peak bloom date announced: Best time to see DC's cherry blossoms in
  • The 11 best hotels in Tokyo for your next Japan getaway
  • Teppanyaki: Norwegian Cruise Line's take on the art of Japanese grilling (with menu)
  • The best ways to travel to Japan with points and miles

The True Japan

The Best Time to Visit Japan: A Complete Guide

A woman dressed in a kimono walking down a stone path towards a pagoda.

  • When Is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

This complete guide will give you all of the information you need to decide when the best time to visit to Japan is for you. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of visiting Japan in certain seasons, and other factors (such as cost, weather, crowds and seasonal cuisine) which might influence your choice.

With so many season-specific attractions and events (such as cherry blossom viewing, hiking Mt. Fuji and attending vibrant festivals) the question of when to visit needs careful consideration by potential travelers.

Rated as one of the top ten countries in the world for tourism by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report , Japan outranked all other countries in Asia.  With all of it’s beautiful nature, technology, bright lights, and amazing food, Japan is a must-visit country.

The numbers of foreign visitors to Japan has more than tripled in the last fifteen years, with nearly 20 million international tourists visiting in 2015.  So what are you waiting for?  Use this guide and plan your next trip to Japan!

Temperature in Major Cities

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One of the major points to consider when choosing when to visit Japan is the season.

Japan is a country with plenty of natural beauty, and if there are certain events that you want to catch, you’ll have to visit at the right time.

When summers or winters are unexpectedly cold or hot, this can affect seasonal changes that bring the autumn leaves or the blooming of the cherry blossoms, sometimes by as much as several weeks.

If you’re booking flights months in advance, this can be a risky element to your trip. If there are certain events that you just have to see, I recommend coming to Japan for as long as possible to give yourself a good window in which to catch it. But however long you visit for, the season is of key importance.

Let’s take a look at each season in detail to see which time of year is best for you.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Sping Cherry Blossom

Springtime (March – May) is usually dubbed as the best time to visit Japan. However, there are pros and cons, and a lot of it depends on which part of the country you are visiting.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Spring Weather

The north of Japan is often cold and snowy for about half the year, while the southern-most point is warm and tropical, and everything in between is a mix of the two. So saying whether a certain time of year is either cold or warm in Japan isn’t a cut and dried answer.

However, it is fairly universally held that spring is a nice time throughout all of Japan.

The weather is quite mild at both ends, with warm days and evenings that verge on chilly. You’ll need a warm sweater and jacket to visit Hokkaido at this time of year, but in the south, you could easily go out in a light sweater or even a t-shirt and shorts during the daytime.

Depending on where you are, spring can be a difficult season to dress for – in early spring, even if the day starts out warm it can soon turn cold once the sun goes down. The spring seasons usually starts off dry, but often ends on a rainy note after the cherry blossom season.

Looking at three major cities, average temperatures in spring get steadily warmer throughout the season.

  • Tokyo : The beginning of spring sees lows of 6°C (43°F), while the end of the season sees highs of 23°C (73°F)
  • Kyoto: The season starts with lows of 4°C (39°F) and ends with high temperatures of 24°C (75°F)
  • Sapporo (Hokkaido): The spring is much colder than Tokyo, with lows in March of -3°C (27°F), and ending the spring with highs of 17°C (63°F)

Regarding attractions, the biggest draw for visitors in spring is the cherry blossom viewing.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Sakura Cherry Blossoms

One thing is for sure: you can chase the blossoms all the way up through the country from the south to the north – the warmer weather in Kyushu means that they get the cherry blossoms first, and it can be several weeks before the same flowers bloom up in Hokkaido. Check the annual cherry blossom forecast to see when the experts predict that they’ll bloom.

Other good reasons to visit in springtime include the festivals of the season.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Sumo Tournament

There are many popular and unusual festivals at this time of year, including the Aso Fire Festival (March), the Kamakura Festival (April), Children’s Day (May 5th), the vibrant Hakata Dontaku Festival in Fukuoka (May 3rd and 4th), the Hamamatsu Kite Flying Festival (May 3rd – 5th), and Honbasho – The Great Sumo Tournament (May – although sumo tournaments are held year-round).

Golden Week is also in the spring, and is one of the worst times to visit Japan as an international tourist because this is the time of year when Japanese tourists are also flitting all over the country.

Seasonal cuisine in Japan is not so exciting in spring as it is in other seasons.

One of the main things you see a lot at this time of year are “picnic bentos” in the supermarkets, where you can buy a platter of snacks and salads to share when you go viewing cherry blossoms with friends and family.

Of course, there are dozens of cherry blossom flavored goodies, such as sakura ice-cream and sakura Kit-Kat chocolate bars. As well as cherry blossoms, the plum blossoms are also in season, and you can get sour pickled ume (plum) to snack on, as well as ume flavored potato chips and other treats. Bamboo shoots are popular at this time of year, as are strawberries.

While spring is popularly thought of as the best time to visit Japan, it certainly has its downsides too.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Spring - Crowded Street

Firstly, the Golden Week holiday is a nightmare time to travel – attractions are crowded, accommodation books out fast and often costs more, and travel becomes more difficult too.

The weather can be unpredictable, and the beauty of the cherry blossoms can be cut short by an early rain. However, despite this, it still remains a favorite time to visit. The weather at this time of year is milder and less extreme than the boiling hot summer and cold winter, and while it can be rainy, it’s usually not too intense.

Festivals are popular in the spring season and, after the winter, people tend to be in a good mood at this time of year.

Another thing to take into consideration is that the spring season also brings about allergies for certain people.

Drifting pollen from Cryptomeria and Japanese cypress trees often peak during the spring season. If you have hay fever or are prone to allergies from pollen, the spring season in Japan may aggravate your symptoms.

  • Nice, mild weather, perfect for walking around
  • Cherry blossom viewing season
  • Lots of festivals
  • A popular time to travel for both locals and tourists, which make it very difficult to get around
  • The end of March is when most public schools start their vacation, which results in more travel among Japanese locals. However, Golden Week (usually the end of April to the first week of May) is crazy busy.
  • Try to avoid traveling during Golden Week if possible.  Bullet trains and buses are usually crowded,  making it difficult to get reservations
  • Hotels and certain attractions also increase their prices during Golden Week
  • Those with pollen allergies might want to be careful. Pollen in the air usually reaches its peak during spring

Best Time to Visit Japan - Summer Shirahama Beach

Summertime in Japan (June – August) is one of those times that some people love and some people hate. This depends on where you come from and the climate you are used to.

Japan rarely sees extreme temperatures in the summer, but with the high humidity, it makes walking or even standing outside uncomfortable.

Temperatures over 34°C (93°F) is rare but does happen occasionally, with the highest recorded temperature in Japan reaching over 40°C (104°F).

However, if you come from somewhere mild, even the high 20’s can seem unbearable with the very high humidity. If you don’t deal with heat well, this is something to consider seriously.

As well as the heat, the weather is not perfect at this time of year. Early summer (June) is usually when the rainy season starts – this is the time when rice farmers do lots of their planting and is a busy time of year for agriculture.

However, for tourists, it isn’t ideal to go sightseeing in the rain day after day for weeks on end. Once the rain stops, you’re blasted with the full heat of summer before typhoon season hits.

Typhoons that actually hit and do damage are not so common in Japan – just a few major ones tend to hit annually. However, there have been more in recent years. The days after a typhoon are called taifu ikka, which refers to the good weather which you see after a typhoon has passed.

In terms of temperatures, the south of Japan sees the hottest summers while it is relatively cool up in the north. Activities like hiking and camping are popular at this time of year as a way to escape the heat.

  • Tokyo: Average temperatures for summer see lows of 19°C (66°F), going up to 31°C (88°F) by the end of August.
  • Kyoto: Lows of 19°C (66°F) and highs of 33°C (91°F) in August.
  • Sapporo: Lows are around 13°C (55°F) while the highest temperatures peak at a pleasant 26°C (79°F).

Warmer temperatures are common in the south. This is t-shirt weather through and through! Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses during these seasons, though of course you can also pick up any seasonal accessories you need at any of the 100 yen shops around the country.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Summer Onsen - Yukata

Synonymous with summer in Japan is the wearing of yukata. Unlike kimonos (which are bulky, cumbersome and fairly uncomfortable) a yukata is basically like a Japanese dressing gown made of light cotton, and is comfy to wear when it is hot out.

Whether or not you’re interested in trying out the Japanese summer clothing styles, you absolutely must get yourself a traditional summer handkerchief.

Most Japanese people have one of these little rags stuffed into their pocket or handbag the whole year through, but they are particularly useful in summer when you sweat profusely and need to wipe your face every five minutes.

You can get cheap handkerchiefs in many shops in Japan (even supermarkets and convenience stores), but there are also specialist shops where you can purchase beautiful handkerchiefs in traditional designs, and even get your name embroidered on them. These make excellent souvenirs and are a lovely gift item too.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Summer Onsen

As well as visiting hot springs and going hiking, other popular pastimes in this season include visiting the beach (though watch out during jellyfish season) and of course attending the seasonal festivals. Fireworks play a heavy part in the summer celebrations, and you can see displays all around the country when the weather gets warmer.

Hiking Mt. Fuji is also another popular event in the summer.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Mt. Fuji

While you may sweat and feel hot in the beginning, it will be very cold when you reach the top.  So prepare accordingly.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Summer Osaka Tenjin Festival

Top festivals include Osaka’s Rice Planting Festival (June 14th), Fukuoka’s spectacular Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival (July 1st – 15th), Osaka’s Tenjin Festival (July 24th and 25th), Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Ceremony (August 6th), the Yamaga Lantern Festival (August 15th and 16th) and Kyoto’s Daimonji Bonfire Festival (August 16th).

Best Time to Visit Japan - Summer Rainy Season

Like spring, summertime in Japan is also made difficult for travelers by a long national holiday.

Obon (mid-August event to pay respects to your ancestors) takes place during the best part of the summer and is one of the busiest, most expensive times of the year to travel. Even the bullet trains can get so crowded that there isn’t even room to stand (picture a can of sardines, but with people).

June is the rainy season, so if you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities, you need to plan ahead and be prepared for possible rain.

As for food, the hot weather may cause you to lose your appetite, but there are plenty of refreshing snacks which have been tailor made for this season.

Cold somen noodles are a popular dish – after being cooked, they are plunged into icy water and served with cold vegetables and refreshing sauce. It doesn’t sound appetizing but, trust me, it does the trick!

Also, what with all the festivals that take place during the summer, this is the perfect time to try out some typical Japanese street food and snacks which you can buy at food stalls.

Yakitori (grilled meat on a stick), okonomiyaki (“Japanese pizza”), takoyaki (octopus balls) and fried squid are all top choices and available all over the place.

If you fancy something sweet, try out kakigori – shaved ice flavored with toxic-looking flavorings and a dollop of condensed milk. This is popular with kids and good to try once but, to be honest, you’re better off just getting a regular ice-cream from a convenience store unless you’re really in the mood for a snow cone.

Ice cream products in Japan are awesome, and there are great local choices to try such as green tea flavored ice cream, and of course yukimi daifuku – balls of ice-cream which are nestled inside a skin of chewy mochi (aka, mochi ice cream).

  • Awesome festivals
  • Lots of good summer foods to try
  • Good for hiking (especially to hike Mt. Fuji)
  • Unforgivingly hot and humid weather
  • Traveling during the Obon season (mid-August) is very, very busy
  • Traveling to and from Japan is generally more expensive in August

Fall/Autumn

Best Time to Visit Japan - Fall Kouyou

Like spring, fall is a time when you can enjoy milder temperatures that are a great mid-point between the harsh heat of summer and the cold bite of winter. Typhoon season creeps into the first part of the fall but is usually over by mid/late September. After that, the weather is usually nice until winter, with relatively little rain at this time of year.

Fall in Japan is a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Fall Autumn Leaves

Temperatures in the fall are still hot and summery during September, but cool down to warmer temperatures in October and November.

  • Tokyo: The season starts with lows of 21°C (70°F) and highs of 28°C (82°F), and by the end of fall, temperatures are in the 10-17°C (50°- 63°F) range
  • Kyoto: Temperatures start at 20°C (68°F) to 28°C (82°F), and then the season ends with temperatures of 8 – 17°C (46 – 63°F).
  • Sapporo: Early fall temperatures reach highs of 22°C (72°F), but by the end of the season you’ll be somewhere in the 2-8°C (36 – 46°F) range. However, the change is gradual, and after the relentless heat of summer, it’s always nice to return to kinder temperatures

As for clothing, at the start of the season you’ll still be in summer-wear, but by the end of November it’ll be long-sleeved t-shirts and lightweight jackets, or something much warmer if you’re up in the north.

Both spring and fall have cooler temperatures and amazing, beautiful nature which is the main reason to visit at this time.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Fall Yellow Leaves

If you have the chance to visit somewhere away from the big cities, up in the hills and away from it all, these are the spots where autumn leaves are most majestic. An hour outside of Tokyo, Hakone is my personal favorite place for viewing autumn leaves.

Unlike the cherry blossoms, this change takes place from the top down, with leaves changing color in the north of Japan during mid-September, and finishing up in the south of Kyushu around mid-December. Like the cherry blossoms, it can be hard to predict exactly, but you can research the official autumn leaf forecast for updates nearer the time.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Fall Naha Festival

Aside from the autumnal leaves, there are other events to enjoy. There are some regional and small festivals to enjoy during your trip.

There is the Kumamoto Horse Festival (September), Okinawa’s Paantu Punaha Mud Festival (early September), the Naha Festival (October 10th) and the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival (October 7th – 9th).

Best Time to Visit Japan - Fall Chestnuts

While Japan may not have much going on in terms of festivals in the fall, it is certainly a peak time to visit in terms of cuisine. There are lots of delicious vegetables and fruits which are in season during the fall.

Many of them are featured on restaurant menus, and you can also pick them up fairly cheaply from local markets. Sweet potatoes, taro, pumpkin, and mushrooms are all popular vegetables in the fall.

You can buy yaki imo (baked sweet potatoes) from roadside stalls – a great and healthy snack for when the weather is getting colder.

Citrus fruits are available all year round in Japan. In the fall, the citrus fruit of choice is sudachi – it looks like a cross between an orange and a lime, and tends to be easy to peel with thin skin.

However, this fruit is not really eaten straight, as it is just as sour as a lemon or lime. It is more commonly used to flavor foods. Chestnuts are also popular in the fall, and can be found roasted or used in a variety of desserts.

  • The weather is very comfortable (especially from late September – late October)
  • Stunning natural beauty (autumn leaves)
  • Attractions and transportation are less crowded than the summer or spring (except during Silver Week and three-day weekends)
  • A lot less options when it comes to festivals and other events
  • Weather in October – November can be unpredictable. It can be hot one day, and cold the next.

Wintertime in Japan (December – February) is cold across the board, with similar temperatures throughout the three months of winter.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Winter

The weather tends to be good at this time of year – cold, but crisp and dry, with little to no rain at all. You’ll need to dress warmly in these seasons, and the weather can be deceptive so be prepared.

During the Christmas holiday in the winter of 2016, daytime temperatures jumped from 4°C (39°F) to 19°C (66°F) with just a few days in between – so even if the weather looks like it’s going to be warmer than usual, it probably won’t last, so be prepared with hats, gloves and other accessories.

  • Tokyo: Temperatures are similar in all three of the winter months, with lows of 2°C (36°F) and highs of 13°C (55°F). Last year, Tokyo saw snow in November for the first time in over half a century
  • Kyoto: A little colder than Tokyo with winter lows of 1°C (34°F) and highs of 11°C (52°F)
  • Sapporo: Winter is the perfect time for sports like skiing and snowboarding, with lows of -7°C (19°F) and highs of just 2°C (36°F)

Best Time to Visit Japan - Winter Skiing Snowboarding

The most well-known festival of the season is the Sapporo Snow Festival which runs for a week every February (usually early February). Roughly two million people attend the festival each year, where you can see ice sculptures and snow statues, many of which have been built by local residents.

Each year around 400 statues are built – a far cry from the first ever Sapporo Snow Festival in 1950 where six high school students built six snow statues in the city park. The exquisite statues often depict a celebrity, or something popular from the previous year. Illuminations bring the whole place to life at night.

Other festivals include New Year celebrations across the country (January), the Naked Festival at Okayama (February), the Nara Lantern Festival (February 3rd) and the Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival (February 15th and 16th).

Best Time to Visit Japan - Winter Shirakawa-go

A few days each year (usually on select days in January and February) they have a special “lite-up” event, where the houses are illuminated.  While the weather is freezing, the houses look absolutely magical, and are worth a visit if you have the time.

New Years Eve is a more reserved celebration than in other countries. In Japan the focus is more on New Years Day which is typically a family time.

Food in winter is typically warming and hearty, as one might expect from the weather.

Hot pots (known as nabe) are a popular dish, and there are many nabe restaurants where the food cooks in front of you – use your chopsticks to take what you want when it’s ready. This is a great meal to have with friends around a big table.

Popular winter vegetables are the giant Japanese radish and lotus root, which can be prepared in a variety of ways.

The famously poisonous fugu (puffer fish) is often eaten in winter, and the citrus fruits of the season are mikan (mandarin oranges) and yuzu (like a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit). Tofu is also popular in winter and you can usually see some creamy white chunks of it floating around when you order hot pot.

  • Food is hearty and this time of year, and washed down with a warming glass of hot sake is the perfect way end a day full of traveling
  • For seafood fans, winter is when crabs are in season, and taste the best.
  • Great ski slopes around Japan for winter sports
  • Amazing winter festivals
  • Many attractions close their doors for at least a few days around the New Year
  • Traveling the last week of December – the first week of January is busy and expensive

Aside from seasonal events and changes in the weather and temperature, there are other points to consider when choosing the best time for your trip to Japan.

Cost is often a major factor for travelers, particularly if you’re hoping to travel cheaply.

While Japan is a fairly cheap place to be a tourist (with good deals in restaurants and supermarkets, as well as reasonable entry fees to attractions) getting around can be expensive as the public transport is so costly, and accommodation prices rocket during the peak seasons.

As well as cost, there are certain times of the year when traveling in Japan is bound to be a nightmare.

Working life can be pretty rubbish in Japan, mainly because of the tiny amounts of holiday given to workers and the fact that everyone has to take their vacation at the same time – making life difficult for foreign tourists too. Let’s take a look at some of these issues which you need to consider when planning a trip to Japan.

Peak seasons should be avoided altogether if you can help it.

  • Golden Week (late April – early May)
  • Obon Festival (mid-August, lasting around a week)
  • Silver Week (late September)
  • The Month of June (Rainy Season – This isn’t a deal-breaker if you plan on doing indoor activities like shopping)

Silver week is certainly less crazy than the other two holidays but has been gaining popularity in recent years. These three times are when, basically, all of Japan goes on holiday.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Winter

What this means is that trains and buses are usually booked solid. If you try to take a train using an unreserved ticket (no seat assignment), you’ll face big queues and long waits. And the possibility of you having to stand the whole way is very possible.

Also, attractions are crowded, and this can ruin the point of visiting it in the first place. Accommodation books out way in advance or raises its prices, and restaurants book out or have long waits– the whole experience is basically crowded, expensive and stressful. Trust me, any other time of year is preferable!

Best Time to Visit Japan - New Years

The summer vacation when children are off from school (late July to September) can also be a busy time to travel. Like everywhere in the world, Saturdays and Sundays are often crowded and public transport can be cramped, and restaurants often offer certain deals which are only available during a weekday.

A few attractions close their doors on Mondays, so if it is possible, try to plan your trip to arrive on a Monday night or a Tuesday, and then leave Japan (a few weeks later!) on a Friday.

Perhaps you’re planning a trip to Japan especially for one of the popular events, such as viewing the cherry blossoms or the changing of the autumn leaves. These things are not to be missed, but also come with a price-tag as places tend to up their prices during these seasons.

Best Time to Visit Japan - Rail Pass

If you can’t avoid visiting during a peak season, plan your trip as early in advance as you can and try to choose cheaper, local accommodation over these periods. Traditional ryokans (Japanese inns) raise their prices too, but can still be the cheaper option.

Depending on which regions you want to visit, one way to save money is with a Japan Rail Pass. This can’t be bought in Japan– it’s only for foreign tourists and so you’ll need to order one in advance. The pass is expensive, but way cheaper than buying individual tickets in Japan (train travel is very expensive).

If you plan to be darting all around the country and doing a lot of traveling outside of big cities, the rail pass is a must. However, if you don’t think you’ll get your money’s worth out of a pass, snub the rail altogether and fly.

Domestic flights in Japan are often really cheap, sometimes half the price of taking the bullet train to the same destination. Budget airlines and discount airfare companies like Jet Star, Star Alliance Japan Airpass, and OneWorld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare are a much better alternative to costly rail travel.

Japan is an awesome place to travel, and one of the nicest places in the world to be a tourist.

People are polite and friendly, there is a good amount of English language information in the big cities, it’s safe and hygienic, travel is (usually) efficient and is just a beautiful place.

Hopefully this article has helped to shed some light on the impossible choice and you have a better idea about which season is suited to your Japan trip. Leave us a comment and let us know which season you think sounds the best!

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Celia Jenkins

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TRAVEL | When to Go

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT JAPAN?

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japan time to travel

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT JAPAN | BEST SEASON TO TRAVEL TO JAPAN

“When is the best time to go to Japan?” I get this question at least once a week. I used to answer with a bunch of information about my favorite festivals , food , seasonal flowers , and so on. But now, I counteract it with this question: “What interests you about Japanese culture?” No matter when or where you go , you’ll have more than enough options for things to see and do. Here, we’ve broken down the best things about Japan by season and month to help you start planning your trip!

SPRING IN JAPAN

Japan’s spring season lasts from mid-March to early May, depending on where you visit. Most parts experience fluctuating temperatures with chilly mornings and evenings and warm afternoons. Average temperatures in Tokyo range between 40°F to 79°F (4°C to 23°C). Check your destinations’ weather reports before you pack and bring multiple layers.

japan time to travel

Things to Do in Japan in March

Atami Plum Festival; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

Plum Blossoms

AnimeJapan Convention; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

AnimeJapan Convention

Omizutori Festival; Todaiji Temple in Nara; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

Fire and Light Festivals in Kansai

Things to do in japan in april.

Takayama Sanno Spring Festival; Takayama Gifu Prefecture; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

Takayama Sanno Spring Festival

Ashikaga Flower Park; Wisteria; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

Wisteria Bloom

Things to do in japan in may.

Mount Fuji Shibazakura Festival; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

Mount Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Kyoto Aoi Matsuri; Best Time to Visit Japan; All Japan Tours

Kyoto Aoi Matsuri

Baby Blue Eyes Flowers in Hitachi Seaside Park; Ibaraki Prefecuture; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours

Baby Blue Eyes Festival

Ibaraki Prefecture’s newest claim to fame is the Baby Blue Eyes flower display in Hitachi Seaside Park. From mid-April to early May, 4.5 million flowers bloom on Miharashi no Oka Hill. Around the same time, you can also see thousands of tulips and some late-blooming cherry blossom trees. Average Temperatures in Tokyo in May High: 23°C/73°F Low: 15°C/59°F Click Here for More About May

VIEW JAPAN SPRING TOURS FOR 2024, 2025 & 2026

Summer in japan.

There’s no getting around it. Many regions of Japan have subtropical climates, and they can get quite hot and humid. In Tokyo, the lowest average temperature in June is 66°F (19°C), and the highest in August is 88°F (31°C). That might not sound terrible to some, but take into account that the humidity level can reach 83%!

japan time to travel

Things to Do in Japan in June

Yosakoi; Japanese Festival; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Yosakoi Soran Bushi in Sapporo

Hydrangea in Hakone; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Hydrangea in Hakone

Things to do in japan in july.

Furano Lavender Field; Hokkaido; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Lavender Fields in Furano and Biei

Gion Festival; Kyoto; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Kyoto Gion Matsuri

Yukata; Kimono; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Wear a Yukata

Things to do in japan in august.

Awa Odori Festival; Tokushima; Best Time to Visit Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima City

Akita Kanto Festival; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Attend Tohoku’s Three Great Festivals

Around the same time in August, three of Japan’s biggest festivals take place in the Tohoku region. Aomori City holds the Nebuta Festival , where teams pull massive paper floats through the streets. During the Kanto Festival in Akita, performers balance several-meter-high poles with dangling lanterns on different parts of their bodies. You can also celebrate Tanabata in Sendai , where paper decorations and streamers cover every inch of the downtown area. Average Temperatures in Tokyo in August High: 31°C/88°F Low: 24°C/75°F Click Here for More About August

VIEW JAPAN SUMMER TOURS FOR 2024, 2025 & 2026

Autumn in japan.

Depending on where you go, you’ll start to feel the autumn chill at some time between September and early December. The temperate weather and fall foliage brings in almost as many visitors as cherry blossoms but is a little less overwhelming. The leaves’ brilliant colors stay around for about a month, which helps stagger the influx of crowds. Pack long sleeves and plenty of layers if you intend on racing around Japan’s rural areas.

japan time to travel

Things to Do in Japan in September

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri; OsakaBest Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Sumo Match; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Tokyo’s Sumo Tournament

Things to do in japan in october.

Takayama Hachiman Autumn Festival; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Takayama Hachiman Autumn Festival

Onaruto Bridge; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Ride the Shimanami Kaido

Things to do in japan in november.

Meiji Jingu Gaien; Ginkgo Tree; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival

Shichi Go San; Japanese People; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Shichi Go San

Though it isn’t an official holiday, it’s undoubtedly the cutest! In Japanese culture, seven, five, and three are lucky ages. Boys aged three and five and girls aged three and seven wear kimonos and receive blessings at shrines. This event takes place on the weekend closest to November 15th. Average Temperatures in Tokyo in November High: 17°C/63°F Low: 9°C/48°F Click Here for More About November

VIEW JAPAN AUTUMN TOURS FOR 2024, 2025 & 2026

Winter in japan.

If you’ve ever been traipsing about in Tokyo in midsummer , it might be hard to believe that it can get cold in Japan! Depending on how far north or south you are, winter in Japan is from December to mid-March with average temperatures swinging between 35°F and 53°F (2°C and 12°C) in Tokyo. Bring warm clothes no matter where you go, and consider packing snow boots if you’re headed north.

japan time to travel

Things to Do in Japan in December

Winter Illumination; Shibuya Tokyo; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Winter Illuminations

Chichibu Yomatsuri; Saitama; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Chichibu Yomatsuri

Oarai Isosaki Shrine; Ibaraki Prefecture; New Year Sunrise; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Celebrate the New Year

Things to do in japan in january.

Snow Monkeys; Yudanaka Onsen; Jigokudani Monkey Park; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Snow Monkeys at Yudanaka Onsen

Shirakawa-go Winter; UNESCO World Heritage Site; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Gassho Houses in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Things to do in japan in february.

Sapporo Snow Festival; Hokkaido; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Sapporo Snow Festival

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival; Hokkaido; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Kawazu Cherry Blossoms; Cherry Blossoms in Japan; Cherry Blossom Festival; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Kawazu Cherry Blossoms

Believe it or not, you can see cherry blossoms in winter! Kawazu is a small town near Tokyo where an unusual breed of sakura grows. These trees bloom earlier and at a slower rate than most cherry trees. The height of the festival usually happens around the last week of February and the first week of March. Average Temperatures in Tokyo in February High: 10°C/50°F Low: 2°C/35°F Click Here for More About February

VIEW JAPAN WINTER TOURS FOR 2024, 2025 & 2026

When is the worst time to go to japan.

Tokyo; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Golden Week

Obon; Bon Odori; Best Time to Go to Japan; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog

Lunar New Year

For China and other Eastern countries, the period before, after, and during the Lunar New Year is a peak period for travel. The annual dates generally fall in January or February. Not everyone goes to Japan, but it is a desirable destination because of its proximity. You can join in the fun in Yokohama , Nagasaki, and Kobe’s Chinatowns. Got a good idea of when you want to go to Japan?

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Best (and Worst) Times to Visit Tokyo: Weather, Experiences, and Travel Tips

Tokyo is the capital city and it perfectly combines modernity and history. You shouldn't miss it when you travel to Japan. Tokyo has a climate with four distinct seasons. Spring is mild to warm, summer is hot and humid, autumn is warm and wet, and winter is cool and drier, sometimes with snow.

The best times to visit Tokyo are in spring (March to May) to enjoy the best scenery of cherry blossoms and in autumn (September to November) to appreciate the charming colorful foliage.

August is the hottest month in Tokyo with an average daily high of about 31°C (88°F). The coldest month is January, with an average daily high of 10°C (50°F).

The "plum rainy season" extends from June to mid-July and brings persistent light rain. Typhoons hit in September and October, when there is the most rainfall but in concentrated storms between drier periods.

  • Spring in Tokyo
  • Summer in Tokyo
  • Autumn in Tokyo
  • Winter in Tokyo
  • Travel Guide by Month

Weather in Tokyo Every Month

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Spring in Tokyo (March to May): Comfortable Weather and Japan's Best Scenery — Cherry Blossom

March to May, especially March and April, is the most popular travel season in Tokyo — and even in the whole of Japan — as you would experience comfortable weather with cherry blossoms blooming nearly everywhere. Temperatures range from 10–19°C (50–67°F) on average in April and there's an average rainfall of about 130 mm (5 in).

Visiting Japan during the Easter vacation could be a good option for your family. It takes about 7–10 days to enjoy the main highlights in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka as well as to take in some unique experiences. These could include enjoying a boat ride to immerse yourself in the beauty of the pink cherry blossoms along the riverside while avoiding the crowds in the park, and taking a family photo while wearing kimonos under the cherry trees.

Wearing a sweater and a light coat is adequate to cope with the weather, but also pack shirts to wear in the daytime when it gets warmer.

Insider tips: Prices during the cherry blossom season are about two or three times higher than usual. Many traditional ryokans and excellent guides are also fully booked in advance, so we highly recommend that you book hotels and flights at least 3-6 months in advance.

Check more details about Plan Your First Trip to Tokyo >>>

Summer in Tokyo (June to August): Hot, Humid, and Big Fireworks Celebrations

Summer (June to August) is the hottest and most humid time in Tokyo. Temperatures range from 26–30°C (79–86°F) on the average summer day, and the average rainfall is about 160 mm (6 in) per month.

When traveling in Tokyo in summer, the heat is not a big problem to worry about. You could enjoy plenty of indoor activities inside air-conditioned buildings and travel to the attractions in a private air-conditioned car, which is also helpful to minimize the inconvenience of any rainfall.

It does not rain every day (12 days a month on average) and you can travel around easily. Although it is the rainy season, many family groups still visit Japan to celebrate their kids' graduations, anniversaries, birthdays, or just for an annual vacation.

Big fireworks celebrations are popular and lively activities in Tokyo during the summer. Imagine wearing a yukata (summer kimono) and enjoying the colorful fireworks in the cool summer breeze. It is not only a visual feast but also provides you with an opportunity to soak up the traditional cultural atmosphere.

July to early September is the only time you would be allowed climb Mount Fuji. You could enjoy cooler temperatures, fresh air, and sea of clouds there.

It's suitable to wear summer clothes, such as shirts, shorts, sunglasses, and hats. You are recommended to take an umbrella in case of sudden rain.

Insider tips: June is an ideal time for a summer vacation in Japan as a family with teenagers. You could enjoy slightly cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and cheaper costs.

Autumn in Tokyo (September to November): Cool Temperatures and Colorful Fall Foliage to Appreciate

The cool weather and colorful fall foliage make autumn (September to November) another popular time to visit Tokyo and other areas of Japan. Temperatures during this period have a pleasantly mild average range of 15–22°C (59–72°F).

September and October (the typhoon season) are characterized by a high average rainfall of about 230 mm (9 in) per month, while November tends to be much drier with a moderate average rainfall of 96 mm (4 in).

You could appreciate the fall foliage almost everywhere in November , take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a cup of steaming tea in a tranquil Japanese courtyard teahouse to admire the colorful foliage and enrich your experience in Japan.

The weather changes frequently in Tokyo in fall, but making sure that you have a shirt, a mid-layer, and a rain coat should be enough to cope with it. If you travel during the typhoon season, don't forget to take an umbrella.

Winter in Tokyo (December to February): Cold but Good for an Onsen Experience

Winter (December to February) is the coldest time in Tokyo but it's not too cold for traveling , with an average high temperature of about 11°C (52°F). It's the driest time of the year, with an average rain/snowfall of about 56 mm (2 in).

Hakone , located about 2 hours away via Japan Railways (JR) from Tokyo, is the best place to relax in a traditional Japanese-style ryokan with an onsen (hot spring bath) , where you could enjoy the stunning snowy trees and mountains surrounding you.

To enjoy some winter fun, you could take a JR train to Nagano, which would take about 1½ hours. There, you could witness the unique sight of snow monkeys soaking in warm hot springs to keep themselves warm.

Celebrating Christmas and New Year in Tokyo would allow you to see the dazzling Christmas lights, pray for good luck in the coming year at a shrine, and watch the big fireworks to welcome the New Year. It one of the busiest times to travel, so we recommend that you book flights and hotels at least 3-6 months in advance.

You'd better wear thick clothes to keep warm in Tokyo in winter. We recommend that you take a down jacket, gloves, and waterproof boots.

Contact us if you are thinking about a trip to Japan. Our professional travel advisors are ready to create a wonderful trip based on your needs and interests, whatever the weather.

Tokyo Travel Guide by Month

Click the sign of each month to check the travel guide information.

Tokyo Weather in January

  • Average high: 10°C (50°F)
  • Average low: 2°C (36°F)

January is the coldest month and it's a dry time for Tokyo, with light and infrequent snow or rain. The cold weather also brings the benefits of the lowest prices and the fewest crowds after the New Year holiday.

Tokyo festivals and events in January: New Year is a popular time to travel to Tokyo and you could pray for good luck in the coming year at a shrine.

Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Winter Trip >>>

Tokyo Weather in February

  • Average high: 11°C (52°F)

Tokyo in February remains cold and relatively dry, but it's not too cold to travel. This makes it a good choice for those who want to avoid high prices and large crowds.

Tokyo Weather in March

  • Average high: 14°C (57°F)
  • Average low: 4°C (39°F)

The weather starts to get warmer in March in Tokyo, but it still gets cold in the early mornings and evenings.

March sees the start of the cherry blossom season, although most of March in Tokyo is uncrowded. When the cherry blossom comes into full bloom in late March, it tends to get very crowded.

Tokyo Weather in April

  • Average high: 19°C (66°F)
  • Average low: 9°C (48°F)

April is a pleasant time to travel to Tokyo, with mild temperatures. The average rainfall increases to about 134 mm (5 in), but it wouldn't significantly affect your trip plans as there is only moderate rainfall.

Tokyo festivals and events in April: The cherry blossoms usually reach full bloom in early April, during time which prices can double and crowds tend to be large.

Tokyo Weather in May

  • Average high: 23°C (73°F)
  • Average low: 14°C (57°F)

May sees the end of spring blossom season and the rain situation is similar to April's, but there is warmer weather. You could explore the highlights and do some outdoor activities in comfortable weather.

Tokyo Weather in June

  • Average high: 26°C (79°F)
  • Average low: 18°C (64°F)

June is the beginning of summer and the "plum rain season". It does not rain every day. Sometimes there may be steady light rain, but it would not affect your journey.

June is an ideal time to travel to Tokyo for many families with teenagers as the weather is significantly cooler than the following summer vacation months (July and August), there are fewer crowds, and the cost is cheaper.

Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Summer Trip >>>

Tokyo Weather in July

  • Average high: 30°C (86°F)
  • Average low: 22°C (72°F)

The plum rainy season continues in July and the weather is hot and humid. But there is no need to worry as Tokyo offers plenty of authentic cultural activities that you could enjoy indoors.

Tokyo festivals and events in July: In July, Tokyo hosts many big fireworks celebrations, when you could immerse yourself in the local cultural atmosphere by wearing traditional Japanese clothing.

Tokyo Weather in August

  • Average high: 32°C (90°F)
  • Average low: 24°C (75°F)

The heat is not a big problem in August, because you could enjoy plenty of indoor activities inside air-conditioned buildings and travel to the attractions in a private air-conditioned car.

Tokyo festivals and events in August: The Obon Festival is the most important festival in summer in Japan, aimed at worshipping ancestors. A grand celebration takes place in Tokyo during this time and you could observe or participate to experience the cultural atmosphere.

Tokyo Weather in September

  • Average high: 28°C (82°F)
  • Average low: 20°C (68°F)

Typhoons hit Tokyo in September and you might experience heavy rainfall for a period of a day or two. If you are travelling in September, keep your itinerary flexible in case of flight delays or cancellations.

Tokyo Weather in October

  • Average low: 15°C (59°F)

The weather becomes cooler and more pleasant in Tokyo in October. In late October, the leaves turn yellow or red, creating Japan's attractive autumn scenery.

Tokyo Weather in November

  • Average high: 17°C (63°F)

November is the best time to travel to Tokyo to enjoy the comfortable weather and appreciate the beautiful scenery of colorful fall foliage.

It's one of the peak seasons in Japan so we recommend that you make reservations at least 3-6 months in advance if you want to have your choice of hotel and the best guides.

Tokyo Weather in December

  • Average high: 12°C (54°F)

December is cold and much drier in Tokyo . You could experience classically-Japanese and seasonally-unique activities during this time. Stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan with an onsen to enjoy snow scenery in Hakone and watch snow monkeys soak in the hot springs to keep warm in Nagano.

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15 things to know before going to Japan

Rebecca Milner

Mar 31, 2024 • 7 min read

japan time to travel

Be ready for a visit to Japan with these tips on health, safety and etiquette pat138241 / Getty Images

Japan has a reputation as an etiquette-bound place that can be intimidating for first-time visitors.

The truth is, though, that the traditions here are no more formal or constricting than in many other destinations around the world. Moreover, most locals are more than willing to help out or give foreign travelers a pass for any perceived faux pas.

As with just about anything in life, expectation management is key. Put your mind at ease with our top tips for smooth traveling in Japan .

1. Book accommodation in advance (and arrive at the right time)

You can probably get a room at a basic business hotel without a reservation in a pinch, but why risk it? Top accommodations can book up weeks or even months in advance, so it's best to plan ahead.

Particularly busy travel periods include the first week of January, cherry blossom season (late March through April, depending on the destination), “Golden Week” (April 29 to May 5) and August.

You should also keep in mind that smaller inns or ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) often have fixed check-in times outside of which staff won’t be present, and rooms won’t be made up. Coordinate your arrival time in advance.

A girl sits on a suitcase outside an airport in Japan

2. Pack light for a visit to Japan

Since hotel rooms in Japan tend to be small, especially in cities, there is little room for large suitcases – which can also be a pain to wrangle on public transport . Packing on the lighter side is always a good idea, but especially advisable for Japan.

Note that religious sites such as Buddhist temples and Shintō shrines don’t have dress codes. High-end restaurants, bars and clubs sometimes do, but that usually just means no sleeveless shirts or sandals on men.

Keep in mind that you might find yourself sitting on the floor when dining out, which can be uncomfortable in short (or tight) clothing.

3. Buy a data-heavy SIM card at the airport

Finding your way around in Japan can be tricky. The address system is notoriously difficult to navigate – even for locals – so smartphones with navigation apps have been a real boon for travelers.

This means you're likely to be using a substantial amount of data getting from place to place, so buy a data-heavy SIM card at the airport upon arrival. 

Ready to go to Japan? Here are 24 of the best things to do when you get there

Close-up of Japanese traditional geta sandals with name of ryokan (hotel) written on them at Kinosaki Onsen

4. Bring shoes you can easily slip on and off

Comfortable walking shoes are a must. You’ll also likely have to take your shoes off frequently at religious sites, traditional inns and some restaurants – you’ll thank yourself later if you pack shoes that are easy to slip on and off.

Since you’ll be slipping into a pair of communal slippers when you take your own shoes off, many visitors prefer to wear socks.

5. Learn how to use a bidet toilet

Called “washlets,” Japan’s high-tech, electronic bidet toilets will wash and dry your delicate parts with the touch of a button. (Don’t worry about any language barrier; the pictograms on the buttons are easy to understand).

Other toilet customs in Japan might throw you for a loop. Motion-sensor-activated sound machines are intended to conceal, um, sensitive noises. Also expect dedicated toilet slippers in shoes-off establishments.

Note that there is frequently a lack of towels and hand dryers (locals carry small cloths with them for this reason).

People walk under umbrellas on a street lined with shops on a rainy day

6. Come prepared for the weather

Summers in Japan are hot and humid, which can mean a real risk of heatstroke. Carry water with you, and a folding umbrella with UV blocking is useful – and does double duty in case of a sudden shower.

Late June is the start of the annual rainy season, when it can rain without end for days; this can last a few weeks or through most of July.

Rains, as well as punishing winds, are likely again during typhoon season , which runs from September through October (earlier in Okinawa ).

Typhoons can cause serious travel disruption; monitor the situation with the  Japan Meteorological Agency ’s storm and other weather warnings, which are available in English. Winters can get chilly, and  Tōhoku and Hokkaidō up north can get huge dumps of snow.

Japan’s ubiquitous convenience stores are handy for weather-related necessities like umbrellas, hats, cooling wipes and pocket warmers.

7. Make sure to carry cash...

In rural Japan and at older family-run businesses in cities, credit cards may not be accepted. It’s wise to assume you’ll need to pay cash at country ryokan and smaller restaurants and shops; stock up when you’re in a town with an ATM (cashpoint).

To pay as the Japanese do, place your cash or card in the small tray at the register rather than handing either to the cashier.

8. ...But don’t worry about tipping

Though tour guides who regularly take foreign tourists around might expect extra, Japan has no custom of tipping, and an attempt to add to your bill will more often than not fluster or embarrass staff.

In lieu of tipping, some bars and restaurants will charge a flat-rate service fee, usually around ¥300–500 per person; others, typically fancy ones, will automatically add a 10% service charge to the bill.

A guard stands on the edge of the platform as a bullet train pulls in

9. Learn the art of queueing in Japan

The Japanese are big on queues, forming neat lines everywhere from check-out counters to train platforms. (Regarding the latter: after the train doors open, it’s everyone for themselves when it comes to scoring a seat.)

10. Stand to the left (or to the right)

Always ride on one side of the escalator – but which side depends on where you are. In Kanto and eastwards, it’s to the left; in Kansai and westwards, it’s to the right. (The dividing point is somewhere just west of Nagoya ).

Incidentally, train operators want passengers to stand on both sides of the escalator and refrain from walking altogether, even if commuters have so far shrugged at these guidelines.

11. Note when the last train leaves

City subways run until 1am at the very latest. If you miss the last train for the night, the alternative is to catch a taxi, which can be expensive. 

People, mostly youngsters, wait to cross a road in a busy city

12. Avoid the morning commute in Tokyo

For Tokyoites , the morning commute is a contact sport. On weekdays from 7:30am to 9am, millions squeeze into trains across the city, sometimes helped along by station staff who make sure everyone’s packed in.

Shinjuku Station, the busiest in the world, sees an average of over 3.5 million commuters daily; there are more than 200 exits leading in and out of the complex.

13. Eating in public is generally a no-no in Japan

It’s considered bad form to eat in public, especially while walking. Exceptions include the shinkansen (bullet train) and other reserved-seat limited-express trains, where it is customary to eat a bentō (boxed meal) on board; plus at festivals or market streets with food vendors; on a picnic; and of course if you're eating ice cream.

It’s also okay to take sips from a resealable beverage container, like a water bottle.

14. Know what to do in an earthquake or tsunami

Japan is one of the most seismically active places on the planet. While strong earthquakes are rare, minor temblors happen all the time. If this occurs during your time here, stay calm and take your cue from those around you.

Head under a table or stand in a doorway if the shaking picks up; strict building codes generally keep harm to a minimum.

Rarer but more dangerous tsunami can follow a significant quake. Should this occur, listen for tsunami warnings and get to higher ground fast if you are near the coast. 

15. Learn some Japanese lingo 

English is widely spoken in cities and around major tourist attractions; in rural areas, though, it can be hit or miss. Some Japanese words that will come in handy when dining out: 

• omori (large portion, often free at ramen stalls) • okawari (refill)  • mochikaeri (takeaway)  • tennai de (eat-in)  • onegai shimasu (please). Follow up any of your orders or requests with this; for example, if you want tea, say, “O-cha onegai shimasu.”  • sumimasen (excuse me)  • arigato gozaimasu (thank you). Because it’s a bit of a mouthful, it’s tempting to shorten it to simply arigato . Think of it as the difference between “thank you” and “thanks” and go for the politer “arigato gozaimasu.” • toire (toilet; pronounced “to-ee-rey”)

This article was first published Apr 6, 2022 and updated Mar 31, 2024.

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JRailPass.com » Japan Travel Blog » When to go Japan? Best times of the year to visit

When to go Japan? Best times of the year to visit

June 15, 2022

japan time to travel

When is the best time to visit Japan? This is a question without a simple answer. Japan is a year-round destination , with interesting activities, attractions, and festivities throughout the year.

Your decision will depend on several factors. First, do you wish to avoid the crowded, busy times, more expensive times, or hot, cold, or rainy weather? Second, what activities or events to do wish to enjoy ? Are they seasonal or available year-round?

You’ve been saving up, making plans, and dreaming of your Japan vacation. For many, visiting Japan is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But, what time of year should you visit in order to have the best vacation possible?

Consider this helpful guide to determine the best and worst times for your trip to Japan .

Read more : Is it safe to travel to Japan?

Japan season by season highlights

You can enjoy Japan’s natural beauty at any time of the year. Check out the following suggestions for the best attractions and experiences in every season .

Read more : Things to know before traveling to Japan

Book your Japan Rail Pass now

Spring in most of Japan takes place from mid-March through May . Temperatures then average 40 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (F), or 5 to 20 degrees Celsius (C). Weather can be unpredictable, so it is advisable to bring both warm weather and cold weather clothing .

japan time to travel

Spring is one of the most popular times to visit Japan , largely due to the flowering trees of the ume plum blossom season and the sakura cherry blossom season. If traveling to witness these beautiful phenomena, keep in mind that the weather can alter the peak bloom times in any given year. Bloom times are also affected by geography, with blossoms opening earlier in southern regions and later in northern regions.

Golden Week, a series of national holidays, is also a busy time for travel in Japan . Many visitors avoid Golden Week due to the large crowds and crowded transportation.

Because both locals and international visitors travel in the spring, prices for travel and accommodations are often the highest during this season.

Cherry Blossom Viewing

Japan’s iconic sakura cherry blossoms are a draw for many travelers. Trees in the south begin to bloom in mid-March. The blossoms peak marches steadily north, concluding in the country’s northern reaches in May. Late March to early April is peak season throughout much of the country . The trees bloom for about a week in each location, so you can increase your viewing time by beginning your travels in the south and then moving north.

Cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan

Expect large crowds at parks and shrines featuring cherry trees and busy transportation stations at this time. Book your accommodations early , as they often sell out well in advance.

If your visit falls in late May when the cherry blossom season is over, you can still immerse yourself in beautiful foliage at one of Japan’s many flower parks . These include magical wisteria tunnels.

Golden Week

Golden Week is a series of public holidays from late April to mid-May . It is often considered one of the “worst” times for international travelers to visit Japan. Many residents use their time off work to travel domestically during this time, resulting in crowded attractions, accommodations, and train stations. Prices often peak at this time.

Summers in Japan take place during the months of June through September . Temperatures range from 70 to 90 F (21 to 32 C) throughout most of the country. Summers are mildest in Hokkaido due to its northern position.

Obon festival: floating lanterns (toro nagashi)

Summers in Japan are hot and humid across most of the country, but milder in mountainous regions. But summer is the perfect time for outdoor activities , from hiking to festivals.

Weatherwise, summer is Japan’s rainy season and typhoon season . Even during the rainest parts of June and July, torrential rain rarely affects travel . One exception to this is transportation between Okinawa and the mainland.

Japan’s summers are full of festivals, called matsuri . Many include elaborate fireworks displays.

Matsuris – Summer Festivals

Japan’s cultural, historical, and religious festivals are known the world over. They often feature spectacular parades, decorations, and fireworks.

Read more : 10 best Japanese summer festivals

Tenjin Matsuri

The Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka honors the god of scholarship on July 24 and 25 each year . The festival has been celebrated for over 1,000 years . It is a fireworks matsuri, concluding with a fireworks display over the Okawa River.

Tengu (heavenly dog) are a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion

Gion Matsuri

The Gion Matsuri is Kyoto’s most important festival . The festival has been taking place for over 1,000 years. Main events include parades of enormous floats called yamaboko , the selection of a “sacred child,” and carrying a portable shrine through the town. Attendees dress in colorful yukata robes and enjoy delicious street foods.

Gion Matsuri, Kyoto

Festivities of the Gion Matsuri take place in Kyoto during the entire month of July .

Fireworks Matsuri

Hanabi or fireworks festivals take place throughout the summer. Displays often last two hours and are accompanied by traditional street foods .

Hanabi, the japanese fireworks

Some of the most popular include the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (last Saturday in July), Nagaoka Fireworks Festival (early August), Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival (early August), Kumano Fireworks Festival (August 17), Omagari Fireworks Competition (late August), Miyajima Fireworks Festival (late August), Kachimai Fireworks Festival (late August), and the Tsuchiura Fireworks Competition (early October).

From Okinawa to the northern islands, Japan is ringed with popular and picturesque beaches . Escape from the big-city traffic of Tokyo and hit a nearby beach. View larger-than-life outdoor art on the island of Naoshima, or scuba dive in various locations.

Okinawa Island

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Japan has spent years preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games , purported to be “the most innovative ever organized.” The opening ceremony of the Olympics will take place on July 24, 2021 , and the games will last until August 9. The Paralympic games will take place 15 days after the Olympics, from August 25 to September 6.

Forty-three venues across Tokyo will be used for the games.

Expect increased prices, limited vacancies at accommodations, road closures, and transportation delays during this time. Japan has been investing heavily in technology to eliminate congestion and delays during the Olympics . For example, single keycards can be used to access the train, your hotel room, and driverless taxis. Humanoid robots will be present at the Olympic Village to give directions. A new train station will also be in operation, providing access to Haneda Airport .

September through December are Japan’s fall or autumn months. Temperatures generally range from 50 to 70 F (10 to 21 C).

autumn japanese landscape

Locals and visitors will enjoy koyo , or autumn leaves viewing . Kyoto’s Arashiyama and the Japanese Alps are among the best locations for this type of excursion.

The mild weather, stunning foliage, and less intense crowds make autumn a favorite time for many travelers to Japan. Autumn crowds are largest in November , but can often be avoided by planning your visit in early December.

Fall Foliage

Japan is famous for koyo , or autumn leaf viewing , as the trees give way to reds and golds . The peak season for koyo is late November to early December . You can view autumn leaves almost anywhere in the country , but special train tours are available to give you the best views. Hiking is also a great way to see fall leaves. Consider the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail or Nakasendo trail and even taste a deep-fried maple leaf at Minoo Park!

Winter in Japan lasts from late December to mid-March with temperatures from 30 to 45 F (0 to 8 C). Winter is great for frugal travelers – if you avoid the holidays, winter is one of the cheapest times to visit Japan . After the holidays pass, mid-January to mid-March is also the least crowded time to visit. Is winter in Japan right for you?

Best Japanese Winter Illuminations

Winter is also an ideal season for visiting an onsen , or natural hot spring . A dip in an onsen is a perfect way to warm up and remedy sore muscles after winter sports. The traditional villages in which many onsen are located are picturesque after a dusting of snow.

Humans aren’t the only creatures that enjoy a dip in the hot springs. You can visit Japan’s famous snow monkeys in a snowy environment. The months of November through February are also the best times to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji , as it is less likely to be enveloped in clouds.

Snow, Skiing, and Snowboarding

Snow blankets northern Japan, and much of the rest of the country, each January and February . Resorts dot Japan’s mountainous areas, providing perfect powder for skiers and snowboarders . In fact, one mountain range goes by the name of the Japanese Alps in honor of its European counterpart.

Shiga Kogen Resort, Japan

Winter is, not surprisingly, Japan’s snow season and skiing season . Japan is home to many ski resorts in Hokkaido and the Honshu Alps. Stunning snowscapes and some of the best skiing in the world meet congested travel during the Christmas and New Years holidays .

Illuminations and snow festivals

If winter sports aren’t your thing, you can check out the Sapporo Snow Festival , or Yuki Matsuri. Stroll through a winter wonderland of twinkling lights and illuminated ice sculptures , or play the day away on a snow slide, in a snow maze, and at a snowman building area.

Nabana No Sato Winter Illuminations, near Nagoya

Read more : Best Winter Illuminations in Japan

Plum Blossom Viewing

Only slightly less famous than the sakura cherry blossom season is the ume or plum blossom season in Japan .

Plum trees begin blooming earlier than cherry trees , typically in mid-February . Some parks are blanketed with the fragrant flowers of over 3,000 trees. You can get a similar experience to cherry blossom viewing during plum blossom season, without the large crowds .

Plum blossom tree

Yes, February marks the beginning of the scuba diving season in Japan’s southern regions . This is an ideal time for viewing humpback whales, sea turtles, and even rare manatees.

Peak Seasons

The spring months of March through May and the autumn season of September through November are the times that many people choose for their Japan vacation. Temperatures and rainfall are generally mild during these times, and you can enjoy cherry blossom viewing or autumn leaf viewing , respectively. Japan’s northern ski resorts are popular during the winter .

Other peak seasons occur during the Christmas/New Year’s holidays in December and January , the Golden Week festivities in late April through early May , and the Obon Festival in August . Residents often have holidays from work during these times and travel domestically. Because of this, prices increase, rooms are harder to find, and transportation facilities and attractions are more crowded.

Japan month-by-month highlights

What is going on in Japan each month of the calendar year? Find out below.

  • Expect crowds following New Year’s Day .
  • Shogatsu is celebrated from January 1 to 3.
  • Coming of Age Day is celebrated on the second Monday of the month.
  • Sumo New Year Basho takes place in Tokyo.
  • Tsukiji Fish Market opens to tourists in early January.
  • Snow makes January a great time to visit the snow monkeys of Nagano or soak in a warm onsen .
  • Cherry blossom season begins in Okinawa.

Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma. Photo courtesy of EM7/Shutterstock.

  • The first day of spring is celebrated on February 3, often by visiting Buddhist temples to ward off evil.
  • The diving season begins, with the best chance of seeing humpback whales in February.
  • Plum blossom season begins in mid-march.
  • February is typically the country’s coldest month, making it the perfect time to visit an onsen , izakayas , or engage in winter sports .
  • The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in February.
  • Plum blossom season comes to an end in mid-March.
  • Cherry blossom season begins in mid-March.
  • Crowds decrease in Okinawa.
  • The Sumo Spring Basho is held in Osaka.
  • AnimeJapan , the world’s largest anime festival, is held in March.

Ashikaga Flower Park wisteria tunnel

  • Ski season ends .
  • Cherry blossom season typically peaks in early April and comes to an end in mid-April.
  • Miyako Odori is held in Kyoto throughout the month.
  • Golden Week begins in late April.
  • Golden Week continues through the first week of May.
  • Flowers such as wisteria, iris, and azalea are in bloom , making flower parks and gardens a must-see.
  • The Sumo Summer Basho is held in Tokyo.
  • June is Japan’s rainiest month .
  • The Sumo Basho is held in Nagoya.
  • The Yosakoi Soran Matsuri folk dance festival is held in Sapporo.

japan time to travel

  • The Mount Fuji climbing season begins on July 1.
  • The Tanabata star festival is held on July 7.
  • Obon festivals are held in Tokyo and eastern Japan around July 15.
  • The popular Gion Matsuri is held in Kyoto from July 17 to 24.
  • The Fuji Rock Festival , Japan’s largest music festival, is held during the last weekend in July at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata.
  • The Tokyo 2020 Olympics begin on July 24.
  • The Tokyo 2020 Olympics continue through August 1.
  • The Obon holiday of Hachigatsu Bon , three days honoring the dead, takes place in mid-August.
  • Hanabi or fireworks festivals are held throughout the country. One of the best is the Lake Biwa festival near Kyoto.

Climbing mount Fuji

  • Mount Fuji’s trails close by the second week in September.
  • The Sumo Basho takes place in Tokyo.
  • The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is held in Osaka.
  • The Seto craft festival is held during the second week of September.
  • Fall foliage season begins.
  • Temperatures in Okinawa remain high enough to visit the beaches.
  • The Roppongi Art Night is held in mid- to late October.
  • As a curiosity, you can see thousands of costumes in Tokyo’s Shibuya district on October 31 ( Halloween! ).

japan time to travel

  • A “shoulder” month when crowds are fewer and prices are lower .
  • The Ohara festival is held in Kagoshima.
  • The Momiji Festival is held in Kyoto.
  • Snowfall begins , and ski slopes open.
  • Travel in early December to avoid crowds.
  • The Sanpoji Daikon festival , celebrating the Daikon radish, is held in Kyoto.
  • Expect closures of restaurants, shops, and attractions between Christmas and New Year’s Day .
  • Tsukiji Fish Market closes to tourists in late December.

Shirakawa-go Winter Light-up

When is the best time to visit Japan? The short answer is, there is no bad time!  Plan your trip based on what you want to see – cherry blossoms, snow, or autumn leaves – and what you wish to avoid – heat, cold, high prices, or crowds.

In whichever season you choose to visit Japan, you will not be disappointed by its unique seasonal offerings . And if you’ve traveled to Japan in the past, visiting during a different season can bring new life to your travel experiences.

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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Time to Travel to Japan

When planning a trip to Japan, one crucial factor to consider is the timing of your visit. The best time to travel to Japan can greatly impact your overall experience. That’s why you want to choose the right time to make the most of your journey.

From vibrant city life to serene rural landscapes, this guide will help you navigate the seasons and find the best time to travel to Japan !

The Best Time to Travel to Japan: A Seasonal Overview for Japan

best time of year to travel to Japan offers you a wide array of attractions and experiences that vary throughout the year. Japan’s diverse climate, ranging from cherry blossoms in spring to snowy landscapes in winter, offers something for everyone. So, pick your favorite season and Visit Japan at the best time to make the most out of your trip to Japan!

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Spring in Japan: Visit Japan During the Sakura Season

Best Time to Travel to Japan in Spring a mountain with trees and grass with Mount Fuji view

Spring (March to May) :

If you are planning your journey to Japan in spring, you’re in for a treat! This is a wonderful time to explore the country, as it’s when cherry blossoms, or “sakura,” paint the landscape in delicate shades of pink and white. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your spring adventure in Japan:

Cherry Blossoms and Hanami Festivals in Japan:

Sakura season typically spans from late March to early April, but the exact timing can vary based on the region and weather conditions. Hanami is all about savoring the beauty of cherry blossoms. It’s a time for relaxation, picnics, and leisurely walks beneath the blooming trees—a quintessential Japanese experience.

Top Recommended Places to Visit during Spring in Japan

Views-of-Mount-Fuji

Mount Fuji : Picture yourself witnessing the iconic mountain surrounded by cherry blossoms, creating a breathtaking springtime vista. It’s a moment you won’t want to miss.

Hitachi Seaside Park: When you visit, you’ll find a colorful carpet of flowers, including millions of nemophila, painting the landscape in shades of blue just for you.

Kyoto: Your journey will immerse you in cherry blossom festivals, traditional tea ceremonies, and the serene beauty of temples and gardens. It’s an experience that’s all about you.

Tokyo : You can experience the bustling metropolis adorned with cherry blossoms, from Ueno Park to the Imperial Palace Gardens. Tokyo’s vibrant springtime is waiting for you.

Ashikaga Flower Park: Get ready to marvel at the awe-inspiring wisteria tunnels, an enchanting floral spectacle that’s there just for you to enjoy.

Hiroshima: While you reflect on history, you’ll be surrounded by cherry blossoms in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It’s a unique and meaningful experience designed just for you.

Hakone: In Hakone, you can relish serene hot springs with views of Mount Fuji, explore beautiful gardens, and sail on Lake Ashi. It’s a tranquil escape from city life, tailor-made for you.

Places to Be Mindful of During Your Visit: Cherry blossom season is a favorite among tourists visiting Japan, but it comes with crowded spots like parks, temples, and scenic areas. For a more serene experience, explore less crowded, off-the-beaten-path locations.

Tips for your spring visit to Japan:

Book Accommodations in Advance: Secure your accommodations well in advance, as hotels tend to fill up quickly during cherry blossom season.

Try Local Specialities: Don’t miss the chance to taste local sakura-themed foods and beverages, like sakura mochi (rice cakes) and cherry blossom tea.

Short Sight-Seeing Period: Keep in mind that cherry blossoms have a relatively short blooming period, so plan your visit to catch them at their peak beauty.

Your spring journey in Japan promises to be nothing short of magical. Embrace the enchanting world of sakura and the cultural richness of hanami for a truly memorable experience in Japan!

Summer in Japan: Visit Japan During the Sunny Season!

a blue letters on a beach

Summer (June to August)

As you plan your summer adventure in Japan, it’s essential to be well-prepared for the Hot and humid climate that awaits you. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your summer journey in Japan:

Sizzling Summers with Festive Vibes and Firework Delights

Hot weather: After the brief rainy period known as ‘tsuyu,’ lasting from June to late July, Japan enters the peak of its scorching summer temperatures in July and August. Staying cool and well-hydrated is vital during this time.

Swimming Season: With Japan surrounded by the sea, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming. Whether you prefer the coastal waters near Tokyo or the remote islands of Okinawa, you can relax and unwind by the water’s edge.

Summer Matsuri’s: This season also marks the arrival of summer festivals and widespread firework displays across Japan. Whether you’re spectating or joining in the festive dances, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.

Top Recommended Places to Visit during Summers in Japan

Mount-Hakodate view together city with lights on the water in Japan

Hokkaido: You can experience cool relief in Hokkaido’s summer, with pleasant weather, lush landscapes, and vibrant festivals, making it an ideal escape from Japan’s scorching heat.

Hakone: You can relax in Hakone’s soothing hot springs, surrounded by lush greenery, and savor magnificent views of Mount Fuji, all while enjoying moderate summer temperatures.

Mount Fuji: During summer, you can enjoy the best conditions for climbing Japan’s iconic peak, Mount Fuji, with clear skies and manageable temperatures for a memorable ascent.

Okinawa Island: You can embrace the tropical paradise of Okinawa in summer. Enjoy pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life in Japan’s southern paradise.

Takayama: During the summer, you can discover the charm of Takayama, where the moderate climate allows for exploring its historic streets, festivals, and cultural heritage with ease.

Places to Avoid in Japan During Summers

It is recommended to avoid visiting cities like Tokyo and Kyoto During the Peak of Summer Heat as these cities can become quite uncomfortable in July and August. If you do plan to visit, make sure to find cool spots with air conditioning and wear light, breathable clothes to stay comfortable.

Tips for your Japan trip in Summer:

Keep sun protection items like sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses in your travel kit to shield yourself from the sun’s intensity.

Don’t forget to pick up a traditional Japanese handheld fan, known as an ‘uchiwa,’ to help you stay cool while exploring. It also makes for a great souvenir.

Delight in the flavors of summer with dishes like cold noodles, known as “somen” or “hiyashi chuka,” and treat yourself to “kakigori,” a refreshing shaved ice dessert with various flavored syrups.

Keep an eye on local event calendars, as summer in Japan is synonymous with festivals and mesmerizing fireworks displays.

Your summer adventure in Japan promises to be a unique and unforgettable experience. Embrace the warmth, savor the flavors, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of this captivating season.

Stay cool and enjoy every moment of your summer journey in Japan!

Autumn in Japan: Discover Japan During the Foliage Season!

a building on a hill with trees and mountains in the background

Autumn (September to November)

If you are planning your journey to Japan during the autumn months, get ready to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of fall foliage, known as “koyo.” Here is everything you should be aware of while planning traveling to Japan during autumn:

Stunning Fall Foliage and Koyo Season

You’re in for a treat as you’ll witness Japan’s landscape transform into a vibrant tapestry of red, orange, and gold. Autumn is the season of koyo, and the country’s parks, gardens, and forests come alive with stunning colors.

With fewer crowds and budget-friendly prices, you can immerse yourself in the mesmerizing autumn foliage. As greens transform into vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows, it’s a visual treat just for you.

Experience Japan’s rich culture through “Momijigari,” the tradition of admiring autumn leaves. Enjoy the temperate weather, a welcome relief from summer’s heat, and savor every moment in this beautiful season.

Top Recommended Places to Visit during Autumn in Japan

Autumn Maple Tree in Kyoto

Kurobe Gorge, Toyama: For you, it’s an opportunity to explore pristine nature, deep ravines, and the Kurobe Gorge Railway. Dive into a cool summer escape in Toyama’s scenic wonderland.

Naruko Gorge, Miyagi: Immerse yourself in lush greenery, waterfalls, and vibrant foliage at Naruko Gorge. It’s your enchanting summer hideaway in Miyagi.

Mikuni Pass, Hokkaido: Seek tranquility in Hokkaido’s summer beauty just for you. Mikuni Pass offers serene lakes, rolling hills, and alpine vistas.

Lake Towada, Aomori: Discover tranquil elegance at Lake Towada, Aomori’s pristine gem, tailor-made for your summer boating, hiking, and serene lakeside moments.

Kyoto, Kyoto: Your summer awaits in Kyoto, where cultural richness comes alive just for you. Explore historic temples, gardens, and festivals under the warm Kyoto sun.

Places to Avoid in Japan During Autumn

Avoid Hokkaido and the northern regions: While Hokkaido and the northern regions are stunning destinations, they don’t typically experience the same level of vibrant fall foliage as central and southern Japan.

If you’re specifically seeking koyo, consider visiting these regions during summer or winter instead.

Skip up till late September: When planning your Japan visit, it’s wise to skip late September, especially if you’re chasing the mesmerizing autumn colors. During this time, the landscape is often not fully transformed yet, and you’ll also encounter crowds due to Respect for the Aged Day and Autumn Equinox public holidays.

Opt for mid to late October for a more serene and colorful autumn experience.

Tips for your Japan Adventure in Autumn:

Pack layers of clothing, as temperatures can vary during the autumn months. A light jacket or sweater will come in handy.

Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the mesmerizing colors of autumn.

Savor seasonal treats like roasted sweet potatoes, chestnut dishes, and warm cups of matcha tea.

Keep an eye out for local festivals and events that celebrate autumn, such as the Chrysanthemum Festival (Kiku Matsuri) and various food festivals featuring seasonal ingredients.

Autumn in Japan is a time of natural splendor and cultural richness. Embrace the changing seasons, explore historic sites, and create lasting memories as you soak in the beauty of koyo.

Enjoy every moment of your autumn adventure in Japan!

Winter in Japan: Explore Japan During the Snowy Season!

a body of water with snow covered trees and buildings

Winter (December to February)

As you plan your winter adventure in Japan, prepare to be enchanted by snowy landscapes and a variety of winter activities. Here’s your personalized guide to making the most of your winter journey:

Discover Tranquility and Winter Wonders in Japan

Visiting Japan in winter reveals a different kind of magic. You can delight in culinary treasures like sushi and hotpots, luxuriate in traditional ryokans with soothing onsen baths, and venture into snow-clad landscapes.

Whether you’re into skiing, snowboarding, or tranquil onsen soaks, there’s something special for you. You might also have the chance to encounter iconic snow monkeys, participate in serene New Year’s festivities, and enjoy fewer crowds. All of this makes winter an ideal season for your serene exploration of Japan.

Top Recommended Places to Visit during Winter in Japan

Places-to-Visit-in-Hokkaido

Sapporo: In Sapporo, you’ll find enchantment in winter. The Sapporo Snow Festival boasts colossal ice sculptures, vibrant nightlife, and perfect conditions for skiing and snowboarding just for you.

Niseko: Niseko is your winter paradise offering world-renowned powder snow for skiing and snowboarding. Here, you can indulge in onsen relaxation, savor delectable cuisine, and immerse yourself in the charming ski village ambiance.

Kyoto: You should visit Kyoto to experience a serene winter. Explore frost-kissed temples and gardens with fewer tourists and bask in the glow of festive illuminations as well as savor the peaceful cultural atmosphere.

Jigokudani Monkey Park: Experience winter’s unique wonder at the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you can witness snow monkeys relaxing in natural hot springs amidst a snowy wonderland—a heartwarming sight tailored for you.

Shirakawa: Shirakawa-go offers you a winter dream. Witness picturesque thatched-roof villages covered in snow and partake in traditional winter festivals for an authentic and personal experience.

Osaka: Osaka’s winter charm beckons you with dazzling illuminations, festive street food, and vibrant entertainment. You will discover a different side of Osaka’s lively culture amidst the winter lights.

Places to Avoid in Japan During Winter

You should steer clear of rural Japan during winter. These areas often face heavy snowfall and road closures. If you are not a fan of extreme cold weather, avoid Hokkaido, Tohoku, and the Japanese Alps due to their extreme cold and snow.

If you plan to visit Shirakawa-go in winter, make sure to book accommodations and activities ahead of time as it can be extremely crowded. While Mount Fuji is open for visitors during the winter, be prepared for harsh conditions including extreme cold and strong winds!

Top Tips for Your Japan Adventure in Winter:

Dress warmly in layers to stay comfortable in the chilly weather. Don’t forget to bring a good pair of waterproof boots. Enjoy seasonal delicacies like hot pot dishes (nabe), grilled mochi, and warm sake. Participate in local winter festivals and events, such as the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido .

Take advantage of Japan’s well-maintained and efficient transportation systems to explore various winter destinations. Winter in Japan offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural experiences. Whether you’re skiing in Hokkaido, mingling with snow monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park, or savoring the serene charm of Kyoto, your winter journey promises to be filled with unforgettable moments.

Embrace the season and enjoy every aspect of your winter wonderland adventure in Japan!

Travel Guide for Different Traveler Profiles

Travel with families & children.

Travel with children

If you are Traveling in Japan with Kids, your journey holds unique priorities and interests. Here’s a personalized guide to help you plan your adventure:

Recommendations for Family-Friendly Seasons:

Consider visiting Japan during spring or autumn for a family-friendly experience. These seasons offer pleasant weather, making it easier to explore with children.

Spring is ideal for cherry blossom viewing (hanami), while autumn brings beautiful foliage. Both seasons offer comfortable temperatures and enjoyable outdoor activities to make unforgettable memories with your family!

Things to do with Kids in Japan:

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: These theme parks offer magical experiences for children of all ages. Meet beloved Disney characters, enjoy thrilling rides, and immerse yourselves in enchanting worlds.

Kyoto International Manga Museum: This museum in Kyoto is a haven for manga lovers and offers interactive exhibits for children.

Children’s Museums: Look out for children’s museums in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, which often feature hands-on exhibits and activities.

Outdoor Adventures: Explore Japan’s stunning natural beauty with family-friendly hikes and visits to parks. Places like Nikko and Nara offer opportunities for kids to engage with nature.

Cultural Experiences: Encourage your children to embrace Japanese culture by trying activities like tea ceremonies, calligraphy, or dressing up in kimono.

Local Festivals: Depending on your travel dates, check out local festivals and events that might coincide with your visit. Festivals often feature parades, traditional performances, and delicious street food.

Remember to adapt your itinerary to your children’s ages and interests, ensuring a mix of fun, educational, and culturally enriching experiences. Japan has plenty to offer families, making it an exciting destination for kids and adults alike. Enjoy creating lasting memories together!

Solo Travel in Japan

As a solo traveler, your journey is a unique opportunity for self-discovery and exploration. Here’s a personalized guide to enhance your solo adventure:

Recommendations for Solo Traveler visiting Japan

Climbing-the-Mountain

Connect with Others: Opt for guesthouses or hostels where you can mingle with fellow travelers and locals. Share stories, seek recommendations, and join group activities – it’s all about you!

Navigate Like a Pro: Japan’s outstanding public transport system makes solo adventures a breeze for you. Consider a Japan Rail Pass for your train journeys.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask: Japanese locals are known for their friendliness. When you’re unsure or lost, remember that you can always ask for help – they’re there for you.

Things To Do in Japan as A Solo Traveler

Zen-meditation

Language Exchanges: Join local language exchange meetups to connect with both locals and fellow travelers.

Cultural Immersion: Immerse yourself in Japanese traditions with workshops like tea ceremonies, pottery, and calligraphy.

Solo Dining: Delight in Japan’s renowned food culture by savoring sushi, ramen, and local specialties on solo dining adventures.

Group Exploration: Make friends and explore together by considering guided tours and group activities.

Social Stays: Choose solo traveler-friendly accommodations like hostels and guesthouses, fostering social opportunities.

Mindful Retreats: Find inner peace with meditation and Zen retreats at serene temples and monasteries.

Your solo journey in Japan is a canvas for self-discovery and meaningful connections, offering endless possibilities for creating your own unforgettable story. Enjoy the freedom and adventure of solo travel!

Budget Travelers In Japan

Shibuya-Crossing-Tokyo

As a budget-conscious traveler, your journey is all about making the most of your resources while experiencing the beauty of Japan. Here’s a personalized guide to help you plan your adventure:

Recommendations for Finding Affordable Accommodation in Japan:

Hostels and Guesthouses: opt for budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses, offering dormitory-style or private rooms, and a chance to connect with fellow travelers.

Capsule Hotels: Experience unique stays in capsule hotels, renowned for affordability, especially in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

Ryokan and Minshuku: In rural areas, explore traditional ryokan (inns) and minshuku (guesthouses) for reasonable rates, particularly during off-peak seasons.

Online Booking Platforms: Utilize online booking platforms to compare prices and secure deals on accommodations by booking in advance.

Guesthouses with Kitchen Facilities: Choose accommodations with kitchen facilities for added convenience during your stay.

Budget-Friendly Activities During Specific Seasons:

Kyoto-Tower

Spring (Cherry Blossom Season): Indulge in budget-friendly hanami picnics amidst public parks and riversides, complemented by visits to historically rich temples and shrines, many with low-cost or free entry options.

Summer: Maximize your summer with cost-free outdoor festivals and abundant events, then dive into budget-friendly aquatic adventures at beaches and swimming spots.

Autumn (Foliage Season): Embark on budget-friendly hikes in national parks, reveling in the beauty of autumn foliage. Join local festivals for affordable street food and entertainment experiences.

Winter: Embrace the winter magic with free city illuminations. Discover budget-friendly warmth in public onsens, especially in quaint towns, for a cozy winter escape.

Your budget-friendly adventure in Japan is a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of a savvy traveler. In budget stays, cherry blossoms, or street food, each moment is a chance to maximize your budget and create unforgettable memories.

Enjoy your journey and take pride in your knack for getting the most out of your resources!

Adventure Seekers in Japan

lake-mashu-hokkaido

As an adventure seeker, your journey is all about seeking adrenaline-pumping experiences and discovering the thrill of the unknown. Here’s a personalized guide to help you plan your next adventure in Japan:

Ideal Seasons for Outdoor Adventures in Japan

Spring: Ideal for mild weather enthusiasts. Hike in Nikko and the Japan Alps. Enjoy thrilling whitewater rafting.

Summer: Dive into water sports in Okinawa. Explore the Japanese Alps for hikes and Mount Fuji climbs.

Autumn: Adventure seekers love vibrant foliage. Trek or bike in Hokkaido or Arashiyama. Rock climb at spots like Ogawayama.

Winter: For snow sports, head to Niseko and Hakuba. Try ice climbing in Shirakawa-go and northern regions.

Thrilling Activities Available Throughout the Year in Japan

Canyoning :  It’s a challenging adventure where you navigate waterfalls and rock formations. You can find canyoning tours in places like Hokkaido, Nagano, and Kyushu.

Paragliding : If you’re into bird’s-eye views, paragliding is a fantastic choice. You can soar above Japan’s stunning landscapes. Paragliding tours are available in spots like Nagano, Kyushu, and the Japanese Alps.

Cave Exploration: Japan also offers cave exploration opportunities. You can explore impressive cave systems open to the public. Check out cave tours in places like Okinawa and Yamaguchi.

Mountain Biking: For mountain biking enthusiasts, Japan has diverse trails, suitable for beginners to experts. Some top mountain biking destinations include Hokkaido, Nagano, and the Japanese Alps.

Your adventure-filled journey in Japan is a canvas for adrenaline-fueled experiences. Whether you’re scaling peaks, plunging into canyons, or gliding through the skies, every moment is an opportunity to quench your thirst for adventure.

Embrace the thrill and savor the excitement of your Japan quest for the extraordinary!

Tips for Booking and Planning

The importance of booking early for popular seasons:.

For Peak Seasons: When planning a trip during peak seasons, such as cherry blossom season or summer festivals, early booking is crucial. Popular accommodations fill up quickly, and securing your stay well in advance ensures you have a place to stay.

Booking tours and activities ahead of time can also be essential, as some experiences may have limited availability during peak periods. Additionally, reserving transportation tickets, like shinkansen (bullet train) seats, early can save you from potential booking challenges later.

For Off-Peak Seasons: While off-peak seasons generally offer more flexibility, booking in advance still has advantages. You can often find discounts on accommodations and tours when you plan ahead. Advance booking can provide peace of mind, especially if you have specific preferences for accommodations or activities.

Last-Minute Deals and Options:

For Spontaneous Adventures: If you’re more of a spontaneous traveler, consider exploring last-minute deals and options. Some accommodations and tour operators offer discounts for unsold inventory closer to the travel date. Websites and apps dedicated to last-minute bookings can help you find affordable options on the go.

Flexibility is Key: Keep in mind that last-minute deals may have limitations. You might need to be flexible with your travel dates, accommodations, or activities to take advantage of these opportunities.

For popular destinations or peak seasons, relying solely on last-minute bookings can be risky, as availability may be limited.

Remember that your booking strategy should align with your travel style and preferences. If you prefer a well-structured itinerary and have specific choices in mind, advanced booking ensures you secure what you want.

On the other hand, if you’re open to spontaneity and flexibility, last-minute options can lead to unexpected and exciting discoveries. Tailor your approach to suit your adventure and embark on a journey that’s uniquely yours!

Pack According to the Weather

As you gear up for your journey, being well-prepared for varying weather conditions is essential. Here’s a list of all the essentials you should pack to make the most of your adventures while staying comfortable:

Packing Essentials for Different Seasons:

Spring (March to May): Pack lightweight layers for daytime, as spring weather can be unpredictable. A versatile jacket or sweater is a must. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes for exploring cherry blossom spots and parks.

Summer (June to August): Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing, including shorts, T-shirts, and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a reusable water bottle are essential for staying protected and hydrated.

Autumn (September to November): Bring layers for cooler evenings. A light jacket or cardigan is handy.

Comfortable hiking or walking shoes are crucial if you plan to explore nature or historic sites.

Winter (December to February): Pack warm clothing, including a heavy coat, sweaters, and thermal undergarments. Cold-weather accessories like gloves, a scarf, and a beanie are essential to stay warm.

Staying Informed About Weather Conditions:

Weather Apps: Download weather apps on your smartphone to receive real-time updates and forecasts for your travel destinations. Popular apps like Weather.com or Japan-specific apps are handy.

Local Advice: When you arrive at your destination, consult with local residents or hotel staff for insights into current weather conditions and any unexpected weather events.

Emergency Preparedness: Be aware of emergency protocols in case of extreme weather events, such as typhoons or heavy snowfall, depending on the season and location.

Plan Flexibility: While advanced planning is important, always be prepared to adjust your itinerary or activities based on the weather. Some experiences, like hiking or outdoor festivals, may need to be rescheduled if conditions are unfavorable.

Remember that your comfort and safety during your journey depend on your ability to adapt to changing weather conditions. By packing appropriately for each season and staying informed, you can make the most of your travels, rain or shine.

Enjoy your adventure with the confidence that you’re well-prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store for you!

Japan is just stunning, isn’t it? Its history and culture are so rich and diverse. When is the best time to travel to Japan? Well, that depends on what you’re into. Spring brings those iconic cherry blossoms, while autumn is all about those gorgeous colors. Personally, I love visiting during spring or autumn like many others. Winter can be a bit too chilly for me, and summer, well, you never know when the rain will hit! It’s really up to you and what you want to see and do in Japan.

So, pack your bags and let your journey reflect your passions and dreams. Safe travels and may your adventure in Japan be unforgettable!

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10 Days in Japan: A First-Timer’s Complete Japan Itinerary

last Updated: May 9, 2024 hiroshima japan kyoto miyajima nara osaka tokyo

FYI: Affiliate links may be sprinkled throughout the awesome, free content you see below. I’ll receive a small commission when you purchase from my links (at no extra cost to you), which I’ll totally blow on adult things like boba tea and avocado toast. As always, thanks for the support.

Looking for the best way to spend 10 days in Japan?  You’re in the right place! 

Continue reading for tons of first-hand tips, recommendations, and a complete 10 day Japan itinerary, which can easily be turned into two weeks in Japan if you’ve got a few more days.  I absolutely LOVED my time in the country, and with some proper planning, I can guarantee you will too.   

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Japan is over-stimulating and over-whelming in the best way possible. An absolute thrill to the senses. 

From the shiny bright lights of Tokyo’s Akihabara District to the serene temples and zen gardens in Kyoto , Japan is a country where the past and the future collide more than you initially realize.

I can promise you that every bite of food will be better than the last, and you’ll be saying oishi (“delicious” in Japanese) during every meal.

If you can visit during cherry blossom season, you’re in for a real treat – the streets will be lined with the most beautiful bunches of white and pale pink flowers you’ve ever imagined, which in turn makes the country smell absolutely phenomenal.

Japan is quite literally the most fascinating country I’ve explored to date. (And I just hit my goal of 30 countries by my 30th birthday a few months ago!) #killingit

I’d love to spend more time in Japan, and am highly encouraging everyone I know to discover this little piece of Asia sooner than later. So today, I am sharing with you my 10 day Japan itinerary, all heavily researched (for hours!) before my trip and followed pretty much to a T.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Overview of this 10 Day Japan Itinerary

When I initially started planning my trip, I was worried that 10 days in Japan wouldn’t be enough. Thankfully, I proved myself wrong and was able to see and do  oh so   much , as well as stuff myself silly with all those Japanese snacks I had heard so much about. [Spoiler alert: bring stretchy pants.] 

The country is filled with so many fascinating areas, but 10 days in Japan will give you enough time to see the highlights. To be completely honest, this Japan itinerary is rather jam packed, yet highly efficient (I promise!), although I suggest slightly modifying it if you’d like a more relaxed trip or are traveling with kids.

While we’re at it, check out all my travel planning tips right over here!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

This Japan itinerary starts in Tokyo , makes a day trip to either Kamakura, Nikko, or Hakone, then ventures south to Kyoto , with day trips to Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island. Distances really depend on the mode of transport you use, with bullet trains being the fastest.

  • Days 1-3 : Tokyo
  • Day 4: day trip from Tokyo
  • Days 5-6: Kyoto
  • Day 7 : Nara and Osaka
  • Day 8 : Miyajima and Hiroshima
  • Day 9 : morning in Kyoto  → Tokyo
  • Day 10: Tokyo in morning/afternoon  → airport

Japan is a decently large-sized island country located in Eastern Asia, being slightly smaller than California .  Rest assured, the entire country is connected via trains. In my experience, Japan may have the most efficient and well-connected public transportation system in the world (and that’s coming from someone who spent their childhood riding the extensive New York City subway).

Despite holding the title for the 10th most populated country in the world (aka: it’s crowded), you can still find some peace and solitude in the many gardens and temples located just about everywhere.

Pre-Travel Guide to Japan

Where to get the best flight deals to japan:.

I swear by Skyscanner and Google Flights , and always always always use these two sites when looking for airfare.  The option to watch prices and get email notifications are top notch and one of my favorite features of the two. 

Always check budget airlines that may not be listed, especially if you are coming from other areas in Asia with shorter flight times.  A great list of budget airlines can be found here .

For reference, we flew premium economy on China Airlines with a short layover in Taipei for about $1200 round trip from San Francisco – during Easter and cherry blossom season – but I saw deals for under $800 in coach. [I’m not complaining about the upgrade that my husband insisted on buying, but know that cheaper flights are out there.]

If you’re coming from the East Coast USA, flights will be a bit more expensive but shouldn’t be more than $500 more or so.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Where to stay:

In an effort to keep things simple (and avoid changing accommodation every night or two – what a pain!), this itinerary will have you staying in 2 main areas (Tokyo and Kyoto).

I highly advise booking accommodations near centrally located train stations in each as it’ll be easiest for the day trips mentioned in the 10 day Japan Itinerary below.

I opted to stay near Shibuya Station in Tokyo, as it’s centrally located and easy to reach other districts. In Kyoto we stayed near Kyoto Station as we were taking a bunch of day trips and wanted to be able to walk to our accommodation easily after a long, busy day on the road bullet train.

  • Luxury:  Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
  • Mid-Range:  Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyo
  • Budget:  Shibuya Tokyu Rei Hotel
  • Check out other hotels in Tokyo here.
  • Luxury:  Hotel Granvia Kyoto
  • Mid-Range:  Kyoto Century Hotel
  • Budget:  Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto
  • Check out other hotels in Kyoto here.
  • Yado Kiramachi
  • Kyoto Takasegawa Bettei
  • Muromachi Yutone Kyokoyado

Airbnb is also a great option and a good way to save some money if you’re spending a few nights in one spot (always check the cleaning and booking fees, as these can greatly increase the price should you only need a 1-night stay).

New rules regarding Airbnb rentals were implemented in June 2018, and now listings must be registered and display a license number on their booking page. Thankfully all current listings on Airbnb are compliant (the company removed any which failed to register in 2018), so you can be sure your booking is absolutely legit.

While I’d love to recommend the Airbnbs we stayed in during our trip to Japan, they are no longer available. However, there’s tons more to choose from – just check out the Airbnb website .

When to visit:

There’s never a horrible time to spend 10 days in Japan, but each season has their pros and cons.

Spring : If you’re hoping to see the ever-so-beautiful cherry blossoms, April is your best bet. That being said, it’s also the month most people visit Japan for that very reason. I visited in early to mid-April, and while yes it was crowded, the beauty of the cherry blossoms found throughout the country was well worth it.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Fall : Autumn is another wonderful time to visit Japan, as you’ll get to experience the vibrant fall colors (bright red leaves) from September to November.

Summer (June to August) is hot, humid, and rainy (although the rain tends to dissipate in early July), while winter (Dec-Feb) is generally cool, sunny, dry and great for snow-sports in the mountains.

Note that weather varies dramatically throughout the country, so be sure to plan accordingly especially if you visit higher altitudes.

Read Next: When to Visit Japan (Weather, Seasons, Festivals, and Crowds)

Planning a trip and confused about the best month to visit Japan?! Keep on reading, because I’ll not only be dishing out info on when to visit Japan, but when to avoid the crowds, best times to see those beloved cherry blossoms, and when you can get the best bang for your buck.

How to get Japanese Yen:

I highly advise you to NOT exchange your money at a currency exchange kiosk before or after you land as you won’t get the best rates. Instead, take out local currency (Japanese Yen) at the airport via ATM machine.

If you travel quite frequently, consider applying for a Charles Schwab bank account. The company refunds any and all fees associated with foreign transaction ATM withdrawals. You’ll pay no ATM fees anywhere in the world, including your home country. It’s what I’ve been using for years and it’s saved me 100’s in unwanted pesky fees.

Surprisingly, considering it’s crazy-advanced technology and all, Japan is mostly a cash society; yes, we were exceptionally wowed by that! Expect your credit card to get rejected at most places (especially small eateries and of course street-food stands) and be sure to carry enough Yen with you.

If you’re coming from the US, an easy way to figure out USD to JY is to move the decimal point two spots to the right >> 100Y = approximately $1USD. Just for quick reference, 10,000Y = approximately 100USD.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

How to Get Around Japan:

If you’re visiting Japan from elsewhere in the world (i.e. you are not a resident of Japan), you are able to purchase a JR train pass for varying amounts of time.  The JR pass gives you access to all of the trains, most Shinkansen lines (bullet trains), the ferry to Miyajima, and a few other transportation lines.  Options include 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day.

I used a 7-day JR pass during my trip, and I highly advise you to do the same if you’ll be following this 10 day Japan itinerary. The Green Car option, while a bit more expensive, is JR’s version of “first-class” and most definitely worth it in my opinion.  Note that it does not cover all bus routes/lines and some local trains, but these only cost about 100-300Y ($1-3USD), so no biggie.

If you plan on using a JR pass, you NEED to purchase it before you enter the country . Once you arrive in Japan, there is no option to buy it. And when I say no option, absolutely NO option at all.  

Once you purchase the pass (which must be done outside of Japan) you will receive a voucher in the mail (within a few days) which you will then exchange upon your arrival in Japan at a designated JR ticket booth in major train stations. 

Buy your Japan Rail Pass here (it’s the company I used and our voucher arrived promptly in the mail). There was free delivery straight to our home which I greatly appreciated, and once in Japan we saved a ton of money on the Shinkansen (high-speed bullet train), and breezed through the JR rail stations like a boss.

I can’t imagine doing Japan any other way than with a JR Pass. Check out the options (standard and green pass) here.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

UPDATE — Buying a JR Pass in Japan : The Japan Rail Pass be will sold at a higher price point and on a trial basis in Japan through October 1, 2023 at major stations and airports. However, if you know you’ll be using one, miiiight as well save a bit of money and purchase it beforehand from a trusted company . There’s really no reason not to.

The public transportation system in Japan is top-notch, and although extremely overwhelming (at first, trust me), it’s by far the best (and most cost effective) option for getting around throughout the country.

Electricity and Power in Japan:

Japan uses the same 2-pronged electrical outlets as found in the USA. If you’re coming from America, note that some electrical devices use a three-pronged plug.

It’s also important to understand that the amount of voltage is different and you’ll need a converter (different than an electrical adapter) to change the amount of electricity pushed to each device if you plan on bringing anything which uses an excessive amount of power (including hair dryers, curling irons, and/or straightening irons). 

If you don’t want to worry about this, I suggest you invest in dual-voltage devices made especially for travel like this  dual-voltage blow dryer , dual-voltage mini straightener , and this dual-voltage curling iron .

Using a Pocket Wifi Router in Japan :

If you’ve done any research on Japan, you probably came across something called Pocket Wifi . What is it exactly and why should you consider getting it for your trip to Japan?

Pocket Wifi is exactly as it sounds — a small portable device that you can keep in your pocket (or purse/backpack/day bag) that provides wifi to all your devices (cell phone, iPad, computers, etc). And the best part? One Pocket Wifi will power up to 10 devices, so you can share the same Pocket Wifi with your family and friends.

Since wifi is less common in Japan than in other countries (surprising, right?!), this handy little device does wonders! You will be able to find free wifi in your hotel/ryoken, Starbuck locations around the city, and some other restaurants, but I always recommend having your own, especially if you’re visiting any smaller cities. Do note that some ryokans and older hotels might only have LAN cable internet access, instead of wifi, so you’ll definitely want a Pocket Wifi there!

You’ll use wifi on your phone for just about everything in Japan — train schedules, getting around, translating important phrases, making FaceTime calls to family, etc. You don’t wanna be without it when you need it!

And they make it so super easy — the Pocket Wifi will be delivered straight to your hotel in Japan! Once you’re done with your trip, use the convenient prepaid envelop to return your router from any address in Japan. Couldn’t be simpler than that!

Check out the benefits and purchase your Pocket Wifi here. Honestly, a life saver!

Useful Japanese Phrases:

  • Hello/Good Afternoon: konnichiwa
  • Good bye: sayonara
  • Delicious: oishi
  • Thank you: arigatō
  • Please: kudasai
  • Where’s the toilet: benjo wa doko desu ka?
  • Does anyone speak English? Eigo no hanaseru hito wa imasen ka

Headed to Japan and looking for the best things to do in Kyoto? You’re in luck, because I’ve compiled a whole bunch of Kyoto sights and attractions!

Packing tips for Japan:

Clothing : Seaso ns are kind of temperamental in Japan, and you may be wishing you brought different clothing. Therefore, I highly suggest you pack layers for your trip to Japan. An umbrella (cute ones here , here , and here ) and light raincoat (like this or this one ) are recommended as well.

We encountered much more rain during our 10 days in Japan than we had originally planned for, and I’m glad I brought along a raincoat. If you don’t want to stuff a coat in your luggage, consider bringing along a poncho  just in case.

Electricity and Power : As noted above, most of Japan’s electrical outlets are the 2-pronged “Type A” type (100 Volt, 50-60 Hz).

If you have a device with a 3-pronged or European/UK-style plug, you may need a travel adapter (for all devices) and power converter (for high powered devices like a hair straightener or blow dryer).

Pack comfy shoes that are easy to take off. You’ll need to slip off your shoes at various temples, at the airport, at ryokans, and some restaurants. My favorite ones here (on sale), here , and here .

I also suggest bringing along socks if you don’t want to go barefoot… These sushi socks are quite cute and perfect for the occasion…  🙂 

Small throwaway bags for garbage. You won’t find many garbage cans around Japan in general, and it’s expected that you keep your trash on you until you can throw them away. Keep a small bag in your purse/backpack for this purpose. A small foldable tote is perfect for this, and can be used for spontaneous shopping trips.

Pack light. Navigating Japan is much easier when you have a small suitcase, especially since Japanese trains (and train stations) do not cater to travelers with a lot of luggage. In addition, there’s not as many elevators or escalators as you might wish, so remember, you may be carrying your luggage up and down a few flights of stairs.

I recommend traveling with a small rolling suitcase (one that fits in the overhead bin on an airplane like this one or this one ) and a backpack (I have this one and love it).

Stay organized with packing cubes , which also help you fit more into smaller suitcases (I’m able to fit about a months worth of summer clothing using packing cubes and packing strategically).

Language : If you’re up for it, you can also consider taking along a small Japanese Phrase Book . The language is quite difficult, and Google Translate (which won’t work without wifi or a cell plan) saved our butts far too many times.

Japanese written language uses characters, which you’ll see all over the place.  Thankfully, most signs are written in phonetics using the alphabet we use.

We were also surprised by the low number of people who speak any English. Save yourself some frustration and pack a lightweight phrase book in your bag. Interested in learning some Japanese before your trip?

This book looks like loads of fun, and I’m actually thinking of buying it before my next trip back to the country. (The Japanese language is difficult you guys, just trust me.)

Travel Insurance for Japan

Yes, you need this. I always recommend purchasing travel insurance before your trip. You never know what might happen (flight delays, lost baggage, illness), and travel insurance definitely helps with all of those unfortunate unexpectancies.

I highly recommend the companies World Nomads and SafetyWing . I’ve recently been buying coverage with SafetyWing since they cover pandemic-related costs (which most travel insurance companies do not do).

Whenever we travel, we always buy a short term plan (depending on how many days/weeks we’ll be away) before leaving for any trip! Even if you don’t end up using it, peace of mind is 100% worth it in my opinion.

Find plan options and pricing here (and at only a few bucks a day, there’s no excuse not to!) I always say, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford your trip. It’s that easy.

Buy your travel insurance now — don’t wait until it’s too late!

10 Days in Japan:  A Complete Japan Itinerary

And now, the fun part! The 10 day itinerary in Japan!

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo!

You’ll most likely be flying into Narita Airport  and will need a little over an hour to get into the city center via the Narita Express.  After such a long flight (with lots of time difference), it’s best not to plan much on this first day – hello, jetlag! 

I suggest exploring the area you’re staying in (my suggestions: Shibuya or Akihabara) and devouring your first Japanese dinner of either ramen or pork Katsu.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

During my stay, I opted for an AirBnB in Shibuya , which has an epic nightlife with tons of stuff going on, restaurants included (even if “partying” isn’t your thing- it sure ain’t mine!).  Use this first afternoon/night to relax and rest up, as the rest of this itinerary will be go-go-go!

Day 2: FULL DAY IN TOKYO (West Side)

Today’s all about modern Tokyo !  You’ll be exploring the western districts of the city, including Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku – just saying these names are fun!  You can either walk from district to district as they are fairly close together, or buy single use train tickets to hop between each. 

DO NOT USE YOUR JR PASS YET as it will expire before you finish needing it later on during the trip. Train tickets within Tokyo are not very expensive, and you won’t be needing many today anyways!

Stop 1: Shibuya

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

If you opted to stay in Shibuya, you won’t need to take a train here!  Shibuya is Tokyo’s version of Times Square , and with all the bright lights and massive amounts of people, it’s easy to see why.  Be sure to check out the world-famous Shibuya Crossing , where 100’s of people scramble across the street at once. 

For the best view above, head to Starbucks (you’ll need to order something before going upstairs), or find the Keio Inokashira Line at Shibuya Station for another perfect view.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Also say “Hello” – or Konichiwa — to Hachiko (the most loyal dog in the world statue) at Shibuya Crossing and do some shopping at Tokyu Hands .

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Meiji Shrine shouldn’t be missed as well, which is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.  You’ll be seeing lots of shrines and temples during your time in Japan, and Meiji is a great one to start with! 

If you’re lucky, you may even witness a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony!  I, however, was not so lucky.

Stop 2: Harajuku

If you want to get a taste for Japanese street style, visit Harajuku.  On Sundays, you can see traditional Harajuku Girls dressed in elaborate costumes and anime – so fun! Try and spot the girl in the photo below all decked out in costume. If you can’t make it on a Sunday, you can get a feel for Japanese street style any day of the week. 

You can reach Harajuku by taking the Yamanote line to Harajuku Station, although it’s not a far walk from Meiji Shrine.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Walk down the famous shopping street of Takeshita Dori , where you’ll find a whole mess of fun stores and fun cafes.  Note that most shops don’t open until 11am, but if you’re following this itinerary, you’ll probably arrive here around 1pmish or so. 

Be sure to try a crepe – the unofficial street food of Harajuku, which you’ll find all over Takeshita Dori!  We also visited a hedgehog café and played with them for about 45 minutes or so.  A super quirky and super weird area, definitely not meant to be missed!

Read Next: Top Things to do in Harajuku

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Stop 3: Shinjuku

Shinjuku is the largest neighborhood in Tokyo (dubbed the crazy entertainment district), and you’ll find thousands of restaurants, shops, entertainment, and other attractions that you could easily spend all day here. 

With limited time, we spent a decent portion of the afternoon and night here and felt that was sufficient enough to see the highlights.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Many people opt to see the ever-so-popular Robot Restaurant , which I’ve heard is an other-worldly experience, but after reading reviews, we decided against it.  Do your own research and decide for yourself whether this show is worthy of your time and money. 

Whether you decide to spend part of the evening at the Robot Restaurant, I highly encourage you to make a visit to Omoide Yokocho , commonly known as Piss Alley. 

Piss Alley is a small network of alleyways along the tracks northwest of Shinjuku Station filled with dozens of tiny eateries serving ramen, soba, sushi and yakitori.  Just pick one with open seats and go in – they’re all worthy of some stomach real-estate.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Consider the free observation deck on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building , visit Shinjuku Gyoen (a large public park near Shinjuku Station being a perfect cherry blossom spot – check on hours, we missed the entrance by about 20 minutes 🙁 ), and find an epic view of the area from the pedestrian overpass near the northwest corner of the Shinjuku station.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Day 3: FULL DAY IN TOKYO (East Side)

Now it’s time to experience the more traditional side of Tokyo , including Sensoji Temple and Ueno Gardens.  Another bird’s eye view can be seen today, at nearby Tokyo Skytree.

If you’re staying in Shibuya like I did, you’ll need to take the train from Shibuya Station to Asakusa Station (35-45 min on train) via the JR Yamanote Line to Ginza or Asakusa Line. Make sure to purchase single tickets – do NOT activate your JR pass yet!

Asakusa and Sensoji Temple

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Asakusa is the spiritual heart of Tokyo and a good place to start your day!  Sensoji Temple is the main attraction here, and you’ll start your morning journey at the Kaminarimon Gate . 

As you walk toward the temple buildings, check out the historic  Nakamise Dori shopping street, pick out some souvenirs and grab a Japanese snack (or two!) before exploring Sensoji Temple. 

Consider drawing Omikuji (written fortunes) while here.  If you’re up for it and are interested, check out the surrounding old-fashioned neighborhoods around Asakusa.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Sumida Park and Tokyo SkyTree

If you’re visiting during cherry blossom season, I highly advise you to visit Sumida Park , which is an absolutely wonderful spot to see the flowers in bloom!  It was one of the least crowded public parks we went to and FULL of cherry blossoms! 

I cannot recommend this spot enough!  Bring a snack or two and sit on a blanket for the ultimate experience. We got sakura donuts from Mister Donut (located all around), and ate our flower-themed treats amongst the cherry blossoms.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Next up – Tokyo SkyTree , the tallest tower in not only Japan, but the entire world!  At 634m (2,080 feet),  the complex has two observation decks with great views over the city.  There’s even a glass floor for any of you brave souls!  Expect a cue, so plan on spending a bit of time here.  The Tokyo Skytree is about a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute train ride from Asakusa.

If you don’t wanna wait in line, I highly encourage you to book your skip-the-line Tokyo SkyTree ticket in advance. You can even upgrade to include the Tembo Galleria.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

End the afternoon at Ueno Park , another large public space located in central Tokyo and another lively cherry blossom spot.  There are more than 1000 cherry trees of multiple varieties lining its central pathway and lots of temples and shrines here to check out, as well as museums and a zoo if those are of interest to you.

You’ll most likely want to take the JR train from Tokyo SkyTree to Ueno Park.  

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Akihabara District

Wake up because we’re off to Tokyo’s crazy Akihabara District! Spend the evening perusing the many electronic shops, including Yodobashi Akiba – the world’s largest with nine stories stuffed with hi tech equipment – for geeks with money.

You’ll also find Japan’s diehard fan anime culture here, with stores devoted to anime and manga; just be sure to keep kids away from the adult-only sections (I wondered at first why all the anime was butt naked)! 

You could easily fill up a whole afternoon and night in Akihabara, from its maid and Gundam cafes, gaming centers (check out Super Potato Retro Shop if you want to be transported into the 90’s), and just gazing at the bright lights.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Day 4: DAY TRIP from Tokyo — 3 Options

Today you’ll activate your JR pass and start putting it to use!  Now that you’ve explored Tokyo, get out of the busy city center and explore another nearby area.  There are numerous day trips you can take from Tokyo , and depending on your interests, you may want to visit more than one! 

Unfortunately this ten day Japan itinerary only allows for one, but if you have another day or two to spare, you could easily do all three. 

I opted for Kamakura because of the rainy and cold weather, but I would have loved Nikko or Hakone had the weather been more cooperative that day. With two weeks in Japan, you can most definitely do all three if you’d like.

Here are my three recommended day trips from Tokyo:

1) Kamakura

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Don’t miss the Great Buddha of Kamakura (at Kotokuin Temple), easily the most popular attraction in the area, and literally hard to miss at 44 feet.  Here you’ll find the second largest Buddha in all of Japan. 

Another site not to miss, and only a few minute walk from the Great Buddha – the Hase Dera Temple , which is a beautiful temple located on a hillside overlooking the ocean.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

There’s also a bamboo forest at Hokokuji Temple , similar to that in Kyoto, and it’s possible to see Mt. Fuji on a clear day from Kenchoji Temple. 

Once you’ve had your fair share of temples, or are just hungry for some lunch, head on over to Komachi-dori , the busiest commercial street in Kamakura. Try the local specialty of Shirasu-don , (a Whitebait rice bowl), which you’ll easily find in numerous restaurants on the busy street.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Not interested in venturing to Kamakura alone and prefer a group tour?  Looking back, I wished I booked a tour.  Although it wasn’t too far away, we got a bit confused on the train and wasted a bunch of time trying to navigate our way to Kamakura, and then even more time once we arrived.

Many of the tours include other highlights like a tea ceremony and a view of the Bay, which we missed by going alone. I recommend these (from Tokyo) which cover all the top attractions:

  • Full Day Trip to Kamakura, Yokohama, and Tokyo Bay (from Tokyo) : Not only does this day tour from Tokyo take you to all the highlights of Kamakura, but you’ll also get to have lunch in Yokohama’s bustling Chinatown, visit the traditional Japanese-style sunken garden of Sankei-en (including tea rooms!), and admire the modern cable-stay Yokohama Bay Bridge.
  • 5 Hour Nature and History Walking Tour:  This walking tour follows a hiking route from Kita-Kamakura to Hase-dera Temple, passing many historic temples and shrines.  You’ll be able to enjoy some wonderful panoramas from a hiking trail that offers views in all directions. Note that transportation is not included.

Literally sick of the city and need to get some nature into your life?  Nikko may just be your answer.  Full of ancient moss, stone lanterns, vermillion gates, and towering cedars, there’s a reason why this area is one of Japan’s most visited areas.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Located about two hours north of Tokyo, Nikko is the site of the famous Toshogu Shrine , the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (VIP in Japan), and numerous other temples and shrines. Don’t miss the famous Shinkyo bridge , the beautiful Nikko National Park (on a sunny day), Kanman-ga-Fuchi Abyss, and Kegon Falls . 

I’m quite bummed we didn’t make it here as all the photos look absolutely spectacular, but now I’ve got another reason to return to Japan!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Trying to fit in a lot during your one day in Nikko?  Consider a group tour which gets you around easily to all of the highlights.

Day Trip Options here: 

  • From Tokyo: Nikko World Heritage Full-Day Tour :  Explore the beautiful mountain landscape of Nikko, Japan, experience the majesty of the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, bow to the three golden Buddah’s at the Rinnoji Temple, explore the surrounding landscape with a trip to Kirifuri Falls, and have a relaxed Japanese lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Nikko: Autumn Leaves and World Heritage Full–Day Tour :  Discover the beautiful autumn leaves and world heritage of Nikko. During your full-day tour by air-conditioned coach, visit Nikko’s natural sights, Senjo-gahara and Kegon waterfalls, and Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Perfect during those autumn months!
If you have more than 10 days in Japan, check out these additional day trips from Tokyo .

If seeing Mt. Fuji is on your bucket list, then I definitely recommend making the day trip to Hakone. 

Once arriving, you have a whole slew of options to fill your day, including the Hakone Tozan Cable Car for stunning views, the Hakone Ropeway for even more epic views, Owakudani with views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day, and a small Buddhist alter. 

You can also take a Hakone Sightseeing Cruise and spend time at the Hakone Open Air Museum (art gallery). Brave? Try a black egg!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

If you’re not up for heading to Hakone alone , there are numerous day trips from Tokyo that leave the transportation and planning up to someone else.  You’re on holiday – treat yourself and save yourself the hassle! I recommend the followings tours:

  • From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip by Shinkansen : Spend a day trip traveling to Mt. Fuji, Japan’s most famous symbol and highest mountain. Enjoy the view from the 5th Station before visiting the nearby resort town of Hakone, known for its onsen hot springs. Return to Tokyo by bullet train!
  • From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour with Bullet Train :  Get spectacular views of Mt. Fuji and its surrounding mountains on a day trip from Tokyo. Cruise across Lake Ashi by boat and take the ropeway up Mt. Komagatake. Relax in the hot springs resort of Hakone, and then catch the bullet train back to Tokyo.

However, note that seeing the mountain is never guaranteed and it’s possible you may make the trip only to be disappointed.  Some months out of the year have higher chances of visibility, including the winter months.  If it looks like a questionable morning with lots of clouds, I highly suggest you alter your plans and opt for either Nikko or Kamakura instead.

Day 5: MORNING BULLET TRAIN TO KYOTO then EXPLORING

First Bullet Train Ride!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

*Note that you’ll be required to make a seat reservation if you have opted for the Green JR Pass.  Make this reservation when you first exchange your JR voucher for a ticket, or the night before leaving for Kyoto.  Don’t wait until the morning of because it’s possible the reservation desk will not be open yet.

Get up nice and early, grab some breakfast in the station/on the way to the station, and take a 7:00/7:30am bullet train from Tokyo Station (you may need to transfer at Shinagawa Station) in route for Kyoto! 

If you take this early morning train ride, you’ll arrive in Kyoto around 10:30am or so, which is necessary if you want to see a bunch of Kyoto sites today.  Once you arrive in Kyoto, put your luggage/bags into a coin locker (roughly 500-900 Yen for two suitcases for the entire day) and get exploring!

A note about Kyoto’s public transportation: Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto relies on large public buses. We were unaware of this and unfortunately caught off guard when we couldn’t take fast trains to get around. Give yourself some extra time as it’ll take longer to get around. Embrace it – look outside the window on the bus and take in some local Kyoto life.

Arashiyama Area

Catch the bus to the  Saga-Arashiyama Station , where you’ll be hanging out for a few hours.  First up, Tenyru-Ji Shrine and its accompanying zen garden.  So many beautiful plants and flowers (nicely labeled in both English and Japanese) here, such as the Japanese wisteria, which you’ll never see outside of Japan.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Once you exit the garden, you’ll come across the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove/Forest .  Walking through the Bamboo Grove is definitely one of the essential experiences to have in Kyoto so don’t pass it up! 

The grove is much smaller than I thought, taking roughly 15 minutes to walk through, but is absolutely excellent for photography.

Walk through slowly to take it all in, and don’t forget to look up at the towering bamboo!  Bring a wide-angle lens and if possible, a go pro, in order to include as much of the bamboo in your photos!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Before you head to the Monkey Park (coming up next!), you’ll most likely come across a lovely area with small eateries and a beautiful, green emerald lake. A good spot for some photos in my opinion!  🙂  We enjoyed a few vending machine coffees and teas here (you’ll be doing that everywhere in Japan too, you’ll see!).

Read Next: Top Things to do in Kyoto and Attractions

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Next up, walk to the Iwatayama Monkey Park !  Yes, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk completely uphill to reach the park, but definitely worth it!  Just be aware, the Google Maps directions to this attraction are wrong.

The entrance to the park is simply near the orange shrine gate at the south side of the Togetsu-kyo bridge. Look for a cartoon picture of a monkey and you’re golden!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

The park is a nice change from the temples and shrines you’ll be seeing a lot of in Kyoto, and it’s so much fun to feed the monkeys for only 100Y.  There’s also a wonderful view of Kyoto from up here.  

Before anyone gets mad at those pictures of the monkeys “behind bars”, please know they are free to roam wherever they’d like throughout the park, and us humans are actually put in an enclosed area when feeding them. This is to protect both the animals and us.

We could have easily spent hours watching the monkeys and admiring the view, but off to the Golden Pavilion it was!

Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

If you’ve got more time today, take the bus to the Golden Pavilion , which is super impressive and made entirely of gold!  Reflected in the lake, it’s no wonder this is one of the top things to do in Kyoto. 

Make sure to try some Japanese flavored ice cream here, such as green matcha and/or black sesame, my new favorite!  It’s guaranteed to be crowded, but very, very worth it in my opinion.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

*Don’t forget to head back to Kyoto Station to collect your bags before heading to your hotel or AirBnb for the night!

Day 6: FULL DAY IN KYOTO

Nishiki Market

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Start the day at the Nishiki Market – known for its different food stalls where you can try all kinds of Japanese cuisine and treats. 

Stroll for an hour or so up and down the streets of the market, stopping whenever something tickles your fancy. The market is a great place to dive into some of the more unusual dishes – don’t be a chicken, try them!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

However, absolutely don’t leave the market without trying tako tamago – the infamous candied baby octopus stuffed with a quail egg.  It tastes way better than it sounds – I could have eaten three!

Want a taste of those cutesy animal donuts you’ve possibly seen all over the internet? You can try them here – at Floresta Donuts .  I had a hard time eating mine as it was just too cute to bite into! Quite possibly my favorite thing I ate during our 10 days in Japan! SO cute!

japan time to travel

After your fix of Japanese delicacies and donuts, walk on over to Gion, Kyotos famous geisha district.  If you’re lucky you may spot a real true-life geisha , although they tend to walk fast to their destination and don’t like to show their face. 

However, if you do spot one, but courteous and don’t obviously follow them or point your camera directly to their face.  Show respect for their culture. I wasn’t so lucky and didn’t spot any on my trip.

Higashiyama District

End the day at the Higashiyama District, the world famous hub of Kyoto’s best-known shrines and temples.  And let me tell me, this place is worth checking out. It’s one of my favorite areas in all of Kyoto .

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Make sure to walk down Sannenzaka and Ninensaka – the two most beautiful streets in the district, with numerous souvenir shops and eateries.  It can get rather crowded during the day (for good reason!), so we chose to come a bit before dusk had encountered a less cramped experience. 

Still cramped, but less cramped than I imagine mid-day would be. You’ll find some eats on the walk – make sure to try a sakura cream puff !

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Kyomizu-dera Temple , a listed UNESCO site, should be next on your list.  Again, it’s quite busy, but the view out over a sea of trees is hard to beat – just imagine this during cherry blossom season (absolutely to die for!) And yea, try an onigiri maki – an emoji in the wild!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Finish off this (long and tiring) day by walking part of the Philosopher’s Path (found on Google Maps as  Tetsugaku-no-michi) , a path that runs along a narrow river and is lined with more cherry blossom trees than you can ever imagine! 

You’ll end at the Silver Pavilion, although not as fancy and intricate as the Golden Pavilion, and not even lined in silver, but still impressive nonetheless.

Day 7: DAY TRIP TO NARA AND OSAKA

It’s time for some day trips today, and we’ll be crossing off two in one day’s time!  Head to Nara from Kyoto Station (via JR Nara Line – roughly 1 hour on the express train), then after seeing some of the top temples, head on over to Osaka and eat everything!

Get ready to interact with some deer in Nara Park , which can be found all throughout the area and are literally impossible to miss!  And oh yea, those crackers you see being sold on the street?  Those are for the deer, not us hungry humans!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

A few temples to see: Todaiji (must visit Unesco World Heritage Site with super tall Buddha), Kasaguga Taisha Shrine (the most important shrine in Nara), Kofukuiji Temple, and Gangou-ji Temple.  If you’ve had enough of temples by this time, head over to Osaka and skip a temple or two.

Tip : Get the Nara Kotsu one day pass (it’s more of a wooden plague you can wear around your neck if you please) for 500 Yen.  This sightseeing bus brings you around to the top attractions in Central Nara, and is good for most of the buses you see throughout the city.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Off to Osaka for the rest of the day!  Many people skip Osaka as they think it’s just another large city like that of Tokyo, but we absolutely loved our few hours here!  Don’t skip it!

First up, the ever-so-beautiful Osaka Castle , one of Japan’s most famous landmarks!  Get off at Osakajokoen Station. 

Note that the castle may very well be closed by the time you reach it depending on how long you spend in Nara (last admission is 4:30pm in April, a bit later in the summer months), but the outside alone is worth the train and short 20 minute walk!

Next up, Dotonbori Street !  It’s an absolute madhouse full of people, shops, and eateries, and an absolute must-do while in Osaka.  Be sure to look up and admire the moving animal billboards found on the buildings.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Osaka is the food capitol not just of Japan, but of the entire world.  Hence, you’ll want to eat everything in sight (just leave some room for a Kobe beef dinner).  Try beloved regional dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki (fried octopus balls – tastes way better than it sounds), udon, and hiyashi ame ginger drink.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Rule of thumb: if there’s a long line, the food is out of this world.  Wait and you’ll be rewarded.

If you want to get some shopping on, head on over to nearby Shinsaibashi, the city’s premier shopping district.  We chose to skip the shopping and focused on stuffing our faces 😉

Great dinner suggestion: Tsurugyu.  This place is all about Kobe beef , and is super fresh and decently priced.  Expect to pay around 5,000Y per person, drink included.  Reservations are highly recommended, although we somehow got extremely lucky and were able to sit at the bar – but don’t count on this!

Looking for the best places to go in Japan?! This Japan bucket list has you covered! Definitely saving this for my future trip to Japan!

Day 8: DAY TRIP TO MIYAJIMA AND HIROSHIMA

Get ready for another jam-packed day.  Yes, it’ll take a while to get here, but trust me, on a clear, sunny day, it’s 100% worth it and absolutely beautiful. 

Take an early morning bullet train to Hiroshima, which takes roughly 2 hours from Kyoto Station, then a local JR train to Miyajimaguchi Station, then finally the JR ferry to Miyajima.  All included in your JR Pass .

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

You can choose to visit either Miyajima or Hiroshima first, but I highly recommend visiting Miyajima during high tide to see the gate “floating” in the water.  Check tide schedules online.

If you opt for Miyajima first (again, tide dependent), and take an 8am bullet train out of Kyoto Station, you’ll reach Miyajima by approximately 11am.

Head straight to the tori gate (after some deer interaction of course, yes there’s deer here and they’re SUPER friendly, just watch your food). 

You’ll want to snap a million photos because this place is just so damn beautiful it’s hard not to!  You can also check out the floating shrine as well, which we loved and was unlike any other shrine/temple we saw in Japan!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Spectacular views your thing? Take the Miyajima Ropeway (~15 minutes, $17 roundtrip) for better-then-great views of the whole area from the top of Mt. Misen . There’s a bus at the base of Miyajima Island which will take you to the ropeway station fo’ free as well if you’re already feeling super tired from your journey.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Before heading back to the ferry, pick up some ice cream (green tea or black sesame, you are in Japan!) – perfect on a hot, sunny day.

Take the ferry back to Miyajimaguchi Station, then the JR train to Hiroshima.  Note that you’ll need to either take a tram or buy a Hiroshima Sightseeing Hop-On, Hop-Off Loop Bus “Meipuru-pu” to get around in Hiroshima super easily – which is free of cost for JR pass users . 

We took the sightseeing bus to Hiroshima Castle , and then to the area with the A-Bomb Dome , Children’s Peace Monument , and Peace Memorial Museum and Park .  The museum was closed by the time we arrived, but we were still able to wander around at the memorials and pay our respects.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

End this super long day eating okonomiyaki at Okonomimura , a humungous multi-level eatery with tiny stalls of different shops making varieties of the famous pancake.  Just for reference, we made it back on a bullet train around 8:30/9pm, getting back to Kyoto around 11pm.  Told you it was a long day.  😉

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Day 9: KYOTO THEN BULLET TRAIN BACK TO TOKYO

Today’s your last day in Kyoto, so it’s time to do those last-minute things you missed, including the Fushimi Inari Shrine.   Put your bags in coin lockers at Kyoto Station before heading out for the day (just don’t forget to pick up before the bullet train heading back to Tokyo!)

Morning/Afternoon in Kyoto

1. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Taisha): COME EARLY BEFORE THE MASSES ! No matter how tired you are, do not skip Fushimi Inari Shrine!  To get here, you’ll need to take the JR Line (Nara or Keihan Main) from Kyoto to Inari Station. 

The shrine is comprised of over 10,000 beautiful orange-y red tori gates arching over a scenic, possible 2-hour-long walking trail. You don’t need to do the entire circuit, but definitely make it past the initial arch as this is the most populated one due to its close proximity to the start. 

Make sure to notice the numerous fox statues along the shrine grounds, as they are thought to be Inari’s messengers and hold much importance to this area. And get some inari sushi if you’re a bit hungry – look how cute they are! Definitely one of my favorite things we did during our 10 days in Japan.

Read Next: Alllll the best things to do in Kyoto

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

2. Nijo Castle: One of Kyoto’s most popular and impressive sights, and a wonderful place to walk around on your last official morning in the city. The grounds are large with numerous fortifications, a lovely castle, beautiful moat, and gardens.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Inari Shrine to Nijo Castle: Head back to Kyoto Station, then take the JR Sagano train to Nijo stop

3. To-Ji Garden and Temple: Depending on your groups level of tired-ness, you may choose to skip these gardens (which are a 15 minute walk from Kyoto station).  We were too pooped from the week’s festivities to even think about wandering around here, and let’s face it – I saved myself an hour or so of complaints from my husband. 

We both get a little grumpy when the tiredness kicks in.  If you do decide to go, you’ll find the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan, a lovely garden with a koi fish pond, and some beautiful cherry blossoms. Next time for me!

Bullet Train to Tokyo

Once you’re done with your activities in Kyoto, back on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo it is!

The bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo takes around 3 hours or so, and with our stomachs grumbling already, we opted for a dinner of bento boxes to take on the train with us.  You’ll find a handful of stalls in the train station selling a wide variety of food options, with bento boxes being absolutely perfect for the long train ride!

Since you’ll only be in Tokyo for one additional night and will need to take the train from Tokyo station to Narita International Airport the next day, I suggest staying in the Ginza area, 1 or 2 stops on the train depending on which line you take.

It also lets you explore a new area the next morning before heading off to the airport.

Recommended hotels in Ginza:

  • Luxury : Millenium Mitsui Garden Hotel  (where we stayed and we absolutely loved it! – and less than $150 a night!)
  • Mid-Line : Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Ginza  (super chic upscale hotel at affordable rates in a great location)
  • Budget : Tokyo Ginza Bay Capsule Hotel  (if you don’t know what a capsule hotel is… go check that out!)

Day 10: SUSHI BREAKFAST AND OFF TO THE AIRPORT

Before heading out for the day, it’s a good idea to check out of your hotel to avoid rushing back for the mid-morning check-out time, and be sure to ask your hotel to store your bags (which you’ll pick up later before heading off to the airport).

Sushi Breakfast at Tsukiji Market

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

On your last official morning after 10 days in Japan (cue the sad face), there’s nothing better than an authentic sushi breakfast!  And no better place to get fresh sushi than at the Tsukiji Fish Market – the world’s largest, busiest fish market! 

Note that the Tsukiji Fish Market is comprised of two parts – the inner market (the Uogashi wholesaler market) and the outer market.  The inner market is where you’ll find the early-morning wholesale tuna auction (think 4am, yes, really that early), while the outer market is for all of us foodies hoping to satisfy our taste buds with some seafood goodness.

While Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai are two of the most common sushi shops in Tsukiji Market, the lines are astronomically long.  We picked a place at random and had a wonderful experience – the fish was fresh, service was adequate, and prices were competitive.

You won’t find mediocre sushi anywhere in this area, so decide for yourself (and your hungry belly) if waiting in those long lines is worth it.

If you have a little extra time and wanna learn about Japanese food culture and the market in general, consider signing up for a Tsukiji Outer Market Food and Drink Walking Tour . You’ll sample bonito, katsuobushi, dashi stock, sushi, sake, fresh tuna, local omelets (my all-time fave) and so much more. I so wish we did this as we didn’t learn much about the market and honestly didn’t even know where to begin on our own — there’s so many stalls and we didn’t know half of the foods!

Next time we’re in Japan I REALLY wanna take this combined tour of the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market and sushi-making class! I love taking cooking classes when I travel (I’ve made macarons in Paris, egg tarts in Lisbon, and tamales in Mexico so far), so I think sushi in Japan is next for me!

Shopping in Ginza

After filling up on some sushi (and ice cream, because, why not?!), head back to Ginza for some upscale window shopping.  This district is home to the most expensive shopping and real estate in Tokyo – kind of like New York’s Fifth Avenue, but with more lights!

Off to the Airport

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Depending on your flight time, you may have a bit more time, but it’s always wise to get to the airport extra early for international flights. 

Head back to your hotel, collect your bags, head to Tokyo Station, then to Narita Airport (takes approximately 1 hour via Narita Express), have one more Japanese meal at the airport, and say goodbye to this eclectic yet charming country.

If you have any questions on this 10 day Japan itinerary, please ask below in the comments! If you follow this itinerary (exactly what we did), I can promise you not only will you see so much in such a short period of time, but you won’t be stressed out planning either!  🙂

TRAVELING TO JAPAN SOON? Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of  World Nomads  and SafetyWing when traveling abroad.

Recently, I’ve been mostly using SafetyWing since they cover pandemic-related claims (most travel insurance companies do not). Be sure to protect yourself from possible injury, lost baggage, travel delays, and theft before it happens.  Learn more and Sign up here.

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Feel free to share this 10 day Japan itinerary with a friend (just copy and paste the link!), and get started planning your trip! Have you been to the country before? What were your favorite things to do in Japan?

Photos via Day 1a | Day 2 and Steam Fire at Asakusa  | cherry blossoms | Akihabara | Hakone 1 and 3 | Hakone 2 |

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September 23, 2020 at 10:18 pm

Great post! We are planning to visit Japan around cherry blossoms season next year. Your 10-day itinerary seems perfect. We might add 3 to 4 days to it as we love to follow the slow pace when we travel 🙂

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September 23, 2020 at 10:47 pm

You’re gonna have the best time ever – I wish I could go back and do my entire itinerary again! An extra few sounds would be perfect; we had to rush around a lot!

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April 13, 2021 at 11:26 pm

Very elaborate Japan guide! Hope to visit this wonderful place in the near future!

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March 27, 2022 at 5:54 am

Thanks so much, this was very helpful, and fun to read. I’ve been once by myself and hope to return with my wife. If it’s not too personal, what was the total cost of the trip for two?

April 4, 2022 at 6:16 pm

Hi Bill! So glad the post was helpful! Unfortunately it’s really hard to say the total cost, as it greatly varies depending on what hotels you choose, activities you do, and restaurants you eat at! With that being said, the street food is absolutely phenomenal and a great way to save a bit of money! We loved it all!

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April 7, 2022 at 1:22 am

such an amazing post and trip, wish i can go there very soon. thankyou for sharing 🙂

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July 18, 2022 at 8:44 am

I am so very grateful for your post. I have been researching for months and this is the most helpful post I have found! We will be traveling to Japan April 2023 for my sons graduation present. We will only have 7-8 days there. If you were to take off 1-2 days which would they be. Right now I am thinking one less day in Tokyo but not sure what else to eliminate.

July 20, 2022 at 6:58 pm

So glad you found it helpful! I would cut off the day trip from Tokyo, and eliminate a day in Tokyo like you suggested. You can see the main highlights of Tokyo in 2 long, jam packed days. It’ll be a very hectic and tiring trip, but you’ll see a lot in just a week! I cannot wait to go back to Japan! Enjoy your trip — sounds like it’ll be a special one!

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August 29, 2022 at 1:19 pm

I’m planning a trip to Japan and this has been super helpful! One question though, did you mainly find lodging in just Tokyo and Kyoto? And you did day trips out of those cities but would return back?

August 29, 2022 at 8:42 pm

Hi Francesca — yup, did exactly that! I stayed in Tokyo and Kyoto and did day trips! SO much to see! Have such a great trip! I cannot wait to go back to Japan!!!

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October 1, 2022 at 10:40 pm

Hey! your post is SUPER helpful for my 10 day trip I want to take in April 2023! But I was curious if you visited any hot springs or passed by any while on your trip? I want to go to one with my boyfriend and have a relaxing dip 🙂 I look forward to the trip and your trip sounds like something we would follow to enjoy our time! thnk you 🙂

October 2, 2022 at 4:33 pm

Hey there! We didn’t have time for any on our first trip, but spent a few days at an onsen in Mt. Muji on our second trip! Highly recommend adding that in if you’re looking for some peace and quiet! It was incredible!

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August 9, 2023 at 9:19 am

Hi! Which onsen do you recommend?

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November 1, 2022 at 11:18 am

Can u suggest a place to do one day of kintsugi lesson. I love your itinerary and plan to follow it to the T. And will definitely share my experience once I am back… I have about 13 days…one last thing..anything that a vegetarian can eat

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November 6, 2022 at 2:26 am

Excellent guide! May I know is the 7-day JR pass one-way only (Tokyo -> Kyoto)? Do we need to buy another ticket/pass for the bullet train from Kyoto back to Tokyo?

November 6, 2022 at 4:32 pm

The JR pass works for all directions! As long as it’s still within the 7 days if you buy the 7 day pass! You can use the pass as many times as you want within the time frame you buy it for. It’s great!

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November 27, 2022 at 10:18 pm

love your itinerary! i’m planning to visit japan in december and wondered if the disneyland in tokyo was worth it?

November 28, 2022 at 7:47 pm

Hi Rama! How exciting! I’ve never been to Tokyo Disney so unfortunately cannot comment! Have a great trip! Japan is easily one of my favorite countries!

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January 19, 2023 at 12:04 pm

This post is amazing! We are planning a trip to Japan and this has everything. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences!

January 20, 2023 at 5:15 pm

Of course, so glad it’s helpful! Let me know if you have any questions! We loved our trips to Japan and can’t wait to go back!

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February 9, 2023 at 2:03 pm

Thank you so much for sharing, this is super helpful! I was wondering, if you were to have stayed at a ryokan during this trip, when / in which city would you recommend staying? I’m currently planning a 10 day try and would like to follow your itinerary but also want to squeeze in a stay in a ryokan!

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March 22, 2023 at 6:38 am

I just wanted to thank you. My wife and I returned last night from our first trip to Japan, 11 nights in total. We followed your itinerary almost to the letter, including all three day trips from Tokyo – Kamakura, Nikko and Hakone.

It was an extra special trip for us, celebrating my 50th birthday, and your itinerary made the incredibly intimidating task of knowing how to structure a short trip to Japan, manageable and endlessly rewarding.

I commend you for your excellent research and wanted you to know how valuable of a service you are providing!

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March 28, 2023 at 7:06 pm

Just to be clear, you’re recommending just two home bases during the ten days in Japan: Tokyo and Kyoto? We’re going in October and are booking hotels. So – one hotel in Tokyo and one hotel in Kyoto from which we see those cities and take day trips. It’s that simple?

April 5, 2023 at 11:07 am

Yup — makes it so much easier than booking a different hotel for every night! 🙂 The train system is amazing in Japan and you can easily get to so many day trips from both major cities.

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April 26, 2023 at 3:42 pm

We are planning a trip to Japan in April 2024 and I came across you blog post. Amazing post and your detailed itinerary is very helpful. I’m wondering if there is any advantage of choosing Narita vs Haneda airport. We will be flying from SFO and have options to both.

April 27, 2023 at 2:05 pm

If you can find a flight to Haneda for a decent price, I’d actually choose that! It’s much closer to Tokyo itself. However, more airlines fly into Narita. I’ll be looking into Haneda for my next trip! 🙂

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May 9, 2023 at 4:22 pm

Thank you so much for this very helpful itinerary. My husband and I are planning to visit in early December to celebrate my 60th birthday. Your suggestions and recommendations were very helpful and I will definitely be using them. Thank you again.

May 9, 2023 at 5:54 pm

Glad it was helpful! That’s so exciting — what a special spot for a birthday! Have the best time, and let me know if you have any questions!

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May 21, 2023 at 2:06 am

We are booked on a cruise around Japan for 10 days but coming in earlier to do some land tours and hopefully see things we will not be able to do on the cruise. All your information was so informative and will be looking more into it all. We will be leaving Sydney Australia on 23rd March 2024 specifically for Cherry Blossom time.

August 9, 2023 at 9:17 am

Hi! We are flying to HND arriving June 8th at 21:05. We depart from NRT June 20th. I haven’t booked any accommodations yet. I’m trying to follow your itinerary. How many nights would you recommend in Tokyo and Kyoto? Should we stay in another city for a few nights to reduce traveling time? Regarding the JR Pass, we fall in between the 7 day and 14 day pass. I’m thinking the 7 day pass should be enough if we start using it day 4 or 5. Thank you!

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November 5, 2023 at 2:56 pm

Hi Jess. Your itinerary was the inspiration for my first visit to Japan last month with my niece. We followed the majority of the 10 days outlined including all of the daytrips except for Hakone. Your suggestions were excellent because each day trip was unique and memorable. Your tips on where to purchase the local currency, the JR train pass as well as the packing tips were incredibly helpful. We also made it a point to try every single one of your foodie recommendations. Black sesame and Sakura were definitely our favorite Japanese flavors for ice cream. Nishiki Market, Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, the floating shrine in Miyajima, the Great Buddha statues at Kotokuin in Kamakura and at Todaji in Nara, Okonomimura in Hiroshima, Fushimi Inari Shrine were absolute highlights. Thank you so much for sharing this well-researched and well-organized itinerary that helped us make the most of our truly breath-taking adventure in Japan.

November 8, 2023 at 12:16 am

So glad it was helpful and that you had an amazing trip to Japan! Every time I go back I’m already planning my next trip! Such a wonderful, diverse country!

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December 18, 2023 at 4:02 pm

Hello, I want to make sure I understand your itinerary. At the beginning, does it call for 4 or 5 nights in Tokyo?

' src=

January 16, 2024 at 12:46 pm

What would you add to this itinerary if you travel with 12 and 13 year old children?

January 20, 2024 at 10:56 pm

Hi there! I don’t have kids so not sure I’m the best person to ask! There’s tons of things to do in Tokyo for people with all different interests though.

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February 20, 2024 at 5:16 am

Fantastic info for a possible first time visitor. Thanks so much! Just querying the following part of your page though:

“If you’re coming from the US, an easy way to figure out USD to JY is to move the decimal point two spots to the right >> 100Y = approximately $1USD. Just for quick reference, 10,000Y = approximately 100USD.”

If I move the decimal place to the right for 100.00Y that equal 10000 USD based on the above. Should that have said “move the decimal place two spots to the left (which would = 1.00)

February 20, 2024 at 5:19 am

Ignore all that.. I now see it from the US point of view – i.e. move the US decimal point two spots to the right to get JPY. Sorry! Great site, really appreciate ethe information.

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March 7, 2024 at 3:50 pm

what is the latest the bullet trains operate for example taking a day trip from Kyoto to Osaka at what time do you have to head back? Is there a website were we can see this?

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April 20, 2024 at 2:29 pm

Hi. My name is Jack, I live in Japan for more than 10 years and run a personal blog jackinjapan.com I would be glad if you can read my work)

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Travel influencer couple drowns in heartbreaking scene as wife struggles to save husband.

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A travel influencer couple tragically drowned together last month in a Japanese river after the wife jumped in to save him.

A family member confirmed the deaths of Tsubasa Ito and wife Teitei in a post on Ito’s Instagram page.

“My older brother and his wife passed away in a drowning accident while climbing a gorge,” Ito’s sister Minami wrote . “I hesitated about posting this on Instagram, but I have received many messages from people asking about their safety and offering my condolences, so I decided to write.”

Tsubasa Ito and Teitei.

Ito, 41, from Japan, and Teitei, 35, from China, known as Agu on social media, had become famous for sharing their alpine adventures online.

The globetrotting mountaineers — who had only just tied the knot in February — were scaling a peak in Japan’s Gifu prefecture on June 29 with an unidentified 48-year-old woman when tragedy struck, the South China Morning Post reported.

Ito reportedly fell into a raging river that had risen dramatically due to ferocious rainstorms the day prior.

Teitei is said to have thrown a 300-foot-long rope to her struggling hubby, who was overwhelmed by the current before he could get to safety. In a desperate attempt to save her soulmate, Teitei dove in after him, but was immediately swept away by the raging waters.

The friend subsequently reported the disaster to the authorities, who discovered their bodies downstream several hours later. The pair were rushed to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead from drowning.

The couple rock-climbing.

The lovebirds were reportedly both wearing lifejackets when they passed away, according to police.

In Ito’s last Instagram post from June 28 , the globetrotting duo could be seen rappelling 164 feet down a Sotomo, an eroded sea cave in Japan’s Obama Bay.

Friends and fans were devastated over the couple’s loss.

“I was always looking forward to your posts,” wrote one crestfallen viewer. “I am shocked by this sudden event…I pray for your soul to rest in peace…”

“I always enjoyed looking at Tsubasa’s photos,” said another. “I admired his always challenging and wonderful mountaineering. I was looking forward to seeing more photos of the beautiful mountains and streams, so I am very sad.”

A third wrote, “I climbed countless times with Tsubasa. I helped him and he helped me. I learned a lot from his spirituality, not to mention his mountaineering skills.”

“We both really loved mountains,” they added. “We were both unsatisfied unless we were sprinting at full speed, so maybe this was bound to happen someday. But it’s too early… Rest.”

Minami also paid tribute to the couple in another Instagram post, writing, “My brother and [Teitei] should be climbing a mountain in heaven together.”

japan time to travel

3 big mistakes people traveling to Japan make, according to someone who's visited 11 times

  • Grace Cheng, a 22-year-old travel blogger based in NYC, has visited Japan 11 times.
  • She said travelers going to Japan for the first time consistently make a few mistakes.
  • Travelers focus on Tokyo, Cheng added, but don't leave enough time for other cities.  

Out of the 34 countries travel blogger Grace Cheng has visited, none has left such a lasting impression than Japan . From visiting historical temples during cherry blossom season to the diverse and delicious food scene , Japan stole her heart.

"It's so different than what you see here in the States, and it's so different from any other country," she said.

Cheng, who is 22 and based in NYC, has noticed the country becoming a "hot spot" for tourists.

The International Trade Administration shows that the number of US travelers flying to Japan was already over 900,000 from January to May, a 17.4% increase from the same time period in 2023. One factor driving the surge in tourists from the US is the strongest dollar-to-yen exchange rate in recent history. As of July 8, $1 buys 160.74 yen.

Cheng first visited Japan in 2017, and she's gone 11 times since then. Here, she shares three of the biggest mistakes to avoid when planning a trip to Japan to better your chances of immersing yourself in the culture and exploring off the beaten path.

Mistake 1: They overfill their itineraries

There is so much to explore in Japan, from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo's famous Shibuya crossing (one of the busiest in the world) to the serene tranquility of the gardens and shrines in Kyoto.

But as excited as tourists can be to get a taste of everything, Cheng advises them to make sure their itineraries aren't jam-packed every day.

"The ideal time I would give Japan is probably seven to 10 days," Cheng says, adding that it is a sufficient time to explore a few regions without feeling rushed.

A shorter trip, especially for first-time visitors, could mean that "every day is just back-to-back attractions or moving," which ultimately results in high stress.

"You don't really get to experience Japan for what it's worth because you're just always on the go," she added.

If you are truly pressed for time and only have a few days to spare in Japan, Cheng recommends prioritizing Tokyo, given it is a "major destination everyone has to go to" at least once in their life if they can.

Mistake 2: They don't set foot outside Tokyo

The issue with just visiting Tokyo, according to Cheng, is it doesn't fully represent how broad and versatile Japan or Japanese culture is.

If visitors want to get a real feel for the country's history, cuisine, and local charms, they should venture south and north of Tokyo.

"Tokyo is not Japan," Cheng said. "And you need to explore the other cities to actually have a sense of what Japan is like."

Outside Tokyo, one of her favorite cities is Sapporo, in the Hokkaido prefecture in the north of Japan. Cheng said she found cheaper prices and more friendly locals there.

"They just go out of their way, and you can definitely tell if someone is from Tokyo or the north," she said.

The food scene is also completely different depending on where you visit — Sapporo, for example, is renowned for soup curry, she said.

Osaka is a city near Kyoto so well-known for food that it's sometimes referred to as "Japan's kitchen." There, Cheng said she ate amazing tonkatsu, or fried pork cutlet, made to "perfection" with a side of all-you-can-eat shredded cabbage.

Mistake 3: They never turn off Google Maps

Being told to knowingly lose your way in a foreign country might sound scary, but Cheng insists it's one of the best strategies for discovering a new place.

"The best way to experience the streets and just get to know the country itself is just to get lost," Cheng said. "Don't use your phone. Don't use Google Maps."

She said some of her best interactions with locals and restaurants have come from walks around Japanese cities when she's avoided using her phone.

"If you go to Google and you search 'best restaurants in Tokyo,' for example, you're going to come up with all these restaurants that cater toward tourists," she said. "You're not going to actually experience the local dishes or a local atmosphere," and leave with a false "impression" of Japan.

"The best restaurants that I've found have come from stumbling upon them just walking the streets," she said.

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to follow Business Insider on Microsoft Start.

3 big mistakes people traveling to Japan make, according to someone who's visited 11 times

I spent $38,000 to take my toy poodle on a private jet to Japan. I want to plan a trip for my other dogs next.

  • Hong Kong investment banker Gladys Tsoi, 29, has taken her adopted toy poodle to Japan twice this year.
  • For the second trip, she spent $38,000 to fly on a private jet with her dog.
  • She hopes to plan another trip for her two other dogs soon.

Insider Today

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Gladys Tsoi, a 29-year-old dog owner and investment banker based in Hong Kong. This essay has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider verified Tsoi's receipts.

In April, I treated my toy poodle, Hershey, to a luxurious vacation in Japan. We traveled there together on a private jet.

It was the second time we'd traveled to Japan together in four months. The first flight, from our home base in Hong Kong, was on a commercial airline and cost me $10,100. The second trip came with a significantly higher price tag of $38,000. Despite the hefty expenses, I have no regrets about splurging on my furry companion.

Years of saving while working full-time at an investment bank have given me the capacity to comfortably spend this much on vacation. I also earn additional income with my pet influencer Instagram account , where I occasionally get paid for partnerships and brand collaborations.

I wanted to give Hershey a better life

In 2021, I came across a Facebook post about a toy poodle that had been subjected to abusive breeders and needed a new home. I wanted her to have a better life, so I initiated a trial adoption. After one week, we made it official, marking the beginning of Hershey's journey from a neglected past to a life filled with love and adventure.

At the time, Hershey was two and a half years old, and I already had two other dogs: Milo, a 9-year-old mutt, and Malibu, a 1-year-old labradoodle.

I'm 29 and have been dreaming about traveling abroad with my dogs for years. I decided that this was the year to do it.

My family and I chose Hershey, among my trio of dogs, due to her exceptional temperament. I had full confidence she'd cope with the plane rides and adapt to the new environment.

Planning these journeys took about a year, from securing a reliable pet travel agent and managing import-export paperwork to multiple vet check-ups and extra vaccinations to meet Japan's stringent medical standards for pets . Securing flights with pet-friendly seating and accommodations added to the stress. But it was all worth it in the end.

I chose Japan for its pet-friendly culture. Finding accommodation, dining options and parks open to dogs was easy. Pets are even allowed on public transport if they're in a carrier.

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And as a big fan of Japanese pet products, the destination was an ideal fit.

Hershey's first trip overseas was in January 2024.

Our first trip to Japan included two other poodle friends, while our second trip in April 2024 was a family affair with my parents and brother.

The first was an epic road trip covering over 1,200 miles, spanning seven prefectures and including stops in Tokyo, Mount Fuji , Hakuba, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Izu.

We flew to Tokyo on Korean Air, transiting in Seoul, and returned via Japan Airlines cargo. This involved many flight procedures, including securing a pet seat and handling Hershey's paperwork and check-ups.

We took advantage of the city's pet-friendly offerings during our stay in Tokyo. We stayed in Inumo Shibakoen Hotel , which had amenities like capsule machines with pet supplements, free professional pet photoshoot sessions, free pet grooming, and a gourmet pet dining menu. We explored iconic landmarks like Tokyo Tower and Shibuya Crossing.

There were plenty of pet-friendly restaurants, including one with tailored teppanyaki meals — where we all watched the meat being prepared on the grill.

We went glamping under Mount Fuji, and Hershey had her first snow experience in Hakuba. In Kyoto, we immortalized our trip with a traditional photo shoot, where Hershey and I wore matching kimonos. In Nara, Hershey got to mingle with friendly Japanese deer. In Osaka, we wandered into pet-friendly shops, and in Izu, we went hiking around Mount Omuro.

For the second trip, we opted for a private jet both ways.

Our second trip, which took place in April, lasted 8 days and covered 10 prefectures. We focused on Kyushu , an island in southwestern Japan.

Our road trip took us through Fukuoka, Oita, Yufuin, Kumamoto, Beppu, Nagasaki, Yanagawa, Sasebo, and Itoshima. Our main goal was to witness Japan's spring flower season. Opting for a private jet made this journey simpler compared to our first trip, with our pet travel agent handling all flight arrangements seamlessly. Hershey and I took the private jet, while the rest of the family flew over separately.

We enjoyed Fukuoka's countryside charm. A local photographer captured family moments amid cherry blossoms, and Hershey explored pet-friendly flower parks.

In Oita and Yufuin, glamping by Mount Aso provided a tranquil retreat, while Hershey savored local attractions like Yufuin floral village and Yanagawa's rivers. Sasebo offered a European vibe with tulip fields, while in Kumamoto we went strawberry picking and visited the zoo.

In Kumamoto, we stayed in a private lodge run by a local family. It was equipped with a doggy gym, professional dog grooming room, dog park, and private onsen.

We enjoyed Beppu's natural hot springs the following day and stayed at Hotel Nampuro in Nagasaki. The hotel had a three-course pet-friendly dining menu.

Next time, we will probably bring another pup along.

Both trips came with hefty price tags, especially round two when I opted for a private jet. The cost of hotels added up to around $5,000. In hindsight, every cent was well spent.

Some may consider my splurges excessive, but witnessing the pure joy on Hershey's face is what gives my life meaning and purpose.

For our next trip, I'm contemplating bringing one of my larger canine companions, either Milo or Malibu, along for the journey.

Got a personal essay about traveling abroad in luxury that you want to share? Get in touch with the editor: [email protected] .

Watch: Why Seeing Eye dogs are so expensive to breed and train

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Paris Olympics 2024 travel guide: best hotels, tickets, navigating the city and more

Sarah Pollok

Sarah Pollok

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Many travellers are heading to Paris for the Olympics. Photo / 123rf

The Paris Summer Olympic Games will take place in the French city from July 26 to August 11, 2024, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 6.

Here’s what you need to know from how to buy Olympic Games tickets and how much a trip to Paris will cost, how busy Paris will be in July and what public transport is available.

How to buy Paris Olympics 2024 tickets?

The organisers of the XXXIII Summer Olympics in Paris prepared almost 10 million tickets for individual events and most were sold out months ago despite high prices.

However, several sports are back on sale. From badminton to boxing, there are still sports you can nab a ticket to for as little as $30. Those attending the Games are encouraged to regularly check the Olympics website for updates on ticket sales.

How much will it cost to go to the Paris Olympics 2024?

Prices are typically a little higher in Paris than in Auckland according to European fintech company, Conotoxia, which found supermarket items reasonably comparable while eating out and grabbing a coffee was more expensive.

A litre of milk will cost $2.5 and 12 eggs cost $8.40 but a mid-range meal for two is $125-134 and a cafe coffee is $7.70.

Grabbing a bite, a place to stay or transport will only get more expensive when the Games are on in Paris, with some hotels and rental apartments doubling, tripling or quintupling their prices, the New York Times reported.

Think €400 to €700 per night for a basic double room at a chain hotel, compared to the typical €90 to €200.

What will be free is the NZ House at the NZ Olympic Team HQ at Marriott Champs-Élysées. Here, Kiwis who don’t have a ticket to the live events can relax with some free wine and watch our athletes on the screen while enjoying the atmosphere.

The city is expected to increase prices during the Olympics. Photo / 123rf

Best Paris Olympics accommodation?

If you’re yet to book accommodation in Paris, you’re cutting it close even without the Olympics. However, websites such as Booking.com still have hotel rooms, apartments and other accommodations available for two people staying a week from July 26 to August 1.

There are several places available for $300 per night and some that cost more than $2000 but most accommodation tends to be priced between $450 and $750.

The cheapest place to stay in Paris during the Olympics would likely be outside the city centre, where properties are cheaper or much larger.

Meanwhile, the best palace to stay in Paris depends on a traveller’s priorities. Sports fans attending many events may want to stay near the venues while culture-lovers could prefer something in the city centre. Others may wish to stay near the Olympic Village, located 6km northeast of the CBD, across the towns of Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen and l’Ile-Saint-Denis.

Fortunately, there are still hotels and motels with availability. Photo / File

How busy will Paris be in July 2024?

Between 6.2 and 6.4 million tourists visited Paris in July and August 2023.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many visitors will flood into Paris during the Games but predictions suggest up to 3.1 million visitors with Games tickets will be in Paris, not counting the millions that could be visiting but not watching the Olympics.

Some Parisians have announced plans to escape the city before the Games begin to avoid the crowds and supposed inconvenience.

Is there public transport in Paris during the Olympics 2024?

Several bridges, metro and train stations in Paris will close a week before the Games and certain bus routes will be diverted around security perimetres.

For help planning routes around Paris, download Île-de-France Mobilités’ mobile app, named “Transport Public Paris 2024″. Available in English, the app includes a route planner, traffic updates and a ticketing system.

On the app, visitors can also purchase an unlimited transport pass, which allows people to travel to all Olympic and Paralympic venues during the Games. The pass will cost €70 for a full week or €16 for a single day. Passholders can make unlimited trips using all modes of transport provided by Île-de-France Mobilités between competition venues, fan zones and Paris’ two main airports.

An example of the official Games transport application launched by Île-de-France Mobilités. Image /  Île-de-France Mobilités

The pass can be purchased via the app or from ticket machines at RATP and SNCF Transilien stations.

There will also be 10 free shuttle buses running between six competition venues far from public transport networks. Travellers do not have to book a spot and can simply hop on and off at the stops, which include: The National Golf, the Château of Versailles, La Colline d’Élancourt, Roland Garros, Parc des Princes and Stade nautique de Vaires-sur-Marne.

Shuttles will run every minute from 2.5 hours before an event to 2 hours after according to Île-de-France Mobilités.

Do I need a visa to go to the Paris Olympics 2024?

Assuming your France holiday isn’t longer than 90 days, you don’t have to worry about visas.

New Zealanders do not need a visa to visit France and can vist visa-free on holiday or business for up to 90 days per 180-day period. However, to enter the Schengen area (which France is a part of) you must have a return or onward travel ticket and passport with at least three months validity from the date of indented departure, according to SafeTravel.

Can I visit the Eiffel Tower during the Olympics 2024?

The Eiffel Tower will be open during the Paris Olympics 2024 aside from three key days; July 14 and the morning of July 15 (for Bastille Day fireworks) and July 26 for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower will be a little different the week before the Olympic Games too. During this time, pedestrian and car access will be “heavily restricted” along the Seine, according to the official Eiffel Tower website.

Additionally, visitors must present proof of a timed reservation, made using the official online ticket platform, before entering the tower. E-tickets are now available for purchase online but if they sell out you can buy a free ticket to access the ticket desk on the day of your visit and buy a pass there.

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News Analysis

An Assassination Attempt That Seems Likely to Tear America Further Apart

The attack on former President Donald J. Trump comes at a time when the United States is already polarized along ideological and cultural lines and is split, it often seems, into two realities.

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A field littered with trash. Bleachers and American flags are in the background.

By Peter Baker

Peter Baker has covered the past five presidents.

  • Published July 14, 2024 Updated July 15, 2024, 4:25 p.m. ET

Follow the latest news on the Trump assassination attempt .

When President Ronald Reagan was shot by an attention-seeking drifter in 1981, the country united behind its injured leader. The teary-eyed Democratic speaker of the House, Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., went to the hospital room of the Republican president, held his hands, kissed his head and got on his knees to pray for him.

But the assassination attempt against former President Donald J. Trump seems more likely to tear America further apart than to bring it together. Within minutes of the shooting, the air was filled with anger, bitterness, suspicion and recrimination. Fingers were pointed, conspiracy theories advanced and a country already bristling with animosity fractured even more.

The fact that the shooting in Butler, Pa., on Saturday night was two days before Republicans were set to gather in Milwaukee for their nominating convention invariably put the event in a partisan context. While Democrats bemoaned political violence, which they have long faulted Mr. Trump for encouraging, Republicans instantly blamed President Biden and his allies for the attack, which they argued stemmed from incendiary language labeling the former president a proto-fascist who would destroy democracy.

Mr. Trump’s eldest son, his campaign strategist and a running mate finalist all attacked the political left within hours of the shooting even before the gunman was identified or his motive determined. “Well of course they tried to keep him off the ballot, they tried to put him in jail and now you see this,” wrote Chris LaCivita, a senior adviser to the former president.

But the Trump campaign seemed to think better of it, and the post was deleted. A memo sent out on Sunday by Mr. LaCivita and Susie Wiles, another senior adviser, instructed Trump team members not to comment on the shooting.

Either way, the episode could fuel Mr. Trump’s narrative about being the victim of persecution by Democrats. Impeached, indicted, sued and convicted, Mr. Trump even before Saturday had accused Democrats of seeking to have him shot by F.B.I. agents or even executed for crimes that do not carry the death penalty.

After being wounded at the rally, Mr. Trump, with blood staining his face, pumped his fist at the crowd and shouted, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

What exactly drove the gunman, who was quickly killed by Secret Service counter snipers, remained a matter of speculation. Identified as Thomas Matthew Crooks , 20, from Bethel Park, Pa., he was a registered Republican but had also given $15 to a progressive group on Mr. Biden’s Inauguration Day, more than three years ago. The authorities said they were still investigating his motive.

The shooting came at a time when the United States was already deeply polarized along ideological, cultural and partisan lines — split, it often seems, into two countries, even two realities. More than at any time in generations, Americans do not see themselves in a collective enterprise but perceive themselves on opposite sides of modern ramparts.

The divisions have grown so stark that a Marist poll in May found that 47 percent of Americans considered a second civil war likely or very likely in their lifetime, a notion that prompted Hollywood to release a movie imagining what that could look like.

The propulsive crescendo of disruptive events lately has led many to compare 2024 to 1968, a year of racial strife, riots in the cities and the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Protests over the Vietnam War helped prompt President Lyndon B. Johnson to drop out of his race for re-election that year.

Until now, there had been one important difference. “Of all the similarities between 1968 and 2024, the lack of political violence this year has been one of the key areas where the years diverge,” said Luke A. Nichter, a historian at Chapman University and the author of “The Year That Broke Politics,” a history of 1968. “That is no more.”

Michael Kazin, a historian at Georgetown University, said political violence had a long history in America. “As in 1968 — or 1919 or 1886 or 1861 — the violence that just occurred is rather inevitable in a society as bitterly divided as ours,” he said. “And of course there’s actually less violence in politics now than there was in those other years.”

Yet not since President Abraham Lincoln was shot by a Confederate sympathizer at Ford’s Theater has an assassination attempt against a president or major presidential candidate so sharply exacerbated the partisan divide.

Presidents James A. Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy were shot to death by lone gunmen who were upset with them for one reason or another, but the killings did not become sources of schism between the Republican and Democratic Parties. The same was true with Dr. King and Robert Kennedy’s assassinations, as well as shootings that missed President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Gerald R. Ford.

Gov. George C. Wallace, Democrat of Alabama, was shot at a campaign event during his 1972 presidential run by a man who wanted to be famous. The attack left the segregationist governor paralyzed but eventually contributed to his evolution and disavowal of past racism. John Hinckley attacked Mr. Reagan out of an obsession to impress the movie star Jodie Foster.

In recent years, political violence in America at levels below the presidency has become increasingly partisan. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, was critically wounded in a mass shooting in 2011, prompting angry criticism of Republicans for fomenting hate. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, now the Republican majority leader, was shot and injured during a congressional baseball game practice in 2017 by a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont.

An armed man was arrested outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2022 and told the authorities that he wanted to kill the conservative Supreme Court justice because of his positions against abortion and gun control. Later that year, a man wielding a hammer broke into the San Francisco house of Representative Nancy Pelosi, then the Democratic speaker, and beat her husband, Paul Pelosi .

The most famous recent case of political violence before this weekend was the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by supporters of Mr. Trump trying to block the certification of Mr. Biden’s election victory. The Capitol Police investigated 8,008 cases of threats involving members of Congress last year. While most of them were not serious, it was the second-highest total in the department’s history and has prompted the hiring of more prosecutors.

Many of these recent cases have led to not so much soul-searching as blame-setting. After Ms. Giffords was shot, Democrats assailed Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, because Ms. Giffords’s district had been among 20 singled out underneath digitized cross hairs on a map circulated by Ms. Palin’s political action committee, although there was no evidence the gunman knew about or was driven by the map.

House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump for instigating the Capitol attack with his inflammatory language at a rally beforehand. The former president has a long history of encouraging violence . He urged supporters to beat up protesters at rallies, cheered a Republican congressman for body-slamming a reporter , called for looters and shoplifters to be shot, made light of the attack on Mr. Pelosi and promised pardons to Jan. 6 rioters. When some of his supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6, Mr. Trump told aides that maybe the vice president deserved it because he had defied efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Republicans turned the tables on Democrats this weekend, arguing that if Mr. Trump was responsible for provocative rhetoric, then Mr. Biden should be as well. Speaking with donors on Monday, the president said he wanted to stop talking about his poor debate performance and instead “put Trump in a bull’s-eye.” He described his strategy as “attack, attack, attack.”

“The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs,” Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio and a front-runner to be named Mr. Trump’s running mate, wrote on social media two hours after the attack on Saturday. “That rhetoric directly led to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

Mr. Scalise, also the victim of a political attack, agreed. “For weeks, Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning re-election would be the end of democracy in America,” he said. “Clearly, we’ve seen far-left lunatics act on violent rhetoric in the past. This incendiary rhetoric must stop.”

Representative Mike Collins, Republican of Georgia, wrote on social media that “ Joe Biden sent the orders ” and urged the local prosecutor to “immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination.” But not all hands are clean. Mr. Collins once ran a campaign ad in which he fired a rifle at Ms. Pelosi’s agenda and shot a cardboard cutout of so-called RINO Republicans.

Some Republican leaders took a more measured approach. Speaker Mike Johnson, speaking on “Today” on NBC, said on Sunday that Mr. Trump had “been so vilified and really persecuted by media, Hollywood elites, political figures, even the legal system” and cited Mr. Biden’s “bull’s-eye” comment.

“I know he didn’t mean what is being implied there, but that kind of language on either side should be called out,” Mr. Johnson said . But he emphasized that “both sides” have “got to turn the temperature down in this country.”

Mr. Biden did not directly respond to criticism of his language during three televised appearances since the shooting, but he flatly condemned the attack and called Mr. Trump to wish him well. Like Mr. Johnson, he said that Americans must “lower the temperature” and that “it’s time to cool it down.” During a rare Oval Office address, he added: “Politics must never be a literal battlefield, and God forbid a killing field.”

The danger is if political violence becomes normalized, just another form of the endless partisan wars. A study published in May found that 11 percent of Americans said violence was sometimes or always justified to return Mr. Trump to the presidency, and 21 percent said it was justified to advance an important political objective.

But Garen J. Wintemute, the director of the Violence Prevention Program at the University of California, Davis, and the lead author of the study, said it was important to remember that most Americans still rejected political violence.

“It’s the job of that majority to make their views known, over and over again, and as publicly as possible,” Dr. Wintemute said. “A climate of intolerance for violence reduces the chance that violence will occur. The question before us as a nation is, ‘Will violence become part of American politics?’ Each of us as an individual needs to answer that question, ‘Not if I can help it.’”

Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent for The Times. He has covered the last five presidents and sometimes writes analytical pieces that place presidents and their administrations in a larger context and historical framework. More about Peter Baker

Our Coverage of the Trump Rally Shooting

The Investigation : F.B.I. officials said the 20-year-old gunman who tried to assassinate former President Donald Trump appears to have acted alone , but investigators remain unsure of his motives.

Secret Service Under Scrutiny : President Biden called for an “independent review” of security measures  before and after the shooting, while directing the Secret Service to review all of its security measures for the Republican National Convention.

Tearing America Further Apart : The assassination attempt comes at a time when the United States is already polarized along ideological and cultural lines  and is split, it often seems, into two realities.

Our Photographer’s Account : Doug Mills, a veteran photographer for The New York Times, was only feet away from Trump when the shooting started. He described what happened .

The Force of the Photos : In video footage of the shooting, everything was pandemonium. It was still images that made Trump an incarnation of defiance, our critic writes .

Biden says America 'must not go down this road' after Trump assassination attempt

Editor's Note: This page is a summary of news on the assassination attempt on Donald Trump for Sunday, July 14. For the latest updates, see our file for Monday, July 15 .

BETHEL PARK, Pa. – President Joe Biden called on Americans to cool the partisan fervor in the wake of the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump , encouraging peaceful debate but decrying any form of political violence in his Sunday evening address to the nation.

"There's no place in America for this kind of violence or any violence, ever, period, no exceptions," Biden said. "We can't allow this violence to be normalized."

Trump said Sunday that "God alone" had spared him from Saturday's brazen assassination attempt , the likes of which America had not seen since President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded 43 years ago. Trump, who was injured in the right ear when a sniper opened fire , traveled to Milwaukee on Sunday for this week's GOP convention.

One spectator was killed and two others were critically injured when bullets rained down from an AR-15-style rifle from a rooftop about 400 feet outside Trump's campaign rally at the Butler Farm Show in Butler, Pennsylvania.

More: Trump assassination attempt: Graphics, maps show you what happened

The FBI identified the gunman as Thomas Matthew Crooks , 20, of Bethel Park, outside Pittsburgh. Crooks was killed by Secret Service agents moments after gunfire erupted at the rally.

Biden referenced the victims of Crooks' assault and mentioned other prominent instances of political violence in the U.S. in recent years, such as the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington and the brutal attack on the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"We cannot, we must not go down this road in America," Biden said. "The political rhetoric in this country has gotten very heated. It's time to cool it down. We all have a responsibility to do that."

Trump rally in Butler, Pennsylvania: Trump wounded in assassination attempt. Biden calls it 'sick': Here's what we know

Developments:

∎ Trump told an interviewer, “I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be dead.”

∎ A Secret Service spokesman denied social media reports claiming the agency had directed resources away from Trump’s Saturday campaign rally in Pennsylvania to protect first lady Jill Biden.  

∎ House Speaker Mike Johnson said on the "TODAY" show Sunday that the country has to "turn the temperature down" in the political discourse, and he promised Congress will investigate the incident "to determine where there were lapses in security and anything else that the American people need to know."

Trump: 'I'm supposed to be dead'

Former President Donald Trump marveled over his brush with assassination on Sunday, telling an interviewer, “I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be dead.”

He then repeated the line. "I’m supposed to be dead.”

Speaking to New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin as his private jet headed for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee , Trump called Saturday's assassination attempt a “very surreal experience.”

Trump wore a large, white bandage over his right ear, Goodwin said. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee's staff wouldn't allow him to be photographed.

−Dan Morrison

More: Nursing aide turned sniper: Thomas Crooks' mysterious plot to kill Trump

Secret Service: Agents were not diverted from Trump to protect Jill Biden

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi rejected social media reports claiming the agency had directed resources away from Trump’s Saturday campaign rally in Pennsylvania to protect first lady Jill Biden .  

"This is very wrong," Guglielmi said of the reporting in a post on X Sunday night. "We did not divert resources from FPOTUS Trump & protection models don't work that way." 

FPOTUS is an acronym for a former president of the United States.

Guglielmi also clarified that the Secret Service "field office teams" protecting Trump were part of operations "added during election years for the heavy travel tempo," in response to reports that they were not part of the former president's regular detail.  

−Karissa Waddick and Rachel Barber

More: What went wrong? How did Secret Service allow shooter to get so close to Trump?

Trump rewrites RNC speech after assassination attempt

In an interview with the Washington Examiner on Sunday, Trump said he rewrote his Republican National Convention speech to include a call for national unity. 

The Republican presidential candidate said Saturday’s assassination attempt against him provided a "chance to bring the whole country, even the whole world, together" and that his "speech will be a lot different, a lot different than it would’ve been two days ago," noting that his previous draft focused heavily on Biden’s policies.  

Trump also said during the interview that he is still processing Saturday’s events.  

"That reality is just setting in," he said. "I rarely look away from the crowd. Had I not done that in that moment, well, we would not be talking today, would we?" 

Trump will make an appearance Monday at the RNC, said committee member David Bossie in an interview with WISN-TV.

"The welcome that he's going to get here, I think, is going to be a very emotional and overwhelming thing," Bossie told the television station.

− Joey Garrison and Karissa Waddick, USA TODAY; Genevieve Redsten, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Biden: 'We must unite as a nation' after assassination attempt

After calling for national unity earlier in the day, Biden strongly urged Americans to "take a step back" from overheated politics and refrain from violence in a national address from the Oval Office.

Though he reiterated his belief that the November election pitting him against Trump will shape the future of America and the world, Biden nonetheless insisted political differences must be settled peacefully.

"Politics must never be a literal battlefield, or God forbid, a killing field," Biden said. "I believe politics are an arena for peaceful debate, to pursue justice, to make decisions guided by the Declaration of Independence and our constitution."

Early in the afternoon, Biden said that he'd spoken with Trump on Saturday night and was "sincerely grateful" his political rival was recovering well from Saturday's shooting.

"Unity is the most elusive goal of all, but nothing is more important than that right now," Biden said, adding, "We must unite as one nation to demonstrate who we are."

− Rebecca Morin

Trump's motorcade arrives at Milwaukee hotel

A day after being the subject of an assassination attempt, Trump’s plane landed in Milwaukee at Mitchell International Airport as a small crowd waited for his arrival.

"Based on yesterday’s terrible events, I was going to delay my trip to Wisconsin, and The Republican National Convention, by two days, but have just decided that I cannot allow a 'shooter,' or potential assassin, to force change to scheduling, or anything else," Trump said on his Truth Social account.Some filmed or photographed the plane landing on their phones. Onlookers in four cars waited for the former president’s arrival, some standing outside their cars and looking up at the sky.

Trump’s motorcade later arrived at the Pfister Hotel, where many expect he will stay for the Republican National Convention. A crowd of spectators — some with boxes of popcorn — peered through the fence to catch a glimpse of the former president, just 24 hours after he survived an attempted assassination.

Secret Service agents lined the perimeter and eyed the surrounding rooftops as dozens of SUVs pulled up to the storied hotel. Trump, however, could not be spotted exiting his vehicle.

A tent waited outside the entrance, and security quickly shut the curtains.

− David Jackson, USA TODAY; Claire Reed and Genevieve Redsten ; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Victims of rally shooting identified

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro identified the man killed in the shooting at Trump's Butler rally as Corey Comperatore. Shapiro said he spoke with Comperatore’s family, who described him as a father of two girls, a firefighter, a faithful churchgoer, and an avid supporter of the former president.

"Corey died a hero," Shapiro said. "Corey dove on his family to protect them last night at this rally. Corey was the very best of us. May his memory be a blessing." 

Pennsylvania State Police identified the other two attendees who were shot at the rally as state residents David Dutch, 57, of New Kensington, and James Copenhaver, 74, of Moon Township. Both are hospitalized and listed in stable condition. Shapiro said he spoke with the family of one victim and received a message from the other.

Flags will be flown at half-staff in memory of Compertore, Shapiro said. He added that he spoke with members of Trump’s team and got a call from Biden, whom he lauded for reaching out to Trump.

"All leaders need to take down the temperature and rise above the hateful rhetoric that exists in search of a better, brighter future for this nation," Shapiro said.

− Sheridan Hendrix

Biden keeps NBC interview, cancels trip to Texas

Biden plans to go forward with a Monday afternoon sit-down with NBC host Lester Holt. The interview was previously scheduled for Texas and will now take place in Washington, the White House said Sunday. 

An address Biden was supposed to deliver at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, was postponed following the attempt on Trump's life Saturday. The White House said it will reschedule the visit.

Biden will resume his travel schedule Monday evening. He'll depart Washington for Las Vegas and appear at the NAACP National Convention on Tuesday and the UnidosUS Annual Conference on Wednesday.

− Francesca Chambers

Shooter used AR-style rifle, had 'suspicious device' in car, FBI says

The gunman in Saturday's assassination attempt used an AR-style rifle using 5.56mm ammunition that was purchased legally and found next to Crooks at the scene where he was shot dead, FBI special agent Kevin Rojek told reporters on a call Sunday.

He also said a "suspicious device" was found in Crooks' vehicle and that bomb technicians inspected it and rendered it safe.

"I'm not in a position to provide any expertise on the specific components of any potential bombs or suspicious packages," Rojek said, adding that the device was sent to an FBI lab for further analysis, as was the shooter's cell phone and other evidence as authorities search for a motive.

Rojek also said the gunman appears to have acted alone and there is no ongoing threat to the public.

– Aysha Bagchi

Fateful events leave family near Butler shaken

Shirley and Jim Iman, of nearby Franklin Township, were thrilled when the Trump campaign announced a rally would be held in Butler. "It was just so exciting that we had something of that magnitude here," Shirley Iman said. 

Having never seen Trump before, they immediately got tickets. When Jim couldn't go, Shirley took her adult daughter. Now they both are shaken, Shirley Iman said, and her daughter couldn't stop crying. 

Shirley Iman said they had been standing in the heat "all day" just beyond a barricade line that divided those with seats from those standing. She said she could only see Trump on the screen, but decided she needed to sit down just minutes into the rally to avoid fainting.

As soon as she did, she heard "pop, pop, pop."

"It was silent, and then everyone started screaming," Shirley Iman said. They asked themselves over and over again, "'Seriously? Is this really happening?'" A man near them prayed. 

Still, Shirley Iman said they didn't know at the time Trump had been injured. Her husband texted her that news as they walked out with the crowd. 

"I started telling people, 'Trump was hit,'" she said. "Nobody knew."

− Jennifer Pignolet, Akron Beacon Journal

Congressional Democrats to pause fundraising, ads

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will pause its fundraising activities and advertisements, according to a source familiar with the plans, following the assassination attempt on Trump.

The Biden campaign announced Saturday it was pausing all outbound communications and pulled down television ads following the shooting. 

– Rebecca Morin

Neighbors who knew Crooks stunned by the shooting

Jason Kohler attended Bethel Park High School with Crooks and said he sat alone at lunch and was "bullied almost every day." Kids picked on Crooks for wearing camouflage to class and for his quiet demeanor, said Kohler, 21.Since hearing Crooks was named as the shooter, Kohler has been speaking with classmates who knew him, most of whom are stunned by the news. "It’s really hard to comprehend," he said.

In Bethel Park, Dean Sierka, 52, said he has known Crooks and his parents for years. The neighbors were separated by only a few houses and Sierka’s daughter, Lily, attended elementary, middle, and high school with Crooks. She remembers him as quiet and shy.

Later on, they would see Crooks at least once a week, often walking to work. "You wouldn’t have expected this," Dean Sierka told USA TODAY. "The parents and the family are all really nice people. It’s crazy.”

− Christopher Cann

'Boom, boom, boom, then screams': Neighbors watched from nearby homes

The streets around the Butler fairgrounds were bustling Sunday morning with law enforcement agents blocking entry to the site of the shooting. Pat English told USA TODAY he was at the Saturday rally but left when his grandson got overheated.

"We watched it from my deck," English said, pointing to his backyard bordering the fairgrounds. "I heard a boom, boom, boom, and then screams. I could see people running and the police run in."A few doors down, Lonnie and Kelli Rensel thought they heard fireworks. But then came the screams. "That’s when we knew something was wrong," Kelli Rensel said.Lonnie Rensel, who viewed the rally from his childhood home bordering the grounds, saw a cloud of dust rise from the site.“A stray bullet must have hit the speakers hanging by a lift because they collapsed,” he said.

−Bryce Buyakie

Melania Trump urges Americans to 'ascend above the hate'

Former first lady Melania Trump called on Americans in a statement Sunday to “ascend above the hate, the vitriol, and the simple-minded ideas that ignite violence” after an assassination attempt on her husband.

She thanked the Secret Service agents for protecting the former president and offered her sympathy to the victims were shot at the rally.

“When I watched that violent bullet strike my husband, Donald, I realized my life, and (son) Barron's life, were on the brink of devastating change,” she wrote in the statement.

The former first lady went on to criticize the “monster” who attempted the assassination, adding that Donald Trump has been labeled “an inhuman political machine.”

Trump called on Americans to transcend politics and emphasized that "love, compassion, kindness and empathy are necessities."

Maps, graphics show how the Trump shooting unfolded

As the investigation into the shooting at Trump’s rally continues, maps, graphics and a timeline by USA TODAY show how the incident unfolded.

At 6:11 p.m., while Trump is speaking, multiple shots are fired toward the stage, and less than a minute later, Secret Service agents jump on top of the former president and escort him off stage. At 6:14 p.m., his motorcade leaves the fairgrounds.

Explore the full timeline and graphics here.

− Sudiksha Kochi

Officials: Trump campaign to tighten security

Top officials at the Donald Trump campaign told staff members that they are re-doubling security measures at their offices in light of Saturday's assassination attempt.

“We are enhancing the armed security presence with 24/7 officers on-site," said a staff memo signed by senior campaign officials Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita. "Additional assessments will be in place. Our highest priority is to keep all of you on this staff safe."

The officials urged employees to stay away from offices in Washington, D.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla., on Sunday "as we assess both locations."

Wiles and LaCivita also asked campaign employees not to comment on Saturday's shooting. "We condemn all forms of violence," they said, "and will not tolerate dangerous rhetoric on social media."

The memo also said the Republican convention would go on as scheduled.

− David Jackson

Democrats also adjusting security measures

Chicago Alderman Brian Hopkins, chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee, said the assassination attempt on Trump "will have an impact on everything we do" for securing the upcoming Democratic National Convention in August.

"It’s a reminder that having an effective security plan is not good enough if it’s not executed perfectly," Hopkins said Sunday. "If there’s any vulnerability or weak link, it can be exploited, which clearly played a role in yesterday’s events."

The longtime city council member did not anticipate any concrete changes in plans to protect Biden, since he isn’t expected to speak outside the convention hall. But Hopkins expected adjustments to security measures around the convention hall, where protest groups have sued the city for permission to picket outside.

"They want unfettered access to everything and this is a reminder of why that simply can’t be allowed," he said. "We can’t have radical protest groups who often engage in inflammatory rhetoric, we can’t have them on the sidewalk outside the convention center. It simply isn’t possible."

The Secret Service plans to release the finalized security perimeter for the event on July 25, Hopkins said.

− Michael Loria  

Trump's top finance person launches GoFundMe for rally shooting victims

A high-profile political fundraiser from Florida has launched a "President Trump Authorized" GoFundMe aiming to raise $1 million for those "wounded or killed" in  Saturday's attempt on the former president's life .

Meredith O'Rourke of Tallahassee, also Trump's top finance person, is listed as the organizer of the  online fundraiser , which as of 10 a.m. Sunday listed over $600,000 in donations, including $50,000 from musician Kid Rock, a major Trump backer.

Other top donations so far include $30,000 from former Republican challenger Vivek Ramaswamy and $25,000 from investor and entrepreneur John Shahidi, a Southern California native behind several companies, among them  Shots Studios ,  described  as "an entertainment company that uses data to create the next digital stars."

Also donating were conservative commentator Ben Shapiro ($15,000),  Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson  ($10,000) and Trump's daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner ($10,000).

− Jim Rosica

What we know about the weapon used by the shooter

Joseph Price, special agent in charge of the ATF in Pittsburgh, said the rifle Crooks used "was nothing special.''Price said investigators are still determining how many shots the gunman fired. − Stephanie Warsmith 

White House says Biden call with Trump 'respectful'

The president spoke with Trump on Saturday night after Trump was targeted by a sniper at a rally in Pennsylvania

Biden told reporters when he initially tried to call Trump, the former president was with his doctors. A White House official said later Saturday that Biden had spoken with Trump, Shapiro and Bob Dandoy, the mayor of Butler.

Biden’s phone call Saturday night with Trump was "good, respectful and brief," according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity saying it was a private discussion.

– Michael Collins and Joey Garrison

Secret Service pushed Trump to the stage, eyewitness says

Erin Autenreith, who sat in the middle of the front row at Trump’s rally, said on the TODAY show Sunday that she heard “pop, pop, pop” sounds and watched as Secret Service men quickly pushed the former president down on stage for a couple of minutes.

“They started saying ‘Clear right, clear left. OK on three stand him up.’ So one, two, three - they stood him up. He was facing me and his eyes were bright. I knew that he was OK. But there was a little bit of blood coming,” Autenreith said.

She said the interesting part was that “nobody in that first row even took cover. It seemed everybody was just - wanted to protect the president and I think we all knew that that's what the shooter was after.”

−Sudiksha Kochi

Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson says nephew injured at Trump rally

Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, said Saturday on X, formerly Twitter, that his nephew was among those injured at Trump’s rally in Butler.

“My family was sitting in the front, near where the President was speaking. They heard shots ringing out — my nephew then realized he had blood on his neck and something had grazed and cut his neck,” he wrote.

On Fox News Saturday, Jackson told host Sean Hannity that a bullet had grazed his nephew’s neck. He noted on X that his nephew is doing well and that his injury was not serious. 

“He was treated by the providers in the medical tent. Thank you to all those that have reached out to check on him,” Jackson wrote.

Trump urges supporters to 'stay united'

Trump told supporters Sunday that he would still attend this week's Republican convention in Milwaukee. The shooting will almost certainly lead to a drastic ramp-up in security for the more than 50,000 GOP politicians, delegates, and media personnel expected to flow into Milwaukee for the convention over the next 36 hours.

"Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers yesterday, as it was God alone who prevented the unthinkable from happening," Trump said in an early morning post on Truth Social.

Trump added that "we will FEAR NOT, but instead remain resilient in our Faith and Defiant in the face of Wickedness." Urging people to stay united and to "show our True Character as Americans," Trump said:  "I truly love our Country, and love you all, and look forward to speaking to our Great Nation this week from Wisconsin."

− David Jackson, Sarah D. Wire, Sam Woodward, and Alison Dirr

No word on shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks' motive

Little is known about Crooks beyond the fact that he lived in a home with his parents in Bethel Park.

Crooks was 20 years old, registered as a Republican, and had an active voting status, meaning he had voted in recent elections. He appears to have attended Bethel Park High School, graduating in 2022.

Crooks carried no identification and his body had to be identified using other techniques, said Kevin Rojek, FBI special agent in charge, at the late-night news conference in Butler. The methods included DNA and biometric confirmation, Rojek said.

Crooks was killed by law enforcement officials moments after opening fire.

Political rally shooter identified: Thomas Matthew Crooks identified as Trump shooter at Pennsylvania political rally

'It feels like something out of a movie'

The streets surrounding Crooks’ home were swarming with reporters and curious locals who ventured out to get a look at the scene and sizable police presence early Sunday morning. The home sits along a winding suburban road in Bethel Park, about 42 miles south of Butler.

Cathy Caplan, 45, extended her morning walk about a quarter mile to glimpse what was happening outside Crooks’ home.“It came on the morning news and I was like ‘I know that street,’” she said.The local school district employee said she was “still in disbelief” about the shooting and that “it feels like something out of a movie.”

Wes Morgan and his four children were at Panera Bread on Sunday morning when he found out he lived within a mile of Crooks. After breakfast, Morgan and the kids, ages 6-9, parked among dozens of reporters and other residents and walked up to the police perimeter, around the corner from Crooks’ home.It was rare in this sleepy suburb of Bethel Park to have any sustained and visible police presence, he said. The 42-year-old said he hopes the investigation progresses smoothly so the neighborhood can return to normal“We’ve never had anything even close to this before,” Morgan said. “We ride bikes down this road all the time, and to see this today … it’s just a shame.”

'It's insanity that anyone would do this'

Around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, dozens of law enforcement vehicles were stationed outside Crooks' residence listed on his voter registration record. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were on the scene and a bomb squad was at the residence.

Neighbors standing outside the home where the gunman lived said they were in disbelief. Dan Maloney, 30, said he saw the shooter’s name on social media and then discovered he lived down the road.

“It’s insanity that anyone would do this,” Maloney said, adding that he at one point had planned on attending the rally.

Crooks is registered to vote as a Republican in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, according to county voter records. His voter registration status has been active since 2021.

Scott Graham, who lives in the Bethel Park neighborhood, was riding his bike Sunday morning. He said he doesn’t know the shooter but was shaken by the incident. “It hits so close to home. I had two kids who graduated from Bethel Park High School. My kids graduated in 2016 and 2018.”

− Christopher Cann, Aysha Bagchi , Andrew Dolph

How the chaotic scene erupted: Video captures moment when Trump reportedly shot on stage at rally

Attack harkens back to dark years of violence

The most recent attempt on a presidential candidate was on March 30, 1981, when Republican President Ronald Reagan was shot by  John Hinckley Jr.  after a speaking engagement just two months after taking office. The then 70-year-old was seriously injured and underwent emergency surgery before being released after almost two weeks in the hospital.

Reagan suffered a punctured lung, a broken rib, and internal bleeding.

On June 5, 1968, the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy, Senator  Robert F. Kennedy , D-N.Y., was shot and killed by a Palestinian activist for his support of Israel during the Israeli-Arab conflict. Kennedy was campaigning in California for the presidency and lived just one day after being hit twice, once in the neck and the armpit. He was 42.

President John F. Kennedy  was riding in a motorcade with First Lady Jackie Kennedy in downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963, when he was shot in the neck and head by Lee Harvey Oswald. The 46-year-old had yet to announce his re-election campaign and was riding with then-Texas Democratic Gov. John Connally, who also was shot.

Kennedy was pronounced dead and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president.

−Elizabeth Weise

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    The worst time to visit Japan is between August and September, the peak months of the typhoon season with hot, humid, and rainy weather. Conditions are not ideal during this time for sightseeing or outdoor recreation. Rainfall happens for 10 to 12 days a month on average during August and September across Japan.

  8. When is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

    Weather in Japan in August. August in Japan is a sticky, sweaty, humid affair across most of the country. So not exactly the best time to visit Japan. Temperatures are easily 30°C+ (with consistent temperatures of 35°C not uncommon). Average nighttime lows in Tokyo, for example, are no lower than 24°C.

  9. Here's the best time to visit Japan

    The best times to visit Japan are the spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) seasons, with May and October-November being the optimal months to balance good weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. The periods between March to May and October to November have the best weather. These times, which line up with spring and most of autumn, are filled with calm days and comfortable ...

  10. Best Time to Visit Japan

    Visiting Japan in March. The weather starts to get milder in March and blossom on the plum trees marks the beginning of spring. Toward the end of March the cherry blossom begins to emerge in the south of the country, which is celebrated by the Japanese with picnics in local parks. As this season is a popular time to visit Japan, the country gets very busy toward the end of the month.

  11. The Best Time to Visit Japan

    The best time to visit Japan is during early spring when the short-lived cherry blossoms are blooming but before or after the busy stretch of Golden Week holidays. Although avoiding lousy weather is usually the goal of vacations, consecutive sunny days draw bigger crowds to East Asia. You'll have to share transportation and attractions during ...

  12. When Is the Best and Cheapest Time to Visit Japan in 2023?

    Festival Season: June - August. If you're interested in Japan's matsuri (festival) culture, summer is the best time to visit. Japan's "big three" festivals are the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto (July), Kanda Festival in Tokyo (May), and Tenjin Festival in Osaka (July), but festivals are held throughout the country in the summer months.

  13. The best times to visit Japan

    In addition to the shoulder seasons, winter is an excellent time to visit when sticking to a tight budget. Japan becomes notably affordable once you steer clear of the holiday season. Moreover, from mid-January to mid-March, you can relish the added benefit of experiencing a less congested environment while out and about. Related: The best ways ...

  14. The Best Time to Visit Japan: A Complete Guide

    Tokyo: Average temperatures for summer see lows of 19°C (66°F), going up to 31°C (88°F) by the end of August. Kyoto: Lows of 19°C (66°F) and highs of 33°C (91°F) in August. Sapporo: Lows are around 13°C (55°F) while the highest temperatures peak at a pleasant 26°C (79°F). Warmer temperatures are common in the south.

  15. Best Time to Visit Japan & Holidays to Avoid in 2024

    In 2024, Japan's Golden Week will take place from 29 April to 5 May 2024. #KlookTip: Always book your activities, hotels, and even train tickets way ahead of time if you're planning to visit during Golden Week. Do also expect higher than usual prices for major attractions and hotels.

  16. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT JAPAN?

    SPRING IN JAPAN. Japan's spring season lasts from mid-March to early May, depending on where you visit. Most parts experience fluctuating temperatures with chilly mornings and evenings and warm afternoons. Average temperatures in Tokyo range between 40°F to 79°F (4°C to 23°C).

  17. Best (and Worst) Times to Visit Tokyo in 2024

    The best times to visit Tokyo are in spring (March to May) to enjoy the best scenery of cherry blossoms and in autumn (September to November) to appreciate the charming colorful foliage. August is the hottest month in Tokyo with an average daily high of about 31°C (88°F). The coldest month is January, with an average daily high of 10°C (50°F).

  18. 15 things to know before traveling to Japan

    5. Learn how to use a bidet toilet. Called "washlets," Japan's high-tech, electronic bidet toilets will wash and dry your delicate parts with the touch of a button. (Don't worry about any language barrier; the pictograms on the buttons are easy to understand). Other toilet customs in Japan might throw you for a loop.

  19. Best time to visit Japan: when to go and what to do

    U nless visiting for winter sports or cherry blossom, the best time of the year to visit is in October and November, during Japanese autumn. Hurricane season will be past, the weather will be temperate, and the country's sensational autumnal colours will be at their most striking. Main photo: Sakura and Fujisan (Getty Images)

  20. When to Visit Japan? Bests Times and 2024 Travel Tips

    Winter. Winter in Japan lasts from late December to mid-March with temperatures from 30 to 45 F (0 to 8 C). Winter is great for frugal travelers - if you avoid the holidays, winter is one of the cheapest times to visit Japan. After the holidays pass, mid-January to mid-March is also the least crowded time to visit.

  21. The Ultimate Guide to the Best Time to Travel to Japan

    The Best Time to Travel to Japan: A Seasonal Overview for Japan. best time of year to travel to Japan offers you a wide array of attractions and experiences that vary throughout the year. Japan's diverse climate, ranging from cherry blossoms in spring to snowy landscapes in winter, offers something for everyone. So, pick your favorite season ...

  22. Japan Trip Planner [2024]: How to Plan Your First Trip to Japan

    We've compiled our experience to create a classic Japan itinerary that hits the top destinations for first-time visitors . Our itinerary is spread out over 2 weeks and includes the highlights of Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Osaka, Kyoto and more! We'll send you our complete 2-week itinerary, filled with tips and advice.

  23. 10 Days in Japan: A First-Timer's Complete Japan Itinerary

    Days 1-3: Tokyo. Day 4: day trip from Tokyo. Days 5-6: Kyoto. Day 7: Nara and Osaka. Day 8: Miyajima and Hiroshima. Day 9: morning in Kyoto → Tokyo. Day 10: Tokyo in morning/afternoon → airport. Japan is a decently large-sized island country located in Eastern Asia, being slightly smaller than California .

  24. Travel influencer couple drowns in heartbreaking scene in Japan

    A travel influencer couple tragically drowned together last month in a Japanese river after the wife jumped in to save him. A family member confirmed the deaths of Tsubasa Ito and wife Teitei in a ...

  25. 3 big mistakes people traveling to Japan make, according to ...

    Grace Cheng, a 22-year-old travel blogger based in NYC, has visited Japan 11 times. She said travelers going to Japan for the first time consistently make a few mistakes.

  26. Millennial Spent $38k to Travel With Dog to Japan on a Private Jet

    Hong Kong investment banker Gladys Tsoi, 29, has taken her adopted toy poodle to Japan twice this year. For the second trip, she spent $38,000 to fly on a private jet with her dog. She hopes to ...

  27. Takeaways from Biden's critical solo news conference

    President Joe Biden on Thursday participated in the most high-stakes news conference of his political career on the sidelines of the NATO summit, aiming to convince his detractors and supporters ...

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    New Zealanders do not need a visa to visit France and can vist visa-free on holiday or business for up to 90 days per 180-day period. However, to enter the Schengen area (which France is a part of ...

  29. Assassination Attempt on Trump Seems Likely to Tear America Further

    The attack on former President Donald J. Trump comes at a time when the United States is already polarized along ideological and cultural lines and is split, it often seems, into two realities.

  30. Biden says America 'must not go down this road' after Trump

    Trump said Sunday that "God alone" had spared him from Saturday's brazen assassination attempt, the likes of which America had not seen since President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded 43 years ago.