Deciding when to visit your chosen destination is one of the most important decisions in travel planning.
Japan has 4 distinct seasons and so your experience will be very different from season to season. Knowing what to expect in each season will help you find the best time to visit.
In Japan, March, April and May are classified as Spring, while summer is June, July and August. September, October and November fall under the season of Autumn. And when we say winter, we usually think of December, January and February.
Spring - March, April and May
What’s good to know is that Japan’s year begins in April.
That’s when a new fiscal year starts for major corporations and companies in Japan.
That’s why the beginning of April is the time when new graduates start their job, while some other employees are transferred to a new office.
Also, a new school year kicks off in April and so does an academic year for universities.
So, Japanese people usually think of a new beginning or a fresh start for April.
The landscape that’s strongly associated with this is cherry blossoms because cherry blossoms are usually in bloom when entrance ceremonies and welcome parties are taking place.
Some of these parties are actually held under the cherry blossom trees, which is called Ohanami, which literally means cherry blossom viewing.
Sakura or cherry blossom flowers only last for one week or two at most. Sakura flowers tend to fall off by strong wind or rain. Their flowers are pale pink, which is considered more of Japanese beauty.
Japanese people have traditionally appreciated the cherry blossoms, as they compared the short-lived fragile flowers to the transience of their life.
When sakura flowers are beginning to turn green, other types of flowers will start to bloom, including azalea, wisteria and iris flowers.
Apart from flowers, rice planting takes place in May, in most parts of the main Honshu island.
Rice farming is strongly linked to Japanese lifestyles. Rice is Japan’s staple food and you can see rice fields almost everywhere in Japan.
That’s why many spring festivals are taking place in order to pray for a good harvest.
Summer - June, July and August
The rice planting will be completed before the rainy season starts in June.
During the rainy season, what brightens up a day is hydrangea flowers. Their variety is huge and this is the symbol of June for the Japanese.
After the rainy season, the typhoon season kicks off. This usually lasts until early October.
It doesn’t mean typhoons are hitting every single week during this time of the year. What should be expected is that the weather is hard to predict and changeable during this time. Heavy rain and wind are expected when typhoons are approaching and public transport may be suspended.
When typhoons are not approaching, many parts of the Honshu island are experiencing a hot temperature, which is just the perfect time to see yellow sunflowers receiving lots of sunshine.
Autumn - September, October and November
Towards the end of August through early October, rice harvesting will be held. The golden rice fields are the symbol of early autumn in Japan.
Many autumn shinto festivals are meant to appreciate and celebrate the good harvest.
In my opinion, rice harvesting is one example that symbolises the countryside landscape, which is the heart of Japanese people.
As we enter October, mountains go red and yellow, starting from the northern part of Japan. Ginko’s yellow and maples’ red are major examples.
In cities such as Kyoto and Tokyo, the best coloured leave season is mid to late November through the first week of December, although it depends on each year.
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Winter - December, January and February
From December to February, we have snow. Depending on where you visit, the volume of snowfall varies. Generally speaking, the Japan seaside area has more snow than the Pacific Coastal area.
From around February to March when the lowest temperature is still below 10 degree celsius, plum blossoms start to bloom, which is great news that the cold winter is almost over.
Towards the end of March, we wait patiently for cherry blossoms to bloom, which is the arrival of spring.
Please note that what’s mentioned in this article mainly refers to the landscapes of the main Honshu island, especially the Kanto, Chubu and Kansai regions.
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