Japan, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Cherry blossom or Sakura in Japanese. Those beautiful leaves, ranging from a bright pinky colour to a pure snow white. Only problem they are not round very long. Sometimes only a week depending heavily on the weather. Wind and rain are cherry blossoms biggest enemy. Of course it is spectacular if you can manage to see the spectacle. Drinking warm sake under the cherry blossoms is one of the most enjoyable experiences in Japan. The usually reversed Japanese let their hair down and party in the sakura filled parks (hanami).
With this beauty comes the crowds, while it is certainly worth it. It is always a gamble whether you will be able to see the cherry blossoms in their full glory. Does it really matter? Not really, the weather in Japan during spring is great. Not cold or wet usually fairly warm and sunny. Perfect travelling weather. So spring is a good season even if you miss the Sakura.
Summer in Japan is hot, humid and generally unpleasant weather wise. The one bonus is the spectacular sun sets and rises that occur. There are a lot of bright blue and sunny days. Only a good time for visiting the beach or Hokkaido. Also a lot of festivals are celebrated during this time so it can get quite crowded. With more crowds come higher prices. Also fuelled by school vacations.
Autumn is a great season to visit. The weather is great. Not very crowded and prices are cheaper. As a major bonus. The autumn maple leaves are very beautiful. Maybe not quite as special or Japanese as sakura. A very close second though. The great thing about the autumn colours is they stick around for quite a long time. The shades range from a bright sunny yellow to a dark deep red. You have a much better chance of seeing a colourful leaf backdrop during autumn.
Winter can be a good season to visit, as long as you don’t mind the cold. It does get cold in Japan. Cold enough to snow even in the cities but not very often. Japan has some amazing skiing. Especially in Hokkaido, where world class powder can easily be found. Added bonus, after a hard day on the slopes you have a nice onsen to look forward to.
In conclusion I would recommend spring or autumn as the best seasons to visit Japan for general sightseeing,visiting cities, shrines temples etc. As I may have hinted summer is a bad season to visit, unless you want to spend a lot of time at the beach(Okinawa) or Hokkaido. Summer being the best season for exploring Hokkaido, minus the skiing of course. Spring is my first choice but only slightly. If you have seen the cherry blossoms on a previous trip I would definitely recommend a autumn visit. Some great scenery awaits you. Of course the best season largely depends on what you want to do. If you want some winter skiing, why not venture further afield and experience a totally different culture too.
Author: Jane Goodwill