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Discover the best times to visit Japan

Japan’s summers are hot and humid, whereas winters are bitterly cold and snowy. Therefore, the best times to visit Japan are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when temperatures are mild.

However, spring and autumn are also the most popular times to visit, when tourists flock to Japan’s picturesque castles, gardens and parks to see the spaces adorned in cherry blossom pinks or the warm tones of falling leaves.

Spring in Japan

The southern islands of Okinawa are the first to pop pink with sakura (cherry blossoms), with the trend moving north throughout March and early April, finally reaching the northern island of Hokkaido in early May.

After a couple of weeks, the petals start to fall from the trees, creating a snow-like flutter of blossoms, which make you feel like you’ve stepped into a piece of Japanese art.

Japan also places a special cultural importance on the changing of the seasons, with traditions such as spring-time’s hanami. The Japanese gather under cherry blossom trees for picnics to celebrate the temporal beauty of nature.

Summer in Japan

Temperatures soar up to 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit), topped up with a heavy humidity which can make sightseeing quite uncomfortable.

Summer is also the best time to see many of the country’s traditional festivals (matsuri) and to take part in a mountain hike.

Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri runs throughout July, with a big parade on the 17th. Tenjin Matsuri takes place on 24th and 25th July, which is one of Japan’s biggest festivals and includes a parade of shrines, boats and a firework display.

Autumn in Japan

The changing leaves start in the north in September, moving southwards throughout the country, turning green to reds, yellows and oranges.

The fall foliage (kouyou) is best seen in national parks such as Hakone, as well as the ancient former capitals Kyoto and Nara, where the leaves complement the historical architecture.

Winter in Japan

Winter may be the coldest season, but it’s also the quietest – ideal for those who prefer to sightsee without the crowds. You may have some spots all to yourself, even more beautiful for being dusted with a layer of snow.

If you’re beginning to feel the chill, simply take a dip in the steaming volcanic waters of a natural hot spring bath or cuddle up with a warm sake and watch the snowflakes cascade down.

Furthermore, Japan is a great destination for snow sports. The mountain landscapes, aided by icy winds blowing over from Siberia, create an epic and reliable location for luxury skiing resorts.

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