Japan Through The Seasons: When to Travel for Cherry Blossom and Autumn Leaves
Like the UK, Japan has four distinct seasons, each offering its own natural beauty and unique experiences. From the cherry blossoms of spring and the lush greenery of summer, to the red autumn leaves and the snowy winter landscapes, you can experience immense natural beauty all year round. Below we’ve put together a guide of each season, to help you best plan your luxury trip to Japan:
Cherry Blossom Season (Sakura) in Japan, typically from late March to early April, transforms parks, gardens, and streets into pink paradises. The mild weather is ideal for hanami (flower viewing). Key locations include Tokyo (Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen), Kyoto (Maruyama Park, Philosopher's Path), and Hiroshima (Peace Memorial Park). For those missing the early season, Hokkaido offers cherry blossoms around late April to early May. It's advisable to avoid Golden Week, a busy holiday period in late April to early May, for a more tranquil experience.
Summer in Japan is known for its spectacular firework displays (“hanabi”) and vibrant summer festivals (“matsuri”) featuring traditional dances, parades, food stalls and fireworks - a fantastic time to immerse yourself in the country’s traditions. It’s also the season for hiking in the Japanese Alps, or visiting the beaches in Okinawa or along the Sea of Japan coast. However, be prepared for the heat and humidity which can be particularly intense in July and August.
From late September to early December, Japan transforms into a beautiful canvas of red, orange and gold as autumn foliage (koyo) takes over. The weather is cooler now, making it an excellent time for exploring temples, gardens and the countryside. Idyllic spots for autumn leaves include Kyoto (Arashiyama, Kiyomizu-dera), Nara (Nara Park), and Nikko (Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji).
Winter brings snow to many parts of Japan. Northern regions such as Hokkaido and Tohoku transform into winter wonderlands, making them popular spots for fantastic skiing, snowboarding and soaking in “onsens” (hot springs). Festivals like Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido with its spectacular ice sculptures, and illuminations across Tokyo and Osaka add a magical touch to the season. New Year or “shogatsu” is a significant celebration in Japan with people participating in “hatsumode”, the first shrine visit of the year.
Japan is captivating all year round, so regardless of when you visit, you're likely to have a wonderful experience. Whether you’re interested in nature, festivals, outdoor activities or seasonal cuisine, we’re here to help you plan the perfect luxury holiday to Japan.