When is the best time to visit Tokyo?

When is the Best Time to Visit Tokyo?

How to Decide When to Go to Tokyo

If you’re planning your first trip to Japan’s captivating capital you may be trying to figure out when is the best time to visit Tokyo.

As one of the greatest cities in the world, there’s rarely a bad time time to visit Tokyo. However, it’s fair to say that certain times of the year have an advantage over others.

When to Visit Tokyo: Table of Contents

Japan enjoys four very distinct seasons, each of which varies massively from the last. 

Visiting Tokyo in the sweltering heat of summer is a very different experience than visiting during the cool and colourful spring or autumn seasons.

Certain times of year are much busier than others, and the cost of travel and accommodation in Tokyo is more expensive during peak travel seasons.

For these reason we’ve come up with this detailed season by season guide to help you decide the best time to visit Tokyo.

Panoramic view of the Tokyo skyline

When is the Best Time to Go to Tokyo? A Season by Season Guide

We’ve listed all of the pros and cons about visiting Tokyo in each season so that you can decide on when is the best time to visit Tokyo for you.

Tokyo in Spring

  • When is spring in Tokyo? March to May.

  • Spring is always one of the busiest and best times to visit Tokyo.

Why You Should Visit Tokyo in Spring

   ✅  See the beautiful cherry blossoms
   ✅  Plenty more colourful flowers in bloom
   ✅  Great weather
   ✅  Flights and accommodation can be cheap outside cherry blossom season

Why You Should Avoid Tokyo in Spring

   ❌ Large crowds and high costs during cherry blossom season
   ❌ Golden Week

Reasons to Visit Tokyo in Spring

Cherry blossom trees along Tokyo's Meguro River

Go Wild for Tokyo's Cherry Blossoms

Spring is one of Tokyo’s tourist high seasons, thanks to the beautiful cherry blossom season that sweeps right across Japan each year.

The cherry blossom season in Tokyo usually begins in the last week of March lasting into the first week of April, but this can vary dramatically depending on the climate.

Sakura season is a wonderful time to be in Tokyo. Parks and well-known cherry blossom hot spots are filled with groups of families and friends who get together to for a spot of hanami.

There's More to Spring than Cherry Blossoms

Although the cherry blossom season in Tokyo is very short, there are plenty of other flowers in bloom through spring.

Though cherry blossoms might steal the headlines, Tokyo’s equally beautiful plum blossoms come into bloom earlier in the season. Many people prefer plum blossoms over the sakura, which produce flowers of a richer and more varied range of colours.

Azaleas at Nezu Shrine in Tokyo
The azaleas in full bloom at Nezu Shrine in Spring

Spring also sees the colourful bloom of wisteria and azaleas in parks and in the grounds of shrines and temples all over Tokyo.

In late spring and early summer the city pops with hydrangeas too, meaning that the whole season is a wonderful time for nature lovers to visit Tokyo.

The Weather in Spring in Tokyo is Perfect

The excellent weather is another incentive to visit Tokyo in spring.

The early spring days in March are usually crisp and sunny. Temperatures generally rise to the low teens but you can expect to see some cloud and rain.

From the middle of spring beautifully sunny days combine with warmer temperatures that are typically in the high teens.

By May the temperatures are noticeably warmer, usually peaking around the low 20s °C/high 60s °F.

Flights and Hotels Can Be Cheaper Outside of Sakura Season

The cost of flights and accommodation in early and late spring – essentially either side of sakura season – are generally a little less expensive than the peak cherry blossom rush.

If you’re looking to visit Tokyo in the spring but are keen to keep costs down, you can usually find a good deal if you look to travel around the first few weeks of March or towards the end of May.

Reasons to Avoid Tokyo in Spring

There are a few downsides to visiting Tokyo in the spring.

Large Crowds and High Costs

Because the cherry blossom season is so short and spectacular, it is also incredibly popular, leading to an influx of tourists from all over the world.

In Tokyo the most popular tourist sites become heavily crowded during the cherry blossom season, and you can expect to jostle your way around most of the major sights.

Cherry blossom viewing in Shinjuku Gyoen Park Tokyo

Due to the demand, the week or so around sakura season is also one of the most expensive for flights to and accommodation in Tokyo. If you’re on a tight budget then there are much more affordable times of year to visit the city. 

Golden Week

Golden Week is the term given to the four almost consecutive national holidays that occur at the end of April and the beginning of May every year.

The 29th April and the 3rd, 4th and 5th May are all public holidays in Japan, and this is not great news if you happen to be in Tokyo in the middle of it.

One of the biggest holiday periods in Japan, Golden Week is one of the busiest times in the year for travel.

During Golden Week many Japanese travel within Japan and, to a lesser extent, overseas. Airports, trains and hotels are packed with holiday makers and a large number of businesses in Tokyo also close for the entirety of Golden Week. 

Rates for hotels and train and air fares are hiked up massively during Golden Week and are often sold out months in advance, making Golden Week one of the worst times of the year to visit Tokyo.

Tokyo in Summer

  • When is summer in Tokyo? June to September.

  • The weather in Tokyo in summer may be too much for some, but the festivals and fireworks might draw you in.

Why You Should Visit Tokyo in Summer

   ✅  See traditional summer festivals and fireworks
   ✅  Climb Mount Fuji

Why You Should Avoid Tokyo in Summer

   ❌  The weather 
   ❌  The summer holidays
   ❌  Flights and accommodation are expensive

Reasons to Visit Tokyo in Summer

Tokyo in the summer

A Season of Festivals and Fireworks

Summer is a season of celebration in Japan, and especially in Tokyo.

Throughout the summer, countless traditional festivals are held over several days in the grounds of temples and shrines all over the city.

Many of these age-old festivals, such as Sensoji Temple’s Sanya Matsuri or the Koenji Awa Odori Festival, combine traditional rituals of dance, music and street processions where portable shrines are carried through the local neighbourhoods.

Summer festivals go on late into the night, with temple grounds lit by lanterns and countless street food stands selling all kinds of delicious traditional Japanese snacks.

Huge fireworks displays are another summer tradition famous throughout Japan, and Tokyo is no exception. By far the most spectacular fireworks display in Tokyo is the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival near Asakusa.

Held on the last Saturday of July, the fireworks display at Sumidagawa lasts for around an hour and a half and draw huge crowds across a wide stretch of eastern Tokyo.

Visit in Summer to Climb Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

If you plan on hiking to the peak of Japan’s most famous mountain then summer is the (only) time to do it. Mount Fuji’s hiking trails are only open during the summer months, from July to early September. 

As the weather and conditions are too dangerous outside of the summer, climbing to the top of Fujisan is strictly forbidden at all other times of the year.

Therefore, if you want to tick off a bucketlist ambition and scale Mount Fuji, you’ll need to visit in the summer.

Reasons to Avoid Tokyo in Summer

Summer’s not great if you don’t like the heat.

The Weather in Summer is Horrible

Of all of the seasons, the weather in Tokyo in summer is the hardest to endure.

High temperatures and humidity make criss-crossing the city an incredibly uncomfortable and sweaty experience.

In summer commuters are armed with hand towels mopping up the sweat from their brow. Many people carry traditional or electric handheld fans to try and beat the heat. Vending machines often sell out of water and heatstroke is also a common concern.

As well as the heat, June to July is Tokyo’s rainy season. Grey skies and heavy rain often makes the city a washout. After the rainy season temperatures and humidity in Tokyo both soar, and the heat becomes brutal.

Temperatures reach the mid to high 30s °C (around 95 °F) and the humidity often rises to as high as anywhere between 70-80%, making the real feel temperature seem several degrees higher.

The summer is also when Japan is threatened by typhoons. Though typhoons only rarely reach Tokyo, torrential rains and fierce winds can sometimes hit the city around August or September, typically lasting for around two or three days, and often causing delayed or cancelled flights in and out of Japan. 

Summer Holidays in Japan

In Japan the school summer holidays usually stretch from around the 20th July to the end of August.

During that time many many Japanese travel, either within Japan or overseas as parents take time off from work to enjoy some of the summer with their family. 

As a result, Tokyo becomes even busier than usual and many popular tourist spots can become crowded, especially during festival season, despite the heat.

Travel to Tokyo is Expensive in Summer

Despite the storms, the unforgiving heat, the threat of typhoons, and the summer holiday crowds, summer is still one of the most expensive times to visit Tokyo.

Because of the summer holidays in Japan, flights to Japan and accommodation are still expensive in the summertime. If the weather and crowds don’t put you off visiting Tokyo in the summer then the cost might.

Visiting Tokyo in Autumn

  • When is autumn in Tokyo? September to November.

  • For many people autumn is the best time to visit Tokyo.

Why You Should Visit Tokyo in Autumn

   ✅  See Tokyo’s gorgeous autumn colours
   ✅  Autumn has the best weather of all the seasons
   ✅  Autumn is one of the most affordable times to visit Tokyo

Why You Should Avoid Tokyo in Autumn

   ❌  . . . . . 

Reasons to Visit Tokyo in Autumn

Fall in Love with Tokyo's Autumn Colours

Whilst international tourists might flock to Japan for the cherry blossoms of spring, the Japanese celebrate the colours of autumn with just as much vigour.

Come autumn Tokyo’s many traditional gardens, parks, temples and shrines turn a breathtaking range of yellow, orange and red. 

There’s even an autumnal version of hanami, called momijigari, where people admire Japan’s trees and forests as they turn a variety of beautiful of colours.

To really enjoy the season’s sensational colours, take a day trip from Tokyo to see the gorgeous forests around Kamakura or Nikko and see why the Japanese love autumn just as much as spring.

The Weather in Autumn is Excellent

The climate in Tokyo in autumn is the perfect antidote to summertime’s rollercoaster of heat, humidity and rain.

The temperatures and frequent sunny days makes visiting Tokyo in autumn a joy. With the heat and humidity of summer gone, there’s no better time to explore Tokyo

The humidity drops and temperatures range from the mid 20s ºC/ mid 70s ºF in October and dropping a few degrees by the end of November. Days are mostly sunny with glorious skies, making those stunning autumn colours pop. 

Autumn is One of the Cheaper Times to Visit Tokyo

Though a popular time of year to visit Tokyo, autumn remains one of the more affordable seasons to visit the city.

On the whole flights to Tokyo are typically much more reasonable than during the summer. Prices for hotel rooms are also cheaper in autumn.

Reasons to Avoid Tokyo in Autumn

There Aren't Any........

Really, there are virtually no downsides to visiting Tokyo in the autumn.

The temperature does drop a little towards the end of the season as it gets nearer to winter, and nights can be a little chilly, but otherwise autumn is pretty much the perfect time to visit Tokyo. 

Unless you plan to visit Tokyo at a specific time of year – such as the cherry blossom season – then you should definitely consider autumn as a contender for the best time to visit Tokyo. 

Tokyo in Winter

  • When is Winter in Tokyo? December to February.

  • Winter is the least crowded and the cheapest times of year to visit Tokyo.

Why You Should Visit Tokyo in Winter

   ✅  See Tokyo’s winter illuminations
   ✅  Winter is the cheapest time of year to visit Tokyo
   ✅  Enjoy Tokyo without the crowds

Why You Should Avoid Tokyo in Winter

   ❌  A lot shuts down over the New Year Period 
   ❌  The winter weather might be too cold for some

Reasons to Visit Tokyo in Winter

Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens in Tokyo in winter
The rare sight of snow in winter in Tokyo at Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens in Tokyo

See Tokyo's Winter Illuminations

Though Christmas is still quite an alien concept in Japan, each winter huge areas of Tokyo are lit up with typically festive lights and illuminations

If you’re heading to Tokyo in December, visit popular shopping areas such as Roppongi, Ometesando, Ginza and Shinjuku which are always heavily draped in twinkling Christmas lights at this time of year. 

Winter is The Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Tokyo

As winter is the least popular time of year for tourists to visit Tokyo, it also means that this is the cheapest season to visit the city. January and February are possibly the most affordable months in the calendar for a trip to Tokyo. 

If you’re on a budget and looking for the cheapest time of year to visit Tokyo then it’s definitely January and February.  

See Tokyo Without the Crowds

Less visitors inevitably means that Tokyo is a lot less crowded during the winter. If you want to enjoy Tokyo at your own pace without hordes of tourists then winter is the perfect time of year.

Embrace the winter chill with a warming dip at an onsen before filling up with a sumptuous bowl of hot ramen in the (relative) tranquility of Tokyo at its least crowded.

Obviously if you’re not a huge fan of cold weather then winter won’t be the time of year for you. But if you’re looking for a quieter time to visit Tokyo that’s a lot kinder on the wallet, you should think about booking a winter trip.

Reasons to Avoid Tokyo in Winter

Gokokuji Temple in Tokyo in winter

The New Year Period is a Major National Holiday

If you’re thinking of visiting Tokyo for the New Year period be aware that this is one of the major holidays in Japan, similar to Golden Week. Many Japanese people travel across the country to welcome in the new year with their families.

The period before and after the 1st and 3rd January is very busy for travel in Japan, with flights, trains and roads packed with people criss-crossing the country to spend time with loved ones before returning home to the big cities. 

Also, many businesses close from around the 28th December to the 3rd January, as do a number of the city’s main tourist sites.

If you plan to be in Tokyo over the new year period you may want to check in advance to see what will be open. 

You Might Find Winter to Be Too Cold

Though blue skies and sunshine are a staple of Tokyo’s winters, the colder temperatures might not be to everybody’s liking.

Naturally winter is by far the coldest time of year to visit Tokyo. The temperature in winter drops noticeably, with the highest temperatures usually around 12 ºC/54 ºF.

However, while there are the occasional overcast days, the winter in Tokyo often sees bright blue sunny skies and clean crisp air. 

Daylight hours are noticeably shorter, but overall winter is pleasant and blessed with sunshine. Winter is also the driest season in Tokyo and usually sees very little rain.

While it rarely ever gets cold enough to snow in Tokyo – unlike in Sapporo – if you prefer things a little bit warmer you might want to think about visiting in either the spring or the autumn instead.

So When is the Best Time to Visit Tokyo?

  The best time to go to Tokyo is autumn.

As well as enjoying the best weather, it’s also a slightly less expensive time of year to visit compared to the cherry blossom season and the summer. 

•  Spring is a close runner up and the second best time of year to go to Tokyo.

While the cherry blossom season is incredibly busy and one of the most expensive times to visit the city, the rest of spring also features beautiful seasonal colours as well as some of the best weather of the year.

When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Tokyo?

The cheapest time to visit Tokyo is during the winter.

Between December and early March is when the cost of airfare and accommodation is at its most affordable in the city.

However, the New Year period is a major public holiday in Japan, when many businesses close down between the end of December to the beginning of January.

When Are the Most Popular Times to Visit Tokyo?

The most popular times to visit Tokyo are in the spring and summer.

The spectacular but very short cherry blossom season each spring is always the major draw for tourists and one of the busiest times of year for overseas visitors to Tokyo.

Due to the timing of school holidays overseas, Tokyo is also a very popular destination in the summer, despite this being the hottest and most humid time of year. 

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