When is the best time to visit Tokyo?

When is the Best Time to Visit Tokyo?

How to Choose the Best Time to Go to Tokyo?

As one of the greatest cities in the world, there’s never a bad time time to visit Tokyo. But 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. 

Obviously the best time to visit Tokyo for you will come down to a number of factors. How long you intend to visit, what you plan to see and do in Tokyo and, probably most importantly, the size of your budget are all going to affect your Tokyo travel plans. It will also depend on your definition of ‘best’.

When to visit Tokyo: Table of Contents

Tokyo is Different In Every Season

Japan enjoys four very distinct seasons, each varying massively from the next. Spring and autumn are typically warm to mild and usually very sunny. Summer is always hot, humid and can be pretty unpleasant. Winter is colder but often sunny, though the days are short.

Japan embraces each season in a number of different ways and, as a result, visiting Tokyo in the sweltering heat of summer is a very different experience than visiting during the cool and colourful spring or autumn seasons.

When Are the Most Popular Times to Visit Tokyo?

Panoramic view of the Tokyo skyline

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. 

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 very expensive as this is a major public holidays in Japan.

But 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.

Cherry blossom trees along Tokyo's Meguro River

Weather in Spring in Tokyo

The early spring days in March are crisp and usually 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 20°s.

Reasons to Visit Tokyo in Spring

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 Much More to Spring than Cherry Blossoms

However, the cherry blossom season in Tokyo is very short. Japan’s cherry trees bloom or little more than a week before they lose their petals for another year. Even if you miss the cherry blossoms the rest of spring remains one of the best times to visit Tokyo.

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

Spring also sees the colourful bloom of plum blossoms, wisteria and azaleas throughout parks and temples all over Tokyo. In late spring and early summer the city pops with hydrangeas too, meaning that autumn is a wonderful time for nature lovers to visit Tokyo.

A number of major festivals take place at temples across Tokyo in spring too. The Kanda-Matsuri festival and the Sanja Matsuri festival are two of the largest and most spectacular, where packed streets of onlookers watch a procession of parades of portable shrines over a long weekend.

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 week 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 are 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.

Tokyo streets in summer

Tokyo Weather in Summer

The weather in summer in Tokyo is far from ideal for visiting tourists. June to July is Tokyo’s rainy season, when grey skies and heavy rain makes the city a washout.  

After the rainy season temperatures and humidity in Tokyo both soar. From July to September daily temperatures are in the high 20°s and often reach into the low 30°s, whilst humidity can rise to between 70-80%. The high temperatures and humidity make criss-crossing the city an incredibly uncomfortable and sweaty experience. Heatstroke is also a common concern. 

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.

Reasons to Visit Tokyo in 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 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

Despite all of the festivities, summer is often considered to be the worst time to visit Tokyo. If you’re thinking of heading to Tokyo during the summer there are a number of things you need to keep in mind.

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.

The Weather

As already mentioned, the weather in Tokyo during the summer is typically the least favourable of all of the seasons. Depending on which part of the summer you spend in Tokyo you can either expect torrential rain and heavy winds or very hot days mixed with high humidity. Of all of the seasons, the weather in Tokyo in summer is the hardest to endure.

The Cost

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 go to Tokyo.

Tokyo Weather in Autumn

The temperature and climate in Tokyo in autumn are the perfect antidote to summertime’s rollercoaster of heat, humidity and rain. The humidity drops and temperatures range from the mid 20s in October to the high teens by the end of November. Days are mostly sunny with glorious skies, making those stunning autumn colours pop. 

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 beautiful range of colours. Day trips from Tokyo to places such as Kamakura or Nikko are made even more spectacular by autumn’s astonishing colours.

The Cost

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.

The Climate

As already mentioned, 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.

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.

Tokyo Weather in Winter

Whilst there are the occasional overcast days the winter in Tokyo often features bright blue sunny skies and clean crisp air. The temperature in winter drops noticeably with the highest temperatures around 12 degrees.

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.

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 to welcome in the new year. 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. 

Winter Might Be Too Cold For Some

Though blue skies and sunshine are a staple of Tokyo’s winters, the cold temperatures might not be to everybody’s liking. Naturally winter is by far the coldest time of year to visit Tokyo.

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 being the best time of year in terms of weather, it’s also a slightly less expensive time of year to visit compared to the cherry blossom season and spring. Unlike in the summer and winter, no major holidays or festivals take place in Japan during the autumn. 

•  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 colours as well as some of the best weather of the year.

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