When is the best time to visit Tokyo?
When is the best time to visit Tokyo? This is something that all my friends who have planned a trip to Tokyo have asked me. So when IS the best time to visit Tokyo?
It’s a good question, to be fair. Most people will probably say…
When the cherry blossoms bloom, of course! Also known as Sakura.
But there are other times to visit Tokyo that are lovely too. Japan famously has four distinct seasons, each with different weather and a ton of unique festivals to experience.
When to visit Japan all depends on you and what you like. So, to give you an idea of when may be the perfect time for you, I’ve made this handy guide to get you started so you can figure out when is the best time to visit Tokyo for you!
Spring in Japan
Springtime is the classic season to visit Japan. You probably guessed already, but this is cherry blossom season.
Cherry trees, called sakura in Japanese, start to blossom usually between March and early April. But it can change depending on the weather. It’s such an important part of the Japanese calendar that there’s even a segment on the weather dedicated to predicting what parts of the country will see peak cherry blossom at what time.
Tokyo weather in spring (roughly March to May) is pretty pleasant. It’s probably the best time of year, hovering around the late teens, with average temperatures hitting over 70 degrees Farenheit once May rolls around.
As a heads up, you definitely won’t be the only tourist here. Japanese people also love to enjoy cherry blossoms. There’s a word for it: hanami. Literally meaning “flower viewing,” this is when friends, families, and co-workers set out tarps and have picnics underneath the blossoming trees.
Sakura is pretty awesome and my family and I were lucky enough to experience it in Tokyo a few years ago. If you’re going during Sakura, be sure to check out my guide: Best places to view cherry blossoms in Tokyo.
Another thing to watch out for is the dreaded Golden Week. A bunch of national holidays happen to fall around the same time late April to early May, resulting in national travel chaos and creating packed trains and busy hotels…Best to avoid, if you can!
Summer in Japan
Summer in Japan starts with the rainy season, or tsuyu, in June.
And then it gets hot. Real hot. Until about mid-September… which is then typhoon season!
The temperature in Tokyo rarely dips below 85 degrees the whole time, and don’t even get me started on the humidity. That is like some Hong Kong humidity!
Summer could be seen as one of the worst times to visit Tokyo. The heat is stifling and you will honestly want to spend literally all your time in the safety of air conditioning. All those indoor food malls will really come in clutch!
But if you can get over the crazy heat and humidity, there are some fun things going on in Tokyo in the summer.
Kids head to local parks to catch bugs in the summer months, and there are a ton of traditional festivals.
Tanabata (July 7) is beautiful! Shrines get decked out with glass wind chimes that sound like an actual dream.
There’s also Obon. This Tokyo event is a seemingly neverending procession of different night time festivities across August, in which locals dance slowly around drum towers, eat street food, and drink sake.
Various harvest festivals start in September, with local shrines dedicated to the Shinto god Hachiman hosting vendors, fun fair games, and live music.
Fall in Japan
Like springtime in Tokyo, fall is another gorgeous changing of the seasons. Instead of blossom, there are the fall colors to look forward to!
Leaf peeping, called Momijigari (“Leaf hunting”) in Japanese, is something that people in this island nation love to do. So if you love it too, you’ll feel at home with the other Tokyoites hitting up the finest spots in town to see Japanese maples turn red and giant ginkgo trees burst into golden yellows.
There are plenty of day trips from Tokyo that you can make to get the full effect. Nikko, for example, is a paradise of fall colors in October!
If you can’t make it that far, the Imperial Palace East Gardens make for a beautiful autumn stroll. Elsewhere, Rikugi-en is a traditional Japanese garden whose fall colors are illuminated in the fall months. Another great spot for leaf-peeping is Koshikawa Koraku-en, a traditional Edo-era landscape garden right near Tokyo Dome.
Fall is a good time to visit Tokyo, since things finally start to cool down from the mid-70s in September to the mid-50s by the end of November.
After the sun goes down, nights can feel pretty chilly. My advice is to layer up!
Winter in Japan
No more red and yellow leaves of fall, and at this point, cherry blossom season feels a long way off…
Winter might not seem the best time to visit Tokyo, especially if you read all the travel guides telling you about the top cherry blossom spots.
But they’re wrong!
The holiday season in Tokyo means… illuminations!
Even though it’s not a national holiday, Tokyo really takes top marks for its Christmas celebrations. From Christmas music in malls and shopping streets to romantic strings of lights through lines of wintry trees, there’s nothing stopping Japan’s festive spirit!
New Year is a big deal for Japanese people, and being half Japanese myself, I’d love to be in Japan for new years someday!
At midnight on December 31, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times (once for every “worldly sin,” of course!) and people line up at Shinto shrines for hatsumōde—the first shrine visit and prayer of the New Year.
Winter in Tokyo is cold—like, 50 degrees cold—with lows of almost freezing. Scarfs, gloves, hats coats, sweaters…pack warm, people.
But it’s not cold enough for the sorts of snow festivals they throw up in the freezing north of Japan…Anyway, that’s a post for another day!
I hope that you’ve learned from my guide that Tokyo is an amazing city to visit all year round (but like, maybe put summer at the bottom of your ideal travel times).
It seems like every week there’s a holiday or some seasonal event just around the corner to celebrate!
If you really hate hot, humid weather… steer clear in summer. If you don’t like the cold, avoid Tokyo in winter.
For everyone who would rather just see what Tokyo has to offer whenever they’ve got the time off, then there’s no wrong time to visit.
Show me your tales of Tokyo—I’m @wtfab on Insta, so just hit me up if you have questions or tag me in a Story while you’re in Tokyo!
Traveling to Tokyo? Be sure to check out my other Tokyo travel guides!
What to Do in Tokyo: A Complete Guide to Tokyo and Six-Day Itinerary
Best Places to View Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo Review (one of the most amazing hotels in Tokyo)
Best Time to Visit Tokyo
11 Things You Need to Put on Your Tokyo Itinerary