Four images to represent the four seasons side by side, including sakura blossoms for spring, a sunflower for summer, autumn leaves for fall, and icicles for winter.

From Cherry Blossoms to Autumn Leaves: Japan Travel for Every Season

As you may have heard, the US dollar and other currencies are extremely strong compared to the Japanese yen right now! You can travel to Japan and enjoy shopping at an affordable price for the first time in decades. While you can shop for your favorite Japanese goodies from the comfort of your own home on online shops like MiauMall, you can also make the trip to our lovely country! But when is the best time to travel to Japan?

Exploring Japan's Four Seasons

Spring in Japan

Everyone knows Japan is famous for its cherry blossoms, and this generally means most people try to see them at the same time. Tokyo and Kyoto get particularly crowded this time of year.

You will also have to watch out for Golden Week, a string of national holidays from late April to early May, when domestic travelers go through the train stations and airports in droves to take advantage of the paid holiday. That said, cherry blossoms only bloom for one week or so and make for beautiful photos. There are also plenty of spring festivals and seasonal cuisines to enjoy.

A young sika deer strolling through Nara Park under cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

A juvenile deer strolling through Nara Park during cherry blossom season. Image via Adobe.

Where to Visit

We recommend checking out Nara Park in Nara City, a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, where you can see deer munch on fallen cherry blossom petals and colorful pink trees around the park. Further south, Nara's Yoshino Mountain features an entire forest of multicolored sakura trees that makes for an excellent photoshoot setting.

Kyoto’s Arashiyama is another gorgeous location to see the blossoms, with a canal that runs through the city. Enjoy a paid boat service or shop at one of the local merchants that line the cobblestone streets and try handmade accessories or matcha-flavored treats. Don’t forget to check out the bamboo forest and monkey park where you can find wild roaming macaques!

Sakura moTwo pieces of sakura mochi and green tea with decorative cherry blossoms.

Sakuramochi is a popular spring treat that uses sakura blossom-dyed mochi. It's filled with sweet red bean and is topped with a pickled sakura leaf for decoration. Image via Adobe.

What to Eat

As Japan comes out of hibernation, some of the best spring foods to try include seasonal strawberries, sakura themed treats (like sakura cookies on MiauMall), fresh sea bream (tai) sashimi, and mountain-foraged vegetables such as kogomi (ostrich fern), shungiku (spring chrysanthemum), and bamboo shoots.

Summer in Japan

Summer is a festive time in Japan for fireworks, beach parties, matsuri (festivals), theme parks such as Tokyo Disneyland and Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan, and music festivals such as Summer Sonic, where top artists from around the world gather to perform to a crowd of 300,000 attendees. Many college and university students enjoy summer activities to celebrate the end of classes, so you may notice a higher number of young people than usual out and about.

A dondoko boat at Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka.
Nothing says Japanese summer like a matsuri. This is the dondoko boat at Tenjin Matsuri, an annual festival held in Osaka and considered one of Japan's must-see matsuri. Image via Adobe.

Japanese summers are notoriously hot and humid, with temperatures reaching as high as 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).  If you decide to brave the heat and humidity, we highly recommend preparing a UV umbrella, a good sunscreen (like the UV skin milks on MiauMall), a hat, and even arm sleeves to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

To avoid dehydration, we recommend grabbing an electrolyte drink like Pocari Sweat or Aquarius from your favorite convenience store. Japan’s rainy season extends from June to July and involves short bursts of rain and high humidity. Don’t forget to stay fresh during your travels with products like cooling body wipes!

Where to Visit

Take a day trip to Enoshima, a scenic island 1.5 hours from Tokyo in Kanagawa prefecture. Whether you prefer to surf at Shōnan Beach, cool off with a swim, or unwind at Enoshima Spa Park, there's something for everyone.

If you're in the Kansai region, check out the wind chimes at Ofusa Kannon Wind Chime Festival in Nara, held in July and August, where you can hear the gentle and soothing sound of hundreds of handmade chimes.

Venture further west to celebrate Awa Odori, a 400-year-old traditional Obon dance festival held in August in Tokushima, drawing around 1.5 million spectators per year.

A matcha parfait with orange slices, plain and matcha shortbread cookies, whipped cream, green tea ice cream, sweet adzuki beans, white mochi, green tea sauce, and a single black bean on top.
This anmitsu parfait is the perfect summer treat, with Japanese flavors like mochi, sweet red beans, green tea ice cream, and other delectable toppings. Image via Adobe.

What to Eat

You won’t want to miss out on kakigōri (shaved ice), seasonal fruits like watermelon and peaches, elaborate parfaits at one of Japan's many cafes (We recommend Parfaiteria PaL in Osaka!), and chilled noodles to cool down. Freshly grilled yakitori (chicken skewers), yakisoba, ikayaki (grilled eel), or kabayaki (grilled eel) with cold beer is pretty great, too!

Fall in Japan

Shiraito Falls, a waterfall in Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan, surrounded by autumn leaves.

Shiraito Falls in Karuizawa, Nagano. With such pretty sites, it's no wonder John Lennon made Karuizawa his summer home. Image via Adobe.

Fall is an excellent time to travel to Japan. Not only are flight prices cheaper than the peak holiday seasons during spring and winter, but you can enjoy the mild and cool weather and indulge in the hearty Japanese dishes only available during the Autumn season. 

Japan is famous for its vibrant fall leaves as they turn from green to deep red, orange, and yellow. There's even a term for appreciating the maple leaves changing color - momijigari ("maple leaf-hunting"). Be mindful that August to October is Japan’s peak typhoon season, characterized by strong winds and rain. Plan back-up indoor activities like shopping, museums, and art exhibitions accordingly.

Where to Visit

See the gorgeous fall foliage with bright red momiji maple leaves in Kyoto, Karuizawa (Nagano prefecture), Nikkō (Tochigi prefecture), and Minoh (Osaka). Try one of the local hot springs, a tea ceremony, a kaiseki multi-course meal, or a shrine pilgrimage (jinja-meguri) to get the Japanese fall experience. Autumn is also the perfect time of year to explore Japan’s great outdoors.

Kabocha, eggplant, and shishito pepper tempura.
This tempura moriawase showcases autumn produce, with green pepper, eggplant, and kabocha squash. Image via Adobe.

What to Eat

Fall is known for its bountiful harvest of seasonal produce, including eggplants, green bell pepper, matsutake mushrooms, and persimmons, as well as fish like Pacific saury (known as sanma in Japanese). Try vegetable tempura, hot pot, and daigakuimo (sweet potato with honey and sesame) to enjoy the best of Japan’s peak harvest period. Check out Don Quixote, Osaka’s famous department store, for piping hot sweet potatoes sold by the hour!

Looking for a taste of Japan at home? Get a brand-new selection of limited-edition Japanese ramen each month to your door with Nakama Noodles! We even have seasonal selections full of the flavors exclusive to that season!

Winter in Japan

Snow sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival held in February in Hokkaido, Japan.

The Sapporo Snow Festival, held in February in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is a feast for the eyes with intricate statues made of tightly packed snow. Image via Adobe.

Japanese winters are fairly mild with light snowfall, with the exception of northern prefectures like Hokkaido, Akita, and Aomori. It's a great time to dine on fresh seafood and hot soups and explore the romantic winter lights that decorate city streets.

Where to Visit

While most Japanese do not celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, you may notice many lights and Santas out and about in large cities. Take a stroll down the high-fashion Omotesandō district, when the tree-lined street is lit up with bright lights to add a sense of winter magic to your trip. Tokyo Disneyland in Chiba often hosts a colorful parade with popular characters donning festive attire in December.

Another option in central Japan is Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano prefecture, where you can get a glimpse of macaques looking for respite from the cold in a hot spring. If you prepare a warm coat and footwear, we recommend Sapporo Snow Festival in February, where giant snow sculptures of popular characters take over the city.

You may want to avoid the New Year's holidays as many Japanese travel to see their families this time of year, but there are plenty of activities to enjoy all winter long.

What to Eat

Warm up with hot dishes, such as nikuman (meat buns) or anman (red bean buns) at your favorite convenience store. Sukiyaki and other hot pot dishes provide a hearty mix of meat, vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, egg, and cellophane noodles.

Japan has a vast array of seafood to enjoy during winter, including oysters, sea urchin, scallops, snow crab, and winter yellowtail. Visiting your local ramen stall is also a great way to warm up during chilly nights!


We went to this outdoor ramen festival in the middle of winter! The noodles and soup kept us warm and toasty.

This guide is only a tidbit of all that Japan has to offer, but we hope that it can provide some useful information for planning your next trip!

What time of year do you think is best to travel to Japan? If you've already been to Japan, would you pick the same season again? Let us know in the comments!

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