Cherry Blossoms in Lake Kawaguchiko

Spring in Japan – a Complete Guide

Cherry Blossoms in Lake Kawaguchiko

On spring break? Consider Japan. The weather isn't too hot or too cold, the cherry blossoms are blooming and Japan has a lot of springtime activities to offer. Read our guide to find out more.

Tokyo Cherry Blossoms

Photo Credit: Yoshikazu TAKADA via Flickr cc

Spring, or haru (春) in Japanese, is one of the most popular seasons in Japan, especially with the blooming of the short-lived sakura (cherry blossom). In addition to hanami (flower viewing parties), Japan has a lot to offer in terms of springtime activities. With our guide, get to know the ins and outs of spring in Japan:

When is Spring in Japan?

Spring Weather in Japan and What to Wear

Hanami in Japan

Spring Flower Festivals in Japan

Other Spring Festivals in Japan

More Things to Do in Spring in Japan

Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto in Spring

Getting Around Japan

When

Contrary to western calendars, spring in Japan starts in February and ends in May. The start is marked by a spring festival called Setsubun. Other notable occasions include Golden Week (April 29-May 5). Avoid traveling during this period as the whole of Japan – from students to salarymen – is on holiday. 

Spring also coincides with several unofficial seasons: 

Strawberry Season

Strawberry Picking in Japan

Photo Credit: jenthero via Flickr cc

This is when strawberries are ripe for the picking. Enjoy picking and eating strawberries at one of the many strawberry farms throughout Japan.

Hay Fever Season

Hay Fever Season in Japan

Photo Credit: J3SSL33 via Flickr cc

For a hassle-free vacation, wear a mask to protect yourself from hay fever. Don’t worry about standing out, millions of Japanese will be doing the same.   

Weather and What to Wear

 

February Weather Forecast of the Major Cities
Cities Lowest (°F) Average (°F) Highest (°F) Rainfall Days Precipitation (mm)
Sapporo 18 25  31  14  94 
Sendai 28 34 42  49 
Tokyo 35 42 49 7 60
Nagoya 32 40 49  64 
Osaka 36 42 49 7 46
Hiroshima 33 40 48 8 59
Fukuoaka 37 44  50  13  72
Okinawa 57 61 66 13  106

As you can see, February is still cold, especially in the north, with temperatures dropping below freezing. The northernmost (Sapporo) and southernmost (Okinawa) regions receive significant amounts of rainfall during this month. 

Since February temperatures can dip below freezing in some regions, wear a hat, scarf, gloves and a thick coat for proper insulation. Also be sure to pack waterproof clothing for rainy days. 

 

March Weather Forecast of the Major Cities
Cities Lowest (°F) Average (°F) Highest (°F) Rainfall Days Precipitation (mm)
Sapporo 25 32 38 12 82
Sendai 32 40 48 8 68
Tokyo 40 47 55 10 100
Nagoya 37 46  55  110
Osaka 40 47 55 11 102
Hiroshima 38 46 55 10 109
Fukuoaka 42 49 57 16 122
Okinawa 60 65 69 12 162

Come March, temperatures are easing up but still cold. Rainfall is also on the rise except in Sapporo.

Similar to February, dress warm. However, waterproof clothing plays a more important role since rainfall is on the rise.

 

April Weather Forecast of the Major Cities
Cities Lowest (°F) Average (°F) Highest (°F) Rainfall Days Precipitation (mm)
Sapporo 36 44 52 10 62
Sendai 42 50 59 9 94
Tokyo 50 57 65 11 125
Nagoya 48 57  67  10  151 
Osaka 50 58 67 10 134
Hiroshima 48 56 65 10 164
Fukuoaka 51 58 66 15 126
Okinawa 65 70  75   12 152

Temperatures are getting significantly warmer and rainfall is still on the rise. 

Unless you’re traveling to Sapporo and Sendai you can leave your thick coats at home; a nice jacket will suffice. As always, waterproof clothing is a must.

 

May Weather Forecast of the Major Cities
Cities Lowest (°F) Average (°F) Highest (°F) Rainfall Days Precipitation (mm)
Sapporo 45 54 63 8 55
Sendai 51 59 67 10 109
Tokyo 59 65 73 12 138
Nagoya 57 65 75 11 157
Osaka 59 67 75 11 139
Hiroshima 56 64 73 11 154
Fukuoaka 58 66 74 16 163
Okinawa 71 75 80 14 243

With warm temperatures, May is the most pleasant month of spring. However, it’s also one of the rainiest. 

Wear a cardigan or sweater on good days and use an umbrella for bad days. In addition to umbrellas, waterproof clothing, raincoats and boots are a good idea. 

Hanami

Another season that spring coincides with is the cherry blossom season! Millions partake in an activity called hanami where they get together (not all at once) and admire cherry blossom trees as they sit under them. Take a look at some of the best spots: 

 

1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo

Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Photo Credit: Mattia Panciroli via Flickr cc

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden boasts a whopping 1,000+ cherry blossom trees! With alcohol banned, you can expect some peace here. 

Website:Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
When:late Mar-early Apr  
Address:11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014

 

2. Mount Yoshinoyama, Nara

Cherry Blossoms in Mount Yoshinoyama

Photo Credit: Reginald Pentinio via Flickr cc

Located in Yoshino-Kumano National Park (featured in our Japan national parks guide), Mount Yoshinoyama is covered in over 30,000 cherry blossom trees!

Website:Mount Yoshinoyama
When:late Mar-mid Apr
Address:Yoshinoyama, Yoshinocho, Yoshinogun, Nara 639-3115

 

3. Goryokaku Fort, Hokkaido

Cherry Blossoms in Goryokaku Fort

Photo Credit: Cecil Lee via Flickr cc

Declared a Special Historial Site, this star fort is a favorite amongst locals for hanami.

Website:Goryokaku Fort
When:late Apr-mid Mar
Address:44 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001

 

4. Osaka Castle, Osaka

Cherry Blossoms in Osaka Castle

Photo Credit: Reginald Pentinio via Flickr cc

Surrounded by 4,000 cherry blossom trees, the spacious lawn in front of Osaka Castle is a popular picnic spot.

Website:Osaka Castle
When:late Mar-early Apr
Address:1-1 Osakajo, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka 540-0002

 

5. Lake Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi

Cherry Blossoms in Lake Kawaguchiko

Photo Credit: skyseeker via Flickr cc

With Mount Fuji in the background and cherry blossoms littered along Lake Kawaguchiko, this spectacular view is the inspiration of many paintings. 

Website:Lake Kawaguchiko 
When:early Apr-mid Apr
Address:Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru, Yamanashi 401-0301

Flower Festivals

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only flowers that people have hanami for. Some lesser-known but gorgeous flowers that bloom in spring include violets and red tulips.

For a complete guide to the flowers of Japan, check out:

20 Famous Flowers in Japan and Where to See Them

 

Or take a look at these particularly verdant spots:

1. Nemophila (Baby Blue Eyes) Harmony, Ibaraki

Nemophila (Baby Blue Eyes) Harmony

Photo Credit: li’l debbie via Flickr cc

Upon arriving at Hitachi Seaside Park, you’ll be greeted by a sea of brilliant baby blue eyes. 

Website:Nemophila (Baby Blue Eyes) Harmony
When:late Apr-mid May
Admission:410 yen
Address:605-4 Onuma-aza, Mawatari, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki 312-0012

 

2. Fuji Shibazakura (Moss Phlox) Festival, Yamanashi

Fuji Shibazakura (Moss Phlox) Festival

Photo Credit: Kumiko Nakashima via Flickr cc

At the base of Mount Fuji, over 800,000 gorgeous white, pink and red flowers carpet the ground.

Website:Fuji Shibazakura (Moss Phlox) Festival
When:mid Apr-late May
Admission:600 yen
Address:212 Motusu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru, Yamanashi 401-0337 

 

3. Great Wisteria Festival Ashikaga, Tochigi

Great Wisteria Festival Ashikaga

Photo Credit: jeeheon via Flickr cc

Ashikaga Flower Park boasts mystical views of 350+ Great Wisteria trees.

Website:Great Wisteria Festival Ashikaga
When:mid Apr-mid May
Admission:900-1,700 yen (fees vary according to the conditions of the flowers) 
Address:607 Hasamacho, Ashikaga, Tochigi 329-4216

Other Festivals (Matsuri)

1. Inuyama Festival, Aichi

Inuyama Festival

Photo Credit: Kazutaka. via Flickr cc

Since 1635, this annual festival has showcased 13 ancient floats in a cross-town parade. Come nighttime, these floats are lit up by 365 lanterns!

Website:Inuyama Festival
When:first week of April
Where:Haritsuna Shrine

 

2. Kanamara Matsuri, Kanagawa

Kanamara Matsuri

Photo Credit: Jordon Cheung via Flickr cc

This small festival features a pink metal phallus as a mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine) which is paraded in an attempt to raise money for HIV.

When:first Sunday of April
Where:Kanayama Shrine 

 

3. Punkspring, Tokyo and Osaka

 

A photo posted by Jeff Stinco (@jeffstinco) on

This annual music festival is for all you punk lovers out there. Sum 41 and Simple Plan headlined Punkspring this year!

Website:Punkspring
When:early April
Where:Tokyo's Makuhari Messe and Osaka's Kobe World Memorial Hall
Price:~10,000 yen   

More Things to Do

1. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, between Nagano and Toyama

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Photo Credit: 葉 老V via Flickr cc

Thousands come to this snow corridor each year where 20m snow walls tower over trekkers on each side. 

Website:Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
When:mid Apr-mid Jun
Where:Nagano or Toyama 

 

2. Miyako Odori, Kyoto

Miyako Odori

Photo Credit: bobthemagicdragon via Flickr cc

Watch a large number of maiko (apprentice geisha) and geisha put on an annual dance show at Gion Kaburenjo Theater. Miyako Odori has been going strong since 1873. 

Website:Miyako Odori
When:April
Where:Gion Kaburenjo Theater
Price:2,500-5,000 yen

Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto

For more specific things to do and places to visit in spring, we have compiled comprehensive guides to the three biggest cities in Japan:

Tokyo in Spring – Things to Do in Tokyo in Spring

Kyoto Spring – Things to Do in Kyoto in Spring

Osaka Spring – Things to do in Osaka in Spring

Getting Around

Seishun 18 Ticket (Kippu)

Photo Credit: ja:User:Newsliner (Own Work) [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to JR passes, locals and foreigners alike can purchase the Seishun 18 Ticket (Kippu). Despite meaning “Youthful 18”, people of any age can purchase this ticket. This grants the user unlimited travels on local and rapid JR for five (not necessarily consecutive) days.

It can also be used by multiple people at the same time. For example, one ticket can be stamped up to five times in one day, granting five individuals unlimited travels for that day. This also means that it’ll no longer be valid after that day. 

This ticket can be bought at most JR stations; however, it can only be purchased during specific time frames and it’s only valid for the corresponding time periods.

Period Validity On Sale
Spring Mar 1-Apr 10 Feb 20-Mar 31

For a more detailed look into Seishun 18 Ticket, you can take a look at JR’s website.  

Additionally, you can check out our guide (Japan – The Land of High-Speed Bullet Trains) for more comprehensive information on trains in Japan.

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