Seasons of Japan

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Japan enjoys four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. The climate of Japan differs greatly from the cool weather in far north Hokkaido to the tropical weather of the southernmost island of Okinawa.


Winter (December to February)

Winter, or Fuyu (冬), is the coldest and driest season in Japan. New Years is the biggest winter holiday, and is one of Japan's three busiest travel seasons.

On the northern island of Hokkaido, winters are very harsh with subzero temperatures and plenty of snow. Hokkaido is located in the Sub-Arctic zone. Snowboarding, skiing, and other winter sports bring visitors from abroad and other parts of Japan. Every year, over 2 million people come to Hokkaido for the Sapporo Snow Festival.

On the island of Honshu, winter weather varies from snow in the north to a more mild winter in the south.

Like Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu are located in the temperate zone and thus enjoy a relatively mild winter.

As the northernmost island, Okinawa has a tropical climate and thus enjoys a very mild winter. Many Japanese plan trips to Okinawa to escape the snow and cold in their areas.

Spring (March to May/June)

Japanese Spring, or Haru (春), is most famous for the blooming of sakura, or cherry blossoms. Hanami (花見 - literally "flower viewing") parties are an essential part of spring in most parts of Japan. Spring is the considered by most to be the best time to visit Japan, as the weather is comfortable - neither as cold as winter nor as humid as summer. One of Japan's busiest travel seasons Golden Week occurs in May.

On Hokkaido, the snows melt and flowers bloom. The unspoiled natural terrain across the island attracts hikers, bikers, and other outdoorspeople.

Cherry and other trees bloom across Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu as the weather warms up but stays pleasantly dry.

Many students travel to Okinama for Spring Break to enjoy its warm beaches.

Tsuyu or Baiu (May/June to June/July)

The Japanese rainy season known as Tsuyu or Baiu (梅雨 - literally "plum rain" because this season coincides with the blooming of the plum trees) begins in early summer. While it doesn't rain every day during this period, the rainfall is unpredictable and at time heavy enough to make this an unsuitable time to visit Japan. It is this season that

Tsuyu comes to Okinawa a month before the rest of Japan - beginning in early May and ending around mid-June.

On Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, the rainy season begins in early June and continues through mid to late July.

As it's located in the Sub-Arctic zone, Hokkaido is nearly unaffected by tsuyu.

Summer (July to October)

Summer, or Natsu (夏), is the warmest and most humid of all seasons. The intensity of the humidity and heat varies greatly from north to south. Tropical Okinawa is the hottest and most humid of the islands in summer.

On the mostly subtropical islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, summer is characterized by uncomfortable heat and humidity.

Hokkaido summer is cooler and less humid than the rest of Japan. Many Japanese vacation in Hokkaido during the summer to escape the heat and humidity in their area.

August to October is Typhoon season in Japan.

Many Music festivals in Japan take place in summer - including Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic. There are also many local traditional festivals.

Obon week takes place in mid-August. This is a very busy travel time, so booking flights or hotels is more difficult.

Autumn (October to December)

Japan's autumn, or Aki (秋), is the season of koyo, or "colorful leaves". Koyo season begins in Hokkaido and moves slowly down to southern Japan. 70% of Japan is mountainous, which means that in fall the mountains are covered in colorful autumn trees. The weather across Japan cools and becomes more dry. The combination of cooler weather and picturesque scenery make autumn a popular time for visiting Japan.

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