Spring in Japan runs from March to May. The weather is still cold in March with snow usually remaining in the northern regions, but there has so far been less snow in 2020 than previous years. By the end of May it is pleasantly warm throughout most of Japan. It’s a popular time to visit, with many tourists coming for the cherry blossom season.
- 20 March – Vernal Equinox Day
- 29 April – Showa Day
- 3 May – Constitution Memorial Day
- 4 May – Greenery Day
- 5 May – Children’s Day
- 6 May – Constitution Memorial Day (observed)
Peak travel time
Spring has some of the busiest travel periods both for international visitors and for Japanese going on holiday.
Update – due to coronavirus, this looks to be a much quieter cherry blossom season than usual. For further information on health for visitors, including coronavirus, read here.
The cherry blossom season means that places such as Kyoto are very busy around the end of March and early April. Any city or town known for cherry blossom will be busy at the time the trees are blooming.
29 April through to 6 May is Golden Week which is a major holiday time for Japanese people, and transport and hotels may be booked solid. In 2020, peak travel days are likely to be Saturday 2 May and Wednesday 6 May, as many people go away for a 5 day long weekend.
Timing of cherry blossom depends on temperature and takes place at different times across Japan. Keep up-to-date with the cherry blossom forecast. Note that for 2020, flowering is expected to be slightly earlier than usual throughout Japan. There may be festivals or special events related to the cherry blossom, and keep an eye out for cherry-blossom themed souvenirs.
Other flowers also bloom in spring, including wisteria, azaleas and tulips. Ashikaga Flower Park and Kawachi Fuji Garden are particularly well-known for wisteria.
The Tateyama Kurobe alpine route opens to visitors around mid April, depending on weather and road conditions.
A sampling of spring events
Tokyo Marathon – 1 March
Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day or Dolls’ Day) – 3 March. All over Japan, there will be displays of traditional dolls, in department stores, shrines and elsewhere in the days leading up to this.
Takayama Spring Festival , 14-15 April. See traditional floats and shrines paraded through the streets at night
Arita Ceramic Fair – 29 April – 5 May. One of Japan’s largest ceramic fairs with over 500 vendors.
Kamogawa Odori, 1-25 May. One of Kyoto’s famous geisha performances, with traditional dance and music.
Sanja Matsuri, 15-17 May. This festival takes place each year in Asakusa, Tokyo, with portable shrines paraded through the streets.
Do you have any questions about travelling around Japan? Please feel free to contact me.
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For further information, the ebook Japan Just for You is a practical step-by-step guide to planning your trip to Japan, starting with developing your own personal trip concept. It’s now available on Apple, Amazon and Kobo, and other stores.