March and April are some of my favorite months for exactly those reasons. It’s peak cherry blossom season and the weather is still cool. The end of April and early May bring warmer weather and Golden Week, which contain Japan’s biggest holidays, one is of the busiest travel in the country.
But during spring, there are so many things to do that are special during this time of year. You can’t experience these events or products any other time of year so if you find yourself visiting Japan in spring or want to experience spring in Japan, this is the list for you.
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Spring Season in Japan
So, to start off, when is spring in Japan? Spring in Japan is generally a three-month period, from March to May.
In March, temperatures in Tokyo are an average of 13 degrees during the afternoon, and 5 degrees Celsius during the morning and evening. In April, afternoon temperatures reach an average of 18.5 degrees, while temperatures in the morning and night are around 10.5 degrees Celsius.
In May, we can experience around 23 degrees Celsius during the afternoon, with temperatures decreasing to around 15 degrees in the evenings and mornings.
Even though it’s spring, during the first half of the season there are mostly cold days, while the second half has plenty of sunny days with clear weather.
Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2023
The cherry blossoms of the Somei Yoshino type, the most popular in Japan, are expected to bloom a little earlier than usual in 2023. The first blooms will probably be seen in Tokyo around March 18, in Kyoto around March 22, and in Fukuoka around March 13. For details on forecasts for each region, please refer to our article on cherry blossom regional forecast for 2023.
What To Do in Japan in Spring
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Undeniably, cherry blossoms are the best things to see in Japan during spring. After the long winter, cherry blossoms bring happiness and beauty to the country and pretty pink flowers transform the scenery into magical. Cherry blossom viewing (Hanami) is the most popular activity in Japan. Hanami is also usually accompanied with a picnic lunch and drinking, so prepare your mats and get your friends along! But you can also find plum blossoms and peach blossoms in spring.
In Japan, cherry blossoms are important for more than just being pretty. Cherry blossom trees have many meanings to the Japanese. A lot has to do with the very brief life of the flowers, blooming only for about a week to ten days.
Their fleeting beauty illustrates all too perfectly that nothing in this world is permanent, everything passes away at some point. A sad but beautiful admiration for this impermanence has been an important part of the Japanese mindset since ancient times. In Japanese, it’s called “mono no aware.” This mindset can be found in the smallest things of Japanese daily life.
Blossom times depend on which region you’re in:
The average time for the sakura to bloom is late April in Hokkaido, and they should be in full bloom by early May.
In the Tokyo Area, cherry blossoms will start blooming around March 15 and should be in full bloom until late March.
In Osaka, the cherry blossoms will start blooming around March 19 and should be in full bloom by March 25.
In Kyoto, the dates for blooming are March 19 and the flowers are expected to be in full bloom until the end of March.
Because the time the cherry blossoms are actually in bloom is not very long, you should plan your trip while taking a look at this year’s cherry blossom forecast.
We have a guide for the different areas of Japan for cherry blossom spots.
For Kyoto area, my top spots are Himeji Castle Philospher’s Path, and Mount Yoshino.
For Mount Fuji, definitely look at Chureito Pagoda, Lake Kawaguchiko, and Oshino Hakkai.
Night Blossom Viewing
Cherry blossoms can be viewed not only during the day but also in the evening. This is called yozakura (night-time sakura viewing) and is another way of enjoying the beauty of these blooms.
Viewing illuminated cherry blossoms could be the best way to spend a night during spring. There are numbers of spots for cherry blossoms night viewing including festivals and restaurants. Enjoy the long night of spring with delicious food and the pleasant view of cherry blossoms.
See the Best Night Viewing Spots in Tokyo
Visit Cherry Blossom Festivals
To finish up our Cherry blossom-centered activities are sakura festivals. Cherry blossom festivals are held across the country during springtime in Japan. Along with the spectacular views of cherry blossoms, you can enjoy delicious food and drinks at vendors and special events at festivals.
See our List of Best Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan
Go on a Hike
Hiking in spring can be an extremely pleasant experience. Whether or not you go to view the cherry blossoms, spring in Japan offers cool, crisp air that hasn’t yet become too humid, and an amazing way to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the cities.
One of our favorite hikes to see cherry blossoms is Mount Yoshino in Nara. It’s covered in thousands of cherry trees spanning four areas from the bottom to the top of the mountain slope. You can enjoy the spectacular view while hiking up the mountain and taking a break at the observation points or the parks scattered along the mountain. The most famous and popular observation point is Hanayagura, about an hour hike up from the upper ropeway station.
Aside from cherry blossom viewing, you can also get some awe-inspiring views of snow-capped peaks, quaint villages, and scenic lakes on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. This is a 90-kilometer trail traversing Mt. Tateyama and Mt. Akazawadake in Toyama and Nagano prefectures. The trail opens mid April.
Admire other spring Flowers
Sakura aren’t the only flowers worth viewing during the springtime in Japan. A rainbow of varieties can be found in gardens and parks, both in and around the Tokyo area. Festivals celebrating these flowers are enjoyed by many in Japan, whether tourists or local residents.
Plum blossoms (‘ume’) are among the first flowers to signal spring’s arrival, even before the more famous sakura. Often mistaken for cherry blossoms, plum blossoms that range in color from white to various shades of pink, and even yellow, are distinguishable by their rounded petal tips.
Later in the season, even more flowers can be seen blooming and beautifying the country during April and May. One of Japan’s most celebrated spring flowers is ‘shibazakura’ (moss phlox), which paints a pink carpet across the landscapes featuring these blossoms. The wisteria (‘fuji’), with its distinctive pale purple weeping blossoms, is viewed by many during the spring months, as well as Blue Nemophila, tulips, roses, and a number of other flowers.
Likewise, Hitachi Seaside Park holds nemophila in mid April to early May and then tulips in May.
Ashikaga city in Tochigi Prefecture is one of the most attractive cities near Tokyo, yet it’s still relatively unknown to tourists. If you find yourself in Tochigi Prefecture, also check out the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a World Heritage Site.
The queen of spring fruits in Japan is strawberries. Japan grows many strawberries including high-quality ones, such as Tochiotome and Amaou. They are big, thick, and really sweet. Strawberry picking is a popular spring activity in Japan.
If you don’t have time to head out to a strawberry farm, many hotels in Japan host strawberry dessert buffets for a limited period usually from January to April. If you love strawberries and sweets, you should definitely visit at least one of the premium strawberry buffets in town!
Some of the best strawberry buffets are at:
- The ANA InterContinental Tokyo
- The Hotel InterContinental Tokyo Bay
- The Conrad Tokyo, the Hilton Tokyo
- The Keio Plaza Hotel
- The Westin Tokyo
But if you have time, heading out of the city to a strawberry farm is a great idea for one of your day trips this spring. There are several countryside strawberry farms in Japan and many are just a train ride away from Tokyo.
Depending on the farms you go to and the fruits you pick, some charge according to the weight of the fruits picked while some just charge an entry fee for about 30-60 minutes.
You may want to go for a strawberry hunt at:
- Yoshimura Strawberry Park (Tochigi)
- Ichigo no Sato Farm (Tochigi)
- Dragon Farm in (Chiba)
- Kamakura Kanko Ichigo Farm (Kanagawa)
- Tokorozawa Kitada Farm Marche of Strawberry (Saitama)
- S-Berry Farm in (Nara)
Make sure to check the websites before going as hours and dates may change and reservations may be needed.
Green Tea Plantations
Love Matcha? Then you may want to visit green tea farms in Japan. If you don’t know, Matcha is a staple in many Japanese homes and an integral of part life. To quickly recap, Matcha is a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. Because it’s a powder, it’s not brewed in water like typical tea leaves, but instead mixed with hot water or milk. But matcha goes beyond the traditional Japanese tea ceremony (though that’s how matcha was typically enjoyed until the modern age) it’s found in mochi, soba noodles, ice cream, lattes, and almost any sweet (or even savory) item you could think of.
While matcha products can be found in any conbini in Japan, there are a few regions in Japan that are best for growing green tea. Shizuoka prefecture is the largest grower of green tea in Japan, producing up to 40% of the nation’s consumed green tea. Being near Fuji, the Shizuoka plantations offer a great view of the volcano and is still accessible from Tokyo if that’s where you’re basing yourself.
Read our guide to green tea in Japan
The top plantations in Shizuoka are:
There are also popular plantations near Kyoto:
The green tea plants used for matcha are shade-grown for three to four weeks before harvest. The shaded growth allows the plant to produce more theanine and caffeine.
The best time to visit green tea plantations is spring before picking season starts in May.
Also known as Shiohigari, clam digging is a popular family activity to do in Japan. Clam digging season is from March to July when the weather is not too cold and not too hot. The shores of Tokyo Bay are a good place for clam digging and is known to produce an abundance of Asari (short-neck clams). Be sure to wear suitable clothes for long stretches on the beach, your hat, sunglasses, sunscreens, and you’re ready to go!
Read Also: Japanese Foods to Eat in Spring
Japan during Spring is the time for Matsuri, which means ‘festival’ in Japan. Most of the festivals will feature food stalls, performances, and other interesting Japanese cultural events. You may want to look out for the Sanja Matsuri, one of Japan’s popular festivals held in Asakusa. The three-day-long festival consists of carrying portable shrines, a parade, and different kinds of traditional dance. The parade especially is worth the hype/crowd!
Sanji Matsuri in Tokyo attracts up to 2 million spectators and is one of Tokyo’s most intense.
Other top festivals are Kanda Matsuri, and Takayama Matsuri.
The most favorable weather of the year calls for some outdoor camping! Camping has always been popular among the younger ones and those young at heart. To date, there are more than 3000 camping sites all around Japan. You may want to try camping around Mount Fuji and experience the wonder of ‘Diamond Fuji’ when the sun rises on top of the mountain. Head over to the resort nearby for a soak in their onsen or walk along the lakes and waterfalls there. There are many other campsites but be sure to check if there are any rules and regulations to follow!
View Mount Fuji
Speaking of Fuji-san, Spring is a great time of the year to view Fuji. Summertime brings humid weather that makes the skies hazy. This makes Fuji mostly invisible from nearby cities like Tokyo. So, spring is a great time to get a really crisp and clear view of the snow-capped mountain.
You can see Fuji from basically any tall building in the city but some of the best views are from Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Bunkyo Civic Center Observation Lounge, and Tokyo Tower.
A really popular view of Fuji is at the Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida. It’s arguably one of the most well-known photo locations of Fuji with the red pagoda in the foreground and the snowy Fuji in the back. Fujiyoshida is a really easy day trip from Tokyo that offers not only beautiful views of Fuji, but a change of pace from the bustling city.
Watch Sumo Grand Tournament
Typically in May, Tokyo holds three of the six grand tournaments of sumo that are held every year. The city has six weeks of professional sumo which draws large crowds to see the popular sport.
In Kyoto there is a spring dance featuring the Geisha of the Gion District. This happens in April and has been held for over 143 consecutive seasons. Held in the Kaburenjo Theater, it features dances with seasonal themes with Maiko and Geiko dancers.
Check out Sakura-themed food and gifts
Cherry Blossoms are not only for viewing but also tasting. Japan loves limited edition and seasonal items and they come out all year for the seasons and different holidays. But spring is my favorite time of year for seasonal items. Numbers of limited food and drink products are released in Spring with special cherry blossom flavors at shops, cafes and restaurants including Starbucks, Pocky, Krispy Kreme, and more. Don’t miss a chance to taste the delicious spring flavors!
Here are some posts on my favorite spring seasonal items:
Spring Travel Tips
- During spring in Japan temperature fluctuations are common. It’s typical for weather to start to warm up only to drop suddenly and be very cold. Plan on bringing clothes to accommodate for uncertain temperatures. See our Japan spring packing list.
- The end of April marks the beginning of Japan’s “Golden Week,” a series of consecutive days off when most of the country goes on vacation. Consider planning your trip to avoid these peak travel times both to save money and to avoid large crowds.
- The vast amount of spring flowers means plenty of pollen. Hay fever is an issue in Japan even for those who have never experienced seasonal allergies at home. Be prepared and bring supplies or be prepared to purchase products to make life more pleasant.
Being one of the most popular times of the year to visit Japan, think about planning early. Booking flights and hotels as early as you can set your travel plans will potentially mean a less expensive trip. Also, look into travel insurance both for accidents happening during your trip and for unexpected cancelations. Make sure to check out our posts about spring in Japan for more information.
Are you ready for Japan?
- Book Your Flights– To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is a must. Some great options are Google Flights for the calendars to find the cheapest options, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner. For more options see our resources page. For Japan, check flights for both Tokyo Airports (Haneda and Narita), as well as Osaka (Kansai).
- Find Transportation- Buy your JR Pass for your bullet train and inter-city travel before you leave home. Research a Suica card, the public transportation card you can either buy before or as soon as you arrive.
- Book Your Accommodation– Look at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia for hotels in Japan. You can also look at AirBnB or VRBO as we’ve had great luck finding inexpensive, large, and clean homes to rent.
- Book Tours and Experiences- Check Klook or Viator for some of the best tours and attractions for a great price for experiences like Tokyo Skytree, TeamLab Borderless, and Universal Osaka. For Tokyo Disney Resort, check my guide here.
- Stay Connected– Order a pocket WIFI for airport pickup if you’re with a family or group, or order a SIM card just for your phone. Check out our guide to staying connected here.
- Buy Travel Insurance- I always recommend World Nomads for insurance. It’s better to protect yourself in case of mishaps. Learn more about World Nomads in this FAQ post.
- Pack Your Bags– Check out my packing lists, or my favorite travel gear to help you remember all of the essentials.
- Learn About Japan– Learn about Japan with guidebooks like Lonely Planet, or, shameless plug, search around my site for more info.
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