Japan. There’s no country like it, despite it being such a large influence for so much of our world. It’s a place to experience the overwhelming calmness of nature, chase the latest trends, or explore some of the most beautiful historic landmarks in the world. Oh, and it’s back, making right now the perfect time to return on a trip to Japan and experience its wonders for yourself.
Now that Visa restrictions have been lifted for travellers from the United States and Canada, Globetrotters can once again head east to party beneath cherry blossoms, watch snow monkeys bathing in hot springs, practice Zen meditation, and experience the neon lights and excitement of Tokyo.
Japan is a destination that rewards travellers at all times of year, so no matter when you visit in 2023, you’ll find something exciting and unique to that season. But there’s also value in going as soon as you can. Not only will you be among the first visitors to tour the nation once again, but you’ll also experience overwhelming Japanese hospitality, the omotenashi that is so famous, but even more pronounced after several years without foreign guests.
The Japanese are excited to welcome you to their nation, whether as a first-time visitor or a traveller returning to an old favourite destination. And with new hotels and attractions to experience, including Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Osaka and Ghibli Park outside Nagoya, there’s never been a better time to visit.
Goway offers over 20 travel packages to Japan, which are all fully customizable.Get in touch with a Destination Specialist if you want to start planning a trip to Japan. And continue reading to learn more about some of the ways that you can discover travel wonders in Japan at any time of year.
What can you do throughout the year on a trip to Japan?
Country Retreats & Hot Springs in Winter
Despite what you may think, Japan is actually a great destination to visit in the winter. While it does experience all four seasons, winter is much milder in Japan than it is in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. There’s rarely snow in Tokyo and Kyoto, and temperatures stay above freezing. Furthermore, it’s the low season in Japan, so you get to take advantage of huge savings on hotels, accommodations, and flights.
There’s also a lot to do in Japan in the winter months. You can enjoy snow-capped views of Mt. Fuji or experience an all-out winter adventure in the northern reaches of Hokkaido. But you don’t have to go far afield to enjoy a blend of winter pleasures and classic Japanese travel experiences. For instance, Japan Winter Rail Discovery takes you to the usual favourites, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima. It also includes a couple days in the lovely mountain town of Takayama in Gifu, a gateway to the Japanese Alps, which transforms into a postcard perfect vision of mountain cheer in the winter. You’ll also swing by Nagano to see the Japanese macaques, the snow monkeys that famously bathe in hot springs when the weather gets cool. And don’t worry, you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to soak yourself in the hot waters of an onsen during your trip to Japan.
Flowers & Parties in Spring
Spring is the most popular time of year to visit Japan, and for obvious reasons. The cherry blossoms appear in late March and early April, luring massive crowds of locals and tourists who want to experience the hanami for themselves. Cherry blossom viewing isn’t just a passive experience in Japan, it’s a whole event, with picnics and drinks and lots of photos. It’s a party, and will be an even bigger one in spring 2023, after several years of tourists not being able to attend. If you want to see the cherry blossoms in spring 2023, Spring Blossoms in Japan is a good option to get to the heart of the action.
But you should also consider going earlier in the year when the plum blossoms arrive. They are stunning in their own right, without drawing the same crowds as the cherry blossoms. As well, late spring is also a good option as the weather is warmer and you can see the wisteria tunnels, which are arguably more magical than the cherry blossoms.
Warmth & Festivals in Summer
Summer is the height of Japan’s warmth, although it’s also the wettest season of the year, with several weeks of rain hitting in June and during the typhoon season in August. However, it’s also a good time to visit as there’s a lot to do outdoors. During typhoon season, rains usually are limited to a few hours in the late afternoon, leaving you most of the day to explore. If you want to see the country bursting with greenery, visit in summer. You can hike to the top of Mt. Fuji in the summer (the summit climbing season stretches from July until mid-September), pass through the thousand vermillion gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, or even hit up at the beach. Hike, Bike & Hot Springs is a great option if you want to spend a lot of time outdoors.
There are also a lot of summer festivals across Japan, from the Gion festival in Kyoto to the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival in Asakusa in Tokyo, both taking place in July each year. Summer is also a great time to visit with your family, as kids are off from school and you can spend several weeks exploring the cities and countryside.
Zen & Colours in Fall
Japan is lovely in the fall, even before the leaves turn into bursts of red and gold in late October through early December, depending on the region. The temperatures are mild, the humidity low, and the days are still long enough to accommodate a lot of comfortable time outdoors. Spend your time hiking in the countryside such as the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route on the Kii Peninsula southeast of Osaka during the final weeks of greenery. You can also escape to parks inside the cities, whether the bamboo groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto or the deer-populated stretches of Nara Park in Nara. Fall is also a perfect time to explore some of the country’s cherished gardens, including Kenroku-en in Kanazawa or the Imperial Palace East Gardens in Tokyo. Don’t forget to do some Zen meditation while in Japan. While it’s an activity option throughout the year, some Zen meditation is the perfect way to cap a day spent outdoors in the fall. Japan Zen & Wellness is a great trip option if you want to experience this quintessential Japanese meditation practice.
Things to keep in mind about travelling to Japan
The next few months will be a great time to visit Japan. Not only are Japanese tourism and hospitality professionals excited to welcome back foreign travellers, but exchange rates between the Japanese Yen and the US and Canadian dollars have been very favourably recently, which allows travellers to get more for their money. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about visiting Japan.
For one, masks are still the norm across the nation. People mask in all indoor settings or whenever they’re speaking face-to-face with someone not in their party. As well, there are some extra hoops to jump through before visiting these days. Do the MySOS Fast Track entry in order to skip testing and/or quarantine at the border and make the airport arrival as smooth as possible. It’ll take a few minutes to fill out online, but it’ll offer peace of mind once you actually board your plane and head to Japan.
No matter what time of year you visit Japan, you’ll find so much to occupy you in all parts of the country. It’s a place where unforgettable travel memories are made each and every day. But the sooner you get to experience Japan, the better. Be one of the first to rediscover the wonders of Japan.
This article was written in partnership with the Japan National Tourism Organization.
23 Nov 2022, 5:05 p.m.