Revitalizing hot spring baths, multi-course dinners made from fresh, local ingredients and the comfiest pillows you’ve ever tried, Ryokan hotels are an unforgettable way to experience traditional, Japanese luxury. Read on to learn the history and offerings of this unique lodging experience and the best places to stay.
Japan Travel Advice
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The sunny, laid-back island of Okinawa is not just a tropical paradise: it's also a foodie heaven with its own unique set of flavors and a famously healthy diet. Whet your palate with this guide to some of the island's classic dishes, and learn where you can try them.
When to visit Japan
January is mid-winter in Japan, but because it's such a long country with many climatic zones, mid-winter can mean everything from deep snow and sub-zero temperatures to pleasantly warm and sunny. It's not peak tourism season, but there are still many things you can enjoy, both indoors and outdoors. Here's what you need to know about traveling to Japan in January.
February is mid-winter in Japan, and along with January, is the coldest moth. But, winter varies enormously throughout the country, with warm temperatures in the islands of Okinawa in the south, very cold temperatures and heavy snow on the western side of Honshu and Hokkaido, and moderately cold temperatures elsewhere. But, there are relatively few tourists at this time of year, and the spectacular Sapporo Snow Festival is one reason (among many) to visit Japan in February.
March is on the cusp of winter and spring in Japan, with different parts of the country leaning more towards one than the other. The country's famous cherry blossom parties begin in more southern locations later in the month, when the sakura bloom. Northern parts of the country are still quite wintry, and you can still ski. Here are some important things to know about traveling to Japan in March.
The arrival of spring brings warmer temperatures throughout the country, as well as more visitors. Aside from the increased crowds, April is a great time to visit Japan as it avoids the cold winter and the wet, humid summer. Here are some important things to know about traveling to Japan in April.
May is a great time to travel to Japan, as the temperatures are generally warm but not as stifling and humid as they'll become in the summer. The extremely busy Golden Week holiday earlier in the month should be avoided, but if you're coming later in the month you'll find many places busy but not uncomfortably crowded. Here's what you need to know about traveling to Japan in May.
June is the start of summer in Japan, and also the rainy season. Temperatures and humidity are high in many parts of the country, but June tends to be more comfortable than late summer. If you want to experience a Japanese summer, June is a better option than July and August, and if you know where to go, you can have an enjoyable and comfortable time in Japan in June.
July is mid-summer in Japan, and while temperatures aren't quite so high as in August, they are pretty hot. Add intense humidity to the mix, and conditions can be quite uncomfortable. But, conditions aren't the same across the whole country: Hokkaido is much more temperate, and the beaches of Okinawa are a good retreat at this time of year. If you find yourself in Japan's major cities in July, you can also enjoy many traditional summer festivals. Here's how to have a good time in Japan in July.
August is the hottest month of the year in Japan, and conditions are generally quite uncomfortable, with high humidity and hot nights. But, there are exceptions to this, and having a great time in Japan in mid-summer depends on knowing the best places to go, and the right experiences to enjoy. Here's what you need to know about traveling to Japan in August.
September in Japan tends to be a month of two faces: earlier in the month, temperatures remain high and a second rainy season hits, bringing typhoons to some parts of the country. Later in the month, conditions are better for getting out and about, with warm but not overly hot temperatures, and clear skies. Here are some important things to know about traveling to Japan in September.
October is, arguably, the best month to travel to Japan (although this will depend on what you want to experience!). Temperatures in most places are still warm, but the intense humidity and increased rainfall of summer has subsided. Autumn leaves begin appearing at higher elevations and more northern latitudes. Here are some important things to know about traveling to Japan in October.
By November, Japan has well and truly entered autumn mode. Towards the end of the month, the leaves on the trees turn red and gold in central and southern parts of the country, and leaf-viewing parties are second only to flower-viewing parties to the Japanese. Temperatures are mild in many places, and rainfall low, so November is a great time to travel to Japan.
December is the start of winter across Japan, but what that means in reality varies from north to south and east to west. In the northern island of Hokkaido, expect temperatures below freezing and snow. In southern parts of Kyushu, earlier in the month, you may still see autumnal colors. Here are a few important things to know about visiting Japan in December.