For the past decades, the popularity of Japan as a dream travel destination has been increasing continuously. This can be attested to by the growing number of tourists are visiting Japan every year.
Japan indeed is a magnificent country. It has so much to offer to tourists - in terms of food and cuisines, experiences, and destinations. In fact, anyone can go to Japan at any time of the year. Unlike other countries wherein one may only visit at certain parts of the year, instead, tourists find themselves falling in love with Japan whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter. Below is a guide on the specific activities that one must for every season in the calendar.
Things To Do in Japan During Spring: Activities for the Months of March, April, and May
Spring is hands down the favorite time of the year for many people when visiting Japan. This comes to no surprise as spring happens to be the season when the famed cherry blossoms are in bloom. Various areas in Japan experience the marvelous pink-clad trees during this time, with more popular destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto. In fact, Hanami or flower viewing is one of the most popular activities in Japan. A list provided below aims to guide tourist for the months of March, April, and May.
The weather during spring is also one of the best compared to other times of the year, as it is still chilly coming from winter, but at a way more comfortable level. This is good for those who are not as adept towards cool climates. In terms of tourist numbers, the months of March, April and May are definitely the busiest time with a number of tourists. The warmer weather paves way for different activities, such as cultural festivals and outdoor activities.
For those who are visiting Japan during the spring, and is interested in immersing into Japanese culture, the Sanja Matsuri festival is the perfect venue to feed off that curiosity. Technically, it is a religious festival as it is held in the Shrine of Sensoji; which also happens to be one of the Tokyo's most popular shrines. It is quite a large gathering as it can accommodate annually up to two million guests.
The festival centers on mikoshi's, which are sacred Shinto Buddhism artifacts. It is a relic that Shinto practitioner carries around the festival trail as they believe that gods and deities use these mikoshi to move from a place to another. The main event involves people carrying the extremely heavy mikoshi's in a parade, however, there are also other attractions within the festival such as Geisha performances.
Of course, no one should miss cherry blossom viewing while visiting Japan. The centuries-old tradition of flower viewing parties, which is called hanami in local Japanese language. It only involves laying down a mat or picnic blanket beneath cherry blossoms. Usually, this activity includes beverage, snacks or bento and shared by a group of people underneath the cherry blossom tree. Hanami is one of the Japan's proud traditions, and people are pleasantly enthusiastic for cherry blossoms viewing. Some of the most popular prefectures to do hanami are in Tokyo and Kyoto, whether it is in Ueno Park or outside the confines of the Imperial Palace.
For those who are looking for a little more art and culture, the Yosakoi Dance Competition is the perfect event to attend. It is a competition between three hundred groups, composed of up to 30,000 dancers. The interesting thing about Yosakoi is that it highlights traditional dance styles in Japan, which is one of the reasons why man support it. This Yosakoi Competition happens to also take place during the spring season, which is why it is easy to include in the itinerary along with attending the Sanja Matsuri and Hanami viewing.
The last activity may not be for everyone. Regardless of sumo wrestling tournaments are still a great way to immerse one's self in Japanese culture. During the spring season, there are approximately six professional sumo tournaments are held within the period. These matches are held in Tokyo and attract tourists who are interested in seeing a different kind of sport.
Things To Do in Japan During Summer: Activities for the Months of June, July, and August
It is quite surprising that summer tends to be overlooked as a good time to visit Japan. Surely, it is not as beautiful as spring when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. However, this particular season has its own quintessential beauty that makes Japan worth visiting despite the hot and humid days. In fact, summer in Japan is even far less warm than other tropical Asian countries. The only precaution about traveling during summer is the presence of many rain showers during this time, due to the kind of climate that Japan has. Below are some activities that are worth trying out while visiting Japan during the months of June, July, and August.
Adventurous individuals must definitely try climbing the Mt. Fuji during visit to Japan. Summer time is perhaps the best time to embark on this one in a lifetime experience, with hiking season starting in July. It is a hard feat, but one that will be worth re-telling for a lifetime. The key to being able to climb to the top successfully is to do prior research beforehand. Reading guides and articles prior to hiking Mt. Fuji eliminates any hassle of coming unprepared. This is also a good way to prepare the mind for the upcoming adventure, in order to avoid underestimating the task ahead. Once the gruesome and tiring climb is done, there is nothing left to do but to admire the amazing view on the summit.
One of the best things about visiting Japan during summer is the season wherein much of the festivals are being celebrated. This means being able to watch plenty of firework displays, and colorful floats being showcased in different cities. One of the most popular festivals in Japan is Nebuta Aomori. In Japanese, the word "nebuta" means to float. This already gives one an idea of what they would be able to witness during the festival. The central theme of this festival is fire, which is extremely evident upon observing the giant illuminated floats and the magnificent fireworks display.
It not just one of the best summer season affairs in Tohoku prefecture, but it is arguably one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan. The audience will surely be in awe as the large illuminated floats are taken to the streets and are paraded for everyone's appreciation.The festivities do not stop there, as the streets near Aomori River are filled with dancing and other live performances. It is amazing how the festivities last not just for one to two days, but rather a week. By the end of the festival's seven-day festivities, the festival is capped off with a grandiose fireworks show.
Things To Do in Japan During Autumn: Activities for the Months of September, October, and November
Autumn may seem like an unremarkable period in Japan. However, despite the gloomier atmosphere compared to spring and summer, autumn in Japan still has many wonderful things in store. Much of the foliage has wilted already from spring and summer season, causing a beautiful sea of red leaves to replace the natural greenery. Below are some of the interesting activities that one must try.
At first, autumn may seem like a less festival period compared to summer and spring. However, in Japan, even autumn is filled with various festivals. Usually, autumn is the time when fire festivals are held all over Japan. There are several festivals of this type which are held in different prefectures in Japan The most popular one is in Fukuoka.
During a fire festival, torches that were made out of pine wood are burnt in front of the public. This is a gesture dedicated to those who have passed away from the war. During this time, the audience watches as the flames engulf the wooden torches, and in turn, the viewers use this as a period of reflecting on his or her own life.
Another interesting festival for tourists during the autumn season is a festival dedicated to mackerel – a popular fish in Japan. This festival is called the Meguro Sanma Matsuri, within the area of Tokyo's Meguro station. There isn't much to do during this festival, however, they still manage to get a number of attendees who want to eat mackerel food. A major selling point of this festival is that they distribute free food samples, and guests are usually more than happy to be receiving samples.
Game enthusiasts would know that Japan was once the center of the gaming industry. Some would argue that it is still the center up to now, however, some may think otherwise as the western competitors have been stepping up their game in the past few years. Nevertheless, true gaming addicts who happen to be in Japan for the month of November are in luck.
During November, the autumn and winter leg of the famed Tokyo Game Show is exhibited. Despite its name, the show has been moved from Tokyo to Makuhari Messe Stadium in Makuhari City, Chiba Prefecture. The event itself focuses on the newest releases on anything that involves gaming; hardware, software, different platforms and even mobile games. Usually, high-ranking officials from top gaming companies such as Nintendo, and Sega, grace this event to talk about their newest game ventures. To make the event even more interesting, there are also cosplayers who grace the audience wearing anime or game inspired clothing, as well as other interactive booths that guests can participate in.
Another event that tourists may opt to do while in Japan during October is to attend the Oktober fest. Of course, Oktoberfest is not Japanese event – but rather a worldwide event wherein beer is celebrated in the different parts of the world. Those who are interested in experiencing Japan's own Oktoberfest may opt to go to Tokyo, they will surely find a couple of establishments who have joined in the festivities.
Things To Do in Japan During Winter: Activities for the Months of December, January, and February
Winter may be the least popular time to visit Japan, primarily due to the presence of snow. For some people, the snow can be a hindrance from enjoying and exploring Tokyo. There are also others who are not comfortable going around the cold – this is true for citizens of tropical countries because there are no traces of snow there. This part will provide a guide on the main attractions for the months of December, January, and February.
Even during winter, there are still several festivals being held in Japan. One of the most popular thing during winter is yakiniku, which is a form of Japanese barbecue. It may be odd at first, to think about a food festival being held in the dead of winter, however, this does not stop the locals and tourists of Hokkaido from wondering around the streets at night to experience this festivity. It is no longer as cold during this time because it happens late in February, which is pretty close to spring already.
The official name of this festival is the Kitami Yakiniku Festival. The event is held in an open area, wherein food concessionaires serve different forms of yakiniku, as well as other dishes that complement yakiniku. This is a perfect way to indulge in Japanese street food.
Another festival that one should not miss out on is the Winter Illumination Festival in Osaka. It is a breathtaking experience, wherein a majority of the Umeda area is covered in lights; from trees to buildings. The display is usually divided into four sections: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. This illumination display is deemed to be the largest lights display in the world.