Japan is a popular travel destination for Aussies for a variety of reasons. It’s accessible by a number of convenient flight paths, but it also offers something for everyone, no matter what your interests are. Food, shopping, history, culture, nature – there really is something for everyone in Japan, no matter whether you’re travelling solo or as a group.
If you’re planning to travel to Japan from Australia, it’s worth considering when the best time to travel is. The four seasons in Japan are vastly different from one another, meaning there are sights and activities that are available only during part of the year. Read on to discover when the best time is to travel to Japan from Australia.
Summer in most parts of Japan can be hot and humid. After a chilly winter, the long, hot days of summer are a welcome reprieve. For many parts of Japan, the countryside seems to erupt with greenery, and you’ll hear the sound of cicadas almost everywhere you go. A Japan travel holiday in summer could be just what you need to escape a cold Australian winter. Here are a few ideas of what you can do in summer in Japan.
Japan in summer means lots and lots of greenery. And while most of the country sees hot and humid weather, Hokkaido’s summers are a lot less muggy. This means it’s a great time to get outdoors and surround yourself with nature in the northernmost part of Japan.
This is a special activity that you can only participate in during the warmer months. To help patrons cool down during hot summer days and nights, restaurants in Kyoto and Kibune will build temporary platforms over the river. Diners can sit on these platforms and enjoy a meal while the cooling river waters flow beneath them. Many restaurants, particularly those in Kibune, offer traditional kaiseki ryori meals (multi-course meals served on small plates), which can be a unique experience for tourists on its own.
Summer is festival season! And that means there are plenty of lively traditional festivals (matsuri) you can watch all around the country. Some of the biggest and most anticipated summer festivals in Japan include Gion Festival in Kyoto, Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka, Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori and Tanabata Matsuri in Sendai.
When you think of a Japan holiday, your first thoughts may not be of tropical beaches. But if you travel down to Okinawa, you can enjoy just that. Whether you’re after a resort-style holiday or want to get away from the crowds for some peace and solitude, there is no shortage of beautiful beaches in Okinawa.
For Australians, the view of an entire mountainside coloured with the yellow, orange and red of autumn leaves can be a truly beautiful sight, and something we don’t often get to experience at home.
Autumn can also be a good time to travel to Japan from Australia as the weather has started to cool down during the day, so you can avoid summer’s humidity if you don’t deal well with the heat. However, the nights can be a little chilly, especially in the mountains. Here are a few things to do in autumn in Japan.
There are a number of special seasonal foods available in autumn that you just can’t get at any other time of year. This includes momiji tempura and matsutake mushrooms. You’ll also find stalls everywhere selling fresh, hot, roasted sweet potatoes. You’ll be able to find these stalls by following the delicious scent wafting on the breeze.
There is no shortage of photogenic spots in Japan where you can find gorgeous autumn colours (koyo). Some of the best spots can be found in Kyoto, including Tofukuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple and Arashiyama. But you’ll find spectacular koyo almost everywhere you go, with Nikko, Miyajima and Lake Kawaguchi offering some really great views, too. This is the best time of year to also see spectacular golden gingko leaves throughout Japan, with Meiji-jingu shrine in Tokyo hosting its very own gingko festival.
As the weather in autumn is generally less humid compared to summer, it’s a great time to go for a hike. Japan has no shortage of hiking trails for all levels of walkers, and some of the trails you can find have been used for hundreds of years. The Yamanobe-no-michi Trail in Nara is the oldest road mentioned in Japanese records, and it offers travellers a serene and accessible walk through rural countryside. For hikers after more of a challenge, there is the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, which have been in use for more than one thousand years.
Autumn is Halloween season in Japan, and Halloween is BIG in Japan. Everywhere you go in October, you’ll find spooky decorations as well as items and food you can buy – everything from themed tourist souvenirs to Halloween-inspired donuts and treats.
The seasons in Japan are vastly different from one another. In winter, the weather can become exceptionally cold and snow covers many parts of the country. But even if you’re not a snow bunny, there are still plenty of reasons why you should consider travelling to Japan in winter. For one, you’ll find that there are fewer tourists during this time of year, meaning queues for attractions are shorter and you can capture fabulous photos without worrying about photo bombers. Here are just some of the fun things you can do in winter in Japan.
Japan has some of the world’s greatest ski resorts and boasts some of the best powder. So if you’re a skier or snowboarder, make sure you visit during the winter to take advantage of Japan’s incredible ski resorts. Some of the most popular ski resorts include Niseko and Rusutsu in Hokkaido, and Hakuba Happo-One and Nozawa Onsen in Nagano.
Is there anything more relaxing than a hot bath on a cold night? An onsen is a traditional Japanese bath that uses water naturally heated by hot springs. Some onsen may also offer a combination of indoor and outdoor bathing.
Some of the best hot springs can be found in Hakkone, Nikko, Noboribetsu and Beppu. While you can find traditional hotels (ryokan) that offer private baths, most onsen are either public or for use by guests of the hotel. While they are separated into male and female bathing, there are no swimsuits allowed, so be prepared to strip down.
There are more than 4 million vending machines in Japan. And for Australian tourists in Japan, they can offer a special kind of novelty. In the warmer months, the vending machines primarily dispense cold drinks. But in winter, you also have the option to select hot canned drinks including hot chocolate, hot coffee and hot red bean while you’re out and about. This is a great way to warm up on a cold winter day!
During winter, many areas in Japan will decorate leafless trees and buildings with fantastic lighting displays. There are also various special events and festivals around the country, some of which are on a grand scale that must be seen to be believed – such as the Ashigaka Flower Fantasy in Tochigi and the Nabana no Sato in Nagoya.
Spring really is a fantastic time to travel in Japan, as the weather is usually mild and you’ll have the chance to see some truly beautiful scenery as spring flowers and cherry blossoms bloom. And while this season in Japan can draw big crowds, it can be worth it for the chance to see Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. Planning ahead can also help you avoid the larger crowds, so make sure you come prepared. Here are some of the best things you can do in spring in Japan.
The best thing about spring in Japan has got to be cherry blossoms (sakura)! During hanami (flower viewing) season in Japan, people flock to local parks to enjoy the cherry blossoms and to have outdoor picnics. Some of the most picturesque places to see cherry blossoms in Japan include Hirosaki Castle in Hirosaki, the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto and Expo 70 Park in Osaka, home to more than 5000 cherry blossom trees.
While cherry blossoms are the undisputed crown jewel of spring in Japan, there are plenty of other types of flowers that begin to bloom once the weather warms up. Remember how we mentioned Japan’s winter illuminations? While some gardens look undeniably wonderful lit up by winter illuminations, they also look spectacular when their gardens are in full bloom. Some of Japan’s most beautiful flower gardens include Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka and Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park in Hokkaido.
Mount Fuji (Fujisan) is a splendour to look at any time of year, but especially so in spring. With cherry blossoms blooming and plenty of winter’s snow left on the mountain, Fujisan looks particularly stunning during spring. You can also enjoy the Fuji Shibazakura Festival from around mid-April to late May, where fields of pink moss cover the ground and Fujisan can be seen in the background on a clear day.
This is a very special seasonal activity for travellers to Japan, as the Alpine Route is closed between December and April. Visiting the Tateyama Alpine Route in spring, rather than summer, means that the snow won’t have completely melted and you’ll still have the chance to see the great snow wall.
With Japan’s borders expected to open up soon to tourists and many other countries already welcoming Australian travellers, it’s not surprising that so many of us have got travel on our minds right now. We hope this blog has inspired you to start planning your next overseas holiday to Japan and helped you decide when you’d like to go.
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