Is May a good time to travel to Japan? Here’s everything you need to know

May in Japan is part of the high season for tourism. Here’s everything you need to plan a trip to Japan in May.

May is an excellent time to visit Japan. The weather in Japan in May is usually mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from comfortable to warm across most of the country. It’s a great time for outdoor activities without the extreme cold of winter or the humidity and heat of summer!

May falls in the late spring period, offering vibrant natural scenery. You might catch the tail end of cherry blossom season in colder regions like Hokkaido. Additionally, many other flowers and greenery are at their peak, making gardens and parks particularly beautiful.

Early May sees the Golden Week holiday, a series of national holidays that occur within a week. It’s a period of festivity and many local events, although it’s also a peak travel season for domestic tourists, so expect crowded attractions and higher prices.

Japan in May hosts several festivals and events across the country, offering unique cultural experiences. However, the specifics can vary from year to year, so it’s worth checking what will be happening during your visit.

While May is popular among travelers, it’s generally less crowded compared to the cherry blossom season in March and April (excluding Golden Week). This can make for a more relaxed travel experience while still enjoying the benefits of good weather and beautiful nature.

May can be a fantastic time to explore Japan, provided you plan around Golden Week if you wish to avoid the crowds. Here’s what else to expect when traveling to Japan in May.

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🌡️ Average Weather in Japan in May

Northern Japan in May

Northern Japan in May, encompassing regions such as Hokkaido and Tohoku, greets travelers with the fresh bloom of spring. Unlike the warmer parts of Japan, spring arrives a bit later here, making May a month when cherry blossoms reach their peak, especially in Hokkaido.

The weather is relatively cool, with temperatures ranging from 9°C (48°F) in colder areas to about 17°C (63°F) in more temperate zones.

Tourism picks up as the unique landscape of Northern Japan in May becomes a draw for those seeking the tranquillity of its national parks and the charm of its rural landscapes. However, you should be prepared for cooler nights and occasional rain showers.

Central and Eastern Japan in May

Central and Eastern Japan in May, including Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Nagano, experiences a delightful transformation in May.

The weather is comfortably warm, with average temperatures hovering between 15°C (59°F) and 22°C (72°F), providing perfect conditions for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

This region, known for its mix of modern urban landscapes and scenic natural beauty, becomes particularly lively in May. You can expect a mix of sunny days interspersed with mild rainy periods, which contribute to the lushness of the region’s parks and gardens.

Tourism in Central Japan in May is vibrant, driven by the pleasant weather and the array of cultural events and festivals that take place during this time.

Southern Japan in May

Southern Japan in May, including regions like Kyushu and the southern part of Honshu, welcomes the month with warm temperatures and a festive atmosphere.

The climate is notably warmer here than in the north, with temperatures ranging from 18°C (64°F) to 28°C (82°F), signaling the approach of summer.

This part of Japan is renowned for its lush landscapes, hot springs, and vibrant city life, all of which can be comfortably enjoyed in May’s mild weather. Rainfall is sporadic, so while an umbrella might be necessary on occasion, there are plenty of sunny days to explore the outdoor attractions.

Tourism flourishes as visitors flock to enjoy the beaches, natural parks, and cultural festivals unique to Southern Japan.

Western Japan in May

Western Japan in May, including areas like Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka) and Chugoku (Hiroshima), experiences a beautiful blend of spring and early summer.

The temperatures are comfortable, ranging from 17°C (63°F) to 25°C (77°F), creating ideal conditions for exploring the historical and cultural riches of the region.

May marks a time of vibrant greenery, with the gardens of Kyoto, the bustling streets of Osaka, and the peaceful parks of Hiroshima all offering unique experiences under the pleasant spring weather.

Light rain is possible, enhancing the beauty of the region’s natural landscapes. Tourism is at its peak, as visitors come to experience the array of festivals and events that celebrate the season’s beauty and the region’s heritage.

🎎 What is special in May in Japan?

May in Japan is special for several reasons, offering unique experiences that draw travelers from around the world. Here are some highlights that make Japan in May a remarkable time to visit:

Late Spring Weather

The weather is arguably at its best in May, with mild temperatures and low humidity making it comfortable for exploring both cities and the countryside. It’s an excellent time for outdoor activities, such as hiking, picnicking in parks, and garden tours.

Golden Week

Though one of the busiest travel times in Japan, Golden Week at the beginning of May is a period filled with festivities and cultural events. It’s a time when many Japanese travel, partake in local festivals, and enjoy the spring weather.

While it’s a busy time for tourism, the vibrant atmosphere and numerous events happening around the country offer a unique insight into Japanese culture and traditions.

Hokkaido’s Cherry Blossoms

hokkaido cherry blossom

While the cherry blossom season has ended in most parts of Japan by May, Hokkaido, the northernmost island, is just starting to celebrate its sakura season.

The later blooming in Hokkaido allows visitors who missed the earlier blossoms in the south another chance to enjoy this iconic sight.

Tea Harvest Season

May is also the time for the first tea harvest of the year, known as the “first flush.” Regions famous for tea production, such as Shizuoka and Uji in Kyoto, are bustling with activity.

You can enjoy fresh, high-quality green tea and even participate in tea-picking experiences in some areas.

Nature and Flowers


Beyond cherry blossoms, May is a time when many other flowers are in bloom, including wisteria, azaleas, and peonies.

Parks and gardens across Japan, such as the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, showcase these beautiful flowers, offering stunning landscapes and photo opportunities.

Gotochi Gourmet and Seasonal Food

The famous Sakura Cherry Blossom mochi is only available in Japan during Spring!

The pleasant weather of May also coincides with the availability of seasonal delicacies such as bamboo shoots (takenoko), fresh seafood, and various spring vegetables. Many regions have local festivals celebrating these seasonal foods, where visitors can enjoy local cuisine and specialties.

May in Japan is a month filled with natural beauty, cultural festivities, and culinary delights, making it a special time for visitors to experience the diverse facets of Japanese culture and traditions.

🌸 Is there still cherry blossom in Japan in May?

Yes, there is still a chance to see cherry blossoms in Japan in May, particularly in the northern regions and higher altitudes where the blooming occurs later than in the more temperate and southern areas.

In May, Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan, experiences its cherry blossom season. Cities like Sapporo, Hakodate, and Hirosaki have cherry trees that bloom beautifully in early to mid-May.

Hirosaki Park, in particular, is famous for its late-blooming cherry trees and is considered one of the best places in Japan to enjoy cherry blossoms during this month.

Some parts of the Tohoku region may also have late-blooming cherry blossoms early in May. The higher elevations and northern latitude of this area contribute to the delayed bloom compared to Tokyo, Kyoto, and other more southerly locations.

Additionally, mountainous areas across Japan might still have some cherry blossoms in early May. The colder temperatures at higher elevations delay the blooming season, providing a later opportunity to enjoy the sakura.

✈️ If you’re planning a trip to Japan in May specifically to see cherry blossoms, it’s best to head to Hokkaido or research specific locations known for late-blooming varieties. Join our cherry blossoms trip to Hokkaido in May!

🥷 Is Japan crowded in May?

Japan can be relatively crowded in May, especially during certain periods and in popular tourist destinations. The first week of May marks Golden Week, one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons.

This period consists of several national holidays, and many Japanese take this opportunity to travel both domestically and internationally.

Popular tourist spots, major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, as well as travel-related services (trains, planes, and accommodations), can be extremely crowded and booked well in advance.

Plan and book 6 months in advance, especially if you are coming from the USA or Canada!

While these factors contribute to the higher number of visitors and potential crowding, traveling in May can still be a rewarding experience with careful planning.

Booking accommodations and transportation in advance, avoiding travel during Golden Week if possible, and visiting less popular or off-the-beaten-path destinations can help mitigate the impact of crowds.

🥵 Is it hot in Japan in May?

Japan in May offers warm and pleasant weather across the country, but it is not considered hot by summer standards. It’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors before the more intense heat and humidity of the summer months set in.

Here’s a general overview of the heat in Japan in May:

  • Northern Japan (Hokkaido) sees cooler temperatures, with averages ranging from 9°C (48°F) to 17°C (63°F). It’s springtime in Hokkaido, and while it may feel warm during the day, it’s not typically hot.
  • Central and Eastern Japan (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Nagano) experiences mild weather, with average temperatures between 15°C (59°F) and 22°C (72°F). The climate is very comfortable, with warm days and cooler nights. It’s an ideal time for outdoor activities without the discomfort of high heat or humidity.
  • Southern Japan (Kyushu, Okinawa) begins to warm up more significantly, with temperatures often ranging from 18°C (64°F) to 28°C (82°F). While it can feel quite warm, especially towards the end of the month, it is not typically as hot as the summer months (June through August), when temperatures and humidity levels rise sharply.
  • Western Japan (Kansai region, including Kyoto and Osaka) also enjoys warm and pleasant weather, with temperatures similar to those in central and eastern parts of the country, ranging from 17°C (63°F) to 25°C (77°F). The weather is conducive to exploring the region’s historical and cultural sites.

🥶 Is May still cold in Japan?

Japan in May transitions from spring to early summer, bringing mild and pleasant temperatures to most of the country.

While “cold” is relative and can depend on what one is accustomed to, May in Japan is generally not considered cold, especially in comparison to the winter months.

However, the temperature can vary significantly depending on the region:

  • Northern Japan (Hokkaido and Tohoku): In these areas, May sees the end of spring with temperatures that might be considered cool, particularly in early May or at higher elevations. Average temperatures in Hokkaido, for example, can range from 9°C (48°F) to 17°C (63°F). While not cold, evenings and early mornings can still be brisk, and visitors might need a light jacket.
  • Central and Eastern Japan (including Tokyo and the Kanto region, Nagano): Here, the climate is milder, with average temperatures usually ranging from 15°C (59°F) to 22°C (72°F). This region experiences very comfortable weather in May, ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
  • Southern Japan (Kyushu, Okinawa): This region experiences warmer temperatures, with averages ranging from 18°C (64°F) to 28°C (82°F). It’s quite warm in these areas, and it definitely doesn’t feel cold.
  • Western Japan (Kansai region, including Kyoto, Osaka): Similar to central Japan, Western Japan enjoys mild to warm temperatures, typically ranging from 17°C (63°F) to 25°C (77°F), providing a comfortable climate for exploring the many historical and cultural attractions.

☔ Is May rainy season in Japan?

May in Japan is not typically considered part of the rainy season for most of the country. The rainy season, known as “tsuyu” or “baiu,” usually begins in early June and lasts until mid to late July, affecting various regions at different times.

During this period, Japan experiences frequent and sometimes heavy rainfall, which is essential for rice planting. However, the situation varies across Japan in May. Here’s an overview:

  • Okinawa and the Southern Islands often enter the rainy season earlier than the rest of Japan, sometimes starting in May. Visitors to Okinawa in May might experience the beginning of the rainy season, characterized by higher humidity and occasional showers.
  • Mainland Japan, including popular tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, generally enjoys mild and pleasant weather in May, with many clear, sunny days. While there can be occasional rain, it is not as persistent or heavy as during the rainy season that starts in June.
  • Northern Japan and Hokkaido are less affected by the rainy season, and May can be particularly pleasant with mild temperatures and less rainfall compared to the southern regions. Hokkaido, in fact, doesn’t have a distinct rainy season like the rest of Japan, making May a great time to visit.

While May sees occasional rain showers across Japan, it is not considered the rainy season, except possibly in Okinawa and the southern islands.

🌀 Is May typhoon season in Japan?

May is not typically considered typhoon season in Japan. The typhoon season in Japan generally runs from July to October, peaking in August and September.

During these months, Japan can experience strong storms that bring heavy rainfall and high winds, impacting travel plans and outdoor activities.

Japan in May enjoys relatively mild and pleasant weather, with lower chances of typhoons. The country transitions from spring to early summer during this period, making it one of the more favorable times for travel due to the comfortable temperatures and lower likelihood of severe weather.

⛩️ Best places to visit in Japan in May

Tokyo in May (Kanto Region)

Tokyo in May welcomes visitors with mild and comfortable weather. The city transitions from the cooler spring temperatures to the warmer early signs of summer, making outdoor activities highly enjoyable.

During this time, daytime temperatures typically range from 15°C (59°F) to 22°C (72°F), while evenings can be cooler. Rainfall increases slightly towards the end of the month, so carrying an umbrella is advisable.

The pleasant weather in Tokyo in May attracts a significant number of tourists, especially given the numerous parks and gardens blooming with late spring flowers.

Kyoto (Kansai Region)

Kyoto in May is a spectacle of late spring beauty, with the ancient capital of Japan showcasing its lush greenery against the backdrop of historic temples and shrines.

The weather is comfortably warm, with average temperatures ranging from 17°C (63°F) to 25°C (77°F), perfect for exploring the city’s outdoor attractions. Occasional rain showers contribute to the freshness of the air and the vibrancy of the season’s blooms.

Osaka (Kansai Region)

Osaka in May presents an inviting climate for tourists, characterized by mild and pleasant temperatures that range from 18°C (64°F) to 25°C (77°F).

This period marks the transition from spring to early summer, with the city’s urban landscape and waterfront areas becoming lively hubs of activity.

While occasional rain showers are possible, they rarely hinder the exploration of Osaka’s vibrant street food scene, shopping districts, and attractions like Universal Studios Japan.

Tourism in Osaka in May is bustling, as the weather supports extensive urban exploration and outdoor dining.

Hokkaido in May

Visiting Hokkaido in May offers a unique experience distinct from the rest of Japan due to its cooler climate and delayed spring. Temperatures in Hokkaido during this month are cooler than in Japan’s other popular regions, with averages ranging from 9°C (48°F) to 17°C (63°F).

This is the time when spring finally blooms in full across the island, with cherry blossoms and other flowers peaking, offering breathtaking landscapes.

Tourism-wise, May is an excellent time to visit Hokkaido as the island is less crowded, and visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and outdoor activities such as hiking in national parks without the summer crowds.

Okinawa in May

Okinawa in May is a paradise for beach lovers and those seeking a tropical getaway. The island prefecture enjoys a subtropical climate, with May temperatures ranging from 21°C (70°F) to 29°C (84°F), making it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.

The sea temperature is also inviting, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the beautiful beaches and marine life. However, it’s worth noting that May also marks the start of the rainy season in Okinawa, so occasional showers and overcast days are possible.

Despite this, tourism in Okinawa remains high due to the warm weather and the allure of island attractions, including cultural sites and natural parks. Travelers are advised to plan for some indoor activities as well, just in case of rain.

🎌 Festivals in Japan in May

Japan in May is vibrant with numerous festivals celebrating the beauty of spring, cultural traditions, and local history. Here’s a selection of notable festivals taking place across the country during this month:

Hakata Dontaku Festival


📍 Location: Fukuoka City

One of Japan’s largest and oldest festivals, Hakata Dontaku features parades with participants in traditional costumes, dancing to the rhythm of wooden clappers called “Shamoji.”

It attracts over 2 million people each year and includes performances, flower cars, and a lively atmosphere in the heart of Fukuoka.

Sanja Matsuri

Photo: Torsodog

📍 Location: Asakusa Shrine, Tokyo

Sanja Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s three great Shinto festivals, drawing millions to Asakusa. The festival is famous for its lively processions, traditional music, and dance performances.

Hundreds of mikoshi (portable shrines) are paraded through the streets to bring blessings to the local community.

Aoi Matsuri

Photo: Nullumayulife

📍 Location: Kyoto

One of Kyoto’s three major festivals, Aoi Matsuri is characterized by its elegant procession from the Imperial Palace to the Kamo Shrines. Participants wear Heian-era costumes, and the parade includes ox-drawn carts and horseback archery, reflecting Kyoto’s aristocratic heritage.

Kanda Matsuri

Photo: 江戸村のとくぞう

📍 Location: Kanda Myojin Shrine, Tokyo

Kanda Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s most important festivals, featuring a massive parade that weaves through central Tokyo, including the districts of Kanda, Nihombashi, and Akihabara.

The festival is known for its elaborate floats, traditional music, and the carrying of mikoshi to bring good fortune to the local businesses and residents.

🎎 Note: Kanda Matsuri festival occurs in mid-May of odd-numbered years, alternating with Sanno Matsuri in even-numbered years.

Takigi O-Noh (Firelight Noh Performance)

Photo: 伊藤善行

📍 Location: Nara

Held at the Nara National Museum’s outdoor Noh theater, this event features traditional Noh and Kyogen performances illuminated by the light of burning torches. The unique atmosphere of the performances under the starlit sky and the flickering flames creates a mystical experience.

Hiroshima Flower Festival

Photo: Taisyo

📍 Location: Hiroshima

Coinciding with Golden Week, the Hiroshima Flower Festival attracts over a million visitors. The festival celebrates flowers, peace, and spring, featuring parades, musical performances, and a variety of entertainment activities across several stages in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and along the main boulevards.

Shunki Reitaisai (Grand Festival of Spring)

📍 Location: Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture

Held at the Toshogu Shrine, this festival honors Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. It’s known for its procession of a thousand samurai, a stunning display of Edo-period costumes, armor, and weaponry, making it a visually captivating event that transports spectators back in time.

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