Spring is arguably one of the most beautiful seasons as flowers begin to bloom, temperatures warm, and the snow begins to recede. What better time to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world and experience the many activities involved with their spring season? While always a beautiful nation, spring offers sights you can’t see in any other month and unique activities that are definitely worth your time participating in. Whether you’re planning your first trip or planning a return trip, these are some great activities that you should participate in during the spring season in Japan!
In Japan, the spring season usually has its peak between late April and early May. The snow from the mountains begins to recede and temperatures climb to a slightly comfortable 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). While that’s still a tad on the cold side, you should be fine with light outer layers as long as you don’t travel too far north. However, it’s important to remember that temperatures are not set in stone and can waver upwards or downwards, so plan accordingly. The end of April also signifies the start of “Golden Week”, in which most of Japan goes on vacation for several days. To avoid heavy clutter around specific locations/activities, try to avoid going around this time.
Before jumping into all of the fun activities at your disposal, some information on the most iconic one should first be divulged. Most people are likely already familiar with what a cherry blossom is, but few outside of Japan get to see them in their full beauty during spring. While other countries certainly have them, their abundance combined with the landscape makes for a truly beautiful scene. However, keep in mind that since it is spring, flowers are blooming which creates a lot of pollen. If you have allergies, make sure you’re prepared to handle all the pollen that nature will blow at you.
Cherry blossom viewing, called Hanami in Japan, is one of the most popular activities related to spring in Japan. Generally the best time to see cherry blossoms is between Mid-March to Mid-April, though it does vary somewhat depending on where you are in Japan. One of the best ways to enjoy this activity is to either make or buy a bento, find a bench to sit on, and enjoy both your meal and the beautiful sights. Unless you can find a very secluded spot, most places with cherry blossoms will be very crowded as many others join this activity.
A lot of the sweets / foods sold by vendors and department stores have fun and unique designs / types based on what the season is! A couple examples would be Sakura Mochi, Sakura Milk Tea, and Sakura Monburan Steam Cakes! While you could certainly find them in other seasons, enjoying these treats in the season they were made for is a delightful experience.
This festival is the oldest continuously running festival in the world that originated in the 6th century. It takes place each spring at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto and is intended to honor the Kamo gods (associated with the weather). The festival takes place over the course of two weeks, beginning with mounted Japanese archery (yabusame) on May 3rd. After that, several different processions mark the rest of the festival activities and people are welcome to stand on the sidelines and watch the traditional event.
Takayama Spring Festival
The Takayama Spring Festival, located in Takayama, Japan, is found in the Japanese alps and is generally one of the more out of the way and colder activities on this list. This festival started in 1652 and features 12 antique floats that are renown for their craftsmanship and officially designated as important cultural assets to Japan. Watching these floats go down the street is a beautiful sight and at night they’re lit up which allows for a scenic dining experience. The festival starts on April 14th and ends on April 15th every year.
When the capital of Japan moved from Kyoto (which had held that title for over 1000 years) to Tokyo in 1869, people were naturally upset. To combat this, the Geiko of Kyoto (Geisha) started an annual event called Miyako Odori (The Dance Of The Capital) to raise local morale. The now traditional spring dance has been held for over 140 consecutive years and is running from April 1st to April 23rd (Except Mondays) of every year. While somewhat political, as there are still some hopes that the capital will return to Kyoto, the dance is clearly spring themed and offers one of the best geisha experiences in Japan.
Ashikaga Flower Park
This garden dates back to 1870 and is most well known for its large hanging wisteria vines. Along with cherry blossoms, these followers are native to Japan and are one of its most popular flowers. The flowers here come in shades of pink, purple, and yellow. One of the most magical aspects of it, is you can directly walk under the hanging vines which, especially when lit up at night, makes for an out-of-this-world experience. Should you have very limited time in your travel schedule, this absolutely must be one of your stops as it can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world.
Yuki No Otani
If you love hiking and don’t mind a bit of cold weather, then this activity is perfect for you. The famous snow walled road, located in Tateyama Japan, features snow walls up to 20 meters in height that hug the road that leads to Tateyama Murodo Plain. It takes a massive amount of effort to keep the road free of snow, but tourists and natives alike are allowed to walk up and down it, or take a bus, and experience this phenomenal sight.
Japan has a wide variety of activities for people to partake in during the spring season. Most of these activities revolve around festivals, which are a lot of fun, and seeing nature reawaken from its winter slumber. If you’re visiting Japan, spring is definitely one of the best times to go and it’ll make for an unforgettable experience.