What do anime, sushi, Sumo wrestling, baseball games, Pokémon, imperial palaces, and samurais have in common? … Guessed it yet? That’s right, they’re all waiting for you to experience in wonderful, Tokyo, Japan!
Tokyo might be the most dynamic, innovative, culturally infused, and mind-blowingly popular megacity in the world. You can find and experience just about anything you’re looking for there, too, which makes it all the more reason to pack your bags, bookmark your favorite top 20 things to do in Tokyo list, and book your next flight to Japan.
But before you get started planning your trip, there’s just one simple but very important question to ask: When is the best time to visit Tokyo?
Summer Months in Tokyo Bring Sweltering Heat and Humidity
Ask yourself: Is summer the best time to visit Tokyo? And then ask: Actually, is summer even the best time to visit anywhere?
Tokyo is sweltering hot and humid from late June through August, with temperatures climbing from around 75°F to 90°F over the course of summer.
With the sun at its brightest, though, everything in Tokyo, from its buildings and landmarks, to parks and boat rides on the water, will look and feel the most vibrant it’ll ever be throughout the year, which makes summer months in the city perfect for picture taking. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and the Metropolitan Government Building observatories are best for bird’s eye photography of Tokyo.
There are plenty of popular festivals that take place during the summer, too, like Mitama Mitsuri (held in July), where thousands of lanterns and ornaments are strung at Yasukuni Shrine to commemorate Japan’s fallen soldiers, and Obon, Tokyo Pride, and Asakusa Samba Festival in August.
If you love basking under a blistering sun, summer might just be the best time to visit Tokyo, err, so long as you don’t forget that these same sizzling months will also produce occasional rain showers, so don’t forget to pack an umbrella.
Winter May Bring the Cold, But Tokyo is Still a Captivating Place to Visit
Winter months in Tokyo (December – February) are blistering cold but still very enchanting. Temperatures drop between 30°F and 55°F, and wearing a thick jacket, beanie, and scarf, is critical to staying warm. It’s not uncommon to see snow either, though it doesn’t typically stick around long.
You’ll notice that popular outdoor summer treats like Somen noodles, meat skewers, grilled fish, watermelon, and Kakigori shaved ice are replaced by savory Nabe hotpot and soothing stewed meat and vegetables dishes.
Fun activities to partake in during Tokyo’s winters are relaxing in a local hot spring spa at a sento (communal bath house), exploring shrines and temples, attending the Outer Garden Gingko and Chichibu Night Festivals, visiting Roppongi and Ennichi Terrace Christmas Markets, and viewing elaborate Christmas and New Year’s illuminations and decorations at various locations throughout the city.
So, When’s the Best Time to Visit Tokyo?
March through May, and September to November, are the best times to visit Tokyo.
The bitter cold air gradually cools and starts to warm in March. If you’re a big fan of Japanese animation, Tokyo’s AnimeJapan Convention—the world’s largest anime festival—is usually held at the tail end of the month. Additionally, late March/early April provides the perfect opportunity to see Tokyo’s world-renowned cherry blossoms, which are best viewed at Ueno Park, Shinjuku National Garden, and Chidorigafuchi.
By May, Tokyo’s weather is warm and delightful (60°F to 75°F) and you’ll want to experience Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa—Tokyo’s largest and most popular festival—which is full of large processions, geishas, performers, food, and fun activities.
Tokyo’s summer heat and humidity dissipates in September, paving the way for warmer temperatures and cool, gentle evening breezes in October. As November rolls around, the city’s beautiful autumn foliage transforms parks, roads, and walkways into stunning sea beds of orange, yellow, red, and green leaves. Believe it or not, some people fly all the way to Tokyo just to experience the city’s remarkable beauty during the month!
Well, now that you know when’s the best time to visit Tokyo, what’s next? Do you prefer the cold, or are you searching for some summer fun in the city? No matter what time of year you land in Tokyo, just make sure to have an empty stomach and your best camera ready. Safe and happy travels!