Guide to Spring in Tokyo

Zara Sekhavati
spring in Tokyo
Nice spring cat nap at Shinjuku Gyoen | Photo by torne used under CC

Spring in Tokyo is arguably the best time of year to visit—and it’s all thanks to hanami. This is an incredible period in the calendar to see the city (and Japan as a whole) at its best with cherry blossoms trees blooming all over. The temperatures are also a reason to travel in Japan at this time, with it being quite mild. After May the weather gets hotter and in the summer it can be incredibly and uncomfortably humid.

So you’ve bought your ticket, booked your accommodation—now what? What to pack? What to see? What to eat? These questions might be racing through your head, but we’ve compiled a handy guide for you to use when traveling around Tokyo during the springtime. Get a pen, take notes and rest assured you’re going to have a fabulous time in this most magnificent season.

Temperature in Tokyo

To go into more detail about temperatures in spring, you’ll find that March in Tokyo will give you an average of 13 degrees Celcius in the afternoons, with temperatures at 5°C in the mornings and evenings. April then increases to 18.5°C in the day and May it goes to a further 23°C. Morning and evening temperatures at this time drop to around 15°C. You can find that the first half of spring may give you cold days with even some snow, whereas the second half gives you plenty of sun with clear weather—hurrah!

Hanami

Without a doubt, cherry blossom season is the highlight of spring in Japan. Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is a well-loved tradition and custom where friends, family members and sometimes even coworkers go out to eat and drink all together under the trees to look at the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Make sure you read through our guide to the best blossom viewing spots in Tokyo (with some less-crowded options).

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For Tokyo, blooming starts at around the 25th of March and should be in full bloom by the first few days of April. But hurry quick to Japan for the cherry blossom season if you intend to do so. Unfortunately this season doesn’t last long and it is advised to plan your trip while taking a look at predictions for the year’s sakura (cherry blossom).

sakura tokyo
Photo by Kimon Berlin used under CC

Seasonal foods

Spring is the time of sprouting in Japan. Enjoy foods such as bamboo shoots, spring cabbage and broccolini to name a few. There are foods such as soft seawards, the Japanese halfbeak and clams to show us that spring has well and truly arrived. Strawberries, funnily enough are very representative of the spring season in Japan too.

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What to wear for spring in Tokyo

Spring temperatures can vary, so pack accordingly to when you are going within the season. March can still be cold, so be sure to pack a thick coat. With April comes better weather, but still take out a cardigan, jacket or coat, especially if you are wandering around at nighttime. May proves the most pleasant month in terms of weather in spring. You could probably do with a long sleeved top and cardigan for this month.

Springtime festivals and events

Yabusame

Another reason to look forward to spring is the chance to see the traditional Japanese martial art of yabusame (horseback archery). There are two events that take place in April, one in Asakusa, and the other in Kamakura. Riders, who are dressed in hunting costumes from the 12th-13th centuries, are tasked with hitting as many targets as they can in a run. And for a fun spring element, targets are loaded with pink and white confetti symbolizing the petals of the blossoms.

Horseback archery | Photo by Grigoris Miliaresis

More than just blossoms

With spring comes flowers, but we’re not talking about cherry blossoms this time. Wisteria festivals are also a popular draw during this time for tourists and locals alike. You can find this beautiful flower at Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo, or opt for a day trip to Ashikaga City Wisteria Festival.

See our guide on where to see spring flowers in Tokyo, like fields of nemophila, tulips and more.



Celebrating the kids of Japan

The biggie for this month is Tango no Sekku, which was once Boys’ Festival. This lands on the 5th May in Japan and traditionally it was a celebration in dedication to boys. Since 1948, the day has slightly changed and it is national holiday and is now known as Children’s Day. You will see lots of koinobori (carp banners) displayed around the country at this time. This is supposed to symbolize success due to vitality.

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Photo by Takuya used under CC

If you don’t like dolls, this isn’t the festival for you, that’s for sure. If you do read on! The Hinamatsuri Festival is celebrated on the 3rd of March. This is the day that families with young daughters pray for their future happiness and health. Japanese girls display their ceremonial dolls which are dressed in kimono fabrics on this day. These are also passed down from mother to daughter. A set of hina dolls consists of 15 dolls, so you can really see a lot of figures during this time around Tokyo, and the rest of the country! The festival is mostly celebrated at home, but families with daughters can often be seen at their local temple. Tokyo also has the Kobayashi Doll Museum, so you can see and learn more about more if you’re not in the city in early March.

Spring really is arguably the best time to visit Japan. The cherry blossom season is either blooming away or is able to be seen in full display during this period, and is not to be missed if possible. Temperatures are mild and manageable and prove easier and more ideal for traveling in. There are a number of festivals and events at that time, so there is plenty to do. An extremely special time for Japan, go and enjoy it to the max during the spring.

Looking for a tour guide to help you make the most of your time in Tokyo? Read our guide to tour guides for some ideas.

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