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Things To Do in Japan in Spring: Cherry Blossom Viewing, Festivals & Seasonal Foods

By The byFood Team
Updated: February 15, 2024

It's cliché, but it's true: Spring in Japan is a time for new beginnings. It's the start of the school year and the fiscal year (for companies who don't subscribe to the January-December calendar), and it's when the weather goes from being dry and cold to pleasant and mildly chilly. Spring is also when Japan welcomes the highest number of international visitors, making it the busiest season for hotels and popular sightseeing spots.

This said, if you've booked your flight and accommodation and you know you'll be here in spring, you can do a couple of quintessential activities and experiences to make the most of the season. 

Traveling to Japan this spring? Browse our seasonal selection and receive a 5% discount on your next booking.

Best Things To Do in Japan in Spring

  1. See Japan's Cherry Blossoms (Sakura)
  2. Check Out Some Spring Festivals
  3. Hot Springs & Onsen
  4. Sample Seasonal Japanese Food
  5. Shopping & Souvenirs
  6. Sign Up for a Cherry Blossom-Inspired Food Tour

1. See Japan's Cherry Blossoms (Sakura)

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Cherry blossoms are the highlight of spring in Japan. Sakura in central and southern Japan (think Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka) are estimated to bloom toward the end of March and early April. Cherry trees in Tohoku and Hokkaido will likely boom a few weeks later. Be sure to check the cherry blossom forecast for the latest dates!

You don't need to go out of your way to see cherry blossoms in Japan, but you can make some time for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) at one of the popular sakura spots. Check out our cherry blossom guides for where to see cherry blossoms around Japan:

Missing the sakura season by a few days? There are tons of other flowers that bloom at this time of year. When in Tokyo, make some time to visit these gardens, known for their lovely spring flora:

  • Hitachi Seaside Park
  • Koishikawa Korakuen
  • Jindai Botanical Gardens
  • Nezu Museum Garden
  • Ashikaga Flower Park

You can wander and see cherry blossoms around the capital on this Tokyo bike tour. In the spring, the route includes streets lined with blooming cherry trees!

2. Check Out Some Spring Festivals

Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo

With the cherry blossoms come a plethora of spring festivals. Some of the country's most lively celebrations take place this season. If your schedule allows, make some time to partake in the events, and try Japanese street food while you're there!

Jindaiji Daruma Doll Fair (March 3–4)

Jindaiji Temple, located in Chofu in west Tokyo, is strongly associated with daruma dolls. You can attend the temple's biggest celebration of this goal-setting trinket in early March. If there are goals you want to focus on this year, get a daruma for yourself and darken its left eye to solidify your wish.

Kanamara Matsuri (first Sunday of April)

This quirky Kawasaki City festival is sometimes nicknamed "the Phallus Festival" because of its ties to sexual health. It takes place at and around Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki City, about an hour or so from downtown Tokyo. 

Kanda Matsuri (mid-May)

Kanda Matsuri is one of Tokyo's biggest festivals, attracting hundreds of visitors annually. The main event is a parade of some 200 mikoshi around the city. 

Sanja Matsuri (third Saturday of May)

The Sanja Matsuri is one of the largest festivals of its kind in Japan, rivalling the Kanda Matsuri in attendance number and activities. The festival is held in honor of the three founders of Asakusa's Senso-ji Temple. 

For a comprehensive list of major festivals in Tokyo, check out this guide to festivals for every season

3. Hot Springs & Onsen

Kinosaki Onsen

Some people might be uncomfortable hitting a smoking-hot hot spring in the dead of winter. If you're sensitive to cold but want to try onsen in Japan, consider going in spring when the weather is comfortable and most days will be sunny. Popular onsen destinations near Tokyo are Kusatsu, Hakone and Shuzenji.

Kinosaki Onsen in central Japan is another great place to soak. This onsen town in Hyogo Prefecture has an especially high concentration of hot springs that accept visitors with tattoos, which is rare in Japan. Pro tip: Their English website is a great resource for first-time onsen goers if you're worried about making a faux pas. 

In Kyushu, Oita's Yufuin and Beppu are two of the biggest onsen towns with many options. 

4. Sample Seasonal Japanese Foods

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Japan is huge on seasonal cuisines, and spring has its fair share of seasonal treats that you can only try in March, April or May. 

One of the most popular Japanese spring foods is sakura mochi, a chewy mochi snack with red bean paste wrapped in a cherry tree leaf. 

Here are some other seasonal spring foods to keep an eye out for:

  1. Ichigo Daifuku (Strawberry Mochi)
  2. Cherry Blossom Sweets at 7-Eleven
  3. Starbucks' Cherry Blossom Drinks
  4. Sansai (Mountain Vegetables)
  5. Takenoko (Bamboo Shoots)

Want the deets on what's good in spring? Check out our guide to Japanese spring foods

Check out this hanami and food tour in Tokyo's Yanaka neighborhood to check cherry blossom viewing and spring food tasting in one go. 

5. Shopping and Souvenirs

Starbucks Sakura Merch

Now, there are a lot of souvenirs you can buy in Japan to bring home. If there's space left in your suitcase, you should also pick up some seasonal merchandise. 

In addition to buying a few back-ups of your favorite spring snacks, check out stores like Loft and Hands for a range of spring-inspired items you can only find at this time of year. Starbucks Japan also releases spring designs for their popular items, including limited-edition mugs, tumblers and other coffee and tea goods. They're a collector's item, so if you see one that you like, go for it!

6. Sign Up for a Spring-Inspired Food Tour in Japan

Let the experts guide you through the ins and outs of spring in Japan on a Japanese food tour. Luckily, working with hosts around Japan, byFood has a curated selection of experiences that are just perfect for this time of year. 

Don't miss out on these seasonal offerings! If you miss them, you'll have to wait a whole year to join the sakura fun. 

FAQ

When is spring in Japan?

Spring in Japan officially starts in March and ends in early May, though spring-like weather will settle more toward the end of March and early April.

What is spring weather like in Japan?

Temperatures in spring usually range between 5 and 20 degrees Celcius. So, while you might be comfortable wandering around in a T-shirt during the day, you'll want to pack a light sweater or jacket to go out in the evenings. 

If you're traveling to Tohoku or Hokkaido, remember there might still be snow. You might want to bring some light snow boots.

Sakura Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto

How crowded is Japan in the spring?

In 2019, Japan welcomed just under 3 million visitors in April. In 2024, the country is expecting inbound tourism to surpass its pre-pandemic numbers. Popular sightseeing spots in major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka will be significantly crowded. Best to give yourself ample time to wait in line for certain attractions and move at the crowd's pace. Accommodation and airfare prices also tend to spike during this period; your trip might cost you more than if you were to visit in September, for example. Our best advice is to book early and book everything. 

Visiting Japan in the spring can be hectic and a little stressful, but it's also when the country is at its most magical. It's definitely a bucket list-worthy trip!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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The byFood Team
Sharing our love of Japanese cuisine and culture, with the mission of spreading happiness through food.
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