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Best time to visit Kyoto

2017.6.28

When is best time to visit Kyoto?

Want to go on a trip to Kyoto!
Many of you might be wondering when would be the best time to visit Kyoto.
There are distinct four seasons in Japan, and the weather, the temperature, must-haves and events to be held may vary accordingly.

Since you are going all the way to Kyoto, you might as well visit at the best time to enjoy it.

So, we created a list of must-sees in Kyoto in each season of the year in this article!

Read it, and choose the best time for you to visit Kyoto!  

 

 Spring: March to May

Key points!

A lot of foreigners visit Kyoto in spring.
It is, of course, because of cherry blossoms (Sakura).
Cherry blossom, the Japanese national flower, and Kyoto go so well together.
That is why spring would be the best time to visit Kyoto for those who would like to enjoy the Kyoto-esque, unique atmosphere to the fullest!

There are countless places to enjoy viewing cherry blossoms, from Maruyama Park, Kiyomizu-Dera (temple) to the Philosopher’s Walk (what a cool name…).

Cherry blossoms beside the way of philosopher's walk.

 

sakura at maruyama park

A number of tourists reaches its peak from the end of March to mid-April, when cherry blossoms fully bloom.

On the other hand, we do not recommend a Kyoto trip in April for those who would like to do sightseeing when there are not many people around!

Weather

Chilly days tend to continue until March in spring in Kyoto. It gets warmer during daytime in April and May, but is often still cold at night.
Spring in Kyoto is fundamentally nice and warm, although you shouldn’t underestimate it. It’s always nice to bring some extra clothes!

Highest temperature(°C) Average temperature(°C) Lowest temperature(°C) Precipitation(mm)
March 13.4 8.4 4.0 113.3
April 19.9 14.2 9.0 115.7
May 24.6 19.0 14.0 160.8

 Late spring: Mid-May to early June

Key points!

This season called late spring is actually little-known but a great time for sightseeing.

When cherry blossoms fall and Golden Week (consecutive national holidays at the beginning of May in Japan) comes to an end, a number of tourists in Kyoto decreases and it would be very easy to visit touristic places which used to be so crowded in April.


May in Japan is called the season of fresh green, and you can see new green leaves coming out on trees.
This creates a very beautiful scenery which can even compete with cherry blossoms in spring or autumn leaves in autumn, and captivates those who see it.     

gio-ji

This is a photo of the temple called Gio-ji temple.
This out-of-this-world scenery can only be seen around this season of the year!
How beautiful!

Weather

The weather is very nice during this season.
It is not too hot or too cold, not too humid or too dry; very pleasant.

You can wear a short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt, a pair of jeans or a skirt, or anything; you can enjoy dressing up and down any way you want!

It is not a well-known and popular season so to speak, but might be the best time if you wish to visit Kyoto when it’s nice and quiet! Highly recommended.

Rainy season: Mid-June to early July

Around this time, Japan has a rainy season with heavy rain almost every day.  

It is humid and hot. Although the trip will be cheaper and there will be less tourists, we can’t really recommend you visit during this season…

But the hydrangea in the rainy season is very beautiful!

Highest temperature

(°C)

Average temperature

(°C)

Lowest temperature (°C) Precipitation (mm)
June 27.8 23.0 18.8 214.0

Summer: Mid-July to August

Key points!

It is extremely hot in summer in Kyoto.

It’s the season when the most exciting events such as Gion Matsuri (festival) and Gozan no Okuribi (Daimonji festival) are held in Kyoto.

Gion Matsuri is one of three biggest festivals in Japan. Especially during eve of the festival (July 14th to 16th), or before Yamahoko Junko starts, attracts many people and certain streets, which are part of the downtown area of Kyoto city, become vehicle-free.
On top of that, many portable shrines come and go, street stalls line up and the festival gets very exciting.

Gozan no Okuribi is an event to see off the spirits of ancestors who came back to their living family members on Obon (festival of the dead).

It is a traditional festival in which five giant bonfires, shaped in Japanese kanji characters such as “大 (large of great)” “妙 (wondrous dharma)” and “法 (wondrous dharma)”, are lit on five (six in reality) mountains of Kyoto.

Gozan no Okuribi seen with your eyes in summer in Kyoto would be extremely powerful and melancholic, and will definitely be one of the greatest memories of your life.  

okuribi-myo

There are many fireworks festivals held everywhere in summer, too.

It is a Japanese summer tradition to wear a yukata (summer kimono) and visit a fireworks festival. And it is of no exception in Kyoto.
For those who want to experience festivals in Kyoto, summer is the best time to visit without doubt.

Strongly recommended.

Weather

Summer in Kyoto is notorious for being extremely hot. The highest temperature continues to exceed 30°C every day, plus, it is very humid; you cannot go there without proper heat stroke prevention!     

And one more thing to be careful about summer in Kyoto is a sudden shower. It tends to rain heavily all of a sudden in summer in Kyoto, even though it was sunny until a minute ago.

It’s always better to carry portable rain gear just to be on the safe side.  

Highest temperature

(°C)

Average temperature

(°C)

Lowest temperature (°C) Precipitation (mm)
July 31.5 26.8 23.2 220.4
August 33.3 28.2 24.3 132.1

 

Autumn: September to November

Key points!

When it comes to autumn in Kyoto, it is famous for autumn leaves of deciduous trees which turn red and yellow.

Many people say that mountains of Kyoto covered with red and yellow leaves are more beautiful than any scenery in the world.
It is something one would like to experience once in a lifetime.

There are countless spots to see autumn leaves in Kyoto, from Arashiyama, Tofuku-ji (temple), Kitano Tenmangu (shrine) to Sanzenin (temple).

tofukuji

Each popular spot for viewing autumn leaves has a different and unique way to show autumn leaves. They are all highly recommended.  

And people from around the world visit Kyoto, hoping to see the beauty of autumn leaves. All the touristic places are extremely crowded almost all the time especially in November, when autumn leaves are the most beautiful, so bear that in mind.

Weather

It’s still quite hot in September. But past October, and when November comes, you will experience more chilly days and we recommend you go out with something to cover yourself up, like a hoodie or a cardigan.

What to be cautious about is that there are a lot of typhoons in autumn in Japan.
It will be disappointing to come across a typhoon when you come all the way to Kyoto for sightseeing…autumn is a comparatively sunny season, but make sure to check the weather and try to avoid a typhoon!

If you want to experience autumn leaves in Kyoto, autumn is the best season for you.

It does get crowded, but the weather is nice and we recommend it!

Highest temperature(°C) Average temperature(°C) Lowest temperature(°C) Precipitation(mm)
September 28.8 24.1 20.3 176.2
October 22.9 17.8 13.6 120.9
November 17.0 12.1 7.8 71.3

 

Winter: December to February

Key points!

Many of you might not have an idea what it’s like in winter in Kyoto.

Winter in Kyoto is severely cold every day, so a number of tourists, which was a lot in autumn, decreases rapidly and a quiet, calm city reappears.
It might not be well known, but there are many hidden charms in winter in Kyoto.  

One is the beauty of temples and shrines covered in snow.
The sceneries are so beautiful that they are even divine. They never fail to attract us.
A magical scenery which makes you want to stay there forever spreads before your eyes.

winter kiyomizudera Snow-covered Kiyomizu-dera

The second point is that accommodation fee is cheaper.

For there are many tourists in spring, summer and autumn, many accommodations charge higher fees during these seasons.  

On the contrary, in winter there are fewer tourists and accommodation fees tend to drop accordingly.

Expensive top-class hotels and luxurious ryokan (Japanese style hotels) which cost a lot and are harder to book in other seasons might charge less and might be easier to book in winter. You can experience luxury in Kyoto that in otherward cannot be experienced!

Also, the percentage of being able to book a hotel on your preferred date is higher in winter when the city is quiet, so it could be easier to make a plan.

If you want to enjoy quiet Kyoto at a reasonable price, winter is the best time!

Weather

Extremely chilly days continue from December to February in Kyoto. It feels like oh-so-hot summer was a dream.

Make sure to get prepared with a coat and a scarf, before your visit!

Highest temperature

(°C)

Average temperature

(°C)

Lowest temperature (°C) Precipitation (mm)
December 11.6 7.0 3.2 48.0
January 8.9 4.6 1.2 50.3
February 9.7 5.1 1.4 68.3

Did you find the best season?

Well, we introduced a year in Kyoto; have you decided when is the best time for you to visit?

A tip is to decide the most important purpose of a Kyoto trip for you.
Then you might know when is the best time to visit naturally!

To look back, spring would be the best time if you want to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto with an authentic atmosphere, summer if you want to experience traditional festivals, autumn if you want to enjoy autumn leaves, and winter if you want to travel reasonably!

As mentioned above, the time between spring and summer, from around the second week of May to the first week of June is a hidden yet great time to visit.
Not so many tourists are around, the weather is very nice and the fresh green on trees is beautiful. Everything is wonderful!

It is not the season that might come to your mind at first, but is the best time if you wish to go look around touristic places in Kyoto!