close

Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

GUIDE May

Crowds and radiant warmth

May is the Goldilocks Zone of the Japanese calendar. Neither too hot nor too cold, it's the perfect time to take a trip and just about everyone does. The Golden Week holiday at the start of the month marks the peak of this period with packed trains and hotels being the norm. If you must travel in the first week of May, be sure to book early.

Know Before You Go

  • The Golden Week holiday period begins on April 29 and ends on May 5, and is one of Japan's busiest travel periods
  • With major tourist destination packed, May is a good time to explore lower-key options
  • The giant carp streamers you can see around rural Japan in May are koinobori, traditional decorations for Children's Day (May 5)
  • The calmer second half of May is better for traveling and a good chance to see Japan before the rainy season in June

Busy times, busy places

Certain key locations and popular stops on bus tours can get very busy at the beginning of May. If you wish to avoid crowds, save trips to Okinawa , Kyoto , and Hakone until after May 5.

Okinawa and Kyoto are among some of Japan's most popular early May destinations

That's not to say that you should avoid Kyoto for all of May. The Aoi Matsuri on the 15th and Mifune Matsuri on the 20th are classic Japanese festivals held after the tourist rush. Early booking is still a good idea. Down south in Okinawa , the start of the rainy season in early May sees crowds taper off as the weather turns unpredictable.

Floral highlights around Japan

Apart from Hokkaido and northern Tohoku where they last till mid-May, cherry blossoms have either thinned out or vanished by the start of the month. The good news is there are plenty of other flowering plants to enjoy in various parts of Japan.

The cherry blossoms in Hakodate last through until mid-May

In Tochigi Prefecture , Ashikaga Flower Park hosts a wisteria viewing event from April 18 to May 20. The month-long festival showcases 150 year old wisteria trees, illuminated by night for added effect. Within easy reach of Tokyo , it's the perfect way to spend a leisurely night in spring.

Ashikaga Flower Park

Another good place for wisteria is the Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka . Peaking in early May, Kawachi boasts a long wisteria tunnel perfect for photos.

The wisteria tunnel at the Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden

You can find other floral hotspots all around Japan. The hillsides of Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki come alive with the soft blue of countless Nemophila blossoms (late April to mid-May), while in nearby Saitama pink and purple shibazakura, or moss flox ignite the fields with radiant hues (mid-April to late May).

Nemophilia and shibazakura in Ibaraki and Saitama

Spring sumo and festival fun in Tokyo

The May sumo tournament takes place in Tokyo over two weeks from May 13 to 27, with advance tickets available online from April 7. The last day promises more drama than usual as final results shape the careers of competitors, sometimes cementing all-important rankings.

Tokyo sumo tournaments are held in January, May and September

If you're in the capital around May 20, consider attending the Sanja Matsuri at Sensoji Temple. This major festival event, in which portable shrines are paraded through the streets, attracts over a million people annually.

On a more sedate note, Tokyo Big Site hosts the annual Design Festa in which 10,000 artists from around the world display their works in a huge event space.

Alpine excursions

With Kamikochi and The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opening in April, a third option for exploring the Northern Japan Alps arrives in May with the opening of the Kurobe Gorge Railway .

Snow still lingers in the mountains around Kamikochi in May

From the first of the month, you can ride the rails across deep ravines into the still snowy Tateyama Mountains. Though crowded at peak periods, it offers a nice alternative to the usual tourist fare.

Explore Kurobe Gorge and the Tateyama mountains from May

Other Seasonal Guides

Popular Events