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May Weather in Japan and Travel Tips

May Weather in Japan and Travel Tips

By Albee NingUpdated Mar. 2, 2022

The weather in Japan in May is sunny and warm. The average temperature is approximately 18°C (64°F) and the average monthly rainfall is only 145 mm (6 inches). This pleasant weather is good for outdoor activities, such as hiking and sightseeing.

The busy Golden Week holiday for the Japanese falls in May. Trains, hotels, shops, and restaurants are very busy during this time so please make sure to plan in advance if you are traveling in May.

May Weather Quick Facts

  • Average daily temperature range: 15–23°C (59–73°F), cool and warm
  • Average rainfall: 145 mm (6 inches), moderate
  • Clothing: T-shirts, shirts, blouses, skirts, light pants, and a warmer layer for the evenings
  • Tourism: May is one of the best times to travel to Japan to see the natural greenery and fresh scenery.

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Why You Should Visit Japan in May

May is the last month of spring, which is warm and comfortable. It is the most delightful month to visit Japan and enjoy some outdoor activities. You can enjoy seeing the late cherry blossoms in the north, go sightseeing with warm and sunny weather in the central region, and do water activities in the south with early summer weather.

may average temperature May Average Temperature
may average rainfall May Average Rainfall

Hokkaido for Trekking and to See Cherry Blossoms

The northern island of Hokkaido remains quite cool and sunny. The temperatures can get as high as 16°C (61°F) during the daytime in May while low temperatures of 7°C (45°F) occur at night. The month's average rainfall is only 74 mm (3 inches) with a high 217 hours of sunshine.

With the beautiful weather, late cherry blossoms appear in the northern part of Japan, which is your last chance to see cherry blossoms in Japan. Besides that, when you visit Hokkaido in May, it is an ideal time to hike in the mountains. Visiting the national parks can be the best choice of activity.

Honshu with Warm and Sunny Weather

Honshu is warm and sunny in May. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima have average highs of 22°C (72°F) and a low temperature of 14°C (57°F) in the early mornings. The average rainfall is about 109 mm (4 inches) and there are about 10 days of rain in total. By the end of the month, it is likely to be hot with the arrival of early summer.

With good weather, May is a good time to travel between the cities to discover the cultural and historic Japan or to enjoy the spring flowers and green scenery.

Okinawa for Water Activities

In Okinawa, May is the start of the rainy season with 249 mm of precipitation over 16 days. But the weather is quite pleasant with a high temperature of 27°C (81°F) and a low temperature of 24°C (75°F).

Visit Okinawa in May to enjoy the water sports, such as scuba diving or riding on a banana boat. It is recommended to avoid Golden Week (April 29th–May 5th) to enjoy fewer crowds and good prices.

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Tokyo Weather and Travel in May

Tokyo in May is more pleasant with the temperature ranging between 14°C (57°F) and 21°C (70°F). The most rainfall occurs in Tokyo in May with a moderately high precipitation level of 145 mm (6 inches). The rain in May falls for about 12 days but the warm and fresh climate still makes it a nice time to visit Tokyo.

When you visit Tokyo in the warm season, the Imperial Palace East Gardens can be a good way to relax and to learn about the history of Tokyo. It is a park on the former grounds of Edo Castle that is open to the public.

Please note that the Imperial Palace East Gardens are closed on Mondays and Fridays, from December 28th to January 3rd, and on some special occasions.

Imperial Palace Imperial Palace

Taking a cruise along the Sumida River in the comfortable May weather is relaxing and romantic, and you will have many photo opportunities as you see different landmarks in Tokyo. Water buses, or suijo buses in Japanese, have become very popular in recent years. A water bus doesn’t just provide transportation — it offers amazing views of Tokyo. The most popular one is the Asakusa-Odaiba Direct Line, which is famous for its panoramic windows. It runs for about 50 minutes each way and six to eight boats operate daily.

Clothing: It's a good idea to wear T-shirts and pants or skirts with tights during the daytime and a thin coat in the mornings and evenings. It's also a good idea to keep a rain jacket and umbrella handy.

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Osaka Weather and Travel in May

The average high temperature in May can reach up to 25°C (76°F) and the average low temperature is 16°C (60°F). May is the fourth rainiest month with a precipitation level of 146 mm (6 inches). May is the second sunniest month in Osaka with 196 hours of sunshine. May is considered to be the most beautiful month in Osaka with warm and clear days.

It is a nice time to visit Sumiyoshi Taisha, which is one of Japan's oldest shrines. It displays a unique style of shrine architecture and is the main Sumiyoshi shrine in Japan. In early May, you can have the chance to see the Unoha Shinto Service, a ceremony to commemorate the founding of Sumiyoshi Taisha. Special songs and dances are performed at the end of the festival.

After the cultural tour, it is good to explore the downtown area of Osaka — Minami (Namba). This is the most famous entertainment district that offers dining and shopping. Osaka is famous for various local dishes and you can find the most local cuisine there. It is recommended to try takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kushikatsu, and teppanyaki for dinner.

Clothing: T-shirts, light pants, a jacket, a rain jacket, and an umbrella are suggested as it will be raining on some days.

Kyoto Weather and Travel in May

May is the most beautiful month. It is warm with average temperatures of 14°C (57°F) to 25°C (77°F) and 160 mm (6 inches) of precipitation. There are 180 hours of sunshine in total so there are lots of clear days in May.

May is a delightful time to visit Kiyomizudera Temple. It is the most celebrated temple in Japan and famous for its large wooden terrace. This temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. You can have an outstanding panoramic view of Kyoto’s green maples in May from the wooden stage. Besides that, you can drink water filled with good fortune at Otowa Waterfall and make a wish for love at Jishu Shrine by walking from one stone to the other with your eyes closed.

Higashiyama DistrictHigashiyama District

Higashiyama District is a 20-minute walk away from Kiyomizudera Temple. It is a historic district where you can explore the traditional old Kyoto with wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops. When visiting Higashiyama District, you can try dressing up like a maiko and wandering around this area like the locals. There are also many local specialties, such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, pickles, crafts, and other souvenirs, that you can buy for your family and friends.

Clothing: Jeans and T-shirts are good options to wear during the day. In the evenings, it cools down so it's a good idea to have a thin coat. A waterproof jacket and an umbrella are recommended in case it rains.

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Sapporo Weather and Travel in May

Sapporo in May is cool and dry. The average high temperature is 17°C (63°F) and the average low temperature is 8°C (47°F). May has the most sunshine with 198 hours in total. The precipitation level is only 53 mm (2 inches).

In Sapporo, the cherry blossom season falls at the same time as Golden Week (April 28th–May 5th). It is a nice time to see the late cherry blossoms. Popular spots can be found at Maruyama Park, Hokkaido Shrine, Odori Park, and Moerenuma Park. The cherry blossoms appear later in Moerenuma Park than in other places in Sapporo, blooming in the middle of May.

With the cool and dry weather, May is ideal for outdoor activities so visit Sapporo on a bicycle. There are many cycling routes available ranging from easy to difficult levels. You can cycle in the countryside to enjoy the view of rural green scenery. You can also cycle around Moerenuma Park, which has a circumference of about 4 kilometers.

Clothing: Wear T-shirts and light pants for outdoor activities during the daytime. Long-sleeved outerwear is suggested for the cool mornings and evenings.

Events and Festivals in May

With the beautiful weather in May, there are also lots of special events and festivals that take place. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Golden Week (Apr 29–May 5)

Golden week is a 7-day holiday that includes four national holidays. The four festivals and events are:

April 29: Showa Day (Showa no hi): This was the birthday of the former Emperor Showa.

May 3: Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi): It is to celebrate the Japanese constitution in 1947.

May 4: Greenery Day (Midori no hi): It is a celebration for the environment and nature.

May 5: Children's Day (Kodomo no hi): This used to be called Boys' Day and people prayed for the health and future success of their sons. Now, all children’s happiness is celebrated.

Golden Week is one of the busiest holiday seasons. During Golden Week, many locals travel domestically and internationally so book your train tickets, accommodation, and flights in advance. Sightseeing areas and restaurants will be more crowded than usual.

Kyoto: the Aoi Matsuri (May 15)

The Aoi Matsuri is one of Kyoto's most famous festivals and it is renowned for the large parade that takes place. It was established during the Heian Period (794–1185) and takes place on May 15th each year, wishing for a good harvest.

There are many interesting and exciting pre-rituals and ceremonies during the festival. The main one is the grand parade on the 15th during which over 500 people dress in Heian Period style clothing and walk from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Kamo Shrines. The parade is led by messengers on horseback carrying a gold sword and is followed by a large retinue of women in kimonos.

Usually, the parade begins at 10:30am and ends at 3:30pm. If you want to join in with this festival to see the locals in ancient costumes, paid seating (with a nice view) is available at the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Kamo Shrines.

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Tokyo: Sanja Matsuri (May 15–17)

Sanja Matsuri is one of the largest festivals in Tokyo. It occurs annually on the third weekend of May at Asakusa Shrine. Founded in 1649, it is to celebrate the three founders of Sensoji Temple.

The festival starts from the Friday afternoon with the Daigyoretsu Parade, during which people wear Edo Period costumes and dancers perform a special dance. The second day’s highlight is the mikoshi shrines and about 100 mikoshis are carried to Asakusa Shrine. On the last day, people will gather at Asakusa Shrine and compete to carry one of the three large main mikoshis.

Most of the highlights fall on days 2 and 3. If you are in Tokyo on these days, you will be able to see the mikoshis. This festival offers a chance to experience the Japanese culture and the local community spirit. You can enjoy the food stalls, festival games, and revelers with Japanese drums and flutes.

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Visiting Japan in May with the warm and comfortable weather is very enjoyable. Our travel advisors are experienced in planning trips to Japan and can help you organize your trip based on what you want to see.

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