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Japan Weather in May 2024: Travel Tips for First-Timers

Japan Weather in May 2024: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By RitaUpdated Nov. 21, 2023

Being the last month of spring (March to May), May is filled with sunny days, stunning flowers, and a festive atmosphere. If you'd like to discover Japan in a less-crowded springtime, May is the best time.

As a transitional month from spring to summer in Japan, rainfall in May varies from low to high from north to south. Northern Japan (Hokkaido) keeps dry, while central Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto) receives moderate drizzle or short heavier bursts towards the end of May. In southern Japan (especially Okinawa), the rainy season arrives first.

Find out about average temperatures, rainfall, and tips on where to go and what to wear in Japan in May below.

Japan Weather in May: Averages

Japan Weather in May
  • Temperature range: 15–23°C (58–73°F)
  • Rainfall: 140 mm (6 inches)
  • Rainy days: 10
  • Sunny days: 21

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Weather of Japan's Major Cities in May

Japan City Min. Temp Max. Temp Rainfall
Sapporo 9°C (48°F) 18°C (64°F) 56 mm (2 in)
Tokyo 15°C (58°F) 24°C (76°F) 140 mm (6 in)
Kyoto 15°C (58°F) 25°C (77°F) 151 mm (6 in)
Osaka 16°C (61°F) 25°C (77°F) 137 mm (5 in)
Hakone 18°C (64°F) 24°C (76°F) 160 mm (6 in)
Nara 13°C (55°F) 25°C (76°F) 139 mm (6 in)
Hiroshima 15°C (59°F) 24°C (76°F) 170 mm (7 in)
Okinawa 22°C (72°F) 27°C (81°F) 245 mm (10 in)

Tokyo and Central Japan: Warm and Sunny Weather

Honshu is warm and sunny in May. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima have average highs of around 22°C (72°F). Temperatures get warmer in late May.

The average rainfall is a moderate 150 mm (6 in) falling mostly as drizzle on around 1 in 3 days.

With favorable weather more often than not, you could soak in the city highlights in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto or head out into nature, hiking in the Japanese Alps or the offbeat Kumano Kodo Trail.

Too hectic to plan your Japan trip? Leave your interests and requests, and your travel expert will personalize a private tour for you within 24 hours!

Okinawa and Southern Japan: Rainy Season Begins

Averaging 22–27°C (72–81°F), May marks the start of the rainy season (May to June) in southern Japan. Rainfall increases over the month, so you could visit in early May for a drier experience. Or you could visit drier Kyushu instead of Okinawa.

The rain typically falls in intense tropical bursts or short showers. So, you could still find plenty of time for outdoor activities, like beach activities in Okinawa.

Check more details about the best times to visit Japan: for the most comfortable weather, for the lowest crowds...

Hokkaido and Northern Japan: Best for Cherry Blossoms

May in northern Japan is typically dry and mild/cool — a perfect time for you to enjoy outdoor activities, like hiking in the mountains and exploring the national parks.

You could also take the last chance to admire Japan's famously-pretty cherry blossoms in early May.

Read about How to Plan a Trip to Japan>>>

5 Best Places to Visit in Japan in May

5 Best Places to Visit in Japan in May

Tokyo and Kyoto are two must-go cities in Japan, which blend traditions with big-city highlights.

If you love nature, capture the last chance to appreciate Japan's iconic cherry blossoms in Hokkaido or take a rustic getaway on the Kumano Kodo Trail.

For advanced car/train technology exhibitions, head to Nagoya for a less-crowded experience.

To well discover the above-mentioned cities at a comfortable pace, you might need at least 2 weeks. Get some inspiration about 2-week Japan itineraries or 3-week Japan itineraries...

1. Tokyo: A Diverse Destination for Everyone

May is one of the best times to visit Tokyo with mild and mostly sunny weather. Daily temperatures typically range between 15°C (58°F) and 24°C (76°F).

Tokyo's anime and advanced new-tech always makes kids go "WOW". A sushi cooking class is not only fun for families with kids, but also great to inspire intimacy between couples.

For a big romantic milestone celebration, you and your partner could wear kimonos and join in the most atmospheric Sanja Matsuri festival in Senso Temple (May 19 to 21, 2023). You could also take a sunset bay cruise to see Tokyo from a different perspective and in a relaxing way.

Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Summer Trip>>>

2. Kyoto: Abundant Cultural Experiences for Milestone Celebrations

May is a delightful month in Kyoto, with abundant sunshine and steadily rising temperatures. Its daily temperatures peak at 25°C (77°F) on average.

Kyoto is full of photogenic temples and gardens. Try on kimonos, take a photography tour to capture them and create lasting memories with your partner or family.

To enhance your big moments, Kyoto's exclusive cultural experiences could light up your trip as well. You could experience a tea ceremony, a samurai class, and a luxury ryokan stay with an elaborate kaiseki feast.

3. Nagoya: A Must-Visit for Car/Train Enthusiasts

May in Nagoya is mild and dry with highs reaching around 24°C (75°F) and lows dropping to around 16°C (61°F). Beyond the shrines and castles, you could learn about world-leading technologies in Nagoya.

For fans of automobiles, you could see how robots assemble cars and see interactive exhibits in the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.

If you're a trainspotter, SCMaglev and Railway Park would be paradise, with its vast collection of trains, locomotives, and bullet trains.

If you're travelling with teens, don't miss Nagoya. Read more about planning a family trip in Japan>>>

4. Hokkaido: Last Chance to See Cherry Blossoms

In Hokkaido, fully-blooming cherry trees usually are seen later than in other areas due to its colder weather. You can still enjoy their delicate and charming blossom in early May.

While Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, has some beautiful parks for flower viewing, surrounding cities such as Hakodate offer an even more impressive experience.

5. The Kumano Kodo Trail: Rustic Adventures

The Kumano Kodo Trail The Kumano Kodo Trail

The Kumano Kodo Trail is a network of pilgrimage trails in the southern Kansai region, where you could enjoy moderate day hikes or choose more strenuous hiking.

May is cool-to-mild, perfect for hiking the trails, and also a perfect time for a romantic-and-adventurous getaway. Hike through the cedar forests, and round idyllic rice paddies, rustic villages, and historical shrines...

Away from major cities, a private guide is helpful for navigating, safety, and enhancing your local interactions. Contact us to customize your private hiking tour.

Costs and Crowding in May

Stunning island in Japan Stunning island in Japan

May is in the peak season in Japan, which brings high costs and crowds. The Golden Week (April 29 to May 5, 2023), particularly, is extremely busy and with that comes the highest costs and uncomfortable crowding in places.

Therefore, you're advised to avoid these dates if your schedule is flexible. If your trip coincides with Golden Week, you'd better book your private trip at least half a year in advance to lock in the price and enjoy early-bird benefits.

A well-organized private tour helps minimize the stress of crowds, too. Check the classic Japan tours or contact us to customize your private tour!

However, crowds and costs tend to decrease towards the end of May. Additionally, visiting popular tourist destinations on weekdays can be a good way to avoid crowds.

You could find out more cost information in How Much Is a Trip to Japan >>>

What to Pack in May

The weather in May in Japan is generally mild, so you can wear light clothing such as t-shirts, shorts, and dresses when active in the daytime. However, it's a good idea to bring trousers and a light jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings.

You're suggested to bring an umbrella or raincoat for potential rainfall, especially further south and later in May.

Monthly Weather and Travel Information for Japan

Learn about the weather in Japan for 12 months and find out the best places to visit each month.

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