Planning to visit Japan in May? Here are some amazing and fun things to do in Japan in May. Check it out!
If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, Japan in May is the perfect destination! With mesmerizing late cherry blossom trees and Wisteria, May is the ultimate time to explore Japan’s stunning scenery and vibrant culture.
From thrilling festivals and exquisite gardens to mesmerizing temples and spectacular markets, Japan in May offers an array of unique and exciting activities to tickle your senses.
Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, this is the ultimate destination that won’t leave you disappointed.
Today, I will guide you about where to go in Japan in May, which festival to attend, and what type of activities you may enjoy.
Things To Do In Japan In May 2023
While visiting Japan in May, you have numerous options of well-known spots such as Mount Fuji, Odaiba, and more.
Also, there are some famous festivals that take place like Aoi Matsuri, Kanda Matsuri, and so on.
Now, no need to hold your curiosity as I am going to start discussing all the essential information regarding fun stuff to do in Japan.
Hike Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji, an active volcanic mountain, is one of the best places to visit in May in Japan.
It is renowned among Japanese and foreigners because people from all over the world come to Japan just to hike to the summit of this mountain.
If you are an enthusiast of hiking, this is the right place to satisfy your passion.
And the great news is, May is a great time to visit Mt. Fuji cause, apart from all the fresh air and greenery, you will be able to see snow on the peak of the hill.
Isn’t it fantastic?
Even avoiding the winter season, you are seeing snow in relatively warm weather.
Mount Fuji is situated about 60 miles southwest of the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The scenery of the surrounding from the peak is breathtaking, and I suggest visiting in the early mornings to avoid as much crowd as possible.
Also, it is quite popular among couples, and many people propose their partner at the peak.
In case you are traveling with your sweetheart and have the same intention, you should definitely add this place to your must-do list.
Attend Fuji Shibazakura Festival
Wanna kill two birds with one stone!!
No! No! Don’t think I am an animal hater.
Well, what I meant is visiting Mount Fuji will give you two opportunities at once!!
Aside from hiking, you can soothe your eyes by watching miles of pink moss covering the Fuji Five Lakes region.
And to experience this magical panorama of pink carpet, you need to travel there from mid-April to the end of May, when 800,000 shibazakura flowers are in full bloom near Lake Motosu.
Setting against the background of Mt. Fuji, it produces colorful patterns of pink, blue, purple, and white.
Capturing the beautiful pink moss scenery with Mount Fuji in the backdrop will be an instagrammable picture for you.
After the end of your traveling, when you are gonna check your photo gallery, only a satisfying smile will appear on your face.
And that’s what we all Japanese want, to bid goodbye to the travelers with the most gratification.
Oh, wait, I forgot to notify you that a delicious food festival also takes place during this Shibazakura Festival, when vendors sell pots of pink moss with feast food and a variety of local souvenirs.
You may visit their official site to know the entrance fee and other essential information.
Explore Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
One of May’s top activities is dropping by the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
It is a sightseeing path located between Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, and Omachi, Nagano Prefecture.
This route is open for tourists throughout the spring and summer times, yet the best time to go there is before June when “Yuki no Otani”, the Great Snow Wall, is still visible before it melts.
The trail is 37 Km long, and the high peak is at 1,975m.
It includes numerous breathtaking viewpoints, and you may choose from different means of transport, including bus, funicular, trolleybus, and aerial tramway.
The highest point of this route is Murodo, which has a magnificent view of the mountain range with the blue pond.
You can also take the 1.7 km long ropeway between Kurobedaira and Daikando station to watch the surroundings from above.
Another spectacular place within this path is Kurobe Dam which is 186m high and also Japan’s biggest dam.
Here up to 15 tons of water are discharged per second through the dam.
So, if you want to experience all of these three landscapes, you better plan a one-day trip there.
To gather information about the ticket price and travel guidelines, please visit their official site.
See Late Blooming Cherry Blossom
In case you think cherry blossoms are only available in April, you are absolutely wrong!!
There are some places where late-blooming cherry blossoms can be seen, especially in the northern part of Japan.
Because of the cold weather in Hokkaido, the peak season for cherry blossom flourishing arrives here a month later than Tokyo, which is from late April to early May.
And, one of the best places to witness this beautiful flower in Hokkaido is Hakodate Fort Goryokaku.
Besides, the Tohoku area also has several cherry blossom viewing spots like
- Hirosaki City
- Shiroishi River
- Hanamiyama Park
- Nicchu Line
You are traveling to Japan in May and leaving without seeing the stunning Wisteria, a popular spring flower in Japan; it can’t happen.
The most well-known wisteria garden in Japan is Kawachi Fujien Garden, located in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
It’s a private garden, owning over 20 kinds of wisterias in a 10,000 square meters field.
However, the best highlight of this garden is two gorgeous tunnels made with various wisterias.
One of them is approximately 80m long, and the other is 110m long.
If you want to create a fairytale type of scenery, like running towards the open arm of your bae, this is the place for you!!
I know it’s kind of awkward to do such things in public, but, hey, if you wanna do it, don’t think twice.
Anyway, after the tunnels have been featured on multiple sites, including CNN, this garden became extremely famous in the past few years.
Since then, visitors from all around the world have started coming here to see its beauty in person.
Now, let me inform you that Kawachi Fujien is open only twice a year, in spring and autumn.
From mid-April to mid-May, wisteria can be seen, but I suggest you come during late April to early May to capture the full blooming.
But, if you are visiting only Tokyo in May, don’t be disheartened, as there is a wisteria festival at Ashikaga flower park, which is within 2 hours from the center of Tokyo.
There are over 350 varieties of wisteria in this garden, including 150-year-old “The Great Wisteria” that spreads around 1,000 square meters of space.
Another thing is, this park is known for impressive illumination at night, so if you stay till the dark, it will be worth watching.
Best places to see Wisteria in Japan:
- Kawachi Fujien Garden
- Ashikaga flower park
Famous Blue Pond in Hokkaido
When Hokkaido’s snow starts to disappear, it unleashes some marvelous patches of the picturesque view.
And one of this city’s famous spots, “Blue Pond” in Biei is said to be in its best form in May.
On a clear day, the pond is adorned with a fairytale-like panorama, with thin stalked trees rising up from the glassy aqua waters.
Now, do you think traveling all the way to Hokkaido only to see the blue pond is worth it?
Well, apart from this place, there are more things to see in this city!!
The surrounding area has plenty of things to offer, such as Otaru, one of Japan’s most attractive towns.
In May, you can enjoy a boat ride on this town’s canal and eat various fresh seafood from the local restaurants.
Location of Blue Pond in Hokkaido:
Join The Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo
Sanja Festival is one of the three main Shinto festivals in Tokyo, which is held annually in the Asakusa Shrine for three days on the third weekend of May.
It is celebrated in honor of Hinokuma Takenari, Hinokuma Hamanari, and Hajino Nakatomo, the three men who established Senso-ji Temple.
Attracting over 2 million visitors, Sanja Matsuri is one of the wildest festivals and also crowded.
Therefore, in case you are traveling to Japan with your kids, I will recommend you not to take them in this huge crowd.
Anyway, the celebration starts on Friday afternoon with the Daigyoretsu parade, with a large march of priests, musicians, geisha, and dancers wearing Edo Period costumes through the neighborhood of Asakusa.
On Saturday, it features a procession carrying over 100 portable shrines (mikoshi), with traditional music & dance from Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine to their neighboring regions.
And finally, on the last day, three large-sized main mikoshis join the march.
The fiesta also has geisha and taiko (Japanese drum) performances that are held at certain times throughout the weekend.
I will say if you want to experience something chaotic and wild, joining this festival will be an excellent opportunity to feel the real vibe of Tokyo’s culture.
Location of the Senso-ji Temple where the festival takes place:
A Journey to Naoshima Art Island
An open-air museum of art!!
Yes, Naoshima island is such a place that will awe you with its visuals. It is a part of the Kagawa prefecture and is located on the Seto Sea.
If you want a tranquil getaway, then this is your way out.
After going there, you will be able to see a mixture of the natural environment with architectural and sculptural creations by some of the finest artists of Japan.
The houses have unique designs with quirky and distinct styles; for example, Benesse house.
Also, situated on one of the highest points of this island, the Chichu Art Museum has plenty of art installations by Walter De Maria, James Turrell and paintings by Claude Monet.
If you are a fan of artistry, you should definitely visit this place without any second thoughts.
Join The Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto
Organized on 15th May every year, Aoi Matsuri is one of the greatest festivals of Kyoto.
The main attraction of this feast day is the long parade with over 500 people dressed up in the style of the Heian Period (794 to 1185), walking from the Imperial Palace to the Kamo Shrines.
Although the specific origin of this festival is uncertain, it is believed that Aoi Matsuri began in the 7th century.
At that time, there were probably natural disasters occurring, which were assumed to be caused by the gods of the Kamo Shrines.
After the Emperor made offerings to the deities, the disasters calmed, and a tradition was started.
This festival is also known as Kamo Matsuri because of its connection with the Kamo Shrines.
Anyway, the fiesta features men on horseback, decorated ox-drawn carts, giant bouquets of flowers, and a woman in kimono escorting the year’s Saio.
Historically, Saio was a young female member of the royal family who served as the high priestess of the Kamo Shrines.
In this modern era, an unmarried female from Kyoto is chosen each year from thousands of applicants to serve as Saio.
Before the celebration, she must go through the purification ceremony and then be taken through the parade on a palanquin.
Visit Japan’s Terraced Rice Fields
Do you know what our main food is?
Well, in some cases, people assume sushi & ramen, but rice is actually the most important part of our cuisine.
We absolutely love it, and if you come here, then you will see that most of the traditional food has rice with miso soup and other side dishes.
Because of its importance, the rice paddies of Japan are not only rich but also photogenic.
Once you venture into the countryside of Japan, you will be greeted with exceptional scenery of long rice fields.
If you have never seen a paddy ground before, you should definitely visit one.
Also, if you are traveling with your family, especially your child, I think showing something like this will educate them where our foods come from, how hard it is to grow, and teach them not to waste food at any cost.
Okay, some of the famous areas include Fukushima, Niigata, and the Noto Peninsula.
One of the most popular rice fields is Shiroyone Senmaida, located in Ishikawa Prefecture.
It has an excellent view, especially when the sunset reflects on the terrace’s surface in the evening.
To take the perfect picture of this paddy, you should head towards the street on the hill. Also, don’t forget to check out the exact time of sunset in advance.
While searching for a closer destination from Tokyo, you may choose to go to the Chichibu and around Chiba Prefecture to catch a glimpse of these phenomenal vistas.
Location of the most popular rice fields, Shiroyone Senmaida:
Attend Hakata Dontaku Festival
Thirty thousand participants in one event!!
Can you imagine how big a celebration could be with these many people?
This is what Hakata Dontaku, one of the biggest citizen’s festivals in Japan, takes place for two days on 3rd and 4th May.
This feast has been held in Fukuoka City since 1962, which attracts over 2 million spectators each year.
Throughout the course of the fiesta, thousands of traditionally dressed-up people dance through the streets of Fukuoka.
Apart from the dancers, the gala also features ornamented floats called Hana Jidosha that are attractively lit up at night.
Try Matcha Sweets
May, which falls in late spring, is indeed the best time to satisfy your sweet tooth by enjoying Matcha desserts in Japan.
Plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes release Matcha flavored food and drinks for a limited time.
This Matcha dessert buffet is one of the most awaited food events organized at various hotels in Tokyo like Hotel New Otani Tokyo and Hotel New Otani Makuhari, usually from May 6th to June 30th.
However, what if you don’t want to go to a buffet.
In that case, you have plenty of other options, such as Uji Matcha dessert (at 7-Eleven stores), Matcha flavored donut (at Mister Donut), seasonal Matcha tea (at The Westin Tokyo).
Witness Maiko & Geiko’s Dance Performances
A pleasant opportunity of enjoying beautiful girls dancing!!
In case you are a man, you may want to admire something like that, right?
Kamogawa Odori is an occasion where Geishas and Maikos dance in traditional costumes.
This performance takes place in the Pontocho Kaburenjo Theater in Kyoto from 1st to 24th May.
Wait! As I mentioned earlier, that man can admire this show, don’t assume that it is not open for everyone.
In fact, it is a great scope for you to enjoy the Japanese culture together with your family and friends of all ages.
So, I offer you not to miss such an occasion when you come to our country in May.
Attend Kanda Matsuri
Luckily, if you are in Japan during the odd years, you shouldn’t miss Kanda Matsuri at any cost.
It is one of Tokyo’s largest events that only occurs every two years from early to mid-May.
This festival has a lot to offer, including a grand procession on Saturday and Sunday.
It involves over 200 mikoshis (religious palanquin), dancers, and musicians walking around the Kanda Shrine and the central Tokyo district streets.
Check out Japan’s Flower Parks
You know what, spring is when most of the beautiful flowers are in full bloom in Japan.
And, you have plenty of locations to adore these lovely spectrums of nature.
One of them is Showa Memorial Park, which is particularly popular for its multi-colored tulips that flourish every May.
Another example is Kyu-Furukawa Gardens that has many Japanese flowers, especially roses.
Night-time illuminations are arranged here from 10th to 19th May to enhance its beauty.
But, my personal favorite is none other than the Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture.
The jaw-dropping view of around 4.5 million Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila) can be seen at this park till mid-May.
- Showa Memorial Park
- Kyu-Furukawa Gardens
- Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Spend A Beach Day in Okinawa
On the tropical island of Okinawa and its surrounding peninsula, there are tons of beaches that are warm enough to dip into in May.
Whatever you prefer, like fancy, well-furnished, near the cities, easily accessible, or have big waves, there is always a beach that will fit your requirement.
You also have the options of some of the best beachside resorts here that offer spectacular sea views, advanced facilities, and marine activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, boat tours, and many more.
Hence, if you want to enjoy a beach day, head towards Okinawa without further ado.
See The Display of Carp Kites on Children’s Day
In Japan, kodomo no Hi, also known as Children’s Day, is celebrated on 5th May every year.
It is a national holiday dedicated to Japanese children’s health and good fortune. On this day, houses and riverside regions all around Japan are decorated with bright and colorful carp streamers or carp kites called koinobori.
There are a lot of excellent spots to see them all over the country, but if you are in the capital city, try visiting the Tokyo Tower.
Watch Sumo Match in Tokyo
There are many things to do in Tokyo in May, and a significant one is watching grand sumo tournaments.
It is the national sport of Japan, which is believed to have been handed down to the residents of the nation by the Shinto Gods.
Although most of the young generation people don’t like the environment of the sports, older people enjoy it.
So, if you find it entertaining to watch giant men wrestling with each other, then you may attend this event.
As it is a renowned event, tickets tend to be sold out fast, especially for the matches among well-known sumo wrestlers.
Thus, reserve your tickets as early as possible if you plan to attend them.
Alright, I have finally finished discussing all the fun elements that Japan has to offer you in May.
Yet, you need to know some essential pieces of information before heading to our country, such as the climate, crowds and what type of clothes to pack for this particular month.
And that’s what I am gonna talk about now.
Full List Of Festivals in Japan In May 2023 To Attend
|Festivals in Japan in May||When||Where|
|Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival||April 22 – May 2, 2023||Matsumae Castle|
|Omiya Bonsai Festival 2023||Mon, May 1 – Wed, May 3||Omiya Bonsai Village９６ Bonsaicho, Kita Ward, Saitama, Japan|
|Toyama Fukuno Yotaka Matsuri Festival (Paper lantern parade festival)||Mon, May 1 – Wed, May 3||Fukunochubu Community Center1545-13 Futsukamachi, Nanto, Toyama, Japan|
|Toyama Takaoka Mikurumayama Festival||Mon, May 1||Takaoka, Toyama, Japan|
|Ome Grand Festival||Tue, May 2 – Wed, May 3||Sumiyoshi Shrine12 Sumiecho, Ome, Tokyo, Japan|
|Meiji Jingu Spring Grand Festival 2023||Tue, May 2 – Wed, May 3||Meiji Jingu1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan|
|Shinsen-en Temple Festival||Tue, May 2 – Thu, May 4||Shinsen-en Garden166 Monzencho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan|
|Yabusame Shinji||Wed, May 3, 2023||Shimogamo Shrine|
|Hakata Dontaku Festival||Wed, May 3, 9 AM – Thu, May 4, 9 PM||Kushida-jinja Shrine1-41 Kamikawabatamachi, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, Japan|
|Heijokyo Tempyo Sai Festival||Wed, May 3, 10:30 AM – Fri, May 5, 4:30 PM||Heijō Palace Remains3 Chome-5-番1号 Nijoojiminami, Nara, Japan|
|Hiroshima Flower Festival||Wed, May 3 – Fri, May 5||Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima１丁目-1-10 Nakajimacho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Japan|
|Hojo Kashima festival||Wed, May 3, 10 AM – Thu, May 4, 4 PM||Kashima Shrine1595 Hojotsuji, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan|
|Hamamatsu Festival||Wed, May 3, 10 AM – Fri, May 5, 3 PM||Hamamatsu6-2 Sunayamacho, Naka Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan|
|Ishikawa Seihakusai Festival||Wed, May 3 – Fri, May 5||1-13 Sannōmachi, Nanao, Ishikawa, Japan|
|Shizuoka Hamamatsu Kite Festival||Wed, May 3 – Fri, May 5||Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion1313 Nakatajimacho, Minami Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan|
|Naha Hari Dragon Boat Races||Wed, May 3, 12:01 AM – Fri, May 5, 11:59 PM||Nahashin Port1-chōme-16 Minatomachi, Naha, Okinawa, Japan|
|Children’s Day in Japan||Fri, May 5, 2023||Multiple locations|
|Mamada no Jagamaita Snake Festival||Fri, May 5||Mamada-Hachiman Park2369番地 Mamada, Oyama, Tochigi, Japan|
|Shinkawa Market Festival||Fri, May 5||Yamaguchi|
|Osaka Comic Con 2023||5th May–7th May, 2023|
|Kobe Festival||Mid May||Saennomiya Flower Road|
|Kankame-Inari Festival||Mid May||Kankame-Inari Shrine|
|Mifune Festival||Mid May||Katsura River in Arashiyama|
|Kanda-matsuri Festival||Around May 15, 2023||2 Chome-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan|
|Aoi Matsuri||May 15, 2023||Various locations in Kyoto including Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, Kamigamo-jinja Shrine and Kyoto Imperial Palace|
|Togyo 1,000 Samurai Procession||May 18, 2023|
|Sanja Matsuri (Sanja Festival)||May 19, 2023||2-chōme-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo, Japan|
|Tohoku Kizuna Matsuri||May 22 – 23|
Weather of Japan in May 2023
As May is the last month of spring, the climate throughout the country is pretty warm, with humidity around 65% & an average temperature of 20°C.
Look at the below chart to know the average high and low temperatures of different regions in Japan.
As you can see in the table, May is warm but not suffocating, occasionally rainy yet not humid. Hence you can easily enjoy hiking in the mountains, wandering around in the garden and parks in total tranquility.
Also, if you are not a fan of rainy days, May is perhaps the last month to cherish good weather before the official rainy season hits.
What Should You Pack for Japan in May?
Here is a list of necessary items that you need to pack.
- Few short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts.
- Jeans and pants.
- Sweater and jacket (for a relatively cold region like Hokkaido).
- Pair of comfy shoes and socks.
- An umbrella or raincoat (in case it rains).
- Swimsuit (if you will go to a beach).
- Toothbrush, travel-size hand sanitizers, and other skin-care items.
- Travel documents.
- Mobile charger, power bank & other necessary gadgets.
Is Japan Crowded in May?
The first week of May is usually very crowded, so I suggest you plan your trip in the second or third week of May – especially if you don’t like crowds. Other than the tourist crowd, you’ll see that there’s a lot of local crowd because of the Golden week holiday which starts on April 29th and lasts till May 5th.
So if you’re planning to visit Japan during the first week of May, make sure that you book your domestic flights and shinkansen tickets weeks in advance.
However, post May 5th, the local crowd will reduce because everybody will go back to work. This is when you should plan your trip to Japan in order to avoid excessive crowds.
Since Japan sees quite a bit of an international tourist crowd in the month of May, I strongly suggest that you pre book your stay beforehand.
Japanese food To Try In May
Although several of these drinks, foods, and snacks are enjoyed through the year, having them during the Spring season is real fun!
- Strawberries: Harvesting strawberries in May is a very popular activity in Japan and I hope it’s on your Japan itinerary for May.
- Matcha: Matcha is a popular drink in Japan with lots of benefits for your body, skin and hair. There are all sorts drinks and snacks made from matcha – tea, frappe, cake, macaroons, and more
- Herring: Herring is a very popular fish to eat in Japan. If you’re visiting Japan you must definitely try this delicacy in Japan.
- Plum: It’s plum season in Japan in May and you’ll find lots of food and drink options based on plum – from jams to wine. So make sure to taste them all!
- Udo: This is a popular side dish in Japan served as an appetizer and extremely delicious vegetable!
- Wasabi: Wasabi is used as dressing or dip in Japanese cuisine. It’s a popular dip served with sushi and other dishes as well. Be careful when you try wasabi for the first time – it is quite spicy, especially the first hit!
How to dress in Japan in May?
Pack comfy pants, shorts, skirts, light socks, and comfortable shoes. Carry a small backpack so you can keep a small bottle of water and snacks while you sightseeing.
Never forget a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from sun exposure. You might also want to bring some sunscreen, even though it’s not summer.
I suggest you pack light pants, jackets, and skirts for occasions like brunches and dinners so you don’t feel too hot in the day but not too cold in the nights either.
Can I see cherry blossoms in Tokyo in May?
The first week of May is the end of the Cherry blossom season in Tokyo. So if you go to Tokyo in the first week of May, you might just be able to catch the cherry blossoms in full bloom. But the first week of May is usually pretty crowded with the local crowd on the golden week holidays.
Which part of Japan is best to visit in May?
May is an ideal time to visit Japan as the weather is generally warm and sunny. Some of the best places to visit are the coastal areas, including Okinawa, Shikoku and Kyushu. All of these areas offer beautiful beaches and stunning ocean views. The historic cities of Kyoto and Nara are especially popular in May too, after the crowd for the Golden Week has reduced. Finally, the mountainous regions of Japan are a stunning sight to behold as the lush greenery of spring is in full effect.
Hopefully, you have gathered sufficient knowledge about all the things to do in Japan in May and have no confusion remaining in your head regarding this topic.
Now, it’s time to come to our Japan and enjoy its diverse culture and hospitality.
I hope you will be happy to see and experience all the fun elements of our country and leave with a bright smile.
Lastly, have a great day.