Japan is beautiful year round, but Spring has become my favorite time to spend there. Granted, it is a bit more crowded than normal because it’s sakura season, but that is the reason I love it so much. Half the time, I feel like I’m walking through a watercolor painting, and it’s absolutely lovely. It’s a feeling I can’t get enough of, and that is why I love Spring in Japan. Spring is one of my favorite seasons in my home state, too, so it’s no surprise I love it elsewhere.
Spring is a very popular time in Japan, and it shows when you’re booking accommodations. Make sure to look well in advance, even more so than any other time of year in Japan. If you’re able to find calendars open for booking a year in advance, go for it. The longer you wait, the less you’ll have to choose from and might get stuck overpaying for a hotel you don’t even like. I usually book about 8 months in advance. I have a Two Weeks In Japan post if you’d like more info on what to see and do there!
Depending on when you travel to Japan, there are a few different things you’ll want to make sure you have with you, and that’s where this post comes into play. I also have a packing list for any trip, if you’d like to download it, as well as a trip planner PDF kit in Midori size and US Binder size.
Things to have when visiting Japan in Spring, Start!
Easy enough, they come in many different sizes and you might already have a small one that you can pack along for the ride. If not, you shouldn’t worry too much about buying one beforehand. There are a lot of different types of umbrellas at all the stores, including the Konbini, like Family Mart and 7/11. You’ll find that they have big ones, small ones, and all different prints and colors.
You may even find that you prefer to buy one in Japan because they are cute, cheap, and now it won’t take up packing room. If you’re staying at a hostel, you can usually upcycle them and leave them there for future travelers that might need one. You’ll either see an umbrella holder (usually by the front door) where you can deposit yours, or you can ask the staff if they have extra umbrellas they like to hold onto.
A picnic blanket
I feel like this one gets overlooked because nobody really thinks about it. If you are visiting in Spring and want to experience like the locals, you will want to participate in what is known as hanami, or picnicking under the cherry blossoms. There are travel sized picnic blankets that fold up into a little pouch so it won’t take up much packing space, or day bag space.
This is also something you could potentially grab once in Japan, but it will depend on what type of person you are. If you like picnics in general, or chillin’ in the grass at parks etc., then you might want to grab you a travel picnic blanket that you can use for picnics to come.
Go early to claim your spot for hanami, or you might not find a good one! Locals sometimes make this an all day affair and set up in the morning, hanging out all day. Weekdays may be slightly less crowded than weekends.
Jacket (and rain poncho you can pick up once there)
Because the weather can be a bit unpredictable, you will want to bring a jacket or sweater that you can throw on in the event a cold front comes through. You don’t necessarily need a rain jacket, as there are nice quality and cheap rain ponchos at konbinis, so that can help reduce the bulk of having to pack an additional jacket.
I know it can be obnoxious sometimes to carry a jacket around, but I am not stylish so I tie mine around my waist if it warms up, no regrets. Or you can fold it up and put it in a backpack/day bag you carry around. But you really should take it because the weather can turn at any moment in the Springtime. Last time I was in Japan in the Spring, there was a day that I left my jacket behind and ended up purchasing a sweater at H&M in Harajuku because I was so cold!
Reusable tote/shopping bag
I think this is a good thing to have on all trips, not just Japan in the Spring. Japan unfortunately still uses a ton of plastic in their packaging. Even fresh fruits and veggies often get wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. I like to try to reduce that plastic waste by bringing my own shopping bag (of course the kind that folds down very small). Though I do recommend getting at least one plastic grocery sack so that you can carry around your garbage from day to day until you find a garbage can to empty it in.
It can also transport your picnic food and supplies directly from the store to the park, or your apartment you might be renting where you’ve made your own lunch, to the park.
Sakura everything! Don’t miss out on the limited time flavor that you’ll see from drink shops to restaurants to convenience stores. This flavor only comes around in Spring, so take advantage of your timing.
When you’re up on Hell’s view point in Nokogiriyama and the sun is shining down strong on those ocean waves, you’ll be happy that you have sunglasses on. It can get surprisingly sunny on Japan Spring days and having sunglasses handy is always a plus. You can buy travel sunglasses that actually fold in half for transport. Or if you’re like me, you might have to have prescription ones, which is fine, just don’t forget them!
There’s also incredibly cute sunglasses you can buy in Japan, like cat frames. My sister picked some up in Harajuku and gets lots of compliments on them.
For the same reason as above. The sun might be stronger than you think, and even if you don’t burn easily, it’s still good to protect your skin from the sun!
Head to Tokyo Tower starting April 5th, to see the Koi no Bori (Carp Kites) for Children’s Day (which falls on May 5th). There are 333 carp for the 333 meters of the Tokyo Tower.
Portable Power Bank/Charger
This is great in all seasons, but I know that I take way more photos in Spring because the flowers are too irresistible. This drains my battery quicker, so it’s great to have the portable charger on hand for such occasions.
It’s good for back up with your portable wifi as well, that’s not something you want to run out of juice on while out in a rural area. Or if you’re anything like me, I fill those long train rides with music in my headphones, so there’s another battery draining activity on my phone.
The right clothing
It’s probably not going to be the arctic there, so there really is no need to pack those super bulky sweaters and coats, or thermal underclothes. As long as you packed yourself a jacket, keep the bulky sweaters at home for this one. A combination of t-shirts and long sleeved shirts should suffice. I usually bring 2 t-shirts and 1 or 2 long sleeved shirts. I do laundry there and also buy clothes so I definitely under pack. You might want to add a couple more shirts if you’re not on that wavelength.
As far as bottoms, a few pairs of pants, jeans or cottons, either is fine! Or whatever your jam is; leggings, skirts, dresses, etc. I feel like as long as you’re not packing for the Sahara, or the Arctic, you’ll be fine.
A solid color cardigan (greyscale will match more outfits) is a great piece to have to give you an extra layer on colder days, but less than a jacket if it’s not that cold.
If you’re a strawberry lover, Spring is a great time to visit Japan for you. Some farms have picking tours where you can eat as many strawberries as you’d like as you tour the grounds. Definitely get your strawberry fix if visiting in Spring!
Mirroring off of what I said about clothing, it’s not the Sahara and it’s not the Arctic, so no need for flip flops (unless you’re one of those people who lives in those, nothing wrong with that), no need for snow boots. You’ll be doing so much walking, especially because the weather will be perfect to do so. Go for comfort! Bring your comfiest walking shoes that easily slip on and off, because you’ll be doing a lot of that in Japan, too.
If you plan to do a lot of serious hiking, make sure to bring hiking shoes/boots! You can also bring rain boots along if you’d like, but I have gotten along just fine without them on all occasions.
Face mask and/or allergy meds
It is Spring, after all, and that comes with new blooms and lots of pollen and other plant allergens. I always come prepared, but luckily for me, the humidity in Japan usually helps prevent my body from thinking I’m under attack. If you don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, then you’ll probably be just fine. But if seasonal allergies affect you at all, it’s best to come prepared, just in case.
Spring is an excellent time to rent a bicycle in Japan! Both serious cycling and leisure cycling. Japan has really scenic roads designed just for bikes! Shimanami Kaido is a cycling road that spans over 6 islands with bike road bridges connecting them, and could certainly win title for the most scenic! If you’re serious about cycling, you should check out your options. If you’re not as serious, but would still like to experience it, there are areas that have pick up/drop off stations so you can cycle a smaller portion.
Kyoto is a great place to rent bicycles in as well, with wide pathways along the river, it makes for lovely evening rides.
Matsuri is the Japanese word for Festival, and Spring is full of them! On your adventures from day to day, keep your eye out for local festivals. Don’t be shy, go and join! Have you always wondered why Kingyo Sukui is so hard to do without breaking the paper? Now is your chance to find out! Play some games, indulge in festival foods, go through the haunted house, wear traditional clothing if you have the option to. Don’t miss out!
I know there are a lot of people who do this, and a lot of people who don’t. Some people choose not to because they feel like it just takes up unnecessary room in their luggage. I personally feel like a travel journal is a necessity! I’m the type of person that doesn’t usually buy too many souvenirs (aside from clothing, super guilty there), but I do spend my money on experiences. Because of this, I end up with a lot of tickets, pamphlets, photos, etc. For me, there’s no better way to keep track of them all than by using my travel journal! You can do it on those exhausted nights where you don’t feel like going out, or on those long train rides to your next destination. Journaling every few nights keeps me from getting too many tickets etc. to keep track of.
One thing that I plan to do in the future is create trip boxes so I can put the filled travel journal pages in (I use the midori style), along with the papers that were too big to fit in, or loose change that never got spent, to keep everything from each trip in one place.
If you live somewhere that has four distinct seasons, you should know that Spring in Japan is similar to that. I live in Utah and I can use my normal Spring knowledge and gear, knowing it can be warmer or cooler, rain or shine, from day to day, and it works for me. I know not everyone has that experience, hence the post 😛 Spring has been absolutely beautiful in Japan, in my experience, even if I have run into a couple of cold and rainy days. It’s always good to be prepared for those.
Have you been to Japan in Spring? What would you recommend to take along? Have any questions about it? Ask away!
If you’d like to download and/or print these Japanese Phrases cheat sheets, you’ll find the download links below the photos 🙂