Spring is one of the most highly anticipated seasons in Japan. It’s the time of the year where you get to say goodbye to the winter breeze and hello to the new spring blooms. Foreigners and locals alike travel nationwide to witness various aspects of Japanese spring.
If your next trip to Japan is planned for this blooming season, you’re going to have a packed schedule. There are so many things to do during this season! We’ve highlighted the top 10 fun things you can do in Japan during the spring season!
Of course, what’s spring in Japan without sakura (桜)? Sakura are Japanese cherry blossoms, and unofficially the flower of the nation. The most popular activity to celebrate these pale pink flowers is by going for flower viewings, called hanami (花み).
This is when you lay down a mat under the cherry blossom trees, a packed bento (弁当) in one hand an a can of beer in another. You can enjoy this activity with friends, family or colleagues. I like to go hanami when it’s towards the end of the blooming season to witness the petals falling down on me!
Japan is full of festivals, or matsuri (祭り), all year round. The spring season is no exception. If you’re wondering what to do in Japan in spring, definitely look out for festivals all throughout the nation.
Festivals in Japan feature food stalls, performances and other cultural events. Sanja Matsuri, one of the most popular ones in Tokyo and half in Asakusa, is a three-day long festival. You’d get to see portable shrines, parades and tons of traditional dancing!
Another famous spring festival is the Hana Matsuri, or Kambutsu-e nativity. This falls on the 8th of April, and Japan celebrates the birth of Buddha on this day. You can go to any Buddhist temple and see tons of vibrant flowers decorating the area. To pay your respects, pour scented water or sweet hydrangea tea over the child statue of Buddha.
3. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
This next activity isn’t something one would normally do in spring, but you’d want to do this in Japan when you’re here. Visit the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, available only from April to November. This mountain sightseeing route is covered in snow, but during winter, it’s actually closed!
Some call this place the “Roof of Japan”, because the route is carved from an 18 meter high snow wall! It’s not a normal sight – I can tell you that much. Change up that spring landscape of blooms with snow walls going on for miles!
4. Clam digging
One of the most popular activities for when the weather gets warmer is clam digging. It might not be something you thought of doing in Japan, but when in Rome, as they say. This is also known as shohigari (潮干狩り).
Typically from March to July, shores of Japanese beaches are full of people participating in this activity. Tokyo Bay, especially, is crowded just for this because it’s known for asari (あさり), or short-neck clams. If you plan to do this in Japan, be sure to pack some clothes suitable for the activity!
5. Strawberry picking
If you want a calmer activity to partake in, how about strawberry picking? The early spring season is known for the beginning of strawberry season, and it’s one of the most popular harvest periods in the country.
Depending on the farm that you go to, you might be charged by either the weight of the fruits picked or by the period you’re in for. I recommend S-Berry Farm in Hari Cho in Nara Prefecture. Regardless of where you go for your strawberry picking adventures, be sure to make a reservation in advance!
6. Miyako Odori
What you should do in Japan during the spring season is go to a geisha show. Usually, geisha performances are exclusive and held during private gatherings. Fortunately, there are annual shows open to the public. One of them is called Miyako Odori (都踊り), translated to “capital city dance”.
This famous show is held in Kyoto and performed by Gion Kobe geisha. It came about when Tokyo became the capital city, and the people of Kyoto were in low spirits as they used to be the capital city. This means that the first performance was held in 1872!
7. Daruma Doll Fair
Other than festivals and shows, Japanese spring offers unique fairs, including the Daruma Doll Fair. This is held in Jindaiji Temple where daruma dolls are available in various colours and designs. These dolls symbolise perseverance and good luck.
The dolls’ eyes are completely white, and tradition has it that when you buy one, you draw in one of the eyes after deciding a goal. You should only fill in the other eye when your goal is achieved.
8. Savour seasonal cuisine
Japan is very attentive to the changing seasons. When a new season comes around, new seasonal dishes come out on menus. Why not include this in one of your to-do activities in Japan?
Of course, spring cuisine involves a lot of sakura-themed dishes, like sakura mochi (桜もち). This traditional rice cake is made from real cherry blossoms! And that’s not the only seasonal dessert you can get. All around Japan, you can try all sorts of spring seasonal Japanese cuisine to your heart’s desire.
9. See koinobori
Don’t forget to look out for carp kites when you’re in Japan during spring! Known as koinobori (鯉のぼり), these are placed outside houses to celebrate Children’ Day (Kodomo no Hi, 子供の日). While it falls on the 5th of May, these carp kites are on display from April.
There are also specific areas in the country that have them, too. For example, in Tokyo, Tokyo Tower has 333 carp kites (because the tower is measured 333 meters) hoisted from the 5th of April!
10. View spring flowers
Last but not least, what you should do in Japan during spring is to view other spring flowers. Sure, sakura are pretty and all, but they’re not the only flowers to bloom during this season. You can find everything from hydrangeas and wisterias everywhere. Parks, botanical gardens and some shrines are great places for this activity.
Are you excited for spring in Japan?
These 10 activities are just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of other things you can do in Japan during the season. This island nation is full of nothing but activities! So pack your bags and get pumped for your trip to Japan during spring!