Visiting Japan -- September or October weather?
June 29, 2013 1:03 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, somewhere between Sept-Oct. Ideally, I'd like to go when the weather is ~70F (~20C), and not raining cats and dogs.

I'm told that September has clear days, but the humidity can be unbearable. October is nice autumn weather, but the rain might get in the way of my sightseeing plans. (If it helps, I survived years of Southeast Asian humidity. This 100F weekend in Los Angeles is killing me, though...)

I know it's a small window, but which month is the better bet? No difference??

And maybe I'm silly for basing my trip on weather, and outdoor conditions. Please let me know if there are other date-specific events that I should take into consideration. A festival that can't be missed, maybe?
posted by Xere to Travel & Transportation around Japan (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
October for the autumn leaves! (Though possibly more crowds, especially in Kyoto, Nikko etc.) September, especially early September, is typhoon-season.
posted by pikeandshield at 1:11 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

October is definitely better in terms of temperature as well - about 20-23 degrees C. It's probably the best month to go to Japan after April and May.
posted by pikeandshield at 1:15 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

October is a fantastic month to visit. When we went there a few years ago in October, it rained once for about three hours.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:14 AM on June 29, 2013

Fourthing October. Sometimes the sticky, 90F+ summer doesn't end until the very end of September - plus as someone already said, it's also typhoon season. I've spent four Octobers in Japan, and weather-wise they've been some of the most amazingly agreeable months anywhere ever.

Off the top of my head, there aren't any major festivals in Kyoto after August, so again I don't think you'd be missing anything important around there. But be sure to check local tourism pages for the places you're going in case there's one of those "once every 20 years" events in one of them during the period you're interested in going.
posted by harujion at 3:28 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you go end of October/beginning of November, you can catch Design Festa in Tokyo November 2-3. November 3 is also the date of the Tokyo Jidai Matsuri. October 22 is the Kyoto Jidai Matsuri which appears to be the more significant of the two (Wikipedia says it's "one of Kyoto's renowned three great festivals").
posted by Gortuk at 7:22 AM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

October in Kyoto for the maple leaves and the festival nights when they illuminate the temple gardens, and the annual opening of the temple treasuries.
posted by jcrcarter at 7:26 AM on June 29, 2013

I can't believe I forgot Jidai Matsuri! It's a very long parade of people in historical garb through downtown Kyoto - I wouldn't say it is essential viewing, but it is very well-attended.

If you want fall leaves, you might catch some at the very tail end of October. Most fall-leaf related tourist events don't start until November. The light-ups at Kiyomizudera begin November 15 this year.
posted by harujion at 9:57 AM on June 29, 2013

Seconding everything Gortuk said. I visited on October/November last year, and the weather was great. It still rained a few days, so be sure to buy a portable umbrella.
posted by clearlydemon at 1:25 PM on June 29, 2013

A short train ride from Kyoto is Kurama, where they hold the Kurama Fire Festival at night on the same day of the Kyoto Jidai Matsuri (October 22 this year). Huge torches are carried through the streets of the town. Definitely a must see if you're in Kyoto then.

And yes, the weather in October can be very nice.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:54 PM on June 29, 2013

Nthing October. September in Japan is often still brutally hot and humid, but is still considered the beginning of fall, and many stores, train lines, and places decide that it's time to stop using the air conditioner. October, on the other hand, is a fantastic month to visit.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:51 AM on June 30, 2013

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