Recently updated on February 6th, 2024 at 11:41 am
As the end of winter and the start of spring, March is the best time to visit Japan for almost everything. Across the month you could go snowboarding in the Japanese Alps, snorkeling in Okinawa island and cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo. From spring festivals to sumo wrestling tournaments, here’s your guide to visiting Japan in March.
Take a trip to Japan on: Splendors of Japan
Weather in Japan in March
March weather in Japan marks the transition from winter to spring. The weather is generally mild, but temperatures and conditions can vary depending on the region:
Northern Japan (Hokkaido): Still cold with lingering snow, temperatures range from (27°F – 39°F (-3°C to 4°C)
Central Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto): Mild and pleasant, temperatures range from 41°F to 55°F (5°C to 13°C).
Southern Japan (Okinawa): Warmer, with temperatures ranging from 59°F to 68°F (15°C to 20°C).
You should bring layers, including a light jacket for cooler mornings and evenings, and comfortable shoes for walking. There is a possibility of light rain, so pack a small umbrella or a raincoat.
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Things to do in Japan in March
With March being the bridge between winter and spring, the month brings a diverse range of experiences from snow sports to early cherry blossom viewing. Here are some of the top reasons to visit and things to do on your trip to Japan in March:
Cherry blossom viewing
The best time for cherry blossom viewing (known as hanami) varies between regions and varieties of cherry blossom (sakura). You’ll have to keep a close eye on the cherry blossom forecasts, but most cherry trees hit their peak in Tokyo and the southern and central areas in late March. Spots like Ueno Park in Tokyo, Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, and Miyajima Island near Hiroshima are excellent for enjoying the dreamy pink and white blossoms.
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Plum blossom viewing
Before the cherry blossom season, plum blossoms come into full bloom, and it’s an equally beautiful sight. Places like Kairakuen Garden in Mito and Osaka Castle Park have spectacular plum blossom displays.
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Go skiing and snowboarding
Japan in March still has great snow conditions in regions like Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps. You can find quality snow and facilities in resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba.
Go swimming and snorkeling
Japan in March is so diverse you can be snowboarding in the northern Alps one day, and snorkeling at the beach the next. For warmer weather and pristine beaches, head to Okinawa in the south and explore the unique Ryukyu culture and the underwater paradise.
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If you love nature, you’ll really get the most out of it in Japan in March. It’s a great month for hiking and enjoying the scenic landscapes in places like Mount Fuji and the national parks.
Enjoy the hot springs (onsen)
The slightly chilly weather of early spring makes it perfect for soaking in Japan’s famous hot springs. Head to onsen towns like Hakone, Beppu, and Noboribetsu for a truly relaxing experience.
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Seasonal food and drinks
Spring is the season in Japan for specific delicacies such as sakura-flavored treats, strawberries, and fresh seafood like clams. If you’re a big foodie, you’ll adore eating your way around Japan in March.
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Watch a sumo wrestling tournament
If your timing is right, you could catch the Osaka March Grand Sumo Tournament. As the second of Japan’s six annual Sumo Tournaments (known as honbasho), the Osaka tournament is held every March. The wrestling matches are thrilling to watch and you’ll get a deep dive into this sacred Japanese sport.
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Take advantage of the shoulder season in early March
Early March is a great time to visit as it’s less crowded so you can enjoy better travel deals and a more relaxed experience right before the peak cherry blossom season. You can get the most out of this quieter time by visiting Japan’s most iconic attraction. Explore Kyoto’s famous temples and shrines like Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Dive into Tokyo and go shopping in Shibuya and Ginza or visit historical sites like the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. The gorgeous spring weather is also ideal for visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the nearby island of Miyajima, known for its floating torii gate.
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Experience the spring festivals
Japan celebrates a variety of spring festivals in March, each showcasing unique aspects of Japanese culture and tradition. Here are some festivals you might like to experience:
Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival)
Celebrated on March 3rd, this festival is also known as Girls’ Day. Families display elaborate sets of dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, and their court, all dressed in traditional Heian period clothing. It’s a day to pray for the health and happiness of young girls.
Tsunan Snow Festival
Famed for its heavy snowfall, the town of Tsunan holds a snow festival every year at the beginning of March. The festival has a magical Sky Lantern event, where hundreds of paper lanterns are released into the night sky to pray for good health and a good harvest. Besides the Sky Lantern event, you can also see incredible snow sculptures and enjoy traditional food, music and dance.
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Omizutori (Water-Drawing Festival)
This Buddhist religious ceremony has been celebrated for over 1,250 years at Todaiji Temple in Nara. It involves priests drawing sacred water from a well, believed to bring good health and a successful harvest. The festival runs from March 1st to 14th, ending in a bang with spectacular fire and water ceremonies.
Sanja Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s three great Shinto festivals, often held in March or May. It’s famous for the lively procession of three portable shrines (mikoshi) through the streets of Asakusa, accompanied by music and traditional dancing.
Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus)
This unique festival celebrates fertility and childbirth. It’s marked by parades featuring phallic-shaped floats, and it usually takes place in Kawasaki in late March or early April.
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Held in Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture, this festival features large floats made of reeds and decorated with talismans. The floats are paraded through the town and then set ablaze in a dazzling fire ceremony. It usually takes place in mid March.
Held in Nara at the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, this festival features ancient rituals and a procession of shrine priests, maidens in traditional dress, and sacred horses. With classical court music and dance, this is one elegant festival you have to see.
This festival welcomes the arrival of spring and is named after the Yayoi period in Japanese history. Celebrated in Nikko, you’ll watch a parade of people dressed in traditional Yayoi period costumes.
Are you planning to visit Japan in March? Let us know in the comments below!