When thinking about when to actually go to Japan, you need to be aware of any cultural holidays or important natural observations. Holidays to watch out for are Obon, which is usually in mid-August or mid-July, depending on which region of Japan you are in; Golden Week, which begins April 29th and ends May 5th; and the Christmas/New Year holidays.
In addition, in late March and early April, the sakura (cherry blossoms) naturally bloom all across Japan, beginning in one region and quickly spreading to others; during this “season”, as it is lovingly referred to by the Japanese, enormous crowds from all over Japan and even other countries flock to certain areas and enjoy group outings and picnics under the trees. Japanese television news even reports the best days to go view them, right with the weather forecast. You read that right — there is a cherry blossom forecast in Japan.
The cheapest times to buy airfare and travel to Japan are when these four major events are not occurring. One of the cheapest times to go is right after New Years, between January and early March. However, it is also important to consider what you could potentially be missing out on by saving your money. For example, the cherry blossom season is one of Japan’s most well-known and popular times to visit for a reason; the beauty is overwhelming. Also, during the Winter, if you are anywhere near Tokyo the sun usually sets by 5pm, making sightseeing much more difficult. Like anything else in life, there are trade-offs by trying to visit Japan on the cheap.
If you are based in Atlanta or live a state over, the best deals during this non-peak times are usually found if you travel from a large airport that generally serves as a hub to others, such as our famously known Hartsfield-Jackson International AIrport. Major discounts can be found traveling from this destination to Narita Airport in Japan beginning mid-January until early March.
As mentioned in a previous post, however, visiting Japan on someone else’s dime is an even better prospect, and studying abroad through your local college can often make this possible. Our own Georgia State University has a program for Japan which can be found here. In a future post I will write about scholarships, how to attain them, what to write about in any required essays, and what to talk about (and what not to talk about) in any required interviews, if applicable.