Best Time to Visit Kyoto: When to Go & Weather Guide

Planning a trip to the former imperial capital of Japan? Choosing the best time to visit Kyoto is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make. While Kyoto is a year-round destination, the weather in Kyoto not as cut-and-dry as you might think.

Sorting through when to travel to Kyoto, you’ll discover a distinct four-season climate. The seasons range between hot & humid summers to cool winters. The spring and autumn months, when the magical cherry blossoms and fall foliage unfold, fall somewhere between.

Need help deciding when to go to Kyoto? Get the low-down with this complete Kyoto weather guide. In it, we include recommendations on the best months to visit Kyoto and what to expect & what to wear by season and month.

When to go to Kyoto: A weather overview

Located on Honshu, Japan’s most populated island, Kyoto experiences a temperate climate.

If you’ve ever fought with the weather in continental Europe, you’ll know what to expect in Kyoto. Four distinct seasons roll along, varying temperatures throughout the year.

Not unlike other Japanese cities like Osaka or Tokyo, the seasonal temperature shifts in Kyoto are marked by extremes. Summer in Kyoto can get uncomfortably hot and humid. Winter often dips into chilly territory.

Senso-ji

On the other hand, spring and autumn are among the best times to travel to Kyoto. It’s even more marked if you visit during the cherry blossom or fall foliage season.

The temperatures in spring and fall are often mild and comfortable. You’ll also enjoy lower rainfall than during the summertime wet season.

  • The best time to visit Kyoto is either spring (April/May) or autumn (October/November). Try to time your trip with the cherry blossom & fall foliage seasons for maximum impact.
  • Summer (June to August) can get uncomfortably hot, wet & humid in Kyoto. Surprisingly, the city’s still quite busy at this time of year. Although there are better seasons to visit, it’s not a complete no-go. You’ll still get a fair share of sunny days sprinkled in, even in the height of rainy season between mid-June and late July.
  • The winter months in Kyoto (December to February) are cool, although not as cold as northern destinations like Hokkaido. Snowfall is possible and renders Kyoto quite magical.

Need more information? To help you better plan out when to go to Kyoto, I’ve broken down the weather in Kyoto by season and by month. In each section, I give tips on what to expect in Kyoto weather-wise. You’ll also get some ideas on how to prepare and what to do during each time of year. Let’s see what Kyoto’s weather has in store for you…

Kyoto Weather by Season

Spring

When is spring in Kyoto?

Spring in Kyoto is from March to May.

What to expect in spring

Spring is one of the best times of the year to go to Kyoto. Crawling away from the chilly winter, the city comes back to life as spring rolls in. The temperatures slowly rise from the cool days of March into the warm days of April and May. Spring nights are still a tad chilly.

Early spring is particularly beautiful. The cherry blossom season in Kyoto hits somewhere between late March and mid-April. When in full bloom and during Golden Week at the beginning of May, big crowds descend upon the former imperial capital. If you’re visiting during these times, book your accommodations far ahead.

What to wear in spring

Temperatures in spring vary. You’ll need to fill your travel backpacks with some warmer clothes to deal with the swings.

On most warm spring days you should be able to get away with a short- or long-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans. Keep a sweater handy just in case. Pack an ultralight rain shell or a softshell jacket to wear as an outer layer.

Summer

When is summer in Kyoto?

Summer in Kyoto is from June to August.

What to expect in summer

As much as you might love escaping the cold, summer isn’t the pleasantest time of year in Kyoto. Temperatures can soar into the high-30s at the height of summer. And then there’s the incessant humidity.

Mid-June to early-July marks Japan’s rainy season. If you choose to visit at this time prepare for a serious soaking!

What to wear in summer

On sunny summer days, you’ll want to stay comfortable with light clothing. T-shirts, shorts, light dresses, and lightweight travel pants are a good idea. Throw a light sweater into your daypack to deal with over-air-conditioned restaurants and malls.

As summer is wet, always carry a travel umbrella and lightweight rain jacket along with you. You’ll want to be prepped for the inevitable sudden downpours.

Shirakawa in Gion District

Autumn

When is autumn in Kyoto?

Autumn in Kyoto is from September to November.

What to expect in autumn

Like spring, autumn is one of the best times to travel to Kyoto. Descending from the heat and humidity of summer, fall temperatures in Kyoto are far more comfortable.

In aesthetics, Kyoto is also at its best in autumn. The cavalcade of fall colours paints the city in bright red, yellow and orange hues. It creates a scene that’s truly remarkable.

The biggest drawback to visiting in autumn is the crowds. Be sure to book your accommodations far ahead to avoid disappointment. Early autumn is also typhoon season in Japan although Kyoto rarely sees much of the action.

What to wear in autumn

Although you’ll still get away with summer-wear into September, mid- to late-autumn begins to get chilly. Pack a warmer light jacket (either a softshell or fleece would work well) and a sweater or a hoodie.

Winter

When is winter in Kyoto?

Winter in Kyoto is from December to February.

What to expect in winter

Average temperatures quickly drop as Kyoto transitions from fall to winter. Winter is cold, but not unbearably so—at least not for most Western Europeans or North Americans.

There’s truly something magical about catching the temples & shrines of Kyoto under a blanket of snow. With the cooler temperatures of winter, there’s a bonus of thinner tourist crowds. Winter is a great time to find good accommodations deals in Kyoto.

What to wear in winter

To stay comfortable, you’ll need to pack warmer clothes. Bring along sweaters, a warm winter coat, toque, and gloves or mittens.

Kyoto Weather by Month

January

A solidly winter month, January hands out cold temperatures and sunny skies. Along with December, January is the driest month of the year in Kyoto.

Snow is certainly possible. With the cooler temperatures though, it rarely sticks around long. Outside of the New Year’s holiday (shogatsu), January is relatively quiet with smaller crowds.

  • Average Temperature: 5ºC / 41ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 1ºC / 34ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 8ºC /46ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 50 mm

February

February in Kyoto is warmer and wetter than January. It still features into Kyoto’s colder winter weather though.

Like January, visitor numbers are lower in February than at other times throughout the year. Snow and rain is still a possibility even though February is one of the driest months of the year in Kyoto.

  • Average Temperature: 6ºC / 43ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 2ºC / 36ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 9ºC/ 48ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 80 mm

Winter @ Kinkaku-ji

March

Temperatures rise into March as spring begins to rear its head. March is a mixed bag of weather in Kyoto.

Into March, rainfall surges compared to the dry winter months. Temperatures fluctuate between cold and warm—and everything between.

By mid-March, the plum blossoms in Kyoto are out in full force. Late March marks the start of cherry blossom season in Kyoto. By this time, tourism numbers start to pick up.

  • Average Temperature: 9ºC /48ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 4ºC / 39ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 13ºC /55ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 120 mm

April

From the ever-changing March weather, April begins to see more stability. Spring temperatures start to even out with daytime averages sneaking upwards.

Evening and nights in April can still inch towards the cooler spectrum. The beginning of April is one of the busiest times of year in Kyoto with the beautiful cherry blossoms bursting into full bloom all over the city. The rest of the month is, however, fairly quiet and comfortable for travellers in the city.

  • Average Temperature: 14ºC /57ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 9ºC / 48ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 19ºC / 66ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 130 mm

Sakura Cherry Blossoms

May

The last official month of spring, May is one of the best months to visit Kyoto. With the temperatures warming up and the spring flowers in bloom, Kyoto is delightful.

Other than during Golden Week, a string of Japanese holidays around the first week of the month, Kyoto is relatively quiet in May.

  • Average Temperature: 19ºC /66ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 14ºC / 57ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 24ºC / 75ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 160 mm

June

With summer coming into force in Kyoto, temperatures start to surge heading into June. The beginning of June is still a pleasant time to visit the city. In early June, warm temperatures often avoid the uncomfortable highs of mid- to late-summer.

Late June is a different story. As the summer roars in, so does the rainy season. The end of the June is the wettest time of the year in Kyoto. Heavy afternoon showers are the norm. You’ll probably want to avoid travelling at this time to save yourself from the brunt of it.

  • Average Temperature: 23ºC /73ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 19ºC / 66ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 27ºC / 81ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 240 mm

Garden @ Ginkaku-ji

July

The heat and humidity continue to rise into July in Kyoto. The intense rainfall of late June continues into the beginning of the month.

The end of July sees some reprieve from the intense wetness. The sticky humidity, however, continues to stick around. July is generally not a comfortable time to travel to Kyoto.

  • Average Temperature: 27ºC /81ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 23ºC / 73ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 31ºC / 88ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 230 mm

August

Even though there’s a marked drop in rainfall heading into August, the hot & humid summer weather rages on in Kyoto. August is the most pleasant summer month in Kyoto as its the driest and sunniest of the bunch.

Even with the slightly better weather, the crowds in August are thinner than either June or July. In August, it’s easier to enjoy Kyoto.

Late August starts to see the possibility of typhoons in Japan. Outer islands like Okinawa are more likely to be heavily affected than Kyoto though.

  • Average Temperature: 29ºC /84ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 24ºC / 75ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 33ºC / 91ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 130 mm

Kibune Shrine

September

With summer disappearing in the rearview mirror, September sees a dip in the heat & humidity. Typhoon season in Japan brings a smattering of rain in early September. September is a wetter month overall than August.

By the end of the month though, temperatures become more comfortable and the rain tapers off. The tourist numbers in September are also lower than August. It’ll let you snag some pretty awesome accommodations deals in Kyoto.

  • Average Temperature: 24ºC / 75ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 20ºC / 68ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 28ºC / 82ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 220 mm

October

As the autumn kicks into full swing, October sees a drop in temperatures from the summer-like highs of September. In October, it’s still pleasantly warm and sunny though.

October is one of the best times to travel to Kyoto. Cooler evenings into the end of the month start to usher in the changing of colours of the fall foliage season.

  • Average Temperature: 18ºC /64ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 13ºC /55ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 22ºC / 72ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 100 mm

Nijo Castle

November

Along with May, November is the best month to visit Kyoto. Although autumn is in full swing, the weather can still be pleasantly mild. Sunny days are the norm in November.

By mid-November, the fall colours in Kyoto are out in full force. This can be a busy time of year in Kyoto, but well worth it for the experience of seeing the city at its most beautiful.

  • Average Temperature: 13ºC /55ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 8ºC / 46ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 17ºC /63ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 80 mm

December

The first official month of winter in Kyoto isn’t such a bad one. Even with the dipping temperatures, December days are often sunny. In fact, December is the driest month of the year in Kyoto.

The cooler weather though seems to keep travellers at bay. You’ll find thinner crowds and cheaper accommodations at this time of year. Be sure to plan around shogatsu, the Japanese new year celebrations. The festivities shut down businesses between December 29th and January 3rd.

  • Average Temperature: 7ºC /45ºF
  • Low Temperature (Average): 3ºC / 37ºF
  • High Temperature (Average): 11ºC / 52ºF
  • Average Rainfall: 50 mm

When is the best time to visit Kyoto?

The best time to visit Kyoto is May or November.

Why visit Kyoto in May?

While there’s hardly a bad time of the year, the best time to visit Kyoto is May. Springtime in Kyoto is simply magical. May offers the best compromise between beautiful scenery, good weather and smaller crowds.

Bamboo Forest

Although you’ll miss out on the cherry blossoms of early spring, the weather in May is warmer than the cool days of late March and early April. Sightseeing in Kyoto in May is also more comfortable. You’ll enjoy both warmer weather and smaller crowds.

Outside of Golden Week, a collection of Japanese holidays at the beginning of the month, May is relatively quiet. Finding accommodations in Kyoto won’t be as much of a challenge at this time of year.

Why visit Kyoto in November?

Aside from May, the best month to go to Kyoto is November. Like seeing the cherry blossoms, watching Kyoto erupt into fall colours is one of the most memorable experiences you’ll have in Japan.

Autumn @ Kiyomizu-dera

The weather in Kyoto in November is comfortable and sunny. You should expect cooler temperatures in autumn than in the late spring though.

Be aware that the crowds in November will be denser than in May. The fall colours attract domestic visitors from around Japan.

Accommodation availability and prices will be higher than normal throughout most of the month. It’s unlikely you’ll regret it though. Scouring Kyoto’s temples, shrines, and gardens under a delightful burst of fall colours is unforgettable!

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Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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