Things to do in Japan in May
Spring is well established in May, calling Japanese people to walk around and go outside. It is the time for school excursions at touristic and historical places throughout the country. It is not unusual to end up in the middle of a group of pupils, easily recognizable by their uniforms. As summer draws near, the festival calendar starts to fill up.
For those who have started a new cycle of life, such as first year students who began university in April or newbies who discovered the complexities of the workplace, however, this time of the year can also be a moment of temporary dejection. These difficulties to adjust to a new environment are called gogatsu-byo (五月病 or ごがつびょう), meaning "May’s blues" or "May sickness."
In May foreign tourists attendance is lower, as they went back home at the end of April, once the cherry tree blossoming is over in the main areas. It is now Japanese people's turn to take a national break at the beginning of the month: local and rural tourism is at its peak. Urban areas are empty, in favor of the travelers who stayed longer and can wander around in a quieter atmosphere.
Theme parks 🎡 and big botanical gardens see their entrance statistics increase on the weekends.
Climate and weather
With an average temperature of around 20°C (68°F) and a humidity of around 65%, May happens to be one of the most favorable climatic periods during which to visit Japan. Weather in May is warm but not stifling, occasionally rainy but not humid, so tourists can enjoy hiking in mountains, gardens and parks in total tranquility. The flowers blossoming following those of fruit trees are absolutely dazzling thanks to their many colorful shades.
Seaside and coastal areas are also demanded by those looking for the sun and wind. Yet, it is still too early for a dip in the sea; only Okinawa archipelago offers pleasant summer weather at the beginning of the month, before the rainy season ☔️. Hiking trails in the midsized mountains open at the end of the winter. We still have to wait for the summer months to hike the great Fuji-san 🗻.
National public holidays
As the month of national vacation, May starts with three consecutive non-workdays that constitute the main period of the Japanese Golden Week:
- May 3 -- 憲法記念日 Kenpo Kinenbi : Constitution Memorial Day
- May 4 -- 緑の日 Midori no Hi : Greenery Day
- May 5 -- 子供の日 Kodomo no Hi / Koinobori 🎏 : Children's Day
There is also:
- Second Sunday of May -- Mothers’ Day in Japan
Top things to do
"Everybody outside!" could be May’s motto. Japanese people spend multiple days outside and wander through green areas and by the water, before the arrival of the humid summer months and its mosquitoes.
Public holidays are occasions to organize street processions across the country, in a folkloric and family-friendly atmosphere.
Below is a list of Japanese seasonal attractions and events in May:
Travel packing tips
Prepare a suitcase with lighter clothing, including short- and long-sleeved T-shirts, light pants and some vests. The clothing range looks like the spring collections at clothing stores. Specifically for Japan, warm weather goes along with rain, so plan to bring some waterproof clothes. Otherwise, local clothing stores such as Uniqlo and Muji will offer a range of clothes suited for the humid heat.
As for shoes, prefer those that are comfortable for walking around. Trendy sneakers are perfect for urban and rural visits. Sunscreen and caps complete the travelers’ accessories for May.