10 Events and Things to Do in Japan in May 2023

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Bryce was born in California, but raised from the age of 3 near Seattle, Washington. He’s been living in Tokyo for about 7 years, and graduated from Temple University, Japan with degrees in economics and international business. He loves traveling of course, but also cooking, snowboarding, some video games as well. His biggest interest is songwriting/music production, more specifically electronic music… (think Skrillex, Marshmello, Daft Punk, etc.) He also has terrible humor as you’ll notice, but he hopes you’ll enjoy it!

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If you’re in Japan in May, you’ve chosen a great time to come. If you’re already living here, then you may already know that there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the month! Starting it off right with a group of holidays known as Golden week, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of activities and sightseeing opportunities. June tends to be the rainy season and May becomes pleasantly warm so there are plenty of outdoor activities to do. Flowers continue to blossom on trees as well as in fields and festivals are held that create a wonderful sense of renewal and vibrance for the summer to come. So read along and learn about some great things to do across Japan in May!

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1. Celebrate Children’s Day

Children's day carp streamers

May is a month that most Japanese look forward to because of Golden week. Even without knowing what it is, it sounds pretty nice, right? Well, it is! It is a string of holidays that usually results in a week or so off from work at the beginning of May, with the final holiday in that string being Children’s Day. This holiday has been celebrated since ancient times, but was officially recognized as a holiday in 1948. On this day you’ll notice carp streamers that represent the members of the family and are a symbol of power and toughness. One thing that is common to do on this day is eat kashiwamochi and chimaki! There are also lots of great koinobori festivals that you can check out throughout Japan in April and May.

When: May 5

2. Northern Japan Cherry Blossoms

Mount Yotei Cherry Blossoms Hokkaido

Big fan of cherry blossoms and hanami? Well, you will be glad to hear that it’s not only here in late March and early April! Colder, northern areas of Japan often experience the blooming of cherry blossoms in late April and even May. If you’re able to make it up to Tohoku or Hokkaido, you’ll have a wonderful time enjoying the continued hanami season. You may even be lucky enough to be able to enjoy cherry blossoms during golden week as well! Northern Japan is not only great for enjoying the winter, but also an incredibly good place to be in the spring.

When: Late April – Mid May

3. See Beautiful Wisteria


If you’re over the hype of the cherry blossoms, another kind of tree in Japan that is displayed beautifully is the Wisteria. These mesmerizing trees droop down in a beautiful shade of lavender between mid-April to mid-May. Some notable places to see them are Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, and Kawachi Fujien Garden in Northern Kyushu. The Tochigi location boasts 350 trees covering nearly 100,000 square meters; it’s an incredible sight. The Kyushu location is equally impressive with its two tunnels created from the looming branches!

When: Mid April – Mid May (Depends on location)

4. Aoi Festival

Aoi Festival
JapanexperternaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kyoto is well known for being a rather historical part of Japan, and this is shown vibrantly in the Aoi Festival. This festival is one of Kyoto’s 3 most popular festivals and has been going on for nearly 1500 years! Every year on May 15th, many people gather to watch an elaborate, 1 hour long parade filled with traditional ceremonies along the way. It is certainly a great way to experience deep Japanese history and enjoy the spring season.

When: May 15

5. Hakata Dontaku Festival

Hakata Dontaku
フェレスCC BY-SA 2.1 JP, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re in Kyushu to enjoy the Wisteria at Kawachi Fujien, or looking for another festival to enjoy, then you might want to consider heading to Hakata for the Dontaku Festival. It is held on May 3rd and 4th during Golden week. It is one of Japan’s largest festivals with an average of 30,000 participants and 2,000,000 spectators and lasts two days! There are a multitude of traditional ceremonies, dances, and other elements to enjoy! You’ll surely be able to create an unforgettable memory here.

When: May 3 – 4

6. Nemophila at Hitachi Seaside Park

Nemophila at Hitachi Seaside Park

Enjoy cherry blossoms, wisteria, or other flowers in general? Then take your springtime spirit over to the Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki! This field of nemophila flowers is a sight for sore eyes and is a perfect match for its seaside location. These little sky blue flowers create an effect as if the sky were on the ground; from a distance it’s quite surreal. They are best enjoyed from late April to early May.

When: Late April – Early May

7. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
skyseeker (CC BY 2.0), via Flickr

If you can’t wait for the winter and love snow, consider taking a ride through the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route! Along the way you’ll be able to catch incredible views throughout the Tateyama mountain range. One of the most spectacular views is the 20 meter high snow corridor. The corridor is open to pedestrians from April 15th to June 25th, but the route in its entirety is open until November 30th. Due to risk of injury, the route is inaccessible throughout the winter.

When: Mid April – June

8. Hokkaido Blue Pond

Hokkaido Blue Pond

This magnificent sightseeing opportunity lies in the northern island of Hokkaido. Minerals dissolved in the water create a serene blue color that peaks in May! This location is actually quite quiet as it was not optimized for tourism until somewhat recently, so it’s a great place to go if you like calm, soothing vibes. The trees sticking out of the water add to its surreal aesthetic. Interestingly enough, the pond was actually created to prevent destructive mudflows from Mt. Tokachi, but became the beauty it is today by accident.

When: Mid May – June

9. Tokyo Sumo Tournament

Sumo Tournament Tokyo
Simon QCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Is serene and calm not your idea of springtime fun? Well then, here’s an activity that may be up your alley: the Sumo Tournament in Tokyo! Yes, from mid-late May, a tournament is held for one of Japan’s most famous and historical sports. Sumo is a simple, yet intense and sophisticated bout of brute strength and requires impressive dedication from the wrestlers. The tournament is the pinnacle of sumo viewing!

When: May 14 – 28

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10. Go to a Green Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation

After you’re done looking at all the trees, flowers, ponds, and enjoying the festivals, take a breather and enjoy some green tea. A prominent part of Japanese culture, green tea can be enjoyed in many different settings. But where does it come from? Well, you’ll have a small window of time in May to find out! Shizuoka, just a few hours from Tokyo, is a great place to find plantations where you can pick tea leaves and enjoy tours of the factories. Check out some great tours below.

When: All of May

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

mount fuji chureito pagoda

Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

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