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Peak Travel Seasons
Encourage your clients to avoid traveling during the peak seasons listed below, since they trigger a mass exodus first from the city to the countryside and then in the opposite direction. Virtually all long-distance trains, ferries, and airlines will be fully booked and packed to the gills, not to mention hotels and other lodging, which often raise their rates in peak times. The weekends before and after major holidays are also likely to be crowded. On the other hand, staying in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka can be a pleasure, since that's when they're least crowded. Note, however, that most museums and many restaurants close for several days during New Year, though restaurants in larger towns and resort areas often remain open.
If your client must travel during these dates, try to book well in advance through Japanese land operators.
- New Year holiday season: December 29 to January 3, plus adjacent weekends.
- "Golden Week" holiday season: April 29 to May 5 and adjacent weekends.
- "Bon" festival season: One week centering on August 15.
Japanese families travel en masse during school hoildays, which are from the
end of March through the beginning of April and from the end of July through August.
While bookings are not as tight as the above peak travel seasons, reservations
should nevertheless be made in advance.
Regional Peak Travel Seasons
Reservations in these destinations should be made at least 6 months in advance:
Early Feb.: Sapporo for its Snow Festival
Mid-Feb.: Major cities (as students and their parents come for college entrance exams)
14-15: Takayama for the Takayama Matsuri
16-17: Nikko for Yayoi Matsuri
3-4: Fukuoka for Hakata Dontaku Festival
15: Kyoto for Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival)
17-18: Nikko for its Spring Grand Festival
16-17: Kyoto for main events of Gion Matsuri
1-8: Aomori, Hirosaki, Akita, Yamagata and Sendai for the Four Grand Tohoku Summer Festivals (i.e., Nebuta/Neputa, Kanto, Hanagasa and Tanabata Festivals)
12-15: Tokushima for Awa Odori Folk Dance Festival
16: Kyoto for Daimonji Bonfire
7-9: Nagasaki for its Kunchi Festival
9-10: Takayama for Takayama Matsuri
17: Nikko for its Autumn Festival
22: Kyoto for Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages)
3: Hakone for Daimyo-Gyoretsu Procession
2-4: Karatsu for Okunchi Festival
First 3 weeks of Nov.: Kyoto because of school excursions and autumn colors