Experience the Wonders of Japan in May

Advisor - Brenda El-Ghazzawy
Curated By

Brenda El-Ghazzawy

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  • Japan

  • Kyoto

  • Tokyo

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Outdoors

  • Local Food

  • Local Culture

A Japanese cherry blossom tree in full bloom during the daytime
Curator’s statement

Japan in May is a magical time that offers a blend of great weather, vibrant festivals, and stunning natural beauty. It is an ideal month for travelers to experience the country's rich culture and breathtaking landscapes. With the cherry blossoms' fleeting beauty giving way to lush greenery and the excitement of Golden Week, there's no shortage of activities and sights to enjoy.

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Where to stay in Japan

Grand Hyatt Tokyo

Sleek high-rise property in the heart of Tokyo with elegant rooms and suites.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto

Discover contemporary luxury and Japanese heritage at Hyatt Regency Kyoto, where elegant accommodations, traditional design, and a serene location near temples and historic landmarks offer a truly memorable stay in the cultural heart of Kyoto, Japan.

Fora Perks
  • Complimentary platform pick-up or send off service from Kyoto station.

  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Janu Tokyo

Discover tranquility and contemporary luxury at Janu Tokyo, where every moment is an invitation to find harmony in the heart of the bustling metropolis.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

Advisor - Brenda El-Ghazzawy

Unlock perks by contacting Brenda to book your trip.

Things to do in Japan

people sitting on a bench

Golden Week Adventures:
Kicking off your Japanese adventure during Golden Week, typically in the first week of May, provides a unique opportunity to see the country in full swing. This week-long holiday celebrates four national holidays and is when many Japanese take trips, visit family, or enjoy local festivities. It's a fantastic time to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, but book your travel and accommodations well in advance!

Experience the Breathtaking Wisteria Blooms:

While the cherry blossoms may have faded, May introduces the mesmerizing beauty of wisteria blooms. Places like the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi and the Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka showcase these enchanting flowers in spectacular displays. Walking beneath tunnels of cascading purple and white wisteria is a magical experience not to be missed.

Join the Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo:
The Sanja Matsuri, held at the Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo, is one of Japan's largest and most lively traditional festivals. Mid-May features three days of music, dance, and parades, with locals carrying mikoshi (portable shrines) through the streets. It's a perfect event to experience Tokyo's energy and community spirit.

Savor Seasonal Delicacies:

Japan in May offers a bounty of seasonal flavors that foodies will love. Many seasonal ingredients exist, from fresh bamboo shoots to the early harvests of tea. Visiting a local market or joining a food tour can be a great way to taste seasonal specialties like takenoko (bamboo shoots), koi nobori (carp-shaped kites), and the first catches of ayu (sweetfish).

Explore the Great Outdoors:
May's mild weather is ideal for outdoor activities. Whether hiking in the lush landscapes of the Japanese Alps, exploring the national parks, or simply enjoying a leisurely picnic in one of the country's many beautiful gardens, there's no shortage of ways to connect with nature. The Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki, known for its baby blue-eyes (Nemophila) flowers, is particularly stunning in May.

Witness the Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto:
Another can't-miss event in May is the Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto, one of Japan's oldest and most refined festivals. With a history dating back over a thousand years, this elegant procession features participants dressed in traditional Heian Period costumes, making their way through the streets of Kyoto to the Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines. It's a rare opportunity to see a living piece of Japanese history.

Places to eat & drink in Japan

raw fish in black bowl

Where to eat in Tokyo

Ubuka: Located in Yotsuya-Sanchome, Ubuka is a dream for seafood lovers. Chef Kato's dedication, known for his 100+ hour work weeks, results in extraordinary seafood dishes, particularly crab and prawns. Due to its popularity, securing a reservation often requires booking months in advance​​.

Kitafuku Ginza:
This restaurant in Ginza specializes in seafood, focusing on king crab. The experience here is immersive, requiring guests to remove their shoes and sit on tatami mats as they embark on a two-hour journey of savoring crab meat prepared in various styles. The meticulous preparation and presentation make it an exhilarating dining experience​​.

Kakimaru:
Located in Roppongi, Kakimaru offers a lively atmosphere where guests can enjoy fresh seafood, including specialty crab dishes and oysters. It's often filled with locals celebrating special occasions, enhancing the experience and making it an excellent place for visitors to immerse themselves in Tokyo's dining culture​​.

Tsukiji Sushidai Honkan:
Even though the Tsukiji Fish Market has moved to Toyosu, Tsukiji Sushidai Honkan remains a staple for sushi lovers in Tokyo. It offers authentic Edomae sushi with fresh fish directly from the market. The Omakase Set A provides a curated experience of perfectly crafted sushi, showcasing the chef's expertise and the quality of local seafood.

Where to eat in Kyoto

Mizuki: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto offers a quintessential kaiseki dining experience, where multiple courses are served with beautiful presentation. The full tasting menu at dinner is highly recommended for those seeking a traditional Japanese culinary journey​​.

Stardust:
It is a must-visit for vegan diners. It is known for its innovative dishes, so it's advisable to reserve in advance to experience its unique offerings​​.

Soujiki Nakahigashi:
Celebrated for its kaiseki cuisine that focuses on locally sourced herbs and vegetables, offering an intimate dining experience​​.

Nakamura: A Michelin-starred establishment is renowned for its Kyoto cuisine that embodies centuries of culinary tradition. The dishes here are not just meals but meticulously crafted works of art​​.

Arash's Kitchen: It is a unique fusion of Persian and Mediterranean flavors, providing a fresh and exciting taste profile for those seeking something different from traditional Japanese cuisine.​

Advisor - Brenda El-Ghazzawy

Travel Advisor

Brenda El-Ghazzawy

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For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Fedline Saintina’s guide, A Journey Through Iconic Japan Landmarks. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Japan.