Before traveling to the greater Tokyo area in May, know what the weather is going to be like! Below were the actual weather conditions in Tokyo for May 2018 to help give you an idea of how the weather will be during your vacation.
Weather in Tokyo during the second week in May
During Golden Week last week, Tokyo may experience the kind of delightful sunny days of early summer, with occasional clouds and generally lower humidity. As we enter the second week of May, the forecast ahead points to clouds and occasional showers—but don’t fret: skies look to clear toward the weekend.
Weather in Tokyo during the third week in May
Pleasantly warm, breezy, and sunny days are now in Tokyo, though around the weekend it appears as though the city will be seeing some occasional showers and somewhat wetter weather.
Looking around at what people are wearing, it seems that jeans and t-shirts are the main outfit of choice, with some even using parasols against the late spring sun. Mid-May is also when Japan starts gearing up for matsuri (festival) season, and the past weekend saw a few fun local festivals around town as excitement rises ahead of the big Sanja Matsuri the third weekend of May.
Weather in Tokyo during the fourth week in May
Expect daytime highs in the low to mid 20s Celsius (low to upper 70s Fahrenheit) and to see a mixture of sun and clouds, with warmer days (upper 20s/70s) toward the end of the month.
Weather in Tokyo during the fifth week in May
The weather continues to be heating up, with the city experiencing delightful summery weather over the weekend. But as we enter June, some Tokyoites are feeling that the scattered showers predicted for Thursday and Friday might be a harbinger of the rainy season to come (in Kanto’s case, this typically is from early June to mid-July). Temperatures look to be comfortably in the mid to upper 20s (upper 70s) for the week to come.
What is there to see in Tokyo in May?
The warm, sunny days have teased a variety of flowers into bloom, and gardens all around Tokyo are showing magnificent colors.
One of the more popular (and highly Instagrammable) areas for seeing roses is along the Toden Arakawa Sakura Tram Line, Tokyo’s sole remaining streetcar that winds through many of the city’s quieter retro neighborhoods. Along the tracks, particularly between Arakawa-shakomae Station and Arakawa Yuen Amusement Park, and between Ōtsuka Station and Mukōhara Station, are a wide variety of colorful roses that draw many shutterbugs from Japan and abroad.
And if you really love roses, be sure to stop by the Ōtsuka Spring Rose Festival (held around the middle to end of May) right in front of Ōtsuka Station – or the Arakawa Rose Market in front of Machiya Station. You’re sure to enjoy!
Practically every season of Japan sees incredible displays of flowers in bloom, and late spring is no exception. Where early April sees the legendary flurry of sakura snow, late May sees the gorgeous hues of hydrangeas in bloom. It seems these flowers can be seen practically everywhere: in planters set around many of Tokyo’s neighborhoods; at temples and shrines; and in many of the popular Japanese gardens. Since hydrangeas bloom around when the rainy season begins, many Japanese view them as the classic flower for this time of year—and indeed their many hues look spectacular even when the mists of spring descend.
These magnificent floral pom-poms can be seen practically everywhere, but you’ll especially enjoy strolling around Ginza, Nezu and the Ningyocho areas in Tokyo, as well as at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Hakusan Jinja Shrine for especially photogenic sights. Hase Temple in Kamakura and Meigetsuin Temple in Kita-Kamakura are also renowned for hydrangeas and are particularly pretty in this season—from early June until mid-July.
During Golden Week (the first week in May), many family-oriented events were held ahead of Children’s Day. A common sight are dozens of these colorful carp-shaped koinobori windsocks which swam in parks and in front of many buildings. In Japanese culture, because of their ability to swim up a waterfall, carp symbolize courage and strength; these auspicious symbols are hung to honor sons. Under Tokyo Tower, 333 of the flapping banners are flown every year from around April 3 until around May 7, drawing crowds of families and shutterbugs. At night, the streamers are lit up between 5 and 11 p.m.
What is there to do in Tokyo in May?
Apart from spring’s cherry blossoms and the incredible fireworks of summer, traditional festivals – called matsuri - are an attractive draw for visitors from all over the world for their energy and thrill. Filled with traditional music, drumming and of course the exciting procession of gilded portable shrines called mikoshi - some of which can weigh half a ton or more – these seasonal events are a welcome sign that the summer months lay straight ahead.
The Motomishima Festival near Uguisudani Station, on Tokyo’s east side, springs to life on the second Saturday each May, although it’s a relatively local festival in Tokyo, the taiko drummers and mikoshi still draw hundreds of onlookers who cheer on the participants.
Held annually during the first full week of May, the Sanja Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s largest festivals. Taking place in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s older and traditional neighborhoods, the festival attracts over a million visitors from Japan and abroad over a 3-day period to see the scores of mikoshi (portable shrines) parade around Asakusa’s neighborhoods before convening around Sensoji Temple. This energetic and fun-filled fest is seen by many locals as a way to kick off the early summer months – a time where there’s a festival somewhere in the greater Tokyo area practically every weekend!
What clothes should I take to Japan in May?
Although rainy season has yet to start in Tokyo (that’s more from early June to mid-July), early May can see some showers. Daytime highs are in the low 20s (lower 70s), with evening lows in the mid-teens (upper 50s/low 60s).
A handy tip: many convenience stores (and even some drugstores) will carry rain ponchos in addition to umbrellas. If you get a slightly larger size poncho, it will likely fit over your backpack as well – perfect for those days of driving rain.
The majority of people around town seem to be still dressing in layers, with short-sleeved shirts and a light jacket or long-sleeved shirt tied around the waist for when the air cools toward evening. Given the higher chance for showers toward the beginning of the week, be sure to keep an umbrella handy.
Jeans and t-shirts are becoming increasingly the outfit of choice as Tokyo’s weather trends to early summer. Sunglasses and sunscreen might also help make strolling around town more comfortable. However as evenings will be still somewhat cool it’s advisable to bring either a long-sleeved shirt or spring jacket with you.
It's still heating up, with daytime highs expected to be in the mid to upper 20s (upper 70s/lower 80s), while evenings will be cooler (mid teens/low to mid 60s), so bringing a flannel or spring jacket is advised if you’ll be out at night. With some showers expected, don’t forget to pack a portable umbrella as well!
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