April is a high season for tourism in Kyoto. This is because the spring warmth is so pleasant. Kyoto is especially busy with people hoping to see cherry blossoms around the ancient city.
April is perfect for cherry blossom viewing, but there are also some things to be careful of. We will also tell you about some typical Japanese events which take place in April.
Weather and What to Wear in Kyoto in April
Weather and Temperature in Kyoto in April
April, when the number of tourists increases because of the cherry blossoms, is a season suitable for sightseeing with a spring-like climate. The average high is 20℃ (68℃) and it feels nice and warm. However, the average low is 8℃ (46.4°F) making it feel like the winter cold is still around. Especially in the early mornings and evenings, it may be a bit chilly. If you will be spending time in the mountains, be careful as the temperature will be even lower.
What to Wear in Kyoto in April
As it is spring in Japan in April, a more spring-like wardrobe is good. During the day, long-sleeved shirts of a thinner material and shorts are enough, and you don’t need so much protection from the cold anymore. However, it’s cool in the morning and at night, so it’s better to have a light jacket or cardigan. If you go around the shrines, you may be required to remove your shoes, so thicker socks may keep your feet from getting too cold. For kids, prepare some clothes that can be adjusted depending on the temperature.
Events in Kyoto in April
“Hanami” – Cherry blossom viewing
Japanese people love doing “hanami.” “Hanami” is made of two words, “hana” meaning flower and “mi” meaning see or look; and literally means to view flowers. You most often hear it used in relation to cherry blossoms and a “hanami” is an event where people view the cherry blossoms while eating and possibly partaking in alcoholic beverages. During the day you will see many groups having picnics and in the evenings barbecues. Every year you can see many kinds of “hanami” at any park in Japan with cherry blossom trees. The more popular spots may have people there hours before their group to get a spot. Most groups will place a leisure sheet, usually a blue vinyl sheet, under the trees and have their party on top of the sheet. Kyoto has many famous “hanami” spots such as Ninna-ji Temple, Maruyama Park, Daigo-ji Temple, Arashiyama, etc. During this season you will not only see tourists in these spots, but locals as well and it may be quite crowded. For the popular spots, you may see lines for the restroom which last more than 30 minutes! As most spots are crowded during this season, please be sure to keep a close eye on kids! Also, Japan has no laws regarding drinking in public, so don’t be surprised to see some groups get quite excited during their “hanami.”
School Entrance Ceremony
April is the start of the school year and the business fiscal year in Japan. Japanese elementary school children usually go to school with school bags called “randoseru.” They use the same school bag for 6 years from 1st grade to 6th grade. For the first graders, the bag is quite large and the small kids with the big bags are so cute as the bags are about half as big as the kids themselves. Moms around the country feel anxious wondering if their child made it to school ok and if their school life is going ok. If you happen to see children around the city carrying the big school bags, please look over them with kind eyes.
“Jusan-mairi” is an event held on April 13 which is unique to Japan. On this day, children who have turned 13 years old visit the shrine to express their appreciation for their health and their growth up to now. It was originally held in Kansai, mainly in Kyoto, but has recently spread throughout Japan. If you go to a shrine on this day, you may see children wearing kimono and hakama (a type of kimono, often worn by boys, shaped like pants). These are the children doing “jusan-mairi.”
April 29 is a national holiday in Japan, Showa Day, which was the Showa Era emperor’s birthday. It is the beginning of a period known as Golden Week, a time from the end of April to early May with several holidays meaning people all over Japan can have a longer vacation than usual. Depending on how the weekends fall, some years the Golden Week holiday is longer than others. This year (2020) the final holiday of Golden Week will be on May 6. Many people take advantage of the longer holiday and travel, so sightseeing spots and transportation hubs may be quite busy during this time.
3 Things to be Careful of When Visiting Kyoto in April
1. Restrooms at “hanami” spots
Restrooms near “hanami” spots are always crowded. In particular, women may have to wait more than 30 minutes. As kids can’t wait sometimes, this could be a problem. One solution is to walk a bit from your “hanami” spot to a different location.
2. Golden Week crowds
From the end of April through the first week of May, Japan celebrates Golden Week, a series of holidays resulting in longer vacation time for employees around the country. For Japanese, the long holiday is rare, so many people take advantage of it and travel or go out for sightseeing. As many people travel during this time, the trains stations and airports may be busier than usual. Unless you have no other choice, we recommend visiting Japan at a different time than the Golden Week holiday.
3. Difference in Temperatures Throughout the Day
April in Japan is springtime and a good season to travel here. However early mornings and evenings are still quite chilly. The changes in temperature over the course of the day can be tough on you, so be prepared with a light jacket like a cardigan or windbreaker.
Enjoy Kyoto in April with your family
With warmer days and blooming cherry blossoms, spring is an excellent time of year to visit Japan with your kids. If you would like to experience “hanami” the famous spots may all be crowded and hard to find a good spot. At Kyoto with Kids, we have a “hanami” tour plan and can take you to a hidden “hanami” spot where you can enjoy a real “hanami” under the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Check here for more information: https://kyotowithkids.com/services/