View Full Version : Weather & clothing FAQ

Mar 11, 2010, 21:50
One recurrent question of first time travellers to Japan is what weather to expect when they go there. Japan is a vast country, stretching over 3,000 km (2,000 miles) from tropical Okinawa to temperate cold Hokkaido where winter temperature frequently drop under -20°C.

Overall the northern coast of Japan (facing the Sea of Japan) is wetter and snowier in winter. Temperatures are always cooler in the mountains than in the plain. If you are planning to move around there is no general rule about what weather to expect, apart from the fact that summer (June to September) is very hot an humid everywhere outside Hokkaido.

There is a very easy way to check for temperature averages for any Japanese city or region. Many good weather websites have monthly statistics. You can try Weather.com (http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/vacationplanner/vacationclimatology/monthly/JAXX0085) for example.

Note that due to the pervasive humidity all over Japan (especially near the coast, where 95 of the population lives) it usually feels colder (in winter) or hotter (in summer) at equal temperature than in Europe or North America. 10°C in Tokyo can feel bitterly cold, like freezing temperatures in Europe or North America.

The best time of the year to visit most of Japan is spring (April and May) for the blossoms and flowers and autumn (mid-October to early December) for the colourful foliage and blue sky. Summer is most pleasant in Hokkaido or in the Japanese Alps (e.g. Nagano, Karuizawa), while the top winter destination is Okinawa.