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Japan’s climate is summarized into four seasons, with conditions distinctive on each side of the country - whether it be up north in Hokkaido or down south in Okinawa, or on the Pacific side or the Sea of Japan side. Knowing about it can help make planning your trip smoother!
Table of Contents
The overall weather condition of the country, which lies in the northern half of the globe, can be categorized as a temperate zone with heavy rainy seasons.
Japan has quite distinct seasons - summer, spring, autumn, and winter. The Winter season is usually experienced from December to February of the following year, with a temperature drop of -20 degrees Celsius in some locations while other locations more to the south never get that cold. Spring is felt from the months of March, April, and May with random spikes of weather conditions but overall getting warmer. Summer starts in the month of June and ends in August. After the rainy season in the early months, people will gradually feel a temperature rise up to 35 degrees Celsius or so, and high humidity, especially in the central areas of Japan. Lastly, people experience a drop in temperature from the months of September up to November, and this is what you call the autumn season.
※ Japan Meteorological Agency, "Overview of Japan's climate"
Each region also has distinguished weather conditions, and as you scroll, you will know about the best regions to travel to in accordance with its temperatures.
Tokyo, which is in the region of Kanto, is the capital and often the first place tourists land. It experiences the highest summer climate in August, with temperatures that can go up to around 30 degrees Celsius. Tourists who are fine with the heat can come at this time - but even if you’re not, Tokyo has plenty of great indoor activities to offer in summer. September often sees the most rain, but you’ll also need an umbrella in June and October. And eventually, when autumn comes in November, the surroundings will be painted with beautiful colors amidst cooler weather. People residing in the area usually experience the coldest winter days in January, with a temperature ranging from about 1 to 10 degrees Celsius. It would be the month to enjoy your hot baths and warm soups. And around the time when March ends and April enters, this is when people witness the full blooms of sakura trees, with chilly weather of around 13 to 18 degrees.
Read more about year round weather specifically in Tokyo here: Understanding Tokyo Weather: Tokyo’s Tenki
※ Japan National Tourism Organization - Japan Weather Forecast for Travelers, "Tokyo (Tokyo)"
The cultural and spiritual center of the nation, this region faces a hike of temperature starting from the months of July and August, especially in the city of Kyoto. The condition in August can range from around 24 to 34 degrees Celsius, making it even hotter than Tokyo at times. Otherwise, those who seek autumn foliage season in cooler weather should come in the mid weeks of November, where leaves become red. Tourists who want to experience a cold vacation would be advised to travel by January, with a chilly temperature that ranges from 1 to 9 degrees Celsius. The snow in Kyoto makes everything that much more ethereal, if you can brave the cold. When spring comes in the last weeks of March, the weather will gradually warm up, where cherry blossoms are out on display.
※ Japan National Tourism Organization - Japan Weather Forecast for Travelers, "Kyoto (Kyoto)"
Sendai, found in Miyagi Prefecture of the Tohoku Region, brags about having a good climate in summer - not so hot and humid like other places around the country. The highest temperature that recorded was 27.9 degrees Celsius, and that was in the month of August. Sendai, unlike the other regions, experiences an early autumn within the months of September through November, wherein the condition is warm and comfy, with a daily average of 20 degrees.January would be hailed as the coldest month, with a temperature that ranges from -1.7 to 5.3 degrees Celsius. For those looking for a cooler summer but able to handle a colder winter, Sendai is a great place to be. And in the months of March until May, Spring averages from 4.5 degrees celsius.
※ Japan National Tourism Organization - Japan Weather Forecast for Travelers, "Sendai (Miyagi)"
Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture, embraces the coldest season on this list. It can reach temperatures of -7.0 degrees in January. However, it reaches a very comfortable summer in August, ranging from 19.1 to 26.4 degrees Celsius. Autumn is beautiful in Sapporo, with the Gingko trees by Hokkaido University turning a beautiful yellow in the comfortable season. Visitors who plan to have a snowboarding escapade in the prefecture should probably come by January, but those who want to escape the humid summers in other parts of Japan should definitely visit in August. In spring, people can enjoy Sapporo's nature fully, especially in April.
※ Japan National Tourism Organization - Japan Weather Forecast for Travelers, "Sapporo (Hokkaido)"
One of the main cities of the Chubu region, Nagoya, experiences a random rise and fall of temperature throughout the year. Tourists who wanted to know the perfect month to enjoy the town’s famous beach resorts would be advised to arrive in August, having a temperature that ranges from 24.3 to 32.8 degrees celsius. Otherwise, the coolest month to enjoy the winter season would be January, with a scale from 0.8 to 9.0 degrees celsius. Some popular attractions in Nagoya are best visited during autumn especially in November when the hills are ablaze with the autumn leaves, and during the transition to spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. It does get cold at night (around 10 degrees), but the city ensures you can enjoy the beautiful nature in both autumn and spring until nighttime with the illumination events.
※ Japan National Tourism Organization - Japan Weather Forecast for Travelers, "Nagoya (Aichi)"
Being the prefectural capital, Naha is subject to a gradual change of temperature from January to the month of August and slowly drops from September to December. People residing in the capital of Okinawa Prefecture have to experience the “winter” ambiance in the month of January, with a temperature that ranges from 14.6 to 19.5 degrees celsius. Not too bad, right? The warmest month would be July, with a scale of 26.8 to 31.8 degrees celsius. Even though it’s hot, that would be the best time to take a dip at the amazing beaches located in the region. From September through November, unlike the regions mentioned, Naha experiences a warm autumn season, with an average temperature of 27 degrees. With an even warmer and humid Spring season from March through May, overall, Naha would be the perfect spot for visitors with a low tolerance to cold.
※ Japan National Tourism Organization - Japan Weather Forecast for Travelers, "Naha (Okinawa)"
So when is the best time to visit Japan? As we listed above, it really depends on what you’re looking to do and what kind of weather you prefer in what season.
First, be aware of the rainy season around June in most places, and the typhoon season that can last from September to October, sometimes November in many regions, as well as other extreme weather conditions which range from super hot and humid to freezing cold.
Next, know whether you want to visit the regions in the “perfect” weather conditions of the year, because chances are, lots of other people are too! Note the national holidays of the country where people tend to be traveling all over the country to enjoy the various seasonal views and entertainment the country has to offer.
Last, you have to visit Japan more than once! Each season has different things to offer and even the same place can be experienced in different ways depending on the time of year.
Unlike other divisions of the globe, Japan will have you experience the best seasons of its different regions, cities, and prefectures. You are guaranteed to take delight in the best summer, winter, spring, and autumn activities now that you are oriented to the average monthly conditions of the nation. Choose Japan and it’s up to you to pick a month. Enjoy!
Want to know more?
Read about Japan’s seasons & events here: Japan and its Seasons: Amazing year-round
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