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The climate of Japan
The largest part of Japan has a moderate sea climate with warm summers and fairly mild winters. The southern part of Japan has a warm sea climate. Of these Ryukyu Islands the most southern ones, the Okinawa Islands, have a subtropical climate with temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius even during the winter months. Some western parts of the islands Honsu and Hokkaido have a cool to moderate land climate. Because these regions are surrounded by mountain ranges the Pacific has much less influence on the weather than in the eastern part of Japan. Japan has four distinct seasons that are the same as ours. However, the change of seasons is more abrupt than in the Netherlands. While subzero temperatures are not uncommon during the night in March summer may be there in all its glory a month later. Winter lasts from December till March on average. Spring lasts from April till half May and summer from the second part of May till the end of September. Autumn is in October and November. The further North you go the larger the differences in seasons are. Spring and autumn last slightly longer there. The southern part of Japan has a Mediterranean to subtropical climate, which means that there are only two distinct seasons there. Winters are spring-like with reasonable amounts of rain. Summers are warm to hot with large amounts of rain. Wintry weather hardly ever occurs here. The biggest transition is the one in temperature. The amount of rainy days in the south is about the same all year round. Because the intensity of rain gets higher in the summer the amount of precipitation is about twice as high as during the winter.

 

Climate information of places and areas in Japan
The climate information given on this page is only brief. Specific information on weather and climate can be found on the pages per region or city. The following climate information is available for Japan:

Aomori
Asahikawa
Fukuoka
Himeji
Hiroshima
Kamakura
Kanazawa
Kumamoto
Kurashiki
Kyoto
Miyajima Island
Nagano
Nagasaki
Nagoya
Naha
Nara
Niigata
Nikko
Osaka
Sapporo
Sendai
Takayama
Tokyo
Yokohama

Differences in height
Japan is a country with large differences in height. On all the islands volcanoes and mountains can be found. Varying from middle range mountains and hills to large regions with high summits reaching up to 3776 meters (the famous Fuji Volcano). Because there are many differences in height the weather can differ within a small distance. The amounts of precipitation for a region may vary from year to year because of this.

Rain and snow
No shortage of rain in Japan. All year round large amounts of rain fall in the entire country. Most parts of Japan get more rain during the summer. The amounts of rain may rise up to 300 mm or more per month. In the northern part rainfall is spread more evenly over the year. The early summer months are even fractionally drier than winter and autumn. The northern part gets about 1000mm of rain per year. The island of Hachijōjima which is located south of the island of Honsu gets up to 3100mm of rain per year. On the four largest islands snow is not uncommon during the winter. Especially on Hokkaido and Honsu chances of snow are reasonable, especially in the mountains. Large parts of the mountains are covered in large amounts of snow during the winter. Japan has some excellent skiing areas, especially in the regions Tohoku and Chubu and on the island Hokkaido. Because winter sports are very popular among the Japanese it is quite expensive compared to prices Europe. A day pass for the ski lift costs about 5000 Yen per person.

Summers
Summers are warm (north) to very warm (central and south Japan). The country has a large amount of seaside resorts and beaches but it is not an ideal summer sun destination. Despite the pleasant temperatures there are only few weeks with many hours of sunshine and little precipitation. Chances of cloudy skies are high and most regions get some rain each day. Japan is not an ideal destination for a beach holiday, much better beach destinations can be found at shorter flying distances.

Hurricanes (typhoons)
Japan is located between the tropic of Cancer and 46 degrees North latitude. Normally northern enough to be in the supply route of hurricanes which form between 5 and 20 degrees North latitude. Hurricanes and typhoons have the nasty habit of bending to the north on the northern hemisphere. Because of this Japan gets hit quite often by hurricanes during the hurricane season. Typhoons or taifoons as the Japanese call them form over the warm water of the Pacific when the temperature of the water exceeds 26 degrees Celsius. Hurricane season in Japan starts in July and ends in November. The highest activity of hurricanes is recorded in August, September and October. Risks of getting hit by a hurricane in Japan differ. The most northern island Hokkaido sometimes gets a tropical depression that travels up north. However, hurricanes hardly ever occur here. Most of the hurricanes that reach Japan travel over the Ryukyu island group, which are situated between Taiwan and Kyushu. This region has a reasonably high risk of getting hit by a hurricane during the hurricane season. During this period this region often has to deal with storms and flooding as well. Besides typhoons Japan also gets struck by earthquakes. The country is located in a very active earthquake area because it is situated on the borderline of the Pacific plate, the Philippine plate and the Eur-Asian plate. In March 2011 several earthquakes caused a lot of problems in Japan. Tsunamis caused by seaquakes swept away entire villages. The earthquakes in Japan even caused large nuclear problems.

Sun
Japan is certainly not among the sunniest places in the world. Most regions get 2000 hours of sunshine per year on average. Most regions in Japan get more sunshine during the winter than during the summer. During the summer the skies are often overcast. Some cities only get 4 to 5 hours of sunshine per day on average during the summer while there are 13 to 15 hours of daylight. Despite the fact that the sun doesnít shine that exuberantly you have to bear the high UV-index figures in mind. Depending on the region you are in the maximum UV-index is 8 in the north to 11 in the south when the weather is sunny. In large parts of the country a UV-index of 6 to 8 during cloudy days is not uncommon. This is as high as the maximum figures we get in the Netherlands during the summer. High enough to get sunburnt.

 

Climate figures
The figures below are for the city of Tokyo. They can be seen as an average for Japan. Because Japanís climate shows a lot of diversity, please visit the pages for climate information on specific cities and regions.

average
 maximum
temperature (įC)

average
minimum

temperature (įC)
average
hours of sunshine

per
day
average days with precipitation
per month
average
mm
precipitation
per month
average
sea
temperature (įC)
January 10 0 6 9 17
February 10 1 6 11 16
March 13 4 6 17 16
April 19 9 5 16 17
May 23 14 6 16 20
June 25 18 4 20 22
July 29 22 5 21 24
August 31 24 6 17 26
September 27 20 4 20 25
October 21 14 4 17 23
November 17 8 5 12 21
December 12 3 6 9 19
= 0-5 mm ● = 6-30 mm ● = 31-60 mm ● = 61-100 mm ● = 101-200 mm ● = over 200 mm

More climate information
Climate figures are very useful but donít present a general impression of the climate and the eventual weather circumstances within a certain period. The figures donít always reflect the chance of wintry weather, extreme heat or hurricanes. That is why we monthly offer useful extra climate information.
 

chance of
(very) hot

weather

chance of
(very) cool
weather
chance of
long-term

precipitation
chance of
hurricanes
(cyclones)
chance of
sunny days

UV-index

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
click here for the explanation of the symbols

 

Disclaimer
The information at this site was carefully composed from climate data collected by meteorological services, meteorological offices, climate experts and other sources. ďMore climate infoĒ is based on statistics, climate data and personal experience. No rights can be derived from this site. Weather has no memory and gives no guaranties. Nothing is as changeable and unpredictable as the weather. The authors of this site feel in no way responsible for any damages caused by misinterpretation or other circumstances that may influence your holiday or trip to a certain destination. We provide information, itís up to the reader to use it to itís benefit.

 

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