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
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.