Since our country is very long from north to south, there are many climate zones from subarctic to subtropical. The average precipitation in Japan is said to be about 1,700 mm per year. Globally, precipitation is relatively high. This is because Japan is an island country surrounded by the sea on all sides, and the atmosphere that comes across the sea contains a large amount of water vapor that evaporates from the sea surface.
In summer, clouds coming from the Pacific bring rain. From July to October, typhoons come from the south and cause damage. On the other hand, in winter, clouds coming from the Sea of Japan bring snow and rain. The flatlands and mountains along the Sea of Japan get a lot of snow, especially in the northern areas from Hokkaido to the Tohoku and Chubu regions.
At the turn of the season, the weather becomes unstable. March has relatively more rainy days and can be windy. From June to mid-July, except for some areas such as Hokkaido, the rainy season called “Tsuyu” begins. September also has relatively many rainy days. During these interseasonal periods, the weather can be unpredictable and not ideal for travel. Conversely, since it is the off-season, flight and hotel fares are relatively cheap.
The best seasons for tourists are spring from late March to May and autumn from October to November. In fact, tourist spots all over the country are bustling with tourists during these times.
If you go to Japan in summer, please pay attention to typhoon information. Especially from July to September, trains and planes may be canceled due to typhoons. Make sure to check the weather forecast.
Recently, due to abnormal weather, the damage caused by heavy rain is increasing. Especially from June to July, heavy rains can occur in western Japan, mainly in Kyushu.
Japan’s Climate Divisions
In winter, the Japanese archipelago has widely different climates in different regions.
1: Climate of Hokkaido
1-1: Hokkaido (Sea of Japan side)
The climate of the Sea of Japan side of Hokkaido is characterized by its heavy snowfall in winter, with an average temperature of -3 degrees Celsius. In summer, the temperature rises to around 20 degrees Celsius, with frequent rainfall. The region is known for its ski resorts and winter sports, as well as its natural beauty, including the famous “Snow Wall” along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
1-2: Pacific side of Hokkaido
The Pacific side of Hokkaido has a milder climate than the Sea of Japan side, with an average temperature of around 5 degrees Celsius in winter and 20 degrees Celsius in summer. The region is known for its seafood and agricultural products, including dairy products and vegetables.
2: Climate of the Sea of Japan side (excluding Hokkaido)
The Sea of Japan side of Japan, excluding Hokkaido, has a humid climate with heavy snowfall in winter and hot and humid summers.
3: Climate of the Pacific Ocean side of Hokkaido (excluding Hokkaido)
The Pacific Ocean side of Japan, excluding Hokkaido, has a milder climate than the Sea of Japan side, with an average temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius in winter and 25 degrees Celsius in summer. The region is known for its beaches, seafood, and agricultural products, including rice and fruit.
4: Climate of the central highlands of Honshu
The central highlands of Honshu have a cool, humid climate with heavy snowfall in winter and mild summers. The region is known for its natural beauty, including the Japanese Alps and the famous “Snow Corridor” in Toyama, as well as its agricultural products, including soba and apples.
5: Climate of the Seto Inland Sea
The Seto Inland Sea has a mild climate, with an average temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius in winter and 27 degrees Celsius in summer. The region is known for its islands and bridges, as well as its seafood, citrus fruit, and olive oil.
6: Climate of the Nansei Islands
The Nansei Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round and high humidity. The region is known for its beaches and coral reefs, as well as its unique culture and cuisine, influenced by its location between Japan and Southeast Asia. The islands are a popular destination for diving and snorkeling.
Winter: Snow on the Sea of Japan side, clear skies on the Pacific side
The difference in weather conditions between the Sea of Japan side and the Pacific Ocean side of Japan during winter is caused by the interaction of several meteorological factors.
First, Japan is located in a region of the world where several large-scale atmospheric circulations intersect, including the subtropical high-pressure system, the Siberian high-pressure system, and the Aleutian low-pressure system. In winter, cold and dry air from the Siberian high-pressure system flows southward over the continent of Asia, while warm and moist air from the Pacific Ocean flows northward towards Japan.
Second, the Sea of Japan is a relatively narrow body of water located between Japan and the Korean peninsula. The prevailing winds in winter blow from the west towards the east, which causes the moist air from the Sea of Japan to collide with the mountain ranges on the western side of Japan. As the air rises over the mountains, it cools and its moisture condenses into snow, which falls on the plains and mountains on the Sea of Japan side.
On the other hand, the Pacific Ocean side of Japan is relatively sheltered from the cold air and moisture flowing over the Sea of Japan. As a result, the air is drier and clearer, and the sunshine can reach the plains and mountains more easily. This creates clear and sunny days on the Pacific Ocean side during winter.
Overall, the difference in weather conditions between the Sea of Japan side and the Pacific Ocean side of Japan during winter is a result of the complex interactions between large-scale atmospheric circulations, prevailing winds, and local topography.
Spring: April and May are the best months
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Comprehensive checklist before traveling to Japan
Book early before the hotels are fully booked
Japan offers a range of accommodations, from traditional ryokans to modern hotels. Popular platforms like Expedia and Agoda often have a wide selection, but also consider local sites like Rakuten Travel. In big cities, staying near a major train station like Tokyo's Shinjuku or Kyoto's Kyoto Station can save you a lot of commuting time. Remember that Japan's peak tourist seasons, such as cherry blossom season, can lead to booked-out accommodations, so reserve early.
Compare and purchase flight tickets
When planning your trip to Japan, it's advisable to start by researching flights several months in advance. Airlines often release promotional fares, especially during off-peak seasons. Use comparison sites like Skyscanner or KAYAK to get a sense of the price range. Be flexible with your travel dates if possible; flying mid-week might be cheaper than on weekends.
>> Visit Skyscanner's official website
>> Visit KAYAK's official website
Purchase your Japan Rail Pass before departure
The Japan Rail (JR) Pass offers unlimited travel on JR trains, making it a cost-effective option for tourists. However, it's only available to foreign tourists and must be purchased *before* you arrive in Japan. Determine the areas you plan to visit; if you're traveling extensively, a nationwide pass is beneficial, but if you're only exploring a specific region, consider regional JR passes. Children under 12 get a discounted pass, so ensure you order the correct type for each family member.
>>Visit Japan Rail Pass's website
Check the weather at your destination on this site
Japanese weather varies significantly by season. In summer, it's hot and humid, so breathable clothes are essential. Winters, especially in the north, can be cold, requiring warm attire. If visiting during the rainy season (June to early July), pack a good umbrella and waterproof shoes. While Japan is generally casual, certain places like temples, shrines, or upscale restaurants may require modest and neat dressing.
SIM card or pocket Wi-Fi is required
Beyond clothes, consider packing essentials like a universal power adapter (Japan uses Type A and B sockets), portable Wi-Fi or SIM card for internet access, and any necessary medications (with a copy of the prescription).
Which is better: a SIM card or pocket Wi-Fi?
When traveling in Japan, one essential to consider is securing internet access, especially given that many locations still don't offer free Wi-Fi. To ensure you can use your smartphone throughout your trip, you'll typically have three options: (1) a SIM card, (2) pocket Wi-Fi, or (3) the roaming service provided by your mobile company. Roaming services can be quite expensive, so we often recommend using a SIM card or pocket Wi-Fi. While SIM cards tend to be more affordable than pocket Wi-Fi, they can be trickier to set up. Pocket Wi-Fi, on the other hand, can be shared among several users, making it a favorable choice for families or groups.
Can be time-consuming to set up initially.
May have strict data limits.
Offers substantial data allowances.
A single device can be shared among multiple users.
Easily usable with PCs as well.
Typically more expensive.
Japan's representative services
Pre-book your tour and have a great trip!
Local tours offer deep insights into Japan's culture and heritage. Websites like Viator or GetYourGuide offer a variety of tours, from traditional tea ceremonies to modern pop culture tours in Akihabara. Consider unique experiences like staying with monks on Mt. Koya or taking a cooking class to learn authentic Japanese dishes.
>>Visit Viator's official website
>>Visit GetYourGuide's official website
Make a reservation to avoid crowds
Attractions like Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Japan, or the Studio Ghibli Museum often have long ticket queues. Buy tickets online in advance to save time. Some attractions also have timed entry, so check the specific time slots available and plan accordingly.
▼Tokyo Disney Resort
>>Visit Tokyo Disney Resort official website
>>Visit Viator's Tokyo Disneyland page
>>Visit Viator's Tokyo DisneySea page
>>Visit GetYourGuide's Tokyo Disneyland page
>>Visit GetYourGuide's Tokyo DisneySea page
It is important to be prepared for emergencies
While Japan is a safe country, travel insurance is crucial for unforeseen events like health emergencies, travel disruptions, or lost baggage. Ensure your policy covers medical expenses in Japan, as healthcare, though excellent, can be expensive.
Here we introduce online travel insurance services that are popular worldwide.
World Nomads: An online travel insurance service widely endorsed by travelers worldwide. They offer plans that cover adventurous activities and high-risk sports.
>>Visit World Nomads' official website
AIG Travel Guard: An insurance service available to travelers all over the world. They offer a wide range of options, including cancellation protection and emergency medical insurance.
>>Visit AIG Travel Guard's official website
Organize your reservation information
Keep a digital and printed copy of your detailed itinerary, including hotel addresses, train schedules, and booked tours. Share this with a trusted family member or friend not traveling with you.