Japan has four distinct seasons; March to May is spring; June to August is summer; September to November is autumn; and December to February is winter. Each season has very different temperatures and climates. Moreover Japan is geography stretches from and north to south, with the north island of Hokkaido in a subarctic zone and the southern island of Okinawa being subtropical, and the rest of the area falling into a temperate zone. In the center of the main island a mountain range runs north to south. The eastern side, which faces the Pacific, tends to have a lot of rain, while the western side facing the Japan Sea has a lot of snow in the winter.
The Spring Season
Spring and autumn are the two most comfortable seasons in Japan. This is the time when one can feel the breath of life and see the symbol of early spring, the cherry blossoms. Spring is the time for "Hanami", cherry blossom viewing events which are held in many different spots all over the country. The best time to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo is usually from the end of March to the beginning of April. However, one should be aware that the temperature swings greatly, so one day may be hot and the next day you may shiver from the cold.
The Rainy Season
From the end of May to mid-July is the “rainy season” called "Tsuyu". Even when it is not raining, the humidity gets high as the temperature rises. The rainy season starts early in southern part of Japan and gradually shifts northward, which takes about a month. However, Hokkaido does not experience Tsuyu. When the rainy season ends, the real hot summer begins.
The Summer Season
Based on recent Japan Meteorological Agency data, the average summer temperature in Japan is 27.6 Celsius (81.68 Fahrenheit). But it feels much higher due to the high humidity. Summer events include the "Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival)" and "Hanabi (Fireworks)". Summer festivals are held in every corner of Japan through July and August, and people march with Omikoshi (portable shrine) on their shoulders. At the seashore, and on lakes and by rivers, Hanabi will color the night sky vividly as the firework festivals proceed.
The Typhoon Season
Then comes the typhoon season in August and September. Areas in the path of the typhoon, will experience strong rain and high winds, which might paralyze public transportation.
The Autumn Season
Autumn in Japan has a comfortable climate, roughly the same as spring. The heat breaks, the humidity goes down, and the air feels cool and dry. Just as the cherry blossoms attract crowds in the spring, many tourists gather in Nara prefecture, Kyoto prefecture, and Nikko city to enjoy the beautiful tints of autumn.
In Tokyo, November is the time when the leaves of deciduous trees turn to red and yellow, painting the mountains and streets beautiful colors. Autumn is also a time when many cultural events are happening.
The Winter Season
In December, the temperature drops and it gets cold quickly. By the end of December, it is very cold, and it is not uncommon to fall below freezing from January to the beginning of March. In areas such as Hokuriku, Tohoku and Hokkaido, there will be a lot of snow, and there are even years when it snows heavily in Tokyo. Especially in Tohoku and Hokuriku area, the snow often piles up to a few meters high. There is not much snow on the Pacific side, which usually has continuous sunny, cold days.
There is a New Year’s tradition to eat soba noodles just before the year changes. The last day of the year is called "Omisoka". "Oshogatsu", the Japanese New Year, is defined to be seven days counting from January 1st, and people celebrate by eating New Year’s cuisine called, "Osechi" and drinking alcohol.