All About the Climate in Japan
Update: 25 October 2016
Japan is an island country located at the eastern end of Asia, surrounded by the ocean and known for its scenic beauty. However, many people may not be aware of its geographic and climatic characteristics. Here, we will discuss Japan's natural features.
Japan, the far eastern country in Asia
Japan is at the eastern end of the Eurasian Continent and consists of the Japanese Archipelago (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu) and groups of islands named Izu-shoto, Ogasawara-shoto, and Nansei-shoto. The total length from north to south is about 3,300 km. Although it is often considered a country that consists of groups of small islands, Honshu (the main island) is 230,000 square kilometers, and is the 7th biggest island in the world. It is 70% mountainous and holds some of the world's most significant forests. Due to this geographical feature, most people live in the basins between mountains or on coastal plains. These coastal areas offer a variety of landscapes from beautiful, calm beaches to irregular coastlines with harsh cliffs.
The 10th most populated country in the world
The population of Japan is about 125,000,000 (as of 2014). This makes Japan the 10th most populated country in the world. In particular, there are many big cities along the warm Pacific Ocean coasts, and half of the total population of Japan is concentrated in the 3 biggest cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Incidentally, the scramble crossing in Shibuya, Tokyo, which is considered to be representative of a city in Japan, is a famous tourist spot.
Large gaps in climate between regions in Japan
People have the image of Japan as being humid in the summer and snowy in the winter, but because it is a long country from north to south, there are big differences between regions such as Hokkaido, with its cool climate, and tropical Okinawa. In addition, even within Honshu, the climate along the Pacific coast and the Sea of Japan coast greatly differ from each other. These climatic variations created the cultural diversity that allows us to enjoy unique scenery, events, festivals and food in different places.
Unpredictable weather in the spring
In the spring, the weather is very easily changed in most areas affected by a monsoon, and sometimes, very strong wind blows in March and April. Spring is also the season for flowers. As Japanese love cherry blossoms, hold "hana-mi" (admiring the flower and having a party) and enjoy drinks and picnic under cherry trees. The nation enters into "tsuyu" period when it rains for a long spell, and the humidity is higher from end of May to the end of July.
Endless scorching heat in the summer
When tsuyu is over, the full-fledged summer season starts. In addition to the high temperatures, Japanese summers are humid and thus feel even hotter. Still, there are numerous events that can be enjoyed only in the summer such as fireworks, festivals, and sea bathing, so all sightseeing spots are filled with people. It should be kept in mind that the typhoon season lasts till about October and may cause natural disasters like flooding and strong winds resulting in flight and ship cancellations.
Autumn, the season for pleasure trips
The weathers in the autumn is changeable just like in the spring. Sometimes, heavy rain caused by typhoons can continue, but there are usually clear blue skies making it the best season for short trips. The Japanese say the autumn is for eating, sports, and art, as food becomes tastier and people become more active with sports and travel. It is the season when the foliage change to red and yellow, so sightseeing areas famous for the foliage attract many people.
In most regions of Japan, the winter is cold and dry. You may see a lot of Japanese people wearing masks in the winter, and this is to protect themselves from seasonal viruses that can spread easily when it is dry. Also, the coastal region near the Sea of Japan and the Tohoku/Hokkaido areas are among the world's snowiest regions with two to three meters deep snowfall every year.
Japan, the hot spring nation
There are many mountains in Japan and many hiking courses appropropriate for all levels of hikers. Thus, hiking is a very popular activity among the Japanese. The Japan Alps, with their 3,000-meter level peaks, are in the middle of Honshu and are famous among skiers around the world for its high quality snow. In addition, because there are many volcanoes, there are hot springs all over the country. The number of hot springs in Japan is as many as 28,000 and there are about 3,000 hot spring resorts. The hot spring culture has been a part of Japanese life for a long time.
Where the ocean currents meet
As Japan is surrounded by the sea, variety of fish are caught. The reason for this is because there are sea areas where warm currents and cold currents meet in both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific, and fish from small to big such as Tuna gathers in those areas. Because there are many mountains, there are many rivers, which allows fisheries in the river and lakes to be prosperous. It would be a good experience to try various fish dishes, not to mention sushi when you are in Japan.
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.