Updated: October 10, 2018
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All You Need To Know About The Seasons Of Tokyo

Tokyo

Tokyo is located in a sub-tropical climate zone characterized by long hot summers and mild winters. The Japanese often say that Tokyo has four distinct seasons, but they can be broken down into a couple of other sub-seasons too. Here is all about the climate of Tokyo.

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Spring (March - May)

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Spring in Tokyo is generally considered to be between March and May, but there are even some earlier signs of spring in mid-February when the plum trees start to blossom for instance.
March is still cool with temperatures generally in the low tens and by May, it is usually at least warmish with temperatures in the low to mid-twenties during the day.

Spring is an excellent season to be in Tokyo, not just because of the comfortable temperatures, but also because it is comparatively drier than the summer that starts with a month-long rainy season.

To many, the cherry blossoms in full bloom is the quintessential image of the Japanese spring. Tokyo, in spite of being a large metropolis with not much vegetation still has a place of choice for this emblematic tree. You see them everywhere in small and large parks and planted along busy urban boulevards.
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One thing you must know however is that "sakura" (cherry blossom season in Japanese) is notoriously short, lasting a mere week or so before the delicate petals are blown off by the wind.

Sakura (late March to early April)

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The sakura season has such importance that it should almost be considered a sub-season in itself. People young and old do "hanami" (花見) which is cherry blossom viewing among friends, family or colleagues.
The blooming varies from year to year but generally starts around the 25th of March. The trees reach full bloom about a week later but do not stay in full bloom for more than a few days before they start falling. By the 10th of April, it usually is all over (although some varieties of sakura bloom a bit later).

The best way to know exactly when the peak sakura season will fall is to follow closely the weather forecast. In Japan, nationwide sakura blooming forecast is provided so that people know exactly when the sakura trees will be in full bloom in their region. The dates that were stated above are just valid for Tokyo. Naturally, the more northern and mountainous regions have a sakura season that is comparatively later than Tokyo and the southern regions have a season that is earlier.

Summer (June to September)

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Because of its sub-tropical climate, Tokyo has a rather long summer, lasting from June to September. There are some important variations within this long summer that you should know about, however. For one thing, the summer starts with a rainy season called Tsuyu.

Tsuyu (mid-June to mid-July)

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The exact dates and the length of the Tsuyu varies a lot from year to year but on average, it is around from the 10th of June to the 20th of July. During that time, temperatures are around the mid-twenties and the relative humidity tends to be high, even on fine days. Rainy days are, of course, more abundant, but that it isn't to say that it rains all the time. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there are 12,7 days of precipitation in June and 11.8 days in July. So what this means is that there can be some long rainy spells but on average, it rains every other day or once every three days or so.

Much like it is the case for the sakura season, weather agencies closely monitor and forecast the Tsuyu. You can consult the weather forecast to know when it starts and when it ends on a particular year.
ajisai
Tsuyu is not all rain and gloom. There are some nice things that coincide with it such as the blooming of the hydrangea called "ajisai" in Japanese. These flowers adorn many parks, streets, and gardens of Tokyo residents.

Hot And Humid Summer (mid July to August)

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After the Tsuyu is when the real sweltering hot summer begins. The humidity is high and the daytime temperature often reaches 35 C, even going on rare occasions up to 40 C. Under these temperatures, heat strokes become a serious health hazard so make sure to stay hydrated.

One thing you should know about the Japanese summer is that although the outside temperature might be almost too hot to survive, stores and restaurants tend to keep the temperature quite cold so many people carry around an extra layer of clothes for when they go inside.
fireworks
It's arguably more pleasant to explore Tokyo once the sun has set during the hot summer months.

If you happen to be in Tokyo during that period, make sure to attend one of the city's gigantic fireworks festival called "hanabitaikai" (花火大会). This is one of the most summery Japanese experience you can do. There are food vendors everywhere and many people attend them wearing summer kimonos called yukata.

September

September is sometimes considered an autumn month. Although the days are getting shorter, temperature-wise it is still very summer-like, just not as unbearably hot as the August and July. The average daytime high temperature in September is 27 C.

One thing to be aware of September in Japan is that it is considered somewhat of a second rainy season because of frequent typhoons and tropical storms that can bring a lot of rain.

Fall (October - Mid-December)

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October is usually still warm enough to be comfortable just wearing a t-shirt during the day. There can still be some typhoons during that month so there may be some wet spells.

If your image of fall is the leaves turning into different shades of red and yellow, then that occurs from mid-November to mid-December. The gingko trees and the Japanese maple are particularly beautiful.

From November the temperature becomes a bit cool so you might need a light jacket or sweater to be comfortable outside. On the other, November becomes significantly drier, which makes it a pretty comfortable month to do sightseeing.

Winter (Mid-December to February)

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If you go to Tokyo in the winter hoping to see the postcard snow-covered Japanese garden, then you might be disappointed, unless you are lucky and you are in the city during the one or two days of winter when it snows.

The winter in Tokyo is mild, ranging from about 10 to 12 C during the day. At night, it can get chilly with temperatures going down to about the freezing mark, but nothing really colder than that. It still a good idea to bring a winter coat, but winter hats, gloves and boots are optional.
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Winter is not a bad season to visit Japan weather-wise. Although it is the coldest, it is also the driest. The weather is sunny for the most part with about three times less rain in the winter than in the summer.

Also, there are some interesting winter specific events such as seeing the Christmas illuminations and the people in beautiful winter kimonos celebrating their Coming of Age Day (pictured above).

Another thing you should know about the Japanese winter is that it abounds with delicious foods! You must try a Japanese hot pot dish called nabe on a cold day. It's definitely a season for foodies.
tabikamome
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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