With Typhoon Hagibis moving over Tokyo, it seems an appropriate moment to consider what the weather might be like when I cycle the length of the country in July and August 2020. Let’s start with typhoons. Here’s an image from the Windy.com website of Japan with the current typhoon approaching:
It looks pretty fearsome. The BBC reports that it will be ‘the most powerful storm to hit the country in 60 years [with] winds of [up to] 180km/h…‘. I can’t imagine there will be many cyclists out in that and it’s easy to see why the Rugby World Cup and the Formula 1 Grand Prix events have been so seriously affected.
But what about typhoons more generally? According to Japan-Guide.com:
‘Most typhoons hit Japan between May and October with August and September being the peak season. Typhoons later in the season tend to be stronger than typhoons earlier in the season.‘Japan-Guide.com
So, although my cycle will start in early July and finish in the second half of August, with the season stretching through to October, the risk of a seriously large typhoon is probably quite low. In terms of frequency, the guide goes on to say that:
‘…about 30 typhoons form each year over the Northwest Pacific Ocean, of which an average of about seven or eight pass over Okinawa Prefecture, and about three hit the Japanese main islands, especially Kyushu and Shikoku. But any region of Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido can be visited by typhoons.‘Japan-Guide.com
That doesn’t worry me too much.
More generally, the Japanese Met Office describes the climate of Japan as follows:
Japan has four distinct seasons with a climate ranging from subarctic in the north to subtropical in the south. Conditions are different between the Pacific side and the Sea of Japan side.
Northern Japan has warm summers and very cold winters with heavy snow on the Sea of Japan side and in mountainous areas.Japanese Meteorological Office
Eastern Japan has hot and humid summers and cold winters with very heavy snow on the Sea of Japan side and in mountainous areas.
Western Japan has very hot and humid summers (with temperatures sometimes reaching 35 oC or above) and moderate cold winters.
Okinawa and Amami have a subtropical oceanic climate. These areas have hot and humid summers (with temperatures rarely reaching 35 oC or above) and mild winters.
Basically, in July and August the two key words are ‘hot’ and ‘humid’. With the help of Weather-Averages.co.uk, here are some comparisons of the average weather conditions experienced in London and Tokyo.
It’s worth noting that I will start my journey in northern Japan and the average temperature in July in Sapporo is a little cooler at 24.9ºc. Fukuoka in the south has an average temperature of 32.1ºc in August.
Sapporo in July is much drier than Tokyo with only 81mm of rainfall but that’s still significantly more than London in July (or any other month of the year). Rainfall in Fukuoka peaks in July with an eye-watering 278mm but fortunately by August this has dropped significantly to ‘only’ 172mm.
All data is from the World Meteorological Organization.
So, to sum up, I need to be prepared for a bit of cycling in the rain. But I’m no stranger to that…