It rhymes and sounds like a secret password, but is it true? If you are planning on going to Japan you may want to get yourself informed on the climate in the east, over here in the US it can be hard to imagine life over there, but they have seasons just like everyone else.
Depending on when you go, and which part of Tokyo you go to, you may experience chances of snow, in Tokyo, in the winter season.
The idea of catching snow in Japan is potentially more appealing than catching snow in NYC, the snow in combination with the cherry blossom trees and Japanese architecture is a truly peaceful experience many seek.
We’re here to provide you with the information you need to understand the Tokyo climate. So read on to learn about the climate of Japan and specifically Tokyo.
What Is The Climate Of Japan?
Japan has a quite varied climate, in some areas it is sub tropical while other areas can be snowy and cold. As a general statement the weather in Japan is generally temperate, but this can severely change depending on where you are.
Many Americans don’t realize that Japan is actually an island, or in fact, two main islands and many small islands. While the northern shores of Japan share the Sea of Japan with countries like North Korea, South Korea and Russia, the Southern shores actually share the North Pacific Ocean.
The north to north-west winds that strike the northern regions of Japan, brings with it, lots of snow in the winter. The southern coasts that touch the Pacific Ocean in fact get a more subtropical climate thanks to the southeastern winds from the sea in the summer months.
An example of Japan’s varied climate is Hokkaido, while this island is in the north of the country, meaning we might expect it to be cold, but it actually varies. In Hokkaido, the summers can be very warm whereas the winters are often long and cold and have a lot of snow.
The city of Wakkanai in Hokkaido is actually super close to the Sakhalin Island of Russia, so you can imagine what the weather is like. Comparatively Tokyo is right on the shore of the North Pacific and has a similar climate to Southern China and Taiwan.
What Is The Climate In Tokyo?
You may be surprised to know that Tokyo is actually a shorthand reference for the official name of the area of Tokyo known as the Tokyo Metropolis. This is fitting as Tokyo remains the most populated metropolitan area anywhere in the world.
Tokyo is centered around the historic village of Edo which was the original seat of Japan’s shogunate and political power. During history, the imperial capital, was changed to Tokyo from Kyoto (see also ‘How Far Is Tokyo To Kyoto?‘).
This is what ‘Tokyo’ means in Japanese, literally ‘eastern capital’. It is also the capital of the Kanto region where it resides.
Around 14 million people live in the center of Tokyo. Tokyo sprawls over about 5200-square miles and is subsequently divided into 23 ‘special wards’.
As a result the actual climate of Tokyo can be harder to gauge thanks to it being a metropolitan area as well as simply covering a large area too.
As Tokyo is on the coast of the Pacific Ocean they see a generally humid subtropical climate zone, thanks to the southeastern winds from the Pacific, and exasperated by the highly populated metropolitan areas.
In general, the warmest month is often August, reaching heights of 39 degrees in certain cases (102 degrees Fahrenheit). The other side of this is that the coldest month is often January, with the temperatures occasionally reaching the minus degree.
So, Can It Snow In Tokyo?
Well, this generally depends on the type of season the region is having.
In general, Tokyo is pretty subtropical year round, and while the precipitation remains pretty high for the country and this region, it is rarely cold enough to freeze the droplets into snow.
Snow occurs when it is cold enough for the water droplets to freeze while suspended in air, too hot and you get rain, too cold and you get hail. The golden range for snow is usually 0 degrees Celsius or around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
With this in mind, the most likely month you will see snow in Tokyo is December and January.
Both these months have recorded record lows of around -9 degrees Celsius (15 degrees Fahrenheit) but generally record an average low of around 1 – 3 degrees Celsius (30 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit.)
In January and February the average amount of snowfall is around 4 inches of snow. So, snowfall in Tokyo can remain fairly sporadic and generally depends on a lot of variables.
Most Tokyo residents report that it might snow around once a year but almost only ever in the months of January and February.
So, yes, it can snow in Tokyo when the season is at the right temperature, although it remains fairly sporadic if only happening around once a year.
If you really want to catch the snow in Tokyo, you should aim to be there in January or February. These are the only months you have a good chance of seeing snow in Tokyo.
There are many other parts of Japan where it does snow regularly such as Hokkaido and other cities on the northern island.
For instance, Sukayu Onsen is actually the snowiest place on earth and this is in Japan. The area records an average snowfall of around 58 ft and the highest amount of snowfall recorded in one winter season is 78 ft.
This area holds the record for highest snow depth recorded at a weather station of around 18 ft of snow in one place, recorded in 2013.
Japan is one beautiful country you should really consider getting a chance to visit, but if it is snow you’re after, we don’t think Tokyo is the best place to look for it, there are many other regions of Japan that get lots of snow which will almost be guaranteed.