Ichigaya Station, Chiyoda: The weather took a distinct turn for the worse today. 6ºC and non-stop drizzle.
Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category
Category Events, Only in Japan, Photography, Tokyo, Weather
This coming Sunday is shunbun no hi, or Vernal Equinox Day. Traditionally, on this day Japanese people would visit their ancestral graves and hold family reunions. These days, however, they are more likely to visit Starbucks and hold rat-like Chihuahuas.
Shunbun no hi also marks the beginning of spring. It won’t be long before coats are consigned to the wardrobe and t-shirts once again become acceptable outdoor attire. Fantastic.
For all you avid cherry-blossom watchers out there, sakura trees in Tokyo are expected to flower from the 24th March, and should be in full bloom on around the 1st April. Probably the best place for hanami (lit. “flower watching”) in Tokyo is Shinjuku Gyoen, which is pictured above in its late summer guise. It’s a tranquil green oasis in an otherwise concrete-filled desert. Yoyogi and Ueno parks are also good bets, but whatever you do, don’t bother with Inokashira Park in Kichijoji – it’s absolutely rubbish, you’d hate it.
Well, I was convinced that the snow we had earlier this month would be the first – and last – for Tokyo this year, but I woke up this morning to find yet another covering of the white stuff:
Last night’s snow was more robust than I had expected. The roof of almost every house between my home and office was covered with it this morning. The road-bound stuff didn’t fare so well, though:
Word of warning: leather-soled shoes + snow = certain death.
No more snow is forecast for the rest of the week. Chances are we won’t be seeing any more in Tokyo for the rest of the year, which is a shame. I was looking forward to seeing ‘proper’ snow, especially considering England has been having its whitest winter since 1980.
Spring (March, April and May)
The first half of spring is one of the rare times of year when the weather in Tokyo is comparable with London. The number of sunny days and average temperatures are about equal throughout March, though by the end of April Tokyo’s daytime highs are starting to reach into the high teens and low twenties.
Hanami usually hits Tokyo at the end of April and beginning of May (and thanks to global warming it’s getting earlier every year). The parks become packed with revellers even though it often rains buckets. Tokyo receives about three times as much rain as London during spring, but the high reliability of weather forecasts means that it’s easy to know when you’ll need a brolly.
Summer (June, July and August)
June through to July is the rainy season in Tokyo, though this is something of a misnomer as it can rain a lot more in September and October. Temperature-wise, June is usually very nice, the equivalent of a lovely summer’s day in London. July and August is when the humidity and heat can be intense: the middle two weeks of August usually sees highs in the mid thirties, so you’d be well advised to leg it to cooler climes.
Autumn (September, October and November)
September is often just as hot as August, though it can – and usually does – rain for days on end. Typhoons are especially common at this time of year but the chances of one hitting Tokyo full in the face are slim (ie, don’t worry about it). October and November are, on the whole, very pleasant. Expect lots of sunny, coat-free days, even up until the end of November.
Winter (December, January and February)
Tokyo’s minimum temperatures are lower than London’s during winter, and its highs are a couple of degrees higher. However, this doesn’t take into account sunshine and the wind-chill factor. Tokyo gets considerably more sunshine than London and doesn’t get battered by Siberian winds, so walking about during daytime is actually quite pleasant. The lack of cloud cover makes for nippy nights, though.
In terms of wet days per month London wins hands down. You can expect the majority of winter days in Tokyo to be rain-free. In addition, the air is very dry in the first two months of the year, which leads to an awful lot of static electricity.
Category Entertainment, Only in Japan, Tokyo, Weather
Now, you may think that people only use umbrellas when it’s raining. You would be wrong. In Tokyo it is now perfectly acceptable to use them at the merest whiff of the wet stuff. This has lead to the phenomenon of Mass Umbrellaism, where large groups of people open umbrellas before exiting train stations, supermarkets and shopping centres.
Scientists believe that many Tokyoites – sucked in to the alternate realities that mobile phones and Nintendo DSs provide – are so distrustful of their real-life surroundings that they cannot rely on their own senses: they may be drier than a Martini in the Gobi desert but if the weather forecast says it’s raining, then it must be raining.
Tokyo’s top three Mass Umbrella hotspots:
1. Shinjuku Station’s South Exit
2. Ichigaya Station, Chiyoda
3. Hankyu/Seibu department stores, Ginza
We’ve been experiencing yet more enormous thunderstorms today. As the pace of climate change intensifies scientists predict that the frequency and destructive power of storms will increase. Compared with other major cities around the world Tokyo is perhaps better equipped than most for extreme weather conditions – after all, it receives almost twice as much rain each year as London (1,380mm compared to 750mm), and boasts an awe-inspiring storm drain system called G-Cans:
You can find more images of the G-Cans project here.
Japan’s hay fever (kafunsho) season is at its very worst this week, leaving chemists rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of thousands of red-eyed Tokoites buying-up face masks, anti-histamines and all kinds of herbal remedies to unclog those tubes. To be quite honest I had no idea hay fever struck so early in Japan – growing up, I thought it was strictly a summer thing that afflicted the weedy kids. Evidently I was wrong.Apparently it’s all down to cedar and cypress trees, of which Japan has millions. Most were planted in the aftermath of World War II to supply the nation with timber, and while the national timber industry had waned, the trees – and their pollen – gained strength.
For those hay fever suffers looking for a relief from the misery, the Japan Times has a handy article on how to deal with it the natural way, here.
Thursday night saw the arrival of Typhoon No. 9 in Tokyo, and it was a big ‘un: Winds reached speeds of 90 kph, at least two people died, and the city’s transportation network was thrown into chaos.
Meanwhile, I slept through the entire event, waking up at 8am to look out of the living room window to remark that it ‘looks a bit windy out’. Things seem to be back to normal now, at least in western Tokyo. The emergency services are well prepared for disasters – when you expect earthquakes to flatten everything at least once a century, dealing with typhoons must be more of a sort of training exercise for the Big Event, which will hopefully happen when I’m not here.
I came across an Engrish of staggering outrageousness today:
Continuing the phallic theme, I discovered this air freshener in an izakaya last week: