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In this chapter:

  • Japan has two different climates: a northern climate and a southern climate
  • The north is much colder in the winter and milder in the summer
  • The south has a hotter summer and a milder winter
  • Japanese weather is characterised by monsoons, heavy rainfall brought in by strong winds
  • Typhoons are also a feature of Japan's climate
  • Typhoons are tropical cyclones that originate in the Pacific Ocean
  • Japan receives quite a lot of rain throughout the year, between 100 centimetres and 300 centimetres falls each year

Introduction

See image 1.

Japan has two quite different climates in the north and in the south. The northern islands, Honshu and Hokkaido, are colder than the southern Islands, Kyushu and Shikoku. The temperature in the southern islands is similar to the temperature in Sydney. It never snows during winter, instead the temperature is mild, averaging 15oC. The summers on these islands are warm and wet at around 28oC. In the north, Japan has long, harsh winters with icy winds and heavy snowfall and average temperatures of -5oC. The summers in the north are mild, with average temperatures of 20oC.

Monsoons

The warm, wet summers that Japan experiences mean that it has a monsoonal climate. A monsoon is when it rains heavily and there is a strong wind. The wind of a monsoon is from the south or the south-west. It is the rain that comes with these winds that is a monsoon. Most of Japan has a monsoonal climate, except for Hokkaido. Heavy rain will fall most days of the monsoon season, which lasts from June to September.

See animation 1.

Typhoons

Typhoon means 'great wind'. This is a Chinese word. See image 2.

In addition to the monsoon rains that occur in Japan, there are also summer typhoons. A typhoon is a tropical cyclone that originates in the north-western Pacific Ocean. A typhoon will hit Japanese land approximately three times a year. Typhoons come in from the Pacific, which means that they blow in from the east. Typhoon season tends to be at the end of summer. This is when huge storms start to form. The wind of a typhoon is so strong that it can blow over trees and even some buildings.

Rainfall

Japan as a whole receives quite a lot of rain during the year. The most rain falls on the lower regions of Japan. In the far north, an average rainfall of about 120 centimetres is expected throughout the year. More rain is seen in the north in the summer season. Towards the middle of the country, around Tokyo, an average of 150 centimetres falls. This area receives most of its rain in the late summer. The south receives the most rain, with up to 190 centimetres falling. This rainfall includes over 30 centimetres in June, the early part of Japan's summer.

The rainy season in Japan begins in June. The rainy season begins in the south and makes its way north. See image 3.

Colours of the seasons

Japan is a very beautiful and colourful country. Each season has its own distinct colours. In the north, during winter, the land can sometimes be blanketed in white snow. This does not happen further to the south because it is closer to the Tropic of Cancer, which is near the tropical climate of the equator. In spring, the tree blossoms come out and the colours that are dominant are red and pink. The leaves of the trees in autumn are yellow and gold. The presence of the forest-covered mountains means that Japan often has a very green landscape. See image 4.


Pop Quiz

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Question 1/5

1. Summers on the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku are:

Warm and dry at around 24 degrees Celsius

Cool and wet at around 13 degrees Celsius

Cool and dry at around 15 degrees Celsius

Warm and wet at around 28 degrees Celsius

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