Ichigaya Station, Chiyoda: The weather took a distinct turn for the worse today. 6ºC and non-stop drizzle.
Posts Tagged ‘Weather’
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.
Category Events, Food, Japanese Language, Only in Japan, Photography, Tokyo, Video, Weather
At around 3am this morning I witnessed the biggest thunderstorm I have ever seen in my life. Without any warning whatsoever the heavens opened, lightning struck surrounding buildings disturbingly frequently, and the thunder was loud enough to violently shake the windows.
And I didn’t get any of this on camera. Bugger.
Kichijoji Matsuri was held this weekend, meaning lots of people walking around in blue pyjamas getting drunk, carrying mikoshi around the local area (portable shrines used to carry gods. God taxis – cool!). Apparently the gods quite enjoy being shaken around a bit to wake them from their slumber, although I’m not sure if anyone has ever actually asked the gods for their opinion on this matter.
There were many different mikoshi, carried by different teams. Some of the more active (i.e. one sake too many) groups can get pretty vocal, like this set of individuals here:
There’s also loads of food stalls to have a wander around (and yes, the ubiqitous kebab trucks are here as well. There’s just no escaping them). I’m especially fond of the fried baby crabs. They’re soft enough to be eaten whole, legs and all, and they’re fantastic. I’m quite aware they look like something out of The Thing, but really, they’re great!
In other news, we attended a residents group meeting for our apartment, which was about as interesting as it sounds. Most of the people living in our place are retired so we were the youngest people there by a good thirty years. Luckily they’re all really nice, and had some particulary amusing ideas on what should be done in case of The Big Earthquake (ten years overdue, apparently). Nakada-san – the group leader and ex-university professor – suggested climbing the stairs to the roof and waiting for a fire service helicopter to pick them up. His wife kindly pointed out that the fire service might have a few more important matters to attend to in a city of 30 million people.
One exeptionally good point to come out of the meeting was that we were given the key to the rooftop. Apparently we should have been given it when we moved in last year but Nakada-san forgot. The views from the rooftop are supoib, you can see Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, even Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Tower (yes, I know you can’t see very much in the photo, but trust me, you can see it). We’re also allowed to have parties and stuff up there any time we like which is great during summer. Apparently the old folks are having a full moon party next month, which I absolutely must attend at all costs.
I’ve foolisly decided to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December, although recently I’ve put in absolutely no effort in when it comes to studying. Methinks I should stop writing this and get some revision done!