Translated by Hilary Keyes
July And October - All About Japan's Typhoon Season
A common natural event in the late summer and autumn in Japan is the typhoon. This article provides important safety advice for travelers coming to Japan during this season.
Written by Sawada Tomomi
Visiting Japan in the Summer? Check for Typhoon News
Bad or severe weather can seriously ruin a vacation, which is why the weather at your destination is such an important thing to check before you start traveling. It's even more important to read up on any potential natural disasters that may occur there too.
For example, if you are traveling in Japan from the late summer to the fall, you have to be aware of typhoons.
What is a Typhoon?
Primarily occurring from July to October, typhoons are high speed, uniform air vortexes that form over the oceans near Japan. These storms bring strong winds and heavy rains as they travel along their course. From about the 180 degree east longitude line over the east and north of the Atlantic ocean, these are called hurricanes, but from the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific they are known as cyclones.
Yearly, there are on average 26 typhoons, with roughly 11 drawing close to Japan and about 3 making landfall within Japan. Most of the typhoons acting upon Japan particularly affect the southern, low latitudes of the country, traveling in a parabolic curb across the country. There are typhoons which veer off towards the direction of the Philippines, however these storms still leave their mark on Japan with heavy winds in the upper skies also causing problems across the region.
Information from: Japanese Meteorological Agency
Where Can I Find Typhoon News?
If a typhoon forms, from Japan or over distant parts of the seas, the potential path of the typhoon will be plotted and broadcast over the TV and radio. Before departing for Japan and during your stay here, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecasts being broadcast.
Incidentally, while they are given names much like hurricanes overseas, in Japan typhoons are referred to by number; the first typhoon of the season being Typhoon Number 1, the second Typhoon Number 2 and so on. They are also divided based on their strength (strong, extremely strong, violent) and size (large, extremely large), which is then applied to their description: extremely large, very powerful typhoon number 5, for example.
If you are not confident in your Japanese abilities, please refer to the English version of the Japanese Meteorological Agency website for more information and real time weather updates.
If a typhoon is approaching, the two most important things to know are its strength and projected route. During typhoons, whether in the countryside or city, there is a high potential for heavy winds and rains that make even the sturdiest of umbrellas collapse. Please keep the following list of points in mind.
- Trains and flights will be delayed and there is a high potential for flights to be cancelled during a typhoon.
- Shopping centers and sightseeing spots may have their hours shortened or will be temporarily closed during typhoons.
- Do not go near mountains or bodies of water as there is an incredibly high risk of landslides, high waves and flooding during a typhoon.
- Roof tiles, signboards and other materials may be blown away by strong winds, so it is a good idea to stay indoors when possible.
- Power outages may occur more frequently during typhoons, so it is a good idea to keep cell phones and music players, smart devices charged when not in use.
Typhoons are powerful and may have long-reaching effects until they have fully passed. Even though you may think "It's fine now", that may not necessarily be true. It may have moved on from where you are currently, but it is a very good idea to still keep an eye on the weather and the situation around you just in case.
Cautions During a Typhoon and How to Pass the Time
During small and weak typhoons, most weather-protected sightseeing spots, indoor shopping centers and amusement/entertainment facilities will remain open and you can pass the time in their establishments. However, the hours of the facility may be shortened or they may close suddenly, so please keep in mind the conditions and availability of transportation home or to your accommodations.
When a large, powerful typhoon is on its way or seems like it is about to move, it is unfortunately best that you stay indoors at your hotel and be alert. It's a good idea to have some books or magazines, extra food or snacks and drinks, and maybe even some playing cards or games or even to check whether the hotel has any DVDs that guests may borrow, just so that you can pass the typhoon in some degree of comfort in your room.