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Climate & Weather in Kyoto

Post: 06-04-18

Here is a guide to weather in Kyoto for foreign expats moving to Kyoto City from overseas countries as well as those moving to the city from other areas in Japan. We hope this guide will be of value when planning your seasonal wardrobe for life in Japan.

Kyoto City, like many areas around the world, experiences a fair amount of seasonal variation allowing you to enjoy the changing of seasons. As Kyoto City is located in the Kyoto Basin, it experiences a substantial difference in temperature from day to night and summer to winter. Within Kyoto City there is a significant difference in the climates of the northern mountains and the southern city area.

While temperatures in the northern mountains during the winter frequently reach below freezing without snowfall, the temperature in the city is similar to the temperature in Osaka City and Nagoya City. When comparing them throughout the year, Kyoto City's temperature is slightly higher than that of Osaka City and slightly lower than that of Nagoya City. Kyoto City's rainfall is slightly higher than Osaka City and slightly less than that of Nagoya City.

For the majority of the year, the weather in Kyoto City is fairly mild and generally quite pleasant. There is however typhoon season (hurricane or tropical cyclone) that lasts from May till December. During Typhoon season the weather can get very bad suddenly when a storm is passing by.

  

Rainfall Levels & Average Temperatures in Kyoto (1981-2010)

The below table shows the Rainfall Levels and Average Temperatures in Kyoto City. Rainfall is more frequent from March through October. This includes the Rainy Season from June-July and the peak of Typhoon season from August-September. There is very little Snowfall in winter, and due to the influence of global warming winter temperatures are rising.

 

  Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Rainfall Level (mm) 50.3 68.3 113.3 115.7 160.8 214 220.4 132.1 176.2 120.9 71.3 48
Max.Temp ( °C) 8.9 9.7 13.4 19.9 24.6 27.8 31.5 33.3 28.8 22.9 17 11.6
Ave.Temp ( °C) 4.6 5.1 8.4 14.2 19 23 26.8 28.2 24.1 17.8 12.1 7
Min.Temp ( °C) 1.2 1.4 4 9 14 18.8 23.2 24.3 20.3 13.6 7.8 3.2

 

 

 

Average Temperatures & Humidity in Kyoto (1981-2010)

  Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Ave.Temp ( °C) 4.6 5.1 8.4 14.2 19 23 26.8 28.2 24.1 17.8 12.1 7
Ave.Temp ( °F) 40.28 41.18 47.12 57.56 66.2 73.4 80.24 82.76 75.38 64.04 53.78 44.6
Humidity (%) 66 65 62 59 62 67 70 66 68 68 68 68

The temperature in Kyoto over the past several years has been above average. Kyoto's intense summer heat reaching upwards of 30 degrees has become the norm due to global warming and heat island effects. Surviving the summer without an air conditioner may feel near impossible. Measures to combat heat island effects have been taken and have netted positive results. However, even with the measures taken against heat island effects, Kyoto still has high humidity during the summer and warrants careful attention and preparation in order to prevent heat stroke.

 

Seasonal Clothing (for Kyoto & Vicinity)

  • Spring (Mar. - May): Topcoat, jacket, sweater
  • Summer (Jun. - Aug.): Light clothing, short sleeves
  • Autumn (Sep. - Nov.):Same as Spring
  • Winter (Dec. - Feb.): Down jacket, wool coat, warm sweater, scarf, gloves

The best times to visit, when the climate is pleasant, are from April-May, for the famous blooming of cherry blossoms, and October-November for autumn leaves changing. It can get hot and extremely muggy from July-August. Winter seldom brings snow and only a few days per year does the temperatures drop below freezing. 

 

The Weather in Kyoto and Advice for Every Season

Kyoto City is a big city with most of its population commuting by public transit, bikes, or on foot. Here are a few tips & tricks to make surviving close encounters with Mother Nature in Kyoto a little easier.

■ Precipitation:

Always check the weather forecast before you leave for the day and pack an umbrella if rain is predicted. It's no fun being caught in a downpour and waiting under the corner of a ramen shop's roof waiting for the rain to pass.

o Pro tip: If you don't trust or wish to check weather forecasts, stick your head outside before you leave for the day and see if other people are carrying umbrellas and follow their lead. If you do get stuck in the rain, you can always head to the nearest convenience store for a cheap umbrella—they're everywhere!

■ Heat:

It can get quite hot in Kyoto City so dress accordingly. The city is a concrete jungle that experiences the "urban heat island" effect common in big metropolitan areas.

o Pro tip: If you're going to work, check and see if your office follows a "cool biz" dress code. Cool Biz is a dress code with comparatively relaxed dress guidelines encouraged by the Japanese government to help make life more comfortable for office-workers during the summer.

 

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