Official travel literature on Japan seldom does more than mention weather. Most books and brochures slide over this subject by saying that Japan has a temperate climate; and then giving mean temperatures for summer and winter. Rainfall in inches per year is sometimes added.
Being from Phoenix, Arizona, it is hard to be objective about the weather in Japan, so I polled fifty foreign residents for their views on the subject and found that we all had one thing in common: nobody liked it.
On a yearly basis, I would say Japan has somewhere around thirty days of near perfect weather, when it is neither too hot nor too cold, the wind is not blowing too hard and skies are clear. These days invariably follow a heavy, fairly long rain or storm of some kind.
Then we have another thirty days or so in which one or more of the four factors named above are absent but the remaining ones are in a combination that still offers 'good' weather. For example, it may be quite cold but clear and beautiful, or warm and windy but clear.
Other than this approximately sixty days 'good' weather, it ranges from some degree of irritating to awful. The best months are April-May and October-November. It may snow in April and 'phoons often come as late as November, but on the average, these are the most pleasant months. Any other time the traveler should be prepared to put up with rain, cloudy days, or muggy heat from June thru September; or rain, cloudy days and/or blustery cold from December thru March.
A general rule of thumb for these off seasons is one 'good' day, three 'fair' and three 'poor' per week.
Editor's note: Boyé Lafayette De Mente (1928-2017) first came to Japan in 1949 as a member of the occupation forces. He held a degree in economics and Japanese from Tokyo's Sophia University, and a BFT from the American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona.
He was best known as the author of a highly successful series of books on social and business customs in Japan, China, Korea and Mexico. As a journalist with the Japan Times, and later on as editor of 'The Importer Magazine,' he witnessed at close hand the rapid growth of Asia's 'tiger' economies. His guidelines to westerners wishing to do business in the new post-war Japan were widely recognized as ground-breaking.
I am indebted to Mr. De Mente for having granted permission to republish the above article here in Japan Perspectives..