Japan - Weather & Tips for Dealing With it
Many teaching jobs are located in central Japan, Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya and so we'll focus on these areas.
Besides the usual "Japan has four seasons" spiel you get bashed in the head with at your interview at a mass informational meeting in your home country, we'll take a look at things you may encounter weather-wise while teaching in Japan.
Japan - Weather: The Summer Season and the Heat
Central and southern Japan are very humid. Humidity packs a punch and makes heat and cold a lot worse than what you expect by looking at a temperature guideline. Here's what to expect heat wise. Summers will range from 20 to 28 Celsius (that's 68 to 84 Fahrenheit). In the south, the range will swing from 21 to 29 Celsius 69 to 84 Fahrenheit). In the north expect 14 to 23 Celsius (57 to 73 Fahrenheit).
Most foreigners who arrive in Japan use bicycles to get around the city and to and from work. This presents a challenge to looking presentable when you arrive at work considering how hot the summers get. (Hint: If you'll be biking to work pack an extra shirt or top so you can change after arriving to work).
You'll get a break from the heat in the tsuyu or rainy season from June to mid July. It can rain every day straight without stopping for a week at a pop. Japan's version of the Dollar Store, the 100 yen Shop, sells umbrellas for 100 yen each - a worth while investment. But if you are walking or riding your bike to work, rest assured your feet will be soaked so take the train or bus. Many Japanese wear rain boots to work and carry their office shoes in a back pack to cope with Japan's rainy weather. All in all, not the worst idea I've heard of.
Japan - Weather: The Fall Season
Japan's falls are about as nice as it gets.Clear skies and mild temperatures for months. Falls are 13- 21 Celsius (55 to 69 Fahrenheit) in central Japan. Southern Japan is in the range of 12 to 22 degrees Celsius, (53 to 71 Fahrenheit). Northern Japan weather averages are 8 to 15 degrees Celsius (46 to 59 Fahrenheit). Still not bad at all especially if you're from Canada or Wisconsin.
Japan - Weather: The Winter Season
Besides being short in duration, winters are quite mild in central Japan with snow often lasting just a day. This isn't the case up north where snow will stay on the ground for 4 months.
Winter temps in central Japan range from 1 to 9 degree Celsius (30 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit). In Southern Japan expect the temperature to swing between 2 and 7 degrees Celsius (35 to 44 Fahrenheit) while the northern area will range between -1 and -10 Celsius (30 and 14 degrees Fahrenheit). It doesn't look cold on a chart (we can practically hear Canadians laughing and thinking "you call that cold boy?" But again the humidity drives the cold into your bones.
Taking hot baths is the quickest way to suck the chill out of your bones. Showers don't work well for yanking out a deep chill.
Japan - Weather: The Spring Season
Like the wonderful falls in central Japan, springs are just as nice. Moderate temperatures, longer days, no mosquitoes and cherry blossoms.
Central Japan temperatures in spring are 8 to 17 degrees Celsius. (46 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit). In southern Japan the swing will be roughly 8 to 18 degrees Celsius (46 to 64 Fahrenheit). In northern Japan expect your spring to be in the range of 0 to 9 degrees Celsius (32 to 48 Fahrenheit).
Japan - Weather and What to Wear
Because of Japan's high humidity, wearing wind-breakers and other types of winter clothing designed for low-humidity climates doesn't work. Go for the Thinsulate or Gortex stuff in winter. UniQlo a gigantic clothing chain store found in all major cities specializes in a Heat-Teq brand of undergarments that is super thin yet traps body heat very well - and best of all they are cheap.
In summer light colored clothing with light-weight fabrics works well. (There's a reason why the Japanese eat noodles, fruit and salads in summer).
Here's a survival tip for those teachers that are sent out to small classrooms in the countryside of Japan. There's nothing worse than freezing in the dead of winter in a small classroom while you're teaching English.
You're probably thinking don't they have heaters? Yup, they do, but often they don't use them in children's classes. (There's something going on about toughening the kids up by not using heaters.)
Adult classes are different as they don't put up with getting toughened-up). This is mostly true of smaller schools that do dispatch classes.
So break out the thermal wear and carry some hot tea of coffee on your teaching mission!
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