Cycling Japan in Typhoon Season 台風

Introduction

The little known secret about cycling during Typhoon season in Japan is that the days before and after a Typhoon are often the best days of the year!

When cycling in Japan between mid-August to mid-October you will have a good probably of a Typhoon moving through. But fear not! Much like the tropical storms of the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of storms will bring nothing but some wind and a good rain storm.

What Does Typhoon mean?

The English word Typhoon is thought to be borrowed from the Japanese (or Chinese) word 台風 (said Taifuu in Japanese). The two characters together mean a big or strong wind. In the western hemisphere there are Hurricanes, and really Typhoon’s are the same, they are tropical storm systems.

What Happens When A Typhoon Happens On Tour?

While each storm is unique, in general you will get what I like to call the “Typhoon Sandwich.” This is a day of rain with a day on either end of amazingly clear skies and cool dry air.

This means that the day before and the day after are often some of the best weather you can have in Japan. All of the moisture has been sucked from the air and the skies are big and blue. Perfect for riding.

That perfect day just after the storm.
That perfect day just after the storm.

Most of the time, thanks to the geography, we can ride right through the day of the Typhoon. Many times it’s just a drizzly day, which is a great excuse to soak in that onsen hot spring when we get to the ryokan for the evening!

Why the Kita-Kanto Region Is Best For Typhoon Season

It is not uncommon for entire parts of western Japan and the Tokyo region to come to a standstill when a strong storm hits. For example, in 2019 the massive Typhoon Hagabis dropped a whopping 1,000mm (yes 1 meter or 3ft!) of rain in a 24 hour period on the towns in Shizuoka Prefecture just west of Tokyo! This drew nearly all rail and much of the roads in the area to a standstill for a few days.

So, while the southwest of Japan up to the Tokyo metro area sit in the main path of Typhoons, the Kita-Kanto Region is uniquely equipped to handle these storms. This is thanks to its surrounding mountains to the north, south, and east, as well as being inland far from the ocean.

This means storms will fizzle out significantly by the time they hit inland central Honshu where our trips are at this time of year!

We still can get some wind and rain, but the mountainous terrain breaks the winds and pulls much of the moisture out of the air before it reaches us. Pretty cool!

Soaking in the views from atop the Kiryu Alps.
Soaking in the views from atop the Kiryu Alps.

The Four Seasons in Japan 四季

Want to read more about cycling in the four seasons of Japan? Check our our full article below!

The Four Seasons of Cycling in Japan

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