As summer quickly approaches, we in Japan will find our lives growing much wetter, both from the humidity and, of course, Japan’s famous (or infamous?) rainy season.
However, as the rainy season approaches, it’s also prudent to begin thinking about Japan’s upcoming typhoon season. In this guide, we will briefly go over this season: when it is, how to prepare, and what to do during a typhoon.
What is a typhoon?
A typhoon (or 台風) is a type of large, circular storm comprised of heavy wind and rainfall; readers from other countries may know them as hurricanes or cyclones. The only difference between these storms is term and location; however, unlike hurricanes, typhoons are generally numbered instead of named.
While generally not incredibly destructive to the cities at large, the last few years have seen some stronger ones, including one in 2018 that caused massive property damage to the city of Kyoto. As such, it can never hurt to be properly prepared.
When is it?
While the exact date is different every year, Japan’s rainy season generally starts in May and ends in fall; however, the most common months for typhoons to hit Japan are August and September, though this is by no means guaranteed, with storms occasionally hitting in July and October as well.
The southern and/or western regions are hit by most of the storms that make landfall, as typhoons commonly form in the waters to the south. This does, unfortunately, mean that these storms are a yearly occurrence in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. However, with proper preparation, the average person will have little to fear from the average typhoon.
Before typhoon season even begins, there are several things you can make sure that you have in the case of any emergency. A battery-powered emergency radio and flashlight, are essentials, for instance, as is having batteries on hand for those things. Your phone’s flashlight is not ideal, as draining your phone’s battery in an emergency situation can put you in a sticky situation long-term.
A first aid kit is also a must have, as are phone chargers and external/backup phone batteries, non-perishable food (and manual can openers!), water (at least 1 gallon per person per day), basic tools (such as a pocket knife, pliers, and rope), and emergency maps are all also suggested. More can be added to a generalized preparedness kit, and the amount of food and water can vary, though generally it’s ideal to err on the side of too much, rather than too little.
It’s also important to know whether or not you live in an area prone to flooding, as well as what your designated point of evacuation is. Generally, landlords in Japan are required to disclose this information when someone moves into an apartment in an at-risk area, as well as provide the tenant with the requisite emergency maps.
In the days prior to a typhoon, it is important to make sure that all of your emergency supplies are stocked and functional. For those living in the aforementioned flood-prone areas, it can also be good to see if you have a friend in a safer area whose couch you can crash on, if the forecast is particularly dire. It is generally unwise to go outside during a storm, so it is recommended that you do any necessary traveling before the storm is set to begin
During the storm
While the actual storm is happening, you should be paying close attention to your emergency radio and any news broadcasts; is the order is given to evacuate, it is important not to delay, and to get to higher ground/your nearest shelter as soon as possible.
You should also stay away from doors and windows, and be way of any like in the storm, as typhoons generally have small areas of calmer winds at the center. As said earlier, most typhoons that hit Japan are relatively tame, but it is important not to get complacent, as it’s generally safer to be over prepared than under prepared.
While this article covers the basics, the Japanese government has much more detailed guides both online and at the various ward offices scattered about the city. I would encourage everyone reading this to sell out more detailed and location-specific instructions, as one can never be too ready for a natural disaster. Aside from the storms, Japan’s rainy season is a beautiful time of year, and it’s best to be able to experience it as safely as possible.
Disaster Information Services Website & Apps
3. City Website (Automatic translated into English)