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When to go & weather
Weather & climate
Japan has four distinct seasons and Kyoto is one of a few places that have clearer differences than other places of the archipelago. Generally, it is very hot in summer and cold in winter. It is also humid in summer. They say that they have less wind in summer and feel hotter than the actual temperature, which can get close to 40 degrees C (the maximum temperature recorded in August, 2008 was 37.5 degrees C, or 99.5 degrees F). In winter, the temperature frequently goes below freezing and snow flies occasionally.
- Kyoto has a humid subtropical climate that is mild with no dry season, constantly moist (year-round rainfall). Summers are hot and muggy with thunderstorms. Winters are mild with precipitation from mid-latitude cyclones. Seasonality is moderate. (Köppen-Geiger classification: Cfa).
- According to the Holdridge life zones system of bioclimatic classification Kyoto is situated in or near the cool temperate wet forest biome.
- The average annual temperature is 15.3 degrees Celsius (59.5 degrees Fahrenheit). See the temperatures page for a monthly breakdown and the fixed scale graph.
- Average monthly temperatures vary by 23.7 °C (42.7°F). This indicates that the continentality type is continental, subtype subcontinental.
- In the winter time records indicate temperatures by day reach 9.7°C (49.4°F) on average falling to 1.1°C (34°F) overnight.
- In spring time temperatures climb reaching 18.9°C (66.1°F) generally in the afternoon with overnight lows of 8.4°C (47.1°F).
- During summer average high temperatures are 30.5°C (86.9°F) and average low temperatures are 21.5°C (70.8°F).
- Come autumn/ fall temperatures decrease achieving average highs of 22.5°C (72.4°F) during the day and lows of 13.1°C (55.5°F) generally shortly after sunrise.
- Total annual Precipitation averages 1581.2 mm (62.3 inches) which is equivalent to 1581.2 Litres/m² (38.78 Gallons/ft²).
- On average there are 2011 hours of sunshine per year. Visit the sunshine and daylight section to check monthly details including how high in the sky the sun reaches each month.
- Were you to burrow down through the centre of the Earth from Kyoto you would pop up nearest to the climate station at Torres, Brazil where you would find a Humid subtropical climate (Subtropical moist forest biome).
When to go
What’s the best time to go to Kyoto? What are the most interesting seasons? What’s the weather like in Kyoto in each month? When are the best festivals in Kyoto?
- The best times to visit Kyoto are October/November (fall) and March/April/May (spring).
- You can visit Kyoto at any time of year because the weather is temperate.
- Summer (June/July/August) in Kyoto is hot and humid.
- Winter (December/January/Febuary) in Kyoto is cold.
- The rainy season goes from mid-June to late July, but it does NOT rain every day and you can travel.
The best times to visit Kyoto are from March to May and from September to November when the weather is the mildest. However, the blooming cherry blossoms in spring and the vibrant fall foliage are big tourist draws, so be prepared for higher hotel rates and fewer vacancies. Crowds do wane a bit in the summer and winter, but June's sticky humidity and January's chilly temperatures are too uncomfortable for some travelers.
Aoi Matsuri or the festival of hollyhocks is about thanksgiving and is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Kyoto.
March to May
Springtime in Kyoto draws many travelers because of comfortable temperatures — highs hover around the 60s and 70s. Plus in April, the city blushes pink with cherry blossoms. (However, pinpointing the exact dates of the blooms is a gamble; the notoriously temperamental cherry trees can begin flowering on any given day from late March to mid-April). Despite the blossoms' arbitrary start-date, the city fills with visitors eager to capture one of Kyoto's most photogenic seasons on camera. Be sure to book a hotel several months in advance, as accommodations can fill up quickly around this time of year.
June to August
With daytime highs ranging from the low 80s to the low 90s and an average of five to eight inches of precipitation per month, a summertime trip to Kyoto can be a soggy, sweaty endeavor. But the sweltering temperatures and frequent downpours do drive away tourists, so accommodations will be a lot easier to come by than in spring or fall.
September to November
Kyoto's foliage puts on a great show in autumn, lending the city's historic sites a brilliant crimson-and-orange backdrop. The gorgeous scenery — along with the temperate weather (high temperatures in the mid-60s to mid-80s) — attracts a fair amount of visitors to Kyoto. Book your accommodations a few months before you travel.
December to February
Near-freezing temperatures in winter keep the tourists away. But if you're not averse to bundling up, Kyoto can be quite beautiful in the colder months (picture peaceful shrines dusted with silver snow). When you get too chilly, you'll have a greater choice of hotels where you can warm your toes than you would if you visited in the busier months.
Dress lightly, as summer is very humid. Be aware of the sudden temperature change when entering an air-conditioned building. Nights in midsummer will be hot and sticky
Winters can be cold, so dress appropriately. Wear an overcoat or jacket outside. However, all major facilities such as museums, hotels, department stores, restaurants, are heated, so include these stops in your itinerary for a break from the cold as needed.
Spring and fall
have mild temperatures, with spring rains common. A light coat or sweater, something you can shed in the warm afternoons, should be quite adequate.