Exploring Kyoto’s Weather and Climate: What Makes It Unique in Each Season?

Kyoto, a globally renowned historic city, is situated inland in the Kansai region of Japan. Generally, it is perceived as having a hot summer and a somewhat chilly winter climate. However, Kyoto city is geographically elongated from north to south, with significant variations in the terrain between mountainous areas and urban landscapes.

The climate varies considerably within the city, influenced by factors such as the distance from the Japan Sea. This creates noticeable differences in weather conditions, especially during the winter season. Kyoto experiences a diverse range of climates, encompassing characteristics of the Pacific side, Seto Inland Sea type, Central Highland type, and Japan Sea side climate classifications.

On this page, we’ll delve into the distinctive features of Kyoto’s climate, exploring the seasonal nuances and regional differences within the city.

Kyoto’s Spring Weather

MonthAverage TemperatureAverage HighAverage LowPrecipitationSunshine HoursSnowfall Days
March8.8°C14.1°C4.3°C106.2mm155.4 hours6.8 days
April14.4°C20.1°C9.2°C117.0mm177.3 hours0.4 days
May19.5°C25.1°C14.5°C151.4mm182.4 hoursNo snowfall

All values are based on the annual averages from the Kyoto Local Meteorological Observatory.

The spring weather in Kyoto is generally perceived as mild and gradually warms up, bringing comfortable and spring-like conditions.
May boasts the second-highest sunshine hours after the peak summer month of August, making it one of the sunniest seasons of the year.

Regarding rainfall, precipitation tends to increase from early spring, and in May, there can be occasional substantial rainfall.
However, until April, there is rarely heavy or intense rain, making it a relatively dry period.

Morning chill persists even in the urban areas until March, and in some cases, temperatures can drop below freezing.
The northern districts, especially in the North Ward, may retain a bit more cold, and in the deeper mountainous areas to the north of the city, ice may form even after April, resulting in significantly colder mornings and evenings.

Snow is a possibility in March, with occasional snowfall observed in the city, especially around early to mid-March.
However, snow in spring is infrequent in urban areas, so there’s not much need to worry about “spring snow” in the city.

In the northern mountainous regions within the city, particularly in higher elevations, snow tends to accumulate more.
Areas like Hanazume and Hirokawa might still have lingering snow in March.
However, it’s rare for areas in the northern part of Kyoto, including Ohara, Kifune, and Kurama, to have persistent snow cover until spring.

Regarding “sakura” (cherry blossoms), there isn’t a significant difference in blooming and full bloom periods compared to surrounding cities like Osaka, Kobe, and Nara.
The timing of cherry blossoms is influenced by temperature variations, creating more noticeable differences between the cherry blossom seasons in the northern and mountainous areas of Kyoto and the urban areas.

Recommended Attire

In March, Kyoto can have days with temperatures exceeding 10 degrees Celsius, but it often remains chilly with lows below 5 degrees.
It’s advisable to bring warm items like coats to stay comfortable.
As April approaches, the weather gradually warms up, but variations in temperature persist.
Therefore, it’s essential to have lighter outerwear such as cardigans for added comfort during your visit.

Kyoto’s Summer Weather

MonthAverage TemperatureAverage HighAverage LowPrecipitationSunshine HoursThunderstorm Days
June23.3°C28.1°C19.2°C199.7mm133.1 hours1.7 days
July27.3°C32.0°C23.6°C223.6mm142.7 hours4.9 days
August28.5°C33.7°C24.7°C153.8mm182.7 hours5.1 days
All values are based on the annual averages from the Kyoto Local Meteorological Observatory.

Summer in Kyoto is generally known for its “extremely hot” weather.
Particularly from July to August, the daytime temperatures can rival the reported “intense heat” seen in various regions like Tajimi in Gifu Prefecture, Tachibana in Gunma Prefecture, and Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture.
Depending on the year, it’s not uncommon for the maximum temperatures to reach the high 38-39°C range.

For instance, during the scorching July of 2018, there were almost two weeks of days with temperatures exceeding 37 degrees, emphasizing the importance of heatstroke prevention, especially for those visiting for tourism.

Even in the morning, the temperatures in the urbanized Kyoto city (especially the central areas) don’t necessarily cool down despite being inland.
“Tropical nights” are quite common in urban areas, making it relatively cooler in the early morning and late evening only in specific mountainous and mountain-edge urban areas.

In terms of rainfall, Kyoto, being on the northern side of the Kinki Chubu region, experiences relatively higher rainfall compared to areas to the south like Osaka, Kobe, and Nara.
The summer rainfall in Kyoto is about 10-20% higher than the average in cities like Osaka, Kobe, and Nara.
Heavy rains are not uncommon, occurring either due to the active front of the rainy season or typhoons, with instances of daily rainfall reaching 100 millimeters nearly every year.

Thunderstorms are characteristic of summer weather, but in the urban areas of Kyoto, while sudden downpours are possible, they are not particularly frequent.
However, the northern mountainous regions within the city may experience more variable weather conditions.

Recommended Attire

Kyoto and Uji, surrounded by mountains in the Kyoto Basin, experience hot summers and cold winters.
June, with an average temperature ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, is relatively pleasant, but it’s the rainy season, so be sure to have rain gear ready.
July and August can be scorching, with temperatures often exceeding 35 degrees Celsius.
Take extra care to avoid heatstroke during these hot months.

Kyoto’s Autumn Weather

onthAverage TemperatureAverage HighAverage LowPrecipitationSunshine Hours
September24.4°C29.2°C20.7°C178.5mm142.7 hours
October18.4°C23.4°C14.4°C143.2mm156.0 hours
November12.5°C17.3°C8.4°C73.9mm140.7 hours
All values are based on the annual averages from the Kyoto Local Meteorological Observatory.

Autumn in Kyoto transforms into a pleasant and comfortable season as it progresses, marking the peak season for tourists.

Concerning rainfall, the frequency and amount decrease rapidly as autumn advances, but in September (and sometimes October), there is a potential impact from typhoons, leading to heavy rains.
For instance, in the disaster caused by Typhoon 18 in September 2013, there were instances of localized flooding around the Katsura River and subway lines in Yamashina Ward being submerged.
While it’s a shared concern in any city, basic preparation for heavy rain, similar to that in summer, is essential.

Though Kyoto’s coastal areas are not as frequently affected by typhoon-related “strong winds” compared to the coastal areas of the Kinki region like Kobe and Wakayama, Typhoon 21 in 2018 recorded a maximum momentary wind speed of 39.4 m/s in Kyoto.
This highlights the risk not only of heavy rain but also of strong winds in the event of a direct hit.

Temperature-wise, September may still feel hot like summer depending on the year, but from October onward, it generally becomes pleasantly autumnal.
While November sees a gradual increase in coldness, urbanization in Kyoto’s city center has made it less prone to significant cooling, reducing the occurrence of the first frost and ice in mid-November.

As for autumn sightseeing, the highlight is the vibrant “foliage,” but the timing tends to shift later as Kyoto experiences milder cooling.
In recent years, the peak foliage period has been observed from mid to late November, sometimes extending into early December.

Recommended Attire

In early September, you may still experience lingering summer heat, but from mid-month, the average temperature gradually cools to around 25 degrees Celsius.
By mid-October, temperatures drop significantly to around 15 degrees Celsius.
In November, it gets even colder, reaching winter temperatures by the end of the month.
If you’re visiting Kyoto during this time, be sure to dress warmly with a thick coat, as it’s almost winter-like in November.

Kyoto’s Winter Weather

MonthAverage TemperatureAverage HighAverage LowPrecipitationSunshine HoursSnowfall Days
December7.2°C11.6°C3.5°C57.3mm134.4 hours6.9 days
January4.8°C9.1°C1.5°C53.3mm123.5 hours16.3 days
February5.4°C10.0°C1.6°C65.1mm122.2 hours14.2 days
All values are based on the annual averages from the Kyoto Local Meteorological Observatory.

◇ Recent Significant Snowfall Records:

  • December 31, 2010: 9 centimeters
  • January 3, 2015: 22 centimeters
  • January 15, 2017: 14 centimeters
  • January 17, 2019: 7 centimeters
  • January 21, 2022: 15 centimeters
  • January 24, 2023: 15 centimeters

Winter in Kyoto is often associated with iconic scenes like the snow-covered Golden Pavilion.

The likelihood of seeing “snow” when visiting for tourism is not very high, even in the heart of winter.
However, as a prefectural capital in the Kinki region, Kyoto is indeed one of the environments where snowfall is more probable.

Unlike cities like Osaka and Kobe, where snowless years are more common, Kyoto has observed around 15 cm of snow several times in the Reiwa era.
Almost every year, there is a light dusting of snow, and in abundant years, it can snow around five times.

Snow typically accumulates when there’s a strong influence of a “winter pressure pattern.”
The northern parts of the city receive more snow, with areas like Fushimi seeing little to no snow, while going north of Imadegawa Street tends to have more accumulation.
Further towards Iwakura, it’s like entering a different world, showcasing significant differences in snowfall.

In mountainous areas, snow often becomes “persistent snow cover,” and in higher-altitude regions in the northern part of the city, snow accumulation of around one meter is not uncommon.
As one heads north, the winter precipitation increases, creating an environment similar to the “Japan Sea side” climate where snowfall is more frequent.

Regarding cold temperatures, Kyoto was once known for its severe morning and evening chill, even dropping below minus 10 degrees Celsius during the Meiji era.
However, with urbanization and the combined effect of global warming, the phenomenon known as “Kyoto’s bottom chill” is mostly a thing of the past in the city center.
It’s now less likely to experience sub-zero temperatures.
Still, caution is needed, as areas near mountains and the mountainous regions like Ohara and Kyoto North can remain quite cold due to limited urbanization and abundant nature.

Recommended Attire

From December onward, it gets genuinely cold in Kyoto, with many days reaching below freezing temperatures.
The daytime highs typically hover just above 10 degrees Celsius.
To stay warm, be sure to prepare with a heavy coat and a scarf for effective cold protection.


The climate in Kyoto varies significantly due to the city’s elongated north-south shape, dividing it into urban areas and deep mountainous regions. This leads to notable differences in temperatures and the likelihood of winter snow depending on the region.

Overall, Kyoto experiences relatively stable weather, often characterized by mild conditions. However, occasional heavy rainfall, resulting in flooding, has occurred in recent years, especially during the summer and autumn seasons.

While summers in Kyoto can be quite harsh with intense heat, the phenomenon known as “bottom chill” is becoming less prevalent in the city center. The temperature contrast with neighboring cities like Osaka has diminished due to urbanization, resulting in more consistent temperatures.


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