As I sit here being beat up by Typhoon Noru (along with most of the rest of Japan), I am reminded of the importance of being prepared for typhoons from August through October--something that most travelers don't really consider when coming through. I suppose most just hope that the weather will cooperate, but as the saying goes, "Hope is not a strategy."
Since typhoon season is upon us (quite literally right now), I wanted to offer you, the readers, some 5 tips and tricks for beating typhoon season in Japan. So without further ado...
1) Plan to travel by train
Trains are the most reliable form of transportation during typhoon season. Flights will be cancelled, roads will get dangerous to traverse, but the trains will be the last things to stop running--the Shinkansen, especially. So when you're building your itinerary, look to acquire a Japan Rail Pass or build in transportation by trains once you arrive in country.
2) Stay up-to-date with typhoon conditions
I recommend downloading the NHK World Live App on your smart phone or tablet. You can of course use weather.com or other online resources, but NHK World offers on-the-hour news updates (including weather) in English. This is especially handy since typhoon patterns can change rapidly.
3) Have plenty of indoor events planned
Most museums and indoor facilities will remain during typhoons (since the trains generally keep running). As such, it is helpful to have a healthy amount of indoor activities planned so that you can work around shifting weather conditions.
4) Keep your hotel fridge stocked with basic necessities
When the weather's nice, a five minute walk to the convenience store is a small to price to pay to make sure that you have a few provisions waiting for you in your room in case the weather turns nasty. Of course, your alternative to this is to book in half- or full-board meals with your hotel booking, so you can simply enjoy the food at the hotel or ryokan.
5) Build flexibility into your travel plans
Try not to jam pack your itinerary full of plans, especially ticketed plans during this time. The fact of the matter is that you may have to swap days around--using you lounge day as a travel day or vice versa to maximize your time. Having the built-in flexibility will save you stress and possibly money. Most places in Japan do not provide refunds for weather cancellations; rather they'll give you a one-for-one swap for a future engagement, which may not be practical for travelers. In any case, maintaining flexibility will be key to ensuring you have the best trip possible.
So there you have it...
...some tips and tricks to make sure that you make the most of your trip in spite of typhoon season. One last tip before I go, don't let the typhoon rain on your parade (figuratively, of course, since you may get soaked from time to time). If you plan ahead, you'll be able to enjoy Japan quite nicely in spite of the weather. So pack an umbrella, plan accordingly, and have a great trip!
(cover photo courtesy of Flickr user GSFC)