One Extreme – Hot and Humid:
By around March and early April, Japan begins to warm up quickly. Students arriving in Hikone during the summer and fall will find the climate hot and quite humid. Summer students should be prepared for very high temperatures and higher humidities. Late August through November is “typhoon season.”
The Other Extreme – Damp and Frigid:
The air dries out in October/November and Japan rivals the US for autumn color. Cold rains and occasional snow keep winter extremely moist. It is cold in the residence halls from mid-November to mid-March. Among the proposed solutions for coping with damp, penetrating cold, we recommend considering the following:
• Flannel pajamas
• 1 or 2 sweatshirts
• Long underwear
• For warm pants, try fleece pants, or heavy jeans
• For women: warm tights
• Several pair of warm, thick socks, i.e. rag-wool-type
• Warm waterproof jacket/coat
• Warm gloves, preferably waterproof, for bicycling
• A hat and/or scarf for windy days
• Turtleneck shirts to layer under other clothes
• Warm crew neck sweaters
• Warm waterproof boots
• Sturdy water-resistant walking/hiking shoes that fit over thick socks
• Flannel sheets for twin size beds
Although the temperature extremes in Hikone are much more moderate than those of the Midwest, you will be more vulnerable to the weather. The high cost of energy makes it prohibitive to maintain a year-round constant indoor temperature. Note: there is no central heating or cooling in the Center residence hall, nor is there any insulation. This is common in most buildings in Japan. In JCMU classrooms and apartments, expect air- conditioned temperatures to be no cooler than about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and heated interiors to be no warmer than 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In practical terms, this means that you will need clothing for a range of climatic conditions; do not expect to make it through the winter with T-shirts and jeans. During the late spring, summer and early fall months, make sure you bring light clothing that breathes well. The principal means of transportation in Hikone is the bicycle. It might be a good idea to bring a water bottle with you in the warmer months and when the weather gets cooler a rain parka and warm gloves for riding your bicycle in the rain is a must.
Another factor to keep in mind as you plan your wardrobe is the laundry facility at the Center. The Laundry Room is equipped with washing machines, which use cold water only, and are free of charge. There are also clothes dryers, but they have limited capacity and produce limited heat. The advantage of low heat is that clothes are not as prone to shrinking; the disadvantage is that it can take multiple drying cycles to dry thicker items like jeans. Most students hang their laundry to dry in the “drying room.” In humid weather, it can take days for heavy jeans or sheets to thoroughly dry. One solution is to choose clothing made of synthetic fabrics, or blends, rather than all natural fibers such as cotton or wool, and to choose lightweight clothing, which can be layered, rather than heavy garments and thick fabrics. Note: Due to the fact that autumn in Japan can be warm, humid, and rainy, mildew can be a problem especially with clothes. It is recommended to purchase some desiccants for your closet and drawers. These can be purchased at many stores and will help remove the moisture in your clothes.
Rain gear is an essential for any time of the year; ideally, it should allow adequate protection when riding a bicycle. Rain gear can be found in Japan at reasonable prices. Umbrellas are essential, too, and you can find them at any price in Japan. It is suggested that you bring a folding umbrella and rain gear.
For quick, easy access to weather information about Hikone and Shiga prefecture please refer to these English websites which provide temperatures in both Farenheit and Celcius: