All About Japan

Mother Nature Strikes Tokyo Skies

Rainy Days Summer Tokyo Kanto

If you’ve been reading the news recently, you’ll know that Japan is no stranger to extreme and sudden changes dealt out by Mother Nature. However, while residents are often bracing themselves against earthquakes and typhoons, one thing that’s surprisingly less frequent in Japan are big, fearsome thunderstorms.

So when a large storm front rolled in towards the nation’s capital on August 27, 2018, people couldn’t be entirely sure of what to expect, but many had their cameras at the ready to record the evening’s events. It turned out to be one of the biggest electrical storms to hit Tokyo in years, and residents recorded some eyebrow-raising scenes around the city.

The lightning bolts were so close for some that even the view from indoors was frightening.

Children in Japan are taught to cover their belly buttons during a storm so the god of thunder doesn’t snatch it away.

This photographer was game enough to snap some incredible photos from a high vantage point, but he was careful to point out that when the vertical Cumulonimbus clouds, referred to as “thunderheads” during a storm, start to get closer, it’s time to pack away the camera and head indoors.

With this much energy in a single lightning bolt, storms might be beautiful to capture on film, but they’re also incredibly dangerous.

According to Franklin Japan, who specialize in providing accurate and up-to-date lightning information, 1,246 lightning bolts were recorded within a 50-kilometer (31.1-mile) radius of Tokyo Station in the space of ten minutes at 8:09 p.m.

Visitors at Tokyo Disneyland, in neighboring Chiba Prefecture, witnessed some frightening bolts of lightning close to Cinderella’s Castle.

And along with the incessant lightning came torrential downpours, which created pools of water at some of Tokyo’s busiest areas between the hours of roughly 8-9 p.m.

The stairs at Mizonokuchi Station looked more like a water feature.

Meguro River turned into a rushing torrent of water as the sudden squalls, known as “guerilla rains,” in Japan, caused the water to rise four meters over the space of 30 minutes.

The river overflowed in some areas.

This pictogram shows just how quickly Meguro River filled with water, peaking at 430 centimeters at 8:40 p.m.

The city sent out alerts online and sounded warning sirens in the vicinity to warn people to be vigilant as there was a possibility that the river could cause flooding.

Thankfully, the worst of the storm had passed by this stage, and the water level here and at other waterways around Tokyo gradually decreased. As a result of the freak storm, there were some slight transport delays and approximately 7,700 residences in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area lost power temporarily. Thankfully, however, there were no recorded casualties.

According to the meteorological bureau, more rain is expected for the Kanto region in the coming days, so be sure to take care if you’re in the area.

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