In Japanese, the word for “hot” (as in hot weather) is atsui. But when there’s a day or night that’s really hot, there are actually official government terms for them.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (part of the the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), if the temperature rises above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), then it’s classified as a moshobi, or “ferocious heat day.” Meanwhile, if even the nighttime low is still above 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), then we’re having a nettaiya, or “tropical night.”
But what about when things get even hotter? The government’s terminology caps out at those 35/25-degree thresholds, so the Japan Weather Association, a non-government meteorological association, took it upon itself to come up with new terms through a poll of 140 of the organization’s members.
After tallying the responses, the association has dubbed days with a high temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius kokushobi, or “cruel heat days.”
And for those nights that go beyond nettaiya? Here the Japan Weather Association decided to keep things descriptive and simple, with the survey deciding that if the overnight low never dips below 30 Celsius, then it’s a chounettaiya, or “super tropical night.”
Thankfully, neither kokushobi nor chounettaiya are all that common in Japan. Since the start of modern record keeping in 1875, there have only been 67 recorded incidences of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, observed at a total of 32 locations, mostly in the Kanto and Tokai regions of east and central-east Japan. Super tropical nights are even rarer, having been observed only 15 times in 11 locations, almost all of them in the Hokuriku region which runs along the north-facing coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu (Niigata Prefecture has had seven recorded chounettaiya, and no other prefecture more than two).
However, records show only eight kokushobi occurrences prior to the year 2000, with 40 occurring since 2018 and the most recent in June of this year. We may end up seeing another before the summer ends, and the Japan Weather Association is cautioning everyone to be aware of the temperature and take adequate measures to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.
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