What Is January in Japan Like? Enjoy Fukubukuro and Hatsumode!

Here we present some basic information about January in Japan such as official holidays, weather, and climate. Also, check out events and shopping information including Hatsumode, Hatsuhinode, Hatsuuri, and Fukubukuro. In Japan, you can only enjoy these in January.

In Japan, January is all about getting excited for a gorgeous New Year celebration! There are no flashy New Year events in Japan because Japanese people usually celebrate New Years at home. However, there are many fun events like “Hatsumode” (visiting a shrine on New Year’s Day), “Fukubukuro” (mystery bags sold at department stores), and “Hatsuhinode” (watching the first sunrise of the year). If you plan on traveling to Japan in January, please check them out!

January Holidays in Japan

Japan’s official holidays in January are the following two days:

Date Name and Remarks
January 1st New Year’s Day
Day to celebrate the new year.
The second Monday of January Coming-of-Age Day
Day that young people celebrate becoming an adult.

When it comes to New Year, January 1st is the only official holiday, but many Japanese companies and restaurants are closed until January 3rd, so please be careful. Actually, because many people go back home for the New Year, it might be a unique experience to enjoy a Tokyo that is less crowded than usual. (lol)

Most businesses go back to normal hours after January 4th.

On Coming-of-Age Day, you will see lots of young people wearing formal kimono called “furisode” or “hakama”. They are attending “Seijin-shiki,” a public ceremony for those who become 20 that year.

January climate in Japan (weather, temperature, fashion etc.)

Average Highest Lowest
Hokkaido(Sapporo) -3.6℃ -0.6℃ -7.0℃
Tokyo 5.2℃ 9.6℃ 0.9℃
Nagoya 4.5℃ 9.0℃ 0.8℃
Kyoto 4.6℃ 8.9℃ 1.2℃
Osaka 6.0℃ 9.5℃ 2.8℃
Hiroshima 5.2℃ 9.7℃ 1.7℃
Fukuoka 6.6℃ 9.9℃ 3.5℃
Okinawa(Naha) 17.0℃ 19.5℃ 14.6℃

In Japan, it is winter in January. How cold it gets depends on the area, but it snows a lot in Hokkaido and Tohoku, the Northern area of Japan. Especially in Sapporo, Hokkaido, you might see the sidewalks covered with hardened snow or walls made entirely of snow.

If you are from a country that is not familiar with snow, you might be surprised.

It almost never snows in Tokyo or cities south of Tokyo, like Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. However, there are times it suddenly snows once or twice a year, so trains may stop running in urban areas that are not used to snow.

Like we mentioned above, it is very cold in January, so it is necessary to wear warm clothes. Even in Tokyo, it gets very cold when the wind rushes through the buildings. You need at least a coat, scarf, and boots.

People who go to colder areas like Hokkaido may need to prepare down jackets that are good for snow, thick socks to walk on the snowy roads, and boots.

Japan’s January festivals and events

“Hatsumode”: Visiting shrines and temples for New Year prayers

As is common in same Buddist countries like China and Taiwan, many Japanese people line up at shrines and temples on December 31st, the day before New Years Day. They pray and get their fortunes predcited for the New Year. At this time, Japanese people refresh their minds by thanking each other for the past year, making New Year’s resolutions, and praying that the new year will be a good one…

At “hatsumode”, there are many street foods, so you can buy drinks or full meals. This creates a festival-like atmosphere.

Popular “hatsumode” destinations are Meiji-jingu in Tokyo, Naritasan-shinshoji in Chiba, Fushimiinari-jinja in Kyoto, Sumiyoshi-taisha in Osaka and so on.

“Hatsuhinode”: Celebrating the first dawn of the new year

In Japan, the sunrise on January 1st is considered as a very special thing, which comes only once a year. Just like “hatsumode”, it is an event where people refresh their minds, saying their wishes aloud or praying for their goals for the year.

People watch “hatsuhinode” from various mountains, hills, seashores, and lakefronts. Mt. Fuji is especially popular, and it gets very crowded every year.

高尾山 迎光祭の準備中 / fukapon

Shopping information on January in Japan

January is one of the seasons that you can find best deals in Japan. Every department store or shopping mall does a sale called “hatsuuri” (New Year sale), so it gets very exciting.

Many stores have sales from January 1st to 3rd, and you can buy things at 20 to 50% off. (the sale may continue until the first half of the month depending on the store)

Photo credit: misawakatsutoshi via Visual hunt / CC BY

The most important thing about New Year shopping in Japan, and one thing Japanese women wait for, is the sale of “fukubukuro” (mystery bag)!

This “fukubukuro” is filled with clothing, general goods, and accessories, and the price is 5000 to 10000 yen. Although you don’t know what’s in it until you open it, the contents could be 20000 to 30000 yen, which is such a good deal.

Photo credit: Danny Choo via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

Recently, there are many “fukubukuro” that contain electronics and general goods, not just fashion items.

At Mujirushi Ryohin, a product called “fukubukuro that you can see inside” is very popular! It seems like there are people who make an online reservation or line up in the morning on January 1st for it.

We explain more about fukubukuro in a different article, so please check it out!

How was it? Like the rest of the world, January is a little special and an exciting season for Japanese people. Make sure to check the holidays and climate in advance, and enjoy the special events like “hatsumode”, “hatsuhinode”, and “hatsuuri”!

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Written by KiKOU_official

This is KiKOU's official account. We'll provide a lot of articles about Japan.