Get To Know WINTER In Japan Before You Come!

In this article, we introduce winter in Japan! Weather, temperature, proper attire, activities etc… Be ready for your visit in this cold-but-fun season!

Planning to visit Japan in the winter? Sure our winters are cold, but you can still enjoy a lot! Some of you enjoy winter sports such as skiing or snowboading, while others adore the beautiful views… Don’t forget Santa Claus comes around this time and we welcome the New Year to come… Cold temperature doesn’t stop you from exploring, does it? Here is some useful information for you!

We consider winter to be from December to February. Please refer to the below links to see details of events during the season.

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

What is December like in Japan? Let’s see how Japanese spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Climate And Proper Attire In Winter

The temperature drops quickly in the beginning of December. The humidity gets low as well, so moisturizer becomes an absolute necessity! Dryness may cause you to catch a cold, so please be careful!

Surgical Masks

You will be surprised and feel weird that many people in Japan wear surgical masks during the winter. It’s just as much for the wearer as it is for the people surrounding him/her. Masks prevent one from spreading the virus he/she may have in his/her system to others, and protects the wearer from the virus that others may have. Also, donning a mask to cover your mouth protects your throat from winter dryness. It’s an everyday part of life for those brought up in Japan.

Snow in Japan

Southern parts of Japan, including in Tokyo or Osaka, don’t get much snow, but in northern parts of Japan such as the Tohoku and Hokkaido regions, snow starts in December or even as early as October in the northernmost regions. If you visit northern parts of Japan, you should bring snow boots in your luggage.

Most places get below 5℃ (41℉) in January and February, so please put an extra shirt/sweater on or at least bring a thick jacket to be ready!

Average Temperature

December January February
Hokkaido(Sapporo) -0.9℃ (30℉) -3.6℃ (26℉) -3.1℃ (26℉)
Tokyo 7.6℃ (46℉) 5.2℃ (41℉) 5.7℃ (42℉)
Nagoya 7℃ (45℉) 4.5℃ (40℉) 5.2℃ (42℉)
Kyoto 7℃ (45℉) 4.6℃ (40℉) 5.1℃ (41℉)
Osaka 8.6℃ (48℉) 6.0℃ (43℉) 6.3℃ (43℉)
Hiroshima 7.5℃ (46℉) 5.2℃ (41℉) 6.0℃ (43℉)
Fukuoka 8.9℃ (48℉) 6.6℃ (44℉) 7.4℃ (45℉)
Okinawa(Naha) 18.7℃ (66℉) 17.0℃ (63℉) 17.0℃ (63℉)

Holidays In Winter

Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but there are some holidays in the season!

Date Name and Remarks
23rd of December Tenno-Tanjobi (The Emperor’s Birthday)
To celebrate the reigning Emperor’s birthday, the Imperial Palace is opened to the public on this day and many people celebrate with him, the Empress, and other imperial family members.
28th ~31st of December End of the year holidays
This period isn’t a national holiday, but many companies and shops are closed. Especially, on the final day of the old year called "大晦日(Omisoka)”, almost Japanese people will spend with their family.
1st of January Ganjitsu (A New Year’s Day)
New Year’s Day
Second Monday In January Seijin No Hi (Coming Of Age Day)
Set aside to congratulate and encourage young people who reached age of 20. Ceremonies are held in prefectual/city/town offices.
11th of February Kenkoku Kinenbi (National Foundation Day)
To celebrate the foundation of Japan and the accession of the first Emperor (Emperor Jinmu).

Sightseeing In Winter

1) Winter Landscape

Like mentioned above, snow appears only in northern parts of Japan on the street, but if you look at the mountains, you will see them covered in beautiful white snow. If weather allows, you have a chance to see snowy Mt. Fuji, the famous Japanese mountain in Japan, from the Tokyo area.

There is a slim chance to see snow in Tokyo or Kyoto, the famous sightseeing areas, but if you see it, the landscape can be unbelievable! Kinkakuji Temple in snow must be spectacular!

2) Winter Sports

Northern Japan is known for its snow and winter sports! Hokkaido, Nagano, Niigata, and many other places are the havens for winter sports lovers! Most places have ski or snowboard rental services, so no worries if you don’t plan on bringing gear with you.

3) Onsen (Hot Spring)

Sadly, we haven’t had Baymax in the real world yet as of 2015, so when your body is cold, what would you do to make it warm? Hot spring here we come! Major cities like Tokyo or Osaka have them, but rural areas have hot springs with fantastic and nostalgic atmospheres. Ryokan, the Japanese traditional hotels are usually available in these areas as well. Take some time to rest there and keep yourself warm!

If you are looking for somewhere close to Tokyo area, Kusatsu-Onsen or Ikaho-Onsen are some of your best options! Some hot springs are located by ski slopes, so playing hard in order to get warmed up after is a good idea!

4) Snow Festival

Snow festivals are held in places. The most famous snow festival in Japan is definitely the Sapporo Snow Festival. Fancy statues made of snow and ice welcome you!

Other festivals may also get your interest! Please refer below for events in each month. Hope you enjoy winter in Japan!

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

What is December like in Japan? Let’s see how Japanese spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve

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Written by KiKOU_official

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