Japan is a beautiful country with stunning scenery and amazing architecture that attracts millions of tourists every year.
Japan is known for its clearly defined seasons and its varying climate, and whilst both the cherry blossom season during spring and the warm summer are extremely popular times to visit Japan, some people prefer to visit during the cold, crisp, winter months.
So if you’re planning a visit to Japan and are considering a visit during the winter, here is a guide to help you prepare for your visit!
How Long Is Winter In Japan?
The lengths of winters across the world often vary, with some places having incredibly short winters, and some places having longer winters. A typical Japanese winter lasts from December to February, so relatively similar to most western climates.
In terms of the weather, Japan’s weather tends to remain fairly mild throughout the winter, in the cities, rainfall is minimal and snow is rare, and the air is often dry – as the average humidity is around 30%.
So despite the low temperatures, the days are often dry and sunny, making it the perfect time to explore the sprawling concrete jungles.
What Is the Coldest Month In Japan?
There is nothing worse than planning a visit and it turns out you’ve ended up visiting at the coldest time possible. Thankfully, Japan’s winters are relatively mild, so you shouldn’t worry too much about being overly cold throughout your visit.
The coldest month in Japan is January, with an average temperature of 5°C (41°F). However, it is important to remember that if you’re visiting the more northern parts of Japan, or anywhere on the coastline, that the temperature will reach just below freezing!
So as long as you prepare for the cold, and are dressed appropriately, then there shouldn’t be a problem with the temperature!
When And Where Does It Snow In Japan?
Snowfall in a lot of Japan is rare, but most commonly occurs in the mountains and in the North of the country, with the peak of the snowfall happening during February.
Japan’s more mountainous regions do receive rather heavy downfalls of snow during the winter months however, with winter resorts being located in Hokkaido, Tohuko, and the Japanese Alps.
So if you’re wanting a dedicated snow holiday it would be worthwhile to focus your search there. But as a general rule you probably won’t see snow during your visit, so don’t worry about the snow halting your plans!
Clothing For A Japanese Winter
Dressing for a Japanese winter is similar to dressing for any winter. Layering is always a good way to stay warm throughout the winter months, so you’ll certainly want to pack plenty of tops, jumpers, and a jacket if you’re aiming to explore at this time of year!
You should ensure that your jacket is well insulated also, as it’ll be of no use otherwise.
On windier days, hats, scarfs, gloves and earmuffs are all recommended to prevent the wind from affecting you too much, and the Japanese also like to make use of disposable Kairo – which are heat pads that can keep your hands and feet warm for roughly 8-12 hours.
These heat packs are available in most convenience stores, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them!
Things To Do In Japan In The Winter
For some countries, the best time to visit is during the summer months, mainly due to the fact that a lot of tourist industry shuts down throughout the winter time.
But in Japan, this won’t be a problem, you shouldn’t struggle to find plenty of attractions to visit and places to explore throughout your time here!
New Year’s Eve
From the start of December onwards, you’ll be able to feel the excitement and anticipation of the new year all around, and many shops in Japan begin stocking seasonal products to celebrate the new year coming in.
If you spend the turning of the new year in Japan, there are multiple options to celebrate, whether you join the crowds at a shrine or temple for a more traditional celebration, or join a countdown party in the more urban spaces in the cities!
Ultimately there is plenty on offer if new years is in your plans for your visit.
Being a rather mountainous country, Japan is perfect for people looking for a winter sports getaway, with some ski resorts located near Tokyo, whilst Hokkaido remains one of the top places to visit for winter sports activities.
So whether you prefer skiing, snowboarding, or skating, Japan should have plenty of options for you.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different, snow festivals are commonplace throughout the northern parts of Japan. All contain beautiful statues and sculptures made entirely of snow and ice, and are illuminated as it gets dark, providing you with an unbeatable view!
The snow festivals also have a lot of food stalls, making it the perfect chance to try some delicious and local cuisine!
Hot springs have always been a popular attraction for tourists in Japan, but is there anything better than taking a nice hot thermal bath to warm up on a cold winter’s day? Find a nice hot spring with great scenery to relax whilst taking in Japan’s crisp winter landscape.
The Blue Pond
Surrounded by dense forest near Biei, in the Hokkaido prefecture, the Blue Pond is a lagoon that was created due to excavations that were made to prevent mudslides after eruptions from Mount Takachi reaching the small town.
Its beautiful colour comes from the traces of chemicals found within, that make it a different shade of blue in each season. At night, the pond is illuminated by spotlights, and makes for wonderful viewing when surrounded by the winter snowfall.