The Ultimate Japan Travel Guide: Climate and Winter Attractions



Attractions of Winter Travel to Japan

Japan in winter is an attractive destination with beautiful snowy landscapes and special events. In winter in Japan, cold regions such as Hokkaido and the Tohoku region are covered with snow and beautiful snowy landscapes. In addition, even in urban areas such as the Kanto and Chubu regions, visitors can enjoy a fantastic atmosphere as the cities are decorated with illuminations during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
One of the attractions of traveling to Japan in winter is its hot springs. Japan has many hot spring resorts, and in winter, visitors can soak in warm water and enjoy the snowy scenery. In particular, hot spring resorts in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region offer the unique atmosphere of a snowy country and a relaxing time.
Traveling to Japan in winter also allows visitors to enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. There are many ski resorts in Japan, offering a wide range of facilities that can be enjoyed by beginners and advanced skiers alike. The quality of the snow and the powdery conditions attract many skiers and snowboarders from all over the world.

Purpose and Summary of this Article

The purpose of this article is to serve as a guide for planning a trip to Japan for its winter climate. Traveling to Japan in winter offers many attractive elements, such as beautiful snowy landscapes, hot springs, and winter sports, but requires preparation in terms of climate and clothing.
This article details the attractions and ways to enjoy a winter trip to Japan. It also provides useful information on climate, clothing, transportation, and how to choose sightseeing spots for your actual travel plans.
This article will be a useful resource for those planning or interested in traveling to Japan in winter. We offer tips and advice on how to enjoy your winter trip to Japan more and help you create wonderful travel memories.

Winter Climate in Japan

General Characteristics of Winter Temperatures and Weather

Winter weather in Japan varies widely from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Generally, the winter season is from December to February, but in some areas, winter may last from November to March.
It is not uncommon for winter temperatures to fall below freezing in northern regions. Hokkaido and the Tohoku region experience particularly severe cold. On the other hand, southern regions are relatively mild, with temperatures in Okinawa sometimes exceeding 20 degrees Celsius in winter. Average temperatures in Tokyo from December to February range from a high of 10 to 12 degrees Celsius and a low of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius.
Winter weather in general tends to be dry. Especially in inland areas, dry and cold weather dominates. However, snowfall and rainfall are common along the coast and in mountainous areas. Especially on the Sea of Japan side, large amounts of snowfall can occur during the winter season, and winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are popular.

Seasonal Changes in Winter in Japan

Seasonal changes in winter in Japan vary from region to region. In the northern regions, the first snow begins to fall in November, and full-blown winter arrives between December and February. This is when winter is at its most attractive, especially in the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions.
In the Chubu and Kanto regions, the weather gets colder from December to February, with occasional snowfall. Ski resorts, especially in the mountainous regions, are crowded. On the other hand, western Japan and Okinawa enjoy relatively mild weather in winter, with occasional cold waves.

Climate Factors Influencing How to Spend Winter in Japan

Climatic factors can greatly affect how you spend your winter in Japan. Winter sports are popular in areas affected by cold and snowfall. Skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed especially in Tomamu in Hokkaido and Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture.
Onsen (hot spring) resorts are also popular tourist attractions in Japan in winter. In contrast to the cold temperatures outside, a soak in a warm onsen is a relaxing experience. There are many beautiful hot spring resorts, especially in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region. Noboribetsu and Lake Toya are famous in Hokkaido, and Zao Onsen and Ginzan Onsen in the Tohoku region.
Furthermore, in winter, Japan holds grand Christmas and New Year’s events. Especially in urban areas, illumination and countdown events attract many people.
The climate in Japan in winter varies from region to region, but there are many ways to enjoy the cold and snowfall, such as winter sports, hot spring resorts, and events. When planning a winter trip, it is important to consider the climate of your destination and enjoy activities and events accordingly.

Planning a Winter Trip to Japan

Setting a Travel Objective and Budget

When planning a winter trip to Japan, it is important to first establish your travel objectives and budget. Japan offers four distinct seasons and a variety of activities and events during the winter months. Examples include skiing, snowboarding, visiting hot springs, and Christmas markets. It is important to decide which areas to visit and the length of your stay according to the purpose of your trip.
You must also consider your budget. Japan offers a wide variety of tourist attractions and accommodations, and there are options to suit every budget. By setting your budget in advance and choosing your itinerary and accommodations accordingly, you can plan your trip in a reasonable manner.

Choosing the Best Time of Year for Winter Travel in Japan

Winter in Japan is coldest from December to February, with snow falling in many areas. When planning a winter trip, it is important to choose the best time of year, taking climate into consideration.
If you want to enjoy skiing or snowboarding, the best time to visit is from December to February. Some ski resort areas, such as Hokkaido and Nagano, have heavy snowfall, so it is recommended that you check snow conditions and lift operating periods before planning your trip.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy visiting hot springs and sightseeing in cities, the Christmas and New Year’s seasons from December to January are recommended. In Japan, Christmas and New Year’s holidays are full of illuminations and events, and the atmosphere is especially festive in large cities.

Determining the Length of Winter Trips in Japan

The length of a winter trip in Japan depends on the purpose of your trip, your budget, and your schedule. Generally speaking, a stay of a few days to a week is typical for skiing and snowboarding. In ski resort areas, it is important to determine the length of stay according to your budget, as lift tickets and accommodations are also expensive.
If you enjoy visiting hot springs and sightseeing in cities, you can enjoy a fulfilling trip even if you stay only a few days to a week. Since Japan’s hot spring resorts and tourist destinations offer convenient transportation and the opportunity to enjoy sights and gourmet cuisine, it is important to plan your stay according to your own schedule and interests when setting the length of your stay.

Packing List and Essentials List

When traveling to Japan in winter, it is important to create a packing list and a list of essentials to prepare for the cold weather. Below is a list of common items, but research and create your list in advance, as what you will need will vary depending on the purpose of your trip and the region you will be traveling to.

  • Warm clothing: A heavy coat, scarf, gloves, hat, and other warm clothing are essential. Especially if you enjoy skiing or snowboarding, you will also need warm clothing and waterproof gloves.
  • Moisturizing products: The dry air and cold of winter can easily dry out skin, so don’t forget to bring moisturizing products such as moisturizing cream and lip balm.
  • Shoes: Waterproof snow boots and waterproof spray are necessary in snowy areas. Also, if you plan to enjoy city sightseeing, prepare comfortable walking shoes.
  • Other essentials: Don’t forget to bring your camera, smartphone, charger, and travel insurance.

These are the sentences in the Table of Contents regarding planning a winter trip to Japan. Please enjoy a fulfilling winter trip to Japan, taking into consideration your travel objectives, budget, length of stay, and necessary items.

Winter Tourist Attractions in Japan

Hokkaido: Snow Festival and Beautiful Scenery

Hokkaido, one of the coldest regions in Japan, is a very popular winter tourist destination. In particular, the Snow Festival, held in February in the city of Sapporo, attracts many tourists from around the world. During this event, giant snow and ice sculptures are displayed and beautiful light displays are created. Various events and live performances are also held during the Snow Festival.
Hokkaido’s winter scenery is also not to be missed. In particular, there are many places where the beauty of nature unfolds, such as beautiful snowy landscapes and frozen lakes. For example, at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa City, visitors can see animals playing in the snow. You can also take a walk in the snow at nature reserves such as Shiretoko Peninsula and Sounkyo.

Tokyo: Illuminations and Winter Events

Tokyo is a city of many winter illuminations and events. In particular, some areas, such as the Tokyo Station area and Roppongi Hills, are beautifully illuminated, creating a fantastic atmosphere. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea also offer special events during the winter months.
Furthermore, there are many winter events in Tokyo. For example, countdown events and fireworks displays are held in various locations during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. These events are a great opportunity to experience Japanese winter culture.

Nagano: Winter Sports in Hakuba

Nagano Prefecture is one of the most famous winter sports destinations in Japan. In particular, Hakuba Village is known as a world-famous ski resort. Here you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding on beautiful snow-covered mountains and vast ski slopes. Hakuba Village also offers a wide variety of courses that can be enjoyed by both beginners and advanced skiers.
Furthermore, there are many other winter sports facilities in Nagano Prefecture. For example, skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed in Karuizawa and Shiga Kogen. There is also a winter-only skating rink in Nagano City, where you can also enjoy skating.

Hot Springs in Snow Country: Snow Viewing and Relaxation

There are many hot spring resorts in Japan, but snow-covered hot spring resorts are especially recommended during the winter season. Taking a yukimi-buro (snow-viewing bath) while gazing at the snow-covered landscape is a uniquely Japanese experience. Onsen resorts also offer the opportunity to relax after bathing in a hot spring. For example, in Noboribetsu and Lake Toya in Hokkaido and Zao in Yamagata Prefecture, visitors can enjoy hot spring baths while enjoying the beautiful snowy scenery.
In addition, hot spring resorts offer winter-only events. For example, snow festivals and candlelight nights are held in hot spring resorts in snow country. At these events, visitors can enjoy beautiful illuminations and snow sculptures.

These are just some of the winter tourist attractions in Japan. Japan in winter is an attractive place for tourists to visit, with beautiful scenery and events galore. We encourage you to include them in your winter travel plans.

Transportation and Getting Around in Japan in Winter

When planning a trip to Japan in winter, it is important to understand transportation and travel considerations. Below is a detailed explanation of transportation and travel considerations in winter in Japan.

Using Public Transportation

Public transportation is a convenient and safe way to get around in winter in Japan. Especially in urban areas, trains and buses run frequently and provide easy access to tourist destinations. In addition, Japan’s railroad network is very well developed, and JR and private railways can be used to travel to a wide range of areas.

Use of Expressways

If you plan to use a car, we recommend that you use the expressway. Expressways are well cleared of snow even in winter, and safe travel is possible. However, since expressways can be congested in winter, it is important to check traffic congestion information in advance and schedule your trip well in advance.

Long Holidays in Japan

Many people take a long vacation from December 29 to January 3 or so. Roads, of course, but trains, airplanes, hotels, and various events will be extremely crowded. We recommend making reservations early and scheduling well in advance.

Travel to Snow Country

If you plan to visit snowy areas, you will need to take precautions against snowy and icy roads. Be sure to drive safely by installing studless tires or chains and driving at appropriate speeds. It is also important to check the latest information on transportation delays and cancellations, which can occur in snowy areas.

Clothing and Winter Protection in Winter in Japan

In winter in Japan, you will need to dress for the cold and take warm clothing. Below is a detailed description of clothing and warm-up measures in winter in Japan.

Layered Clothing

In winter in Japan, the temperature varies widely, so layered clothing is recommended. Choose moisture-absorbent materials for the inner layer and warm-keeping materials for the middle layer. In addition, windproof and waterproof jackets and coats for outerwear will protect you from the cold.

Prepare warm-weather gear

When traveling to Japan in winter, do not forget to prepare warm clothing. Gloves, scarves, hats, ear protection, and other items to protect you from the cold are a good idea. Shoes and socks for protection against the cold are also important. Waterproof shoes and warm socks will help keep your feet warm.

Dining and Food Recommendations for Winter in Japan

When traveling to Japan in winter, it is also recommended to enjoy seasonal meals and food. Below are detailed recommendations for winter meals and foods in Japan.

Nabe Dishes

Nabe (hot pot) dishes are popular in winter in Japan. Typical nabe dishes include shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, and chanko-nabe. These nabe dishes are made by simmering vegetables, meat, and seafood together and are ideal for warming the body.

Hot Drinks

Hot drinks are also popular in winter in Japan. Hot sake is especially recommended. These drinks not only warm you up, but can also be enjoyed as a winter tradition.

Seasonal Foods

In winter in Japan, you can also enjoy seasonal foods. For example, nabe dishes and hot noodles are popular in cold regions. Oden is another dish that is unique to winter in Japan. Enjoying regional specialties and seasonal delicacies will make your trip even more memorable.

Key Points for Selecting and Booking Accommodations in Japan in Winter

When traveling to Japan in winter, it is also important to select and reserve accommodations. Below are detailed tips for choosing and booking accommodations in Japan in winter.

Use of Onsen (hot spring) accommodations

Onsen (hot spring) accommodations are recommended for winter travel to Japan. Taking a bath in an onsen not only warms you up, but also relieves fatigue. In addition, you can enjoy the snowy scenery in the hot spring resort, allowing you to relax and enjoy the winter scenery.

Accommodation Facilities and Access

Accommodation facilities and accessibility are also important points to consider when traveling to Japan in winter. Especially in winter, transportation may be delayed or cancelled due to weather, so it is important to choose accommodations with good accessibility.

Early Reservations

For winter travel to Japan, we recommend making reservations for accommodations as early as possible. In particular, popular hot spring resorts and ski resorts can be very busy, so be sure to make reservations early. It is also a good idea to confirm cancellation policies and rate plans when making reservations.


Traveling to Japan in winter offers many attractions, including beautiful snowy landscapes, hot springs, and various winter events. Snowy landscapes are like paintings, and are a unique feature of winter in Japan. Onsen (hot spring) resorts are also a great place to forget the cold while soaking in warm water. Furthermore, various events are held in winter, such as snow festivals and illumination. To savor these attractions, a trip to Japan in winter is highly recommended.
Please refer to this article to create a travel plan that suits you best. Traveling to Japan in winter will be a wonderful experience where you will encounter beautiful scenery and warm hospitality.

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