Visiting Japan in Winter 2019-2020: A Survival Guide

Best known for its sakura blooms in the spring and red maple leaves in the fall, Japan is not exactly a top-of-mind destination for winter holiday-goers. But that makes it all the more worth-visiting during the cold snowy months! 

With the breathtaking snow-covered scenery and some of the top destinations in the continent for winter sports, it’s not so far-fetched to make the case for winter as the best time to visit Japan.



What Is Japan Like In Winter?

While autumn in the country bleeds into the last month of the year, Japan’s weather begins turning frosty in mid-December. The Japan temperature commonly drops below freezing in January and stays that way until early March. If you’re keen on relaxing in blissfully serene winter, book your Japan tours during these months. 

It snows in many tourist spots in Japan, but snowfall is particularly heavy in Hokuriku, Tohoku, and Hokkaido. Picturesque villages are blanketed in snow, while powdery slopes turn into the ideal playground for thrill-seeking athletes. While snow monkeys live in the region all-year-round, it’s especially excellent to see them emerge and play in the snow. 

On the other hand, Japan’s Pacific side does not see a lot of snowy days, even during this season. If you would rather not deal with freezing weather, this could be the perfect region to explore in wintertime.



Tips For Winter Season In Japan

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Travelers from tropical countries will find it tougher to adjust to the freezing temperatures, but there are a few ways to feel a little warmer in Japan during winter. Heat packs are a popular tourist hack especially on cold days. Simply stuff them into your pockets and reach inside any time you need to warm your hands.

Figuring out what to wear for a winter trip is also tricky for those who are unused to extreme cold. Don’t forget to pack thermal underwear, an insulated jacket, gloves, and lots of layers, including wool sweaters, fleece-lined leggings, and thick socks. Non-slip boots that are specially designed for snow are useful to avoid accidents while sightseeing. Wear sunglasses to avoid the UV rays, which reflect off the snow and is stronger in freezing places. 

A lot of basic outfit choices would depend on a traveler’s itinerary, though. Where are you planning to go and what are you planning to do? Japan offers an endless array of options on where to go and what to do…



Hit The Slopes

MIKI Yoshihito via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Winter in Japan presents the opportunity to engage in a range of exciting winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, and other cold-weather sports. While warm-weather tourists opt out of traveling to Japan during the colder months, extreme athletes have long frequented places like Hakuba, Niseko, and Yuzawa for their amazing ski resorts. 

There are also a number of ski resorts that are near Tokyo, such as the Snowtown Yeti, a ski resort nestled on the iconic Mt. Fuji.



Soak In A Blissfully Hot Onsen

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Prefer spas to sports? Enjoying an onsen or Japanese hot spring is the ultimate spa experience in the country, especially during winter. There’s no more magical way to experience an outdoor onsen than on a snowy day surrounded by nature and snowflakes falling gently around you. Thousands of onsens are scattered across the country, including in Hokkaido. 



Visit Shirakawago Village

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Shirakawago Village is a must-see tourist spot in Japan, a picturesque village consisting of traditional thatched houses. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is especially pretty during wintertime when snow covers the rustic homes and expansive landscape. Light-up events take place for several days every winter. Make sure you reserve a ticket if you want to attend.



Drop By A Japanese Snow Festival

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Celebrate the arrival of the falling snow with locals and fellow tourists in one of Japan’s many snow festivals. The most famous winter festival in Japan is the Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Every year, it attracts about 2 million tourists who delight over the giant ice sculptures all over the city. 

A few other snow festivals in Japan include Aomori Yukiakari Matsuri, Yokote Kamakura Festival, and Zao Snow Monster Festival. 


Rain or shine, or snow or sleet, stay connected throughout your travels in Japan with your own unlimited 4G Portable Wi-Fi Rental.



*Featured imageby swissbanana via Pixabay