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8 Winter Essentials That You Should Pack For Japan Trip

8 winter essentials for Japan trip Travel Guide

This winter travel packing list shows how to survive in Japan’s winter.

Due to global warming, the winter climates in Japan has been changing in recent years- warmer and less snow. Basically, Japan’s winter is cold except for southern islands such as Kyushu & Okinawa.

Yes, “SURVIVE”. So you don’t need to read this post if you are going to Kyushu and Okinawa islands, basically.

Due to global warming, the winter climates in Japan has been changing in recent years- warmer and less snow. Basically, Japan’s winter is cold except for southern islands such as Kyushu & Okinawa.

I am saying “COLD” means “Average temperature is below 10 ℃/ 50 F.” So if you are from a CANADA-cold area, most parts of the main islands are not so cold…

I have gone back to Nagoya, Japan in the winter season many times. I am not so a winter wimp and don’t like getting too hot inside a building, so I usually don’t bring a heavy winter coat. My winter essentials for the Nagoya area, thermal underwear, a light down jacket, fleece-lined leggings, and maybe heavy hoodies.

What I want to say is, you need to know what’s the winter like in your destination, the type of your itinerary, and how much you are a winter wimp.

So before talking about the winter essential list, I give you a quick guide to Japan’s winter.

Also, I am not talking about what to wear under the winter coat- I think it depends on your style so I don’t want to determine like you should wear a chunky knit sweater!

In these days, there are many fabrics that make you toasty outside of wool sweaters you know.

Japan’s Winter Guideline

  1. The winter season in Japan is from December to February
  2. Generally, February is the coldest month in Japan
  3. Hokkaido, Tohoku region, Hokuriku Region, highlands in Nagano and Gifu are known as cold areas
  4. The sea of Japan side gets colder than the Pacific side
  5. Okinawa and Amami Oshima islands are warm winters
  6. It gets icy and slippery in the cold area even in the city

Although it is not so bad cold in the daytime, it is cold in the morning and night. Besides, it is still cold all day in the popular cold areas.

We all have to think a bit more creatively when getting dressed for the morning and night.

Layers are a must but don’t forget the insides of buildings, subways and railways are very warm.

Just buy a compact light down jacket that you can easily adjust warmth. You can also wear it under a heavy coat when going to cold areas.

Also, winter Accessories such as gloves, scarves, ear-muffs, and heat-trapping hats provide warmth.

I recommend bringing thermal underwear, but it can be too hot depends on how much you are used to the cold weather.

Average TemperatureWinter Tips For Dressing By Temperature
Below 20℃A sweater, a hoodie,
a cotton jacket, a cardigan jacket
Below 12℃A windbreaker, a trench coat,
a light winter coat, a hoodie
Below 8℃A light down jacket,
a heavyweight hoodie,
a winter coat
Below 5℃A heavy winter coat
+ thermal inner wears
Below FreezingA heavy winter coat,
a thin lightweight down jacket,
+ thermal inner wears

Each person feels the heat and cold differently, so please use it as a guide.

A Heavy Winter Coat

woman, a heavy winter coat,

A heavy-duty winter coat is an obvious essential for cold areas such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, and mountain areas. During traveling in those areas, you may have to give up dressing up your warm layers!

There are many outside attractions for Japan’s winter trip,

Bring the best heavy winter coat from your closet-waterproof material, long enough to cover your waist and an attached hood.

When traveling to the mild winter areas, heavy-duty hoodies can be enough.

You know what? I didn’t wear a winter coat much while I lived in Nagoya- I always wore my husband’s heavy hoodies as a jacket.

A Light Down Jacket

a light down jacket, a woman, winter, snow

A Light down jacket is a true winter essential for travelers. It is incredibly warm and light.

Besides, it is perfect for a Japan trip because climates differ a lot depends on the regions even in the same prefecture.

If you travel to a cold area, it can be extra warm by wearing under a heavy-duty coat. And, if you travel to the warmer area, you can wear it as a winter jacket.

Pack a “packable down” so it will not bother you who like traveling light.

Thermal Underwears

a woman, mountain, sunlight, a wrap cardigan sweater, leggings,

Thanks God for this technology! Bring several thermal underwears to keep you warm even they are lightweight and thin which will not bother your packing!

Thermal underwear is a special type of underwear to keep you toasty, especially under cold weather, it becomes a lifesaver.

One of its benefits is that you can dress up even in the winter.

Particularly, you need to pack a pair of thermal underwear if you are from warm areas.

It is the option but why not get “Uniqlo Heattech” in Japan which you can get cheaper!

In my opinion, the Uniqlo Heattech series are the warmest underwear for me.

Silk Thermal Underwear

However, thermal underwear made of chemical fabric irritates your skin if you have severely dry skin or sensitive skin for chemical fabric.

If you have itchy skin or rashes all over your shoulders or back, you may be affected by those fabrics.

My husband has sensitive skin so he can’t wear those types of underwear. (He had rashes when wearing Uniqlo Heattech in Japan.)

Choose carefully thermal underwear- buy one made of 100% silk.

Fleece Lined Leggings

winter, snow, couple, woman and man, winter jacket

Fleece leggings are warm and easy-coordinate. I like fleece-lined denim-touch leggings for a stylish-finish. It’s not too casual so I can go to dinner or drink.

Winter Boots

Winter boots, a woman, snow, winter

Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Nagano, And Mountain Areas In Other Regions

When your destinations are to the cold and snowy areas such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Nagano, and mountains areas in Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, and some areas in Kyushu keep in your mind that high-quality heavy-duty winter boots.

  • Water-resistant
  • Cover up your ankles
  • Anti-slip
  • Fur Lined Inner

Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu Regions (Except For Some Areas)

fashion, women, denim pants, a knit sweater, a coffee mug, a coffee beans, winter casual boots

Roughly speaking, plains in Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu have cold winter but less snow, so no problem to bring casual or stylish winter boots.

Check the average temperatures of your destination in my other posts, and choose the right pair for you.

  1. Hokkaido
  2. Tohoku
  3. Kanto + Yamanashi
  4. Chubu (Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Nagano, Shizuoka)
  5. Hokuriku & Niigata
  6. Kinki/Kansai
  7. Chugoku
  8. Shikoku
  9. Kyushu

Winter Accessories

a woman, earmuffs, a winter coat, winter gloves, winter, snow

  1. Beanies
  2. A Winter Scarf
  3. A pair of gloves
  4. Earmuffs
  5. Merino wool socks
  6. Sunglasses

Beanies keep your head warm and add a stylish but cute touch! I always like one with a pom.

Bring a winter scarf that goes well with beanies. A pop color stands out in the snow, so it is not only cute but also helps your partner can find you easily!

Winter gloves are a must item in most parts of Japan, only except for Kyusyu and Okinawa islands.

Bring pairs of merino wool socks! You will walk a lot during traveling in Japan. They keep your feet toasty.

In the winter, the sun is up at a different angle than in the summer season, which actually can give you more exposure. Moreover, do you know how much damage you will get from snow reflection? Don’t forget to pack a pair of sunglasses.

Hand Warmers

A woman, winter, beanies, a winter scarf, a pair of winter gloves, smiling, mountains

Although you are covered with perfect winter outfits, your hand and foot will be freaking cold if you are standing below freezing for a long time.

If you are traveling to the cold areas, I highly recommend packing some disposal or battery-powered hand & foot warmers to keep them warms. Handwarmer is also handy to keep your smartphone alive.

Don’t worry if you forget them! In Japan, there are a variety of hand & foot warmers available in any kind of store.

Final Thoughts

The winter travel is always close to the maximum limit weight when packing winter clothes, isn’t it?!

Recently there are many light-weight but functional winter clothes, it may be better to bring those rather than a heavy duffle coat.

If you need more warm clothes IN Japan, run to UNIQLO!

I highly recommend “HEATTECH” series, they are very light, warm, and cheaper in Japan.

When you get ready to travel, where you want to visit first???

8 winter essentials for Japan trip

Read Next…

Packing smart is important preparation for your dream Japan trip, and also read this post thoughtfully to protect your itinerary. Japan is one of the snowy countries in the world, so you need to learn what you should care about snow.

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