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Tohoku Winter Travel Guide; Basic Ideas Of Temperatures, Outfits

Tohoku Winter Guide Travel Guide

Tohoku Region is the northern region of the main island aka Honsyu in Japan, (Other regions in Honshu is Kanto, Chubu, Hokuriku, Kinki, Sanin), well-known for several traditional festivals and great countryside nature.

Tohoku region contains the six prefectures of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, and Fukushima, has many attractions in each region, and attracts many visitors due to their unique culture even for the Japanese.

Although I talk about Tohoku region as one of the cold areas in Japan here, however because of the geography, the climate is very tricky that you need to know before traveling to Tohoku region in the winter season.

Therefore, I would like to tell you the essentials of Tohoku trip in winter to spend comfortably.

What To Know About Geography

Tohoku Region, Japan, Map

Tohoku Region is bordered to the west by the Sea of Japan and to the east by the Pacific Ocean.

Not only in Hokkaido but also winter in the Tohoku region is known in extremely cold regions.

Moreover, the sea of Japan side gets colder than the Pacific side, and also the climate is different on both sides which Ou Mountains (running north-south) considered as the center.

Akita and Yamagata prefectures on the Sea of ​​Japan side get less sunlight and the climate is greatly affected by the monsoon. It gets heavy snowfall and the cold is severe.

On the other hand, on the Pacific side such as Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima prefectures, have less snowfall than the Sea of ​​Japan side and more clear days.

  1. The sea of Japan side gets colder than the Pacific side
  2. Climates differ on both sides which Ou Mountains (running north-south) considered as the center
  3. On the sea of Japan side, it is very cold, lots of snow, less sunlight and mostly overcast.
  4. On the Pacific side, it rarely snows cold (colder than Tokyo area), mostly sunny days.

The Average Temperatures In Tohoku Region

Here are tables shows the average temperatures (Not the lowest) in popular sightseeing spots in each prefecture in Tohoku region.

Sendai City, Miyagi

December (℃)JanuaryFebruary

Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture


Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture

December (℃)JanuaryFebruary

Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture

December (℃)JanuaryFebruary

Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture

December (℃)JanuaryFebruary

Comparing With Tokyo

December (℃)JanuaryFebruary

Snow In Tohoku Region

It is true that Tohoku region is colder and severe snow compared with the Tokyo area, but as I said, the climate differs depends on the geography.

Snowy Areas Selected As “Heavy Snowfall Region” in Japan

  1. Inand of Aomori Prefecture
  2. East Of Akita Prefecture
  3. Yamagata Prefecture
What’s “Heavy snowfall region”???

A heavy snowfall area refers literally to an area with a large amount of snow in winter which listed based on the Act on Special Measures Concerning Heavy Snowfall Areas under the Japanese legal system.

The Law on Special Measures for Heavy Snowfall Areas is Japanese law. It stipulates comprehensive measures for improving standard conditions by controlling snow damage in heavy snowfall areas. Designation of heavy snowfall areas and special heavy snowfall areas, the establishment of a basic plan for measures against heavy snowfall areas, and implementation of projects are stipulated.

Inland Of Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki castle lantern festival, Aomori, Tohoku, Winter, Japan

Aomori Prefecture is listed as a heavy snowfall area in Japan, especially the areas with the most snow are areas such as Aomori City, Kuroishi City, and Goshogawara City along the Ou Mountains.

East Of Akita Prefecture

Yokote Snow Festival, Akita, Japan, Winter

In Akita Prefecture, certain areas of Yokote City and Semboku City, which has Lake Tazawa, are listed as special heavy snowfall areas. If you want to experience the winter’s unique snow festivals, check out “The Yokote Kamakura Festival” in Yokote city, which is held as one of the five Michinoku (aka Tohoku region) winter festivals.

Yamagata Prefecture

Ginzan Onsen, Hotsprings, Yamagata, Japan, winter

Yamagata Prefecture on the Sea of ​​Japan side is listed as a “special heavy snowfall area”. Particularly, Mogami District, Nishimurayama District, and Obanazawa City are known to a severe heavy snowfall.

Famous Ginzan Onsen in Obanazawa, you can enjoy a spectacular snowy landscape illuminated by gas lights.

Less Snow Areas In Tohoku Region

Of the six prefectures in Tohoku, only two prefectures, Miyagi and Fukushima, are not listed as “Special heavy snowfall areas”.

Miyagi Prefecture

Sendai, pageant starlight, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan, Winter festival, illumination

Miyagi prefecture is located on the Pacific side and also Ou Mountains clock the cold air mass flew from the sea of Japan, it rarely snows.

In December, a winter illumination festival called “SENDAI Pageant of Starlight” attracts many visitors.

Yet, it is colder than Tokyo areas and other western Japan, so prepare winter outfits.

Fukushima Prefecture

Aizu Decorative Candle Festival, Aizu, Fukushima, Japan, Winter

Fukushima Prefecture is located on the prefectural border with Ibaraki Prefecture (North of Kanto Region), is rarely snow in winter.

However, the Aizu area is a listed as heavy snowfall area. The temperature is similar to Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of ​​Japan side. So locals check the weather forecast of Niigata prefecture rather than the whole area in Fukushima. It often is below freezing, so you need to prepare a heavy winter outfit for the Aizu area, Fukushima.

Check Out What To See In Tohoku Region

What To Wear For Traveling Tohoku Region In Winter Season

Not like talking about winter essentials for Hokkaido, now you know that it is a little tricky to talk about winter essentials for Tohoku region.

As I said, Tohoku region has different climate characteristics with the Ou Mountains as the border. Every prefecture except Miyagi prefecture has some heavy snowfall areas, so be sure to check the average amount of snowfall in winter when considering your itinerary.

It really depends where you are visiting, so if you travel to the areas where get heavy snow ( I talk about it above), you may want to read this post talking about “what to wear for Hokkaido trip.

Especially on the Sea of ​​Japan side of Tohoku region, the temperature differs a lot between day and night.

So it’s better to have easy to put on and off. Also, pack a number of items that you can layer rather than one heavy coat.

Down Jackets

It really depends on where to visit in Tohoku region, but anyway, the must-outfit for a winter trip is the down jacket. If you visit the cold the sea fo Japan side and north areas, you need another winter heavy coat. But if you bring a lightweight down jacket, you still can wear it under the heavy coat to protect yourself from cold.

If you visit Miyagi or Fukushima, a down jacket may enough.

There are many lightweight down jackets with high cold protection performance, it is very handy to bring it.

Heavy Winter Coat

Like I said, pack winter heavy jacket or coat if you travel to the heavy snowfall area and the sea pf Japan side.

Bring the best heavy winter coat from your closet. Also, it is better to have waterproof material, long enough to cover your waist and an attached hood.

Thermal Inner Wears

The thermal inner wear is very helpful to travel around in cold areas. Nowadays, various types of thermal wear are on the market inners.

However, note that many inners made of heat-generating materials use chemical fibers, and some people may feel itching especially those who have extreme dried skin or who have sensitivity for chemical fabric.

Choose carefully products with a high proportion of cotton or 100% cotton or silk.

Brushed Pants, Fleece Lined Leggins

Denim jeans and bottoms that you usually wear are fine, for ladies, pants style may be a better choice when traveling.

Also, wearing brushed pants or fleece-lined tights will be helpful.
It’s also a good idea to wear thermal tights and pants in layers.

The Foot Wear

Even though traveling to the less snow areas, streets get icy and slippery. Be sure to bring winter boots with anti-slip or bring a walk traction device.

Winter Accessories

  1. Winter Gloves
  2. Earmuffs
  3. Winter Hats
  4. Winter Scarves
  5. A Pair Of Sunglasses
  6. Hand Warmers

Not Cold As Hokkaido, But Much Colder Than Tokyo

Tohoku region is located the north of the main island, Aomori prefecture is just under Hokkaido. Thus, not cold as Hokkaido, but much colder than Tokyo and other prefectures around Tokyo and western Tokyo.

So prepare suitable winter outfits not to get cold.

Besides, you need to research the climate where you want to visit. Especially the Tohoku region, each prefecture, each area has different climates.

If you worry about over-packing, this is an idea to use these vacuum bags.

Tohoku Winter Guide

Before traveling to Japan in the winter season, read here about Japan’s winter travel tips.

Travel Guide
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