In Japan, there are four seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter.
You will be impressed by seasonal scenery and season events in each season.
Winter is not exceptional. Beautiful snow landscapes, stunning winter illumination, Winter festivals, skiing in Japanese powder snow, Onsen experience with the snow garden…
So what’s the winter like in Japan?
Japan is long and narrow from north to south and has many mountains. Besides, surrounded by Japan’s cold sea and the warm Pacific Ocean,
It is generally difficult to describe the weather in one word.
In most parts of Japan, winter is cold. But, if you visit the southern islands such as south of Kyushu and Okinawa islands, it is not cold.
Also, some regions get heavy snowy.
It is alright that it gets just cold, you know, only you have to do wear a heavy jacket and have “hot sake”. but you need to pay attention if it gets heavy snow.
Indeed, snow causes many troubles, especially to transportation networks. If you don’t take it seriously, you may mess your trip up.
Also, depends on where you are traveling, it can be very cold and heavy snowfall.
You need to pack suitable outwear to prevent health issues.
Like a typhoon season, you should learn how to travel around in the Japanese winter season.
Today, let’s learn all about the winter season in Japan what you should be careful about your Japan trip.
- The Winter Season In Japan; Varys A Lot Depends On Region
The Winter Season In Japan; Varys A Lot Depends On Region
The Winter Season And The Cold Region In Japan
- The winter season in Japan is from December to February
- Hokkaido, Tohoku region, Hokuriku Region, highlands in Nagano and Gifu are known as cold areas.
- The sea of Japan side gets colder than the Pacific side.
- Kyushu island and Okinawa islands have warm winter.
The winter season in Japan generally lasts from about December to February, depending on the region.
Prefectures that the winter lasts long (until March) are Hokkaido and Tohoku regions, in which the average period of winter (days that the temperature is under 0) is around 110 days.
Speaking of Okinawa islands, there are no days that the temperature goes down to minus. Even in Kyusyu island, the days like that are countable, less than 100 days.
In detail, When going to the North from Tokyo, the winter is getting colder and longer and Hokkaido is known as a cold region nationwide. Outside of Hokkaido, the Tohoku region and Hokuriku region are also popular winter wonderland in Japan.
On the other hand, it is getting warmer when going to South from Tokyo. I mean, it is still cold up to Hiroshima prefecture but not bad compared with those regions I mentioned.
Another feature of the cold winter in Japan, The Sea of Japan side is colder than the Pacific side.
The Coldest Months In Japan
Generally, the coldest period in the winter season is from the end of January to February.
Compared with the average temperature of January in Okinawa islands and Hokkaido, 17°C in Okinawa islands and -3.6°C in Hokkaido.
Average Temperature At Major Cities
Climate Impacts Caused By Global Warming In Japan
The climate in Japan has been warming up in the last 10 years throughout the year.
Japan’s winter (December-February of the previous year) average temperature is rising with repeated fluctuations, rising at a rate of 1.19 °C per 100 years in the long run.
The deviation from Japan’s average temperature in the winter of 2020 (from December in 2019 to February) is + 1.66 °C, which is the highest since the statistics started in 1898.
- + 1.66 °C (2020)
- + 1.29 °C (1949)
- + 1.27 °C (2007)
- + 1.08 °C (2009)
- + 1.01 °C (2016)
Snow In Japan
Actually, Japan is one of the hidden snowy countries around the world. Half the area of the country is a “heavy snowfall area” and about 20 million people live there.
Popular heavy snowfall areas are Hokkaido, the Tohoku region (certain areas), Hokuriku region, Nagano, and Gifu prefectures. Generally, the snow season starts in Hokkaido around the end of October, and the Tohoku region is followed.
Yet you may look forward to seeing the snowy landscape, however, they cannot be seen everywhere in Japan. In fact, it hardly snows in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka.
Snowing Often Cause Your Trip Messed In Japan
The snow-white landscapes are very attractive, however, you need to stay weather information while traveling in Japan.
The snow in Japan can often bring CHAOS to public transportation networks, closures of highways, mountains, attractions, and amusement parks.
Japanese transportation networks are very cautious.
Even if the snowfall is miner, in major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, public transportation and traffic congestion will occur.
You may not be allowed to drive a car without a snow chain on highways.
Therefore, note that you need to pay attention weather forecast whether it will snow in your destination and if so, check transportation restrictions and time schedule and whether your attractions are still planning on.
Also, you should be sure you give yourself extra time on a snowy day because public transportation such as railways, subways, and buses often will be delayed.
Possibly, a language barrier like I talk about here will occur to you if you are stuck on the stations. Better to prepare to download translation apps and learn some helpful Japanese phrases.
Caution! The Road And Sidewalks Become Very Slippery On The Next Day
Not like heavy-snow areas, a snowplow will not work well in other cities where has minor snowfalls. Generally, the road and sidewalks get icy and very slippery.
Wear winter shoes suitable for walking on snow and icy ground.
- Always update the snowfall forecast
- Give you extra time if it has a chance to snow
- Check restrictions, delays, cancellations on your itinerary
- Caution icy road on the next day of snow
What You Should Know About Health During Winter Vacation In Japan
Especially in November and early December, the temperature varies greatly in one day, and it is easy to catch a cold.
Also, the dry air is big friends with several viruses.
Influenza In Japan
Influenza is a disease caused by infection with the influenza virus. The peak of Influenza activity is from January to February in Japan.
The infectivity of influenza is extremely strong, and in Japan, about 10 million people (about 1 in 10 people) are infected every year. Once the influenza epidemic begins, it spreads to many people shortly.
Common colds are caused by a variety of viruses, most of which are mainly symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, with few systemic symptoms. Fever is not as high as for influenza and is less likely to become severe.
On the other hand, common symptoms of Influenza are such as fever above 38 °C (100 F), headache, arthralgia, and muscle aches.
Infrequently, children develop acute encephalopathy, and elderly people and those with weakened immunity may have pneumonia.
The symptoms of influenza
- coughing and sneezing
- a runny nose
- high temperature/fever
- muscles aches and pains
To Prevent Getting Common Cold And Influenza
I believe that you have already trained well due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
Make sure to wash your hands frequently when you come home, before and after cooking, and before meals. It is also effective to use a hand sanitizer.
Try to not touch your face or hair when you are out and before sanitizing your hands.
Wear a face mask.
It’s not only in the winter, the Japanese wear face masks throughout the year even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t be panic even if you see most Japanese wear face masks. It’s a very normal situation in Japan to prevent the common cold and flu.
Medicines For The Common Cold
Pack your preferred cold medicine in your country, it is kind of nervous to purchase the medicine in a different country. However, you can get general cold medication at drug stores and convenience stores in case you need it.
Japan’s top medicines for the common cold in Japan,
- Esutakku Sougou Kazegusuri
- Contac Kaze sougou
- Pre Koru Jizokusei Kapuseru
- Paburon Gold
- Benza Block S Jo
- Lulu Atack EX
Japan’s top Ibprofhen drugs
- LOXONIN S
- EVE A
Make sure to understand the drug types and levels, doses, and directions of the medicine before taking it.
In Case You Have The Symptoms Of Influenza While Traveling In Japan
If you have a fever of 38 °C or higher rapidly with coughing, sore throat, and fatigue, you may be infected with influenza. To avoid dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, or coughing.
Read this guide about what to do in case of an emergency situation while traveling in Japan.
As the traveling tips, make sure your health insurance policy.
Caution To “Heat-Shock”
You may not need this advice when you are staying in standard accommodations.
However, if you are going to use Airbnb, it is not funny, but you need to warm up before going to the bathroom. Most Japanese houses are not equipped with a central heating system, and especially old-built houses are freaking cold.
In fact, older people often lose their lives when getting out of a bathroom and be in a cold powder room due to the rapid increase in blood pressure.
It is possible to occur even if you are young.
Heat up a powder room if possible.
Avoid taking a very hot bath, and take a bath for a long time. Take a time to get out of a bathtub.
The Japanese winter is cold outside of Kyushu and Okinawa islands, but if you prepare for the Japanese winter trip enough such as wearing warm dresses, keeping good health condition, and staying tuned to the snow forecast, and you can encounter beautiful Japanese winter culture experiences!
When you get ready, let’s find out where to visit in the winter season dressing warm!