Translated byLester Somera
Just a Kansai guy trying to get by
If you are planning to visit Japan in the winter, read this article for information on weather, average temperatures and what to wear in the cold months. Recommended winter activities, snow festivals, and other travel tips are also introduced here.
Japan is cold in winter and it is snowing in many places across the country. There is a unique beauty to the scenery, however, and there is a myriad of fun activities and delicious dishes that can only be savored during this season. We have compiled a guide of useful information for people planning to visit Japan during winter.
Japanese winters generally run from December to February.
In Tokyo, December temperatures tend to be around 12ºC (54°F) in the afternoon and drop to about 5ºC (41°F) in the morning and at night. By January, afternoon temperatures drop to 10ºC (50°F) and morning temperatures tend to hover between 2ºC~3ºC (35°F~37°F). In February, afternoon temperatures are about 10ºC~11ºC (42°F~50°F) while morning and evening temperatures fall to about 3ºC (37°F).
Tokyo winters are sunny with little rain or snow. The air is dry, with the humidity around this time generally staying at a constant 30%.
You will need a coat in December. On some days, gloves and scarves will keep you nice and warm.
In January and February, you will need a down jacket or a coat. You will definitely need gloves and a muffler too.
On windy days, it is a good idea to have a knit cap and earmuffs. If you plan to be outside for a long time on cloudy days or in the evenings, we recommend that you use disposable kairo heating pads to protect your hands and feet from the cold.
Kairo can be purchased at any convenience store, supermarket, and drugstore. A pack of 10 heating pads costs around 200 yen. In order to use then, you just need to open a kairo pack. The iron sand contained in the pad will begin to heat up in contact with the oxygen in the air. The pad will stay warm from 8 to 12 hours.
Please keep warm by wearing proper clothes and drinking hot drinks. If you do catch a cold, stop by a drugstore such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi and get some medicine. Light medicine to soothe a sore throat or to treat a fever can be bought without a medical prescription. In case of high fever and severe coughing, it's recommended that you go to the hospital.
In order to describe your symptoms to the drugstore staff or a doctor, please use the Japanese phrases compiled in this article.
It will be freezing outside but building interiors will be heated; it would be wise to layer your clothing so that you can take layers on and off as necessary.