Japan offers the best of both worlds residing in a state of harmonious zen that is impossible to make sense of at once; take your time to grasp and grasp away everything you observe while journeying in person that no book can ever explain. I encourage you to learn from it’s history, way of life, prayers, people and food. A world which is old yet new in a way where you will find deep rooted culture well secured within the twenty-first-century like no other.
Japan is one place on our list that we want to without doubt re-visit very soon.
I know, I might have mentioned this multiple times for various other places and I don’t intend to take my words back for them. However, Japan was different. After visiting the land of zen temples and weird cafes, I have never felt this strongly about returning to a country.
JAPAN IN DECEMBER
For one thing, Japan has so much to offer from history to food and has a distinct face every season. Speaking of distinct, we were there during the winter in the month of December with was the perfect amount of cold us Dubai folks were grateful for.
With stubborn signs of autumn still lurking on the lush landscapes of Kyoto, pathways confetti bombed with fall hues accompanied by the sounds of leaves rustling with our every step and specks of yellows, reds and oranges adding the last stroke of colour to zen gardens before soft white takes over; was the Japan winter our naive hearts weren’t ready for. It was no cherry blossom season yet the transition month of December from autumn to winter in Japan was indeed, very magical.
From fall themed food to warm winter snacks, fuzzy beanies, shorter queues, lesser crowds, winter fashion and heated toilet seats. Japan was a delight like no other and with Christmas around the corner winter markets, christmas lit streets and crazy sales coincidently made it the perfect time to explore this country other that the great off season deal on flight tickets from Dubai.
Japan winter begins in December through February with some nip in the air till March. So, depending on which city you are travelling to or planning to visit, winter in Japan may vastly vary. For example, Tokyo was cold with beautiful sunny days however, Kyoto was a lot colder and rained on most days. If you plan to go higher into the mountains like Hokkaido, the temperature starts to drop with a lot of snow prefect for skiing. Also, the famous Sapporo snow festival in Hokaiddo takes place every Japan winter, which is a must see in December.
REASONS TO VISIT JAPAN IN WINTER
Guaranteed sighting of Mt. Fuji
Yes, any time during the day you will be able to spot the majestic snow capped Mt. Fuji, well, from a distance. I did not find visiting the Mt. Fuji 5th station worth it as it is usually all covered in snow and slush i.e. unless, you are have a lot of time in hand, are feeling adventurous and want to visit the touristy site of the mountain. However, thanks to dry weather and clear skies during winter months you will be able to see the mountain a lot clearly compared to other months of the year when the mountain tends to peek-a-boo from behind all the clouds and fog after hours of waiting.
Soak in an Onsen
Onsen is a Japanese hot spring. Can it get anymore obvious than this? Winter in Japan? Hot springs? Usually available year-around but, is defintely special to be in one during cold winters. Found around a bathing facility, a bnb or a ryokan and this outdoor facility is a favourite winter pastime here. Bearing a volcanic landscape Japan has a number of natural geothermal springs. If onsens aren’t for you, another favourite thing to do is watch snow monkeys of Jigokudani chill away bathing in these natural hot springs when it’s cold or snowing and feel inspired.
Christmas in the cities is just a treat to the soul. When I say Japan goes all in with festivals, they definitely go all the way in with the Christmas decorations. Such winter illuminations across the cities have become very popular with spectacular light shows and an Italian designed light festival. Worried about not being in the spirit during Christmas, Japanese streets dressed up in string lights will definitely stir some up. Where: Shidome and Mid Town Tokyo.
Up north of Japan with abundant snow fall during the winter that gives way to skiing and snow boarding season. If you want to enjoy snow and beautiful landscapes covered in fresh powder best thing to do is head north and enjoy the ski resort life. Not to forget the Sapporo snow festival in Hokaiddo takes place every Japan winter and visiting the quaint Shirakawago Japanese village. The village is a UNESCO world heritage site and feels extra special to visit during the winters covered in snow; a culturally and historically significant site.
I wouldn’t say we did not have to queue up, however, does being the first ones in line count? Quite an achievement I think, when in Japan. Though we wouldn’t say that there weren’t crowds and had to queue almost forty minutes for a bowl of ramen(which was totally worth it by the way). All that being said according to many locals during colder months there are lesser crowds, can find a seat easily at many of the popular restaurants and shorter queues to enter the temples.
With Christmas approaching sale season is upon us and in Japan that’s extra heavy. If you are looking to indulge in Japanese fashion and get yourself some great quality clothing Japanese brands will not disappoint. Find some great deals on electronics and winter wear here during the winter seasons.
PACKING CLOTHES FOR WINTER IN JAPAN
FOR THE CITIES (ex. Tokyo)
The temperature doesn’t drop below 0°C and has occasional snow fall and is windy. Best is to make sure you carry layers instead of one really warm down jacket.
- Beanie/ woollen hat/ ear muff
- Sneakers or boots
- Warm socks
- Woollen gloves
- Warm jumpers
- Warm jacket (preferably rain proof)
- A small foldable umbrella
Expect temperatures to drop and snow.
- Long Sleeve T-shirts
- Long down jackets
- Snow boots
- Woollen socks
- Woollen hats and beanies
- Insulated gloves
- Woollen scarves
- Long pants (Jeans or insulated)
Hope this post helps you plan your time in Japan for the winter. If you have any other questions about visit the the land of the rising sun, do not forget to leave them in the comments below.