It is not the first time we have commented that Japan is a country of contrasts where the four seasons of the year are very marked. While spring and autumn are very popular seasons among tourists for cherry blossoms and the change of color of autumn leaves respectively, winter in Japan is increasingly fashionable thanks to snow. And it is that the Japanese Alps, Tohoku and Hokkaido are ideal areas for lovers of skiing and snow sports.
To encourage you to travel to Japan at this time and convince you a little more about why it is worth doing, we leave you our 8 reasons to travel to Japan in winter. Also, we tell you some points to consider if you travel to Japan in the months of December, January and February, which are the months that comprise winter in Japan.
Christmas lights and decorations
Although in Japan Christmas day is not a holiday, the Japanese love to decorate cities with lights and decorations of all kinds. They are Western-style decorations, with Christmas trees, Christmas lights (lots of lights), Santa Claus figures, reindeer and lots of diverse images, more than typical Japanese New Year decorations such as kadomatsu, shimekazari or kagamimochi – that we can also see — less lush.
Some of the Christmas decorations, such as those we can see in the Caretta Shiodome shopping center in Tokyo, for example, are really beautiful. Others, however, are simply extravagant, but also showy. Be that as it may, the truth is that if we visit Japan in December it is impossible not to get the Christmas holiday spirit.
Buy Cans of Coffee or Hot Tea on the Streets
Whether in a konbini or convenience store open 24 hours or in one of the thousands of dispensing machines on the Japanese streets, one of the best things we can do in Japan in winter is to buy a can of coffee or hot tea. And the feeling of kimochiiiiiii (literally it would be like saying “what a taste”) is simply spectacular.
Normally we are used to having drinks already packaged in stores at room temperature or even cold, because outside of Japan it is not very normal for them to be hot. Imagine when you go down the street and it’s cold, stop in front of one of these machines, put the money and a can of coffee falls. You take it in your hands and… it’s hot! It’s almost as wonderful as drinking it.
Skiing & Winter Sports
Japan is a very mountainous and clear country, when it is cold and snowy, not only do you enjoy wonderful festivals as we told you before, but it is also the ideal time to practice skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports.
Hokkaido is a very visited destination at this time, but so is the northern area of Tohoku and the central area of Japan, since the Japanese Alps are close to cities such as Tokyo, Kanazawa, Takayama, Nagano, etc. So, in addition To enjoy these sports, we don’t have to stop sightseeing in interesting places in Japan. Mind you, watch the trains that go to these destinations, because they will be very crowded.
If you want to enjoy skiing in Japan, we recommend you read our entry dedicated to it that we have linked to you. In it you can see where to go skiing, how to combine a ski trip with some tourism, etc.
Other Awesome Features of the Winter in Japan
Without a doubt, there are many of us who travel during the Christmas period to Japan and the truth is that being able to spend Christmas and New Year in Japan is one of our highlights of traveling to Japan in winter.
As we have said, Christmas Day is not a holiday in Japan, which already tells us how different the celebrations are here. In our Christmas post in Japan you can read more extensively about how Christmas is celebrated there and in our post of New Year’s Eve and New Year in Japan you can read the traditions of the last and first days of the year. And it is that the New Year holiday is one of the most important in the Japanese calendar, which is why the vast majority of businesses and even certain tourist places close from January 1 to 3 and some also from December 29 to 31. Look at the official websites or even on Google Maps to make sure that what you want to visit will be open.
And despite this, despite the fact that many things are closed and that the days are very short (usually dusk about 17:00), the truth is that spending Christmas and New Year in Japan as a tourist is very special. Special because we can enjoy very different traditions, such as eating at the KFC on Christmas Eve or visiting a shrine on New Year’s Eve with thousands of other people.