Should You Visit Japan in the Winter?

WIT (7)

Spoiler alert: you should! 

The Land of the Rising Sun rarely disappoints, regardless of the season you visit. In the Spring, there are cherry blossoms, in the summer, festivals galore. The autumn is a melodious eruption of colors with the changing leaves and the winter–well, the winter.

Tokyo brings in stylish events and warm, fairytale lights throughout the city.

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Here are 5 Reasons to Visit Japan in the Winter Months: 

1. Japan has Mild Winters.

While we usually associated winter in Japan with snow, the autumn and mild weather actually lasts a bit longer than in most countries. In November and December, autumn leaves and crisp air linger on.

Even when it becomes full-fledged winter, it’s still quite dry. Winter, which lasts from December to February, ranges from 10-12ºC (50-54°F) in the day, and 2-5ºC (35-41ºF) at night.

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2. Christmas is still a thing. 

Though Christmas isn’t a public holiday in Japan, it’s still celebrated, especially among couples. Rather than having any family connotation, it’s viewed more as a romantic time, like a second Valentine’s Day. This is accentuated by Tokyo bursting into thousands of LED lights. So expect magical winter wonderland if you visit in late December!

To enjoy the illuminations at their best, head out to Ueno or Roppongi Hills.

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3. New Year’s is marked by Festivals & Family Time.

New Year’s is a big event, even bigger than in the U.S., you might even say. The period from December 28 to January 5 is known as oshogatsu, a time to visit families and enjoy seasonal dishes (osechi ryori) like black soybeans, red sea bream, fish cake, and soft, delicious mochi. Don’t miss out on other events like temple rituals and ice skating rinks, a common sight during this time.

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4. Hokkaido is the Ultimate Winter Destination.

Hokkaido is a perfect winter destination you might not have heard of. The northernmost province of Japan, Hokkaido is renowned for its ski resorts, powdery snow, and hot springs resorts and towns.

If you’re in Sapporo in February, don’t miss the Snow Festival, a snow sculpture competition that attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. People come from all over the world to compete and show off their gorgeous ice sculptures.

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5. The View of Japan’s Mountains are unparalleled.

About 73% of Japan is mountainous, so don’t be surprised that some of the most photogenic shots you could take in the countryside are of mountains. And there’s no better time to enjoy the scenery than in winter. Due to the mild weather and clear skies, the view of the peaks, including iconic Mt. Fuji, are close to magical.

Take a train out from Tokyo is explore these peaks. It’s also a perfect time for quiet, introspective walks up these mountains or strolls through the countryside villas.

Thinking of Japan in the Winter? There are some amazing itineraries to explore the Land of the Rising Sun in Winter and multi-day hiking trips in the Spring. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com to learn more from our travel agents. 

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