Does it snow in Japan?

Japan is known to have relatively different climates depending on the region (the cities close to the North Pacific Ocean see different weather patterns than those located inland), so while the country does experience snowfall during the winter season, the amount a particular region receives does differ. The traditional snow season in Japan coincides with the start of winter so you can expect to see snow on the ground from mid-December onwards. The snow season lasts about three months but can often extend into March and early April, meaning there's plenty of time to enjoy this country's beautiful white landscapes. 

The mountainous regions close to the coast, as well as the country's north, enjoy the most amount of snowfall - a whopping 300 to 600 inches per year. This is especially true in areas such as Honshu and Hokkaido as the cold Siberian air mingles with the warm waters of the Sea of Japan, causing the water vapour to freeze and consequently encouraging snow to fall over the mountains. While the southern regions of Japan receive significantly less snowfall than in the north, various towns still receive enough to offer snow activities such as skiing and snowboarding. 

Where does it snow in Japan? 

Searching for snow in Japan is pretty easy when it hits December as most of the country experiences some kind of snowfall. However, the majority of ski resorts are located in the northern region as it receives the highest amount of snowfall each year. Keeping that in mind, these are some of the best places to experience snow in Japan: 

  • Ginzan Onsen, Yamagata
  • Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture
  • Nyuto Onsen, Akita
  • Otaru, Hokkaido
  • Ouchi Juku, Fukushima
  • Shirakawa-go, Gifu

What's winter like in Japan?

There's no denying that winter in Japan is extremely magical with most cities and towns blanketed under heavy snowfall but it's also freezing cold. Big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka experience temperature highs of 9°C (48°F) and 10°C (50°F) in winter respectively, while the lows get down to an eye-watering 3°C (37°F) and 4°C (39°F). 

Despite low temperatures that are conducive to snowfall, Japan's weather in winter can also be relatively dry and sunny. The winter months of December, January, and February see the least amount of rainfall out of the year with only 60mm (on average) expected. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't pack your wet weather appropriate clothing as protective shoes, waterproof jackets, and lots of layers are still needed in order to remain warm and comfortable while you're out and about in the cold. 

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