Does It Snow In Japan? Should You Bring Kimono or Snowsuit?

While Japan is best known for its beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and its vibrant leaves in autumn, the country also offers a stunning winter landscape.

From the mountains of Hokkaido to the fairy tale castle towns of the Kiso Valley, Japan is a magical place to visit in winter. But does it snow in Japan? Let’s Find Out.

Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan Skyline | Does it Snow in Japan?
Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan Skyline

Does It Snow in Japan?

If you’re thinking about a winter getaway to Japan, you might be wondering: does it snow there? The answer is Yes, it does snow in Japan. It all depends on where you go in Japan.

The country is divided into four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Hokkaido, the northernmost island, is known for its Ski resorts and snowy winters.

Central and southern Honshu (including cities like Tokyo and Osaka) generally don’t see much snowfall, although there are occasional winter flurries. Shikoku and Kyushu, the two southernmost islands, rarely see any snow at all.

So if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, Japan is definitely the place to be – just head north to Hokkaido!

How Often Does It Snow in Japan?

Snowfall in Japan is a beautiful thing to behold, as the country is blessed with some of the finest powder in the world. Though it does not snow as often as one might think, when it does, it creates a scene of breathtaking beauty.

According to The Weather Channel, Japan sees an average of 15.5 days to 25 days of snowfall per year, with some places experiencing 24 (292 inches) feet of snowfall.

while it Snowed 63 inches on the lower elevation, while in some areas, the amount also shot up to 82 inches as well.

This may not seem like much when compared to other countries like Canada or the United States, which can see upwards of 100 days of snowfall in a single year. However, when taking into account the fact that Japan is a relatively small country, 15.5 days is actually quite a lot.

The best time to see snow in Japan is during the month of February when the country experiences its heaviest snowfall.

April is also a good month to visit if you want to see some snow, as this is when Japan’s ski resorts typically open for business.

When Does It Snow in Japan?

Typically, the first snowfalls of the season in Japan occur around mid-November in Hokkaido and a week or two later in the northern Tohoku region. By mid-December, occasional snowfalls begin to blanket much of central and western Japan.

The heaviest snow usually falls in late January and early February. This is also when blizzards and high winds sometimes make travel difficult or even dangerous.

In late February and March, as temperatures begin to warm up, the snow gradually melts away from most of Japan except for the higher elevations of Hokkaido and northeastern Tohoku.

Does It Normally Snow in Japan?

Otaru, Japan Winter Skyline | does it snow in Japan?
Otaru, Japan Winter Skyline

Japan experiences four distinct seasons, and snowfall is common in many parts of the country during winter. While some areas (such as Hokkaido) see heavy snowfall on a regular basis, other parts of Japan (such as Okinawa) rarely see any snow at all.

When Is the Best Time to See Snow in Japan?

With the exception of Hokkaido, the Japan Alps, and a few other mountainous areas, most of Japan’s snowfall occurs between December and February. The heaviest snows usually come in early February, although in recent years, they have been known to arrive as late as March.

The best time to see snow, of course, depends on what you want to do. For skiing and other winter sports, the season usually starts in late November or early December and continues through March.

For snow lovers who just want to enjoy the beauty of a snowy landscape, late January or early February is generally the best time to go.

Of course, these are only general guidelines. Snowfall varies from year to year and even from week to week. The best way to make sure you’ll see snow is to check the forecast before you go.

What Are the Popular Places to See Snow in Japan?

Shirakawago, Japan Winter Village | Does it Snow in Japan?
Shirakawago, Japan Winter Village

December to February is winter in Japan, and depending on where you go; you can experience different types of snowfall. If you’re looking to see some of the more unique snowflakes, head over to Hokkaido, where they have what’s called “snow monsters.”

These are large snowflakes that have a higher water content and cling to tree branches, making them look like fuzzy white creatures. Another place known for its beautiful snow is the Zao Onsen Snow Park in Yamagata.

Here you can see “ice flowers,” which are delicate frozen crystals that form on tree branches when the temperature outside is just below freezing. And, of course, no trip to see the snow in Japan would be complete without a visit to a ski resort!

Some of the popular ski areas include Niseko in Hokkaido, Hakuba in Nagano, and Shiga Kogen in Nagano.

Some Popular Things to Do in Japan in Winter

From world-famous snow festivals to hot spring getaways, there’s no shortage of things to do in Japan in winter! While the colder months may not be the most popular time to visit Japan, there are still plenty of reasons to bundle up and head out into the snow.

One of the most popular winter activities in Japan is visiting a snow festival (Yuki Matsuri). These festivals are held all across the country, and each one has its own unique attractions. From life-size ice sculptures to snow slides and fireworks, there’s something for everyone at a Japanese snow festival.

If you’re looking for a more relaxing winter activity, you can always take a dip in a hot spring (onsen).

There are thousands of hot springs scattered across Japan, and many of them are located in scenic mountain areas. Soaking in a hot spring is the perfect way to warm up after a day spent exploring in the cold.

Other popular winter activities in Japan include skiing, sledding, ice skating, and making soybean paste snowmen (Shiroi Koibito). No matter what you decide to do, you’re sure to have a memorable experience during your winter trip to Japan!

Fuji Volcano in Japan's winter season | Does it Snow in Japan?
Fuji Volcano in Japan’s winter season

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FAQs About Snow In Japan

If you are planning a trip to Japan in the winter, you may be wondering if it snows and, if so, how much.

Here are some FAQs about snow in Japan to help you plan your trip.

How Much Snow Does Japan Get?

On average, Japan sees snowfall totals of about 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) per year. The country experiences the most significant snowfall in Hokkaido, which is located in Japan’s far north.

What Are the Best Places to See Snow in Japan?

Hokkaido is home to some of the best ski resorts in Asia, as well as stunning snow-capped mountain ranges and hot springs.
Other popular places to see snow in Japan include Nagano (home of the 1998 Winter Olympics), Niigata, and Yamagata.

When Does It Typically Start Snowing in Japan?

Snow usually starts falling in northern Japan in late November or early December, then spreads southward throughout the country over the next few weeks and continues until March or April.

Does It Ever Snow in Tokyo?

Yes, it does! Snow is not especially common in Tokyo, but it does happen on occasion. The last time Tokyo saw a significant amount of snow was back in January 2018.

Do You Get Snow in Japan?

Yes, Japan has four distinct seasons, and snow is a common occurrence in winter, especially in the north of the country.

How Much Snow Does Japan Get?

This varies depending on the region, but generally speaking, the north of Japan gets more snow than the south. Snowfall also varies from year to year.

Where Can I See the Best Snow in Japan?

There are many beautiful places to see snow in Japan, but some popular spots include Hokkaido (for its powdery snow), Nagano (for its Snow Monkeys), and Kanazawa (for its traditional winter scenery).

How Much Does It Snow in Japan?

Again, this varies depending on the region, but generally speaking, the further north you go, the more snow you can expect.
In Tokyo, which is located in central Honshu, the average annual snowfall is around 20 cm (8 inches), while in Sapporo, located in northern Hokkaido, the average is closer to 2 meters (6.5 feet).

Is It Always Cold Enough for Snow?

No, not always. Snow requires temperatures to be below freezing point (0°C or 32°F), and although this frequently happens during the winter months, there are also periods when temperatures rise above freezing and the snow melts.
This is especially common during bouts of what is known as inclement weather when a warm front pushes north from Okinawa and disrupts the cold airmass that typically dominates central and northern Japan during winter.


After looking at various data sources, we can conclude that it does snow in Japan. 

In fact, it appears that Japan gets quite a bit of snow! If you are planning a trip to Japan, be sure to pack your winter clothes.

The amount of snowfall varies depending on the region, but it is generally a cold country with snowfall occurring in some areas.