Japan in December: Sunny Weather and Snowy Slopes


Forget about overdone ski holidays in the Alps, Japan is the hot new winter destination that should be on top of your radar. Visiting Japan in December promises stunning sites and snow-covered vistas, a surprising number of sunny days and the perfect conditions to sip on a hearty bowl of ramen. See what else you can expect from Japan as winter settles on the land of the rising sun.

Japan weather in December

A picture of Sapporo during winter.
The city of Sapporo is famous for its ramen and beer.

Japan's weather in December varies from one end of the country to the other. The northern island of Hokkaido has colder temperatures than the south, and both Tokyo and Osaka have average highs of around 11°C and lows of only 4°C with many sunny days. This is consistent with the average temperature of the whole country, although Sapporo and its surroundings dwindle between 2°C and -5°C at this time of the year, perfect for skiing.

For a seasonal overview, check out our article on the best time to visit Japan.

Weather in Japan in December - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)8912172124282926201511
Avg Nightly (°C)2251014182223201594
Avg Daily (°F)46.448.253.662.669.875.282.484.278.8685951.8
Avg Nightly (°F)35.635.6415057.264.471.673.4685948.239.2
Avg Rainfall (mm)4358941191321811281471811588444

Why visit Japan in December

A Japanese hot spring with bucket and bath towel.
A dip in a Japanese onsen is just what you need during the chilly weather in December.
A female tourist trekking on her skis up a snowy hill in Niseko.
There is enough powder on the slopes in December for a skiing holiday in Hokkaido.

December marks the end of the high season in Japan and the many crowds have thinned. Although this opens the doors for winter activities, Japan’s top southern attractions are still just as spectacular in December. Here are some of the best reasons why traveling to Japan in December should shoot to the top of your bucket list.

  • Light events: If there is one thing Japan knows, it is light displays. In many towns, millions of lights are strung up in elaborate illumination displays celebrating the arrival of winter, a truly spectacular sight to behold.
  • Natural hot springs: A trip to a ryokan with onsen is one of the ultimate things to do in Japan in December. Soaking in a hot spring while temperatures plummet outside is simply unbeatable.
  • Hit the slopes: Japan is a naturally diverse country and while the south is pleasant and sunny, the north has tons of magnificent ski resorts making this a 2-in-1 destination.

Where to go and what to do

Mount Fuji with its reflection in the lake.
Mount Fuji is beautifully covered in snow in December making it the perfect season for a visit.

A trip to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are probably top on most travel itineraries, and these cities are spoiled with mild sunny days in December. Many city attractions are less busy than what one might experience in the spring so this is the perfect time to get an empty picture at Fushimi Inari Shrine. Enjoyable weather is also ideal for long walks through the many green spaces in Japan like the Tokyo Green Village or through Omotesando, a neighborhood filled with cutting-edge fashion outlets and variety shops. Make sure to pop into a cozy izakaya (traditional tavern) for a helping of comforting Japanese food and drink when strolling about your favorite cities.

Both Niseko and Rusutsu in the Hokkaido region are top ski destinations with rugged slopes and charming accommodations. Colder weather also creates the perfect conditions to enjoy the healing properties of a traditional Japanese onsen, and in the northern regions, you can enjoy this indulgence in snowy surroundings.

The month also kicks off with some great celebrations. Chichibu Night Festival in the Saitama Prefecture is a collection of floats, sweet sake, music, and extravagant firework displays. For light displays, the Kobe Luminarie draws millions of visitors in the first part of the month. Later in the month, head to Osaka for the Osaka Hikari Renaissance; kaleidoscopic projections and festive food stalls make this one of the liveliest events in town. Christmas is not traditionally celebrated in Japan but there are still festive markets, some with a European twist. In Yokahama you can enjoy the Akarenga Christmas Markets and Tokyo has markets in Roppongi Hills and Hibiya Park.

For landscapes, the third-largest island of Japan, Kyushu often has remnants of autumn early in December giving you the opportunity to still see the brilliant fall foliage in some parts. Mt. Fuji, Japan’s pièce de résistance, is also at its most beautiful in December and there is often only a single day where it is not visible, great odds for any traveler!

December poses endless opportunities for travelers wanting to experience the old and new wonders of Japan. This is the tail end of the peak season to visit Japan, so visitors can get the best of both worlds with pleasant autumn weather as well as snowy slopes for adventure seekers. Get in touch with our travel experts to customize your trip to Japan in December for the ultimate winter holiday.

Check out our tours to Japan in December for more inspiration.

Other articles:
Japan in November
Japan in January

Create your custom-made trip to Japan

Traveling to Japan? Chat with a local travel specialist in Japan who can help organize your trip.

  • Alan Williams
    Alan Williams
    Travel Expert in Japan
  • DaeHee Won
    DaeHee Won
    Travel Expert in South Korea
  • Jeff Aasgaard
    Jeff Aasgaard
    Travel Expert in Japan
Our travel experts are recommended by
  • BBC
  • Independent
  • Herald Sun
0 Comments We welcome your questions or comments to this article. Our travel experts will respond within 48 hours.
Travel Expert in Japan
Alan Williams Travel Expert in Japan
4.9 - Excellent
Travel Expert in South Korea
DaeHee Won Travel Expert in South Korea
4.7 - Excellent
  1. Add Comment

Sign-in to unlock instant trip discounts. Create wish lists and save up to USD 1,500.

More login options here.