Japan in January: Weather, Tips & New Year Festivities


A trip to Japan in January will give you an unforgettable experience in a beautiful country away from summer crowds. Be it new-year festivities around the country that are organized throughout the month or centuries-old celebrations honoring the rich history of the island nation, there is never a dull moment in Japan in January. Plus, the country has many places to visit for all sorts of travelers even during this cold winter month.

Japan Weather in January

Snow covered Hakuba mountains at sunset in Japan in January.
Hakuba is an ideal destination for skiing in Japan in January.

Take advantage of the cold weather to spend some time at one of Japan’s famous ski towns, such as Hakuba, where temperatures peak at 1.6°C (although they can sink down to -7.2°C). Set in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Hakuba has perfect snowy slopes. However, the mountains only see the sun for around two and a half hours a day. The rest of the island nation, on the other hand, is slightly warmer in January, with average daily temperatures of 8°C and a nightly average of 2°C. If you are seeking some warmth, head for the subtropical island of Okinawa. This Pacific paradise is filled with historic landmarks and surrounded by sandy beaches, and it enjoys balmy temperatures too, with highs of 19°C during the day this month.

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

Weather in Japan in January - 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 January

Extreme pro-skier shredding the deep snow in the sunny Japanese weather.
You will find powder snow in Japan in January which is perfect for skiing for both professionals and novices.
Colorful fireworks dye the night sky beautifully in Japan
New Year festivities are in full flow during January in Japan.

There are plenty of things to do in Japan in January. In addition to this, a trip to the country in this month means lower travel costs as well as the chance to participate in festivals that take place around the country.

  • Cheaper travel and accommodation: Once new year celebrations are over and revelers have left the country, flights to Japan are offered at a reduced cost and accommodation rates go down as well.
  • The perfect ski season: Mountains in Japan are coated in fresh powdery snow during January, making them ideal for snow-sport enthusiasts.
  • New year festivities: Stand alongside the citizens of Nara and watch an entire mountain set ablaze during a fiery new year celebration called the Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival. Away from Nara, the holy shrines throughout Osaka are also the center of focus as people come together to pray to Ebisu, one of the seven Japanese gods of luck, for good fortune during the Toka Ebisu Festival.

Where to go and what to do

A deer looking into camera in Nara Deer Park, Kyoto, Japan.
If you want to see the wildlife in Japan, then you can go to Nara Park where deer roam free.

A visit to Tokyo in January means that you can enjoy ice skating in many places around the city, from the seaside ice rink at a shopping mall in Toyosu to the ice rink located on the fourth floor of the Tokyo Skytree. The first of the six annual Grand Sumo Tournaments is held in Tokyo in January. Over the course of this month, sumo wrestlers compete to become the champion of the ‘hatsu’ (opening) tournament.

You can also visit Osaka which is located to the east of Tokyo. It celebrates its new year with a festival that honors Ebisu, the Japanese patron god of fishermen and tradesmen. The Toka Ebisu Festival takes place each year around January 10 in the city and sees parades fill the streets and local merchants sell a variety of food items along with good-luck talismans. Other celebrations organized across the country include the Wakakusayama Yamayaki Festival, held in Nara, and the game of tamaseseri organized in Fukuoka, which sees two teams of men fight for the possession of a large wooden ball.

Enjoy a unique wildlife experience in Nagano’s Jigokudani Monkey Park, where Japanese macaques take a dip in a steamy onsen during the winter season. If you want to relax in a bath yourself, then head for Beppu, a popular onsen region located in the south of the country. Nagano, in Japan’s far north, is a Mecca for snow sports enthusiasts, while Shirakawago, a traditional village with thatched-roof houses, turns into a dreamy wonderland at this time of year.

See the icicles of Misotsuchi, one of the most famous winter highlights of Japan, during a day trip from Tokyo, or travel to Hokkaido to gaze at drift ice off the coast of Mombetsu. Enjoy a steaming bowl of oden, a Japanese hot pot dish best enjoyed during cold months, and check out winter illuminations that light the night sky throughout the country.

Visiting Japan this month means that you can discover this incredible country at lower costs and be part of unique celebrations and festivities. From the snow-capped mountains of Hakuba to the sandy shores of Okinawa, there is something for everyone in Japan during this time of year.

Feel free to reach out to our travel experts for a customized itinerary for your Japan tour or check our travel guide on how many days to spend in Japan.

You might also want to check out our tours to Japan in January.

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