Winter Wardrobe Wisdom: What to Wear in Japan in December

Discover the perfect attire for your December journey in Japan. From layering essentials to regional insights, this guide ensures you stay cozy and culturally respectful while exploring this enchanting winter wonderland.


As December descends upon Japan, a captivating transformation sweep across the country. The Land of the Rising Sun embraces the chill embrace of winter, unveiling a picturesque landscape adorned with snow-clad mountains, illuminating festivals, and a unique charm all its own. Yet, with this enchanting season comes a crucial question for travelers: “What to wear in Japan in December?”

Japan’s diverse geography and regional climates make dressing for December travel a delightful puzzle. From the frosty streets of Hokkaido in the north to the milder temperatures of Tokyo and the enchanting traditions of Kyoto, each destination requires a tailored wardrobe strategy. This guide is your key to unlocking the secrets of dressing comfortably, stylishly, and respectfully as you explore Japan’s winter wonderland.

Understanding the Weather in Japan in December: Weather conditions and regional variations

Weather conditions in Japan during December can vary widely depending on the region, as the country stretches from north to south. 

Japan Temperature Forecast (Source: Google)

Northern Japan (Hokkaido and Tohoku Regions):

  • Hokkaido: Hokkaido experiences frigid temperatures with heavy snowfall. Expect sub-zero temperatures, often ranging from -6°C to 5°C (21°F to 41°F).
  • Tohoku: This region, including cities like Sendai, is also quite cold, with temperatures typically ranging from -2°C to 8°C (28°F to 46°F). Snowfall is common.

Kanto Region (including Tokyo):

  • Tokyo: Tokyo and its surrounding areas have cool to chilly weather. Average temperatures range from 5°C to 12°C (41°F to 54°F). There may be occasional rain and light snow, but it doesn’t accumulate much.

Kansai Region (including Kyoto and Osaka):

  • Kyoto and Osaka: These cities have similar weather to Tokyo, with cool temperatures generally ranging from 5°C to 13°C (41°F to 55°F). You might encounter occasional rain and light snowfall in the nearby mountains.

Chugoku Region (including Hiroshima):

  • Hiroshima: Temperatures in Hiroshima and the Chugoku Region are quite similar to Kansai, ranging from 6°C to 14°C (43°F to 57°F). You can expect occasional rain and minimal snowfall.

Shikoku Region:

  • Shikoku: Shikoku’s climate resembles that of Chugoku, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 15°C (46°F to 59°F). There might be occasional rain, especially along the coast.

Kyushu Region:

  • Kyushu: Kyushu enjoys relatively milder weather, with temperatures between 9°C and 17°C (48°F to 63°F). Rain is occasional, but snow is rare except in mountainous areas.

Okinawa Region:

  • Okinawa: Okinawa remains mild and pleasant during December, with temperatures averaging around 17°C to 21°C (63°F to 70°F). While there may be occasional rain, it’s generally drier compared to the mainland.

You may also like:

What to wear in Japan in December

  1. Layering Essentials for Japan in December

Layering is essential when preparing your clothing for a December trip to Japan. It helps you stay warm in colder regions while allowing you to adapt to varying temperatures throughout the day. Here are the layering essentials you’ll need:

Base Layer:

Base Layer (Source: Google)

  • Thermal Tops and Bottoms: Start with thermal underwear or long-sleeved, moisture-wicking base layers. These help regulate your body temperature and keep you dry.
  • Warm Socks: Don’t forget warm, moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet cozy.

Middle Layer:

Middle Layer (Source: Google)

  • Insulating Tops: Choose items like sweaters, fleece jackets, or down vests to provide warmth. These can be easily added or removed as needed.
  • Insulating Bottoms: If it’s exceptionally cold, consider adding insulated pants or thick leggings under your regular pants or jeans.

Outer Layer:

Outer Layer (Source: Google)

  • Waterproof and Windproof Jacket: An outer layer that’s both waterproof and windproof is crucial, especially if you encounter rain or snow. Look for materials like Gore-Tex or similar options.
  • Winter Coat: In very cold regions, a warm, insulated winter coat is a must.
  • Waterproof Pants: Consider waterproof pants or snow pants if you’ll be in snowy areas or expect rain.


Accessories in winter (Source: Google)

  • Hat: A warm, insulated hat that covers your ears is essential for retaining heat.
  • Gloves or Mittens: Opt for gloves with touchscreen capabilities, so you can use your smartphone without removing them.
  • Scarves and Neck Gaiters: These help keep your neck warm and can be pulled up to cover your face if necessary.
  • Ear Warmers or Headbands: In milder regions, these can provide warmth without the bulk of a full hat.


Footwear in winter (Source: Google)

  • Insulated Boots: Choose waterproof, insulated boots with good traction for snowy or wet conditions.
  • Warm Insoles: Consider adding warm insoles to your boots for extra insulation.


Hand Warmers (Photo by David Caudery/PhotoPlus Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

  • Hand Warmers: Disposable or rechargeable hand warmers can be a lifesaver on extremely cold days.
  • Umbrella: A compact, travel-friendly umbrella is useful for rainy days.
  • Backpack: A daypack or backpack is handy for storing layers you shed as the day warms up.
  1. Clothing Recommendations by Region

When planning what to wear in Japan in December, it’s essential to consider the specific weather conditions in different regions, as they can vary widely. 

Hokkaido and Northern Japan:

  • Outerwear: You’ll need a heavy winter coat, preferably insulated and waterproof, to combat sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall.
  • Layering: Wear thermal base layers, insulated pants, sweaters, and thick socks.
  • Accessories: Insulated gloves, a warm hat, and a scarf are essential.
  • Footwear: Waterproof, insulated boots with good traction are a must.

Kanto Region (Including Tokyo):

  • Outerwear: A warm, waterproof jacket or coat is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be as heavy as in northern Japan.
  • Layering: Thermal base layers, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts are suitable for layering.
  • Accessories: A hat, gloves, and a scarf will keep you comfortable.
  • Footwear: Insulated boots or comfortable walking shoes with warm socks are recommended.

Kansai Region (Including Kyoto and Osaka):

  • Outerwear: A medium-weight jacket or coat is usually sufficient for this region.
  • Layering: Thermal base layers, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts work well.
  • Accessories: Bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
  • Footwear: Comfortable, waterproof shoes or boots are suitable for light rain or occasional snow.

Chugoku Region (Including Hiroshima):

  • Outerwear: Similar to Kansai, a medium-weight jacket or coat is appropriate.
  • Layering: Thermal base layers and sweaters are sufficient for most days.
  • Accessories: Don’t forget a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
  • Footwear: Waterproof shoes or boots with warm socks are advisable.

Shikoku Region:

  • Outerwear: A medium-weight jacket or coat should suffice.
  • Layering: Thermal base layers, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts are suitable for layering.
  • Accessories: Bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
  • Footwear: Comfortable shoes or boots with warm socks are recommended.

Kyushu Region:

  • Outerwear: A lighter winter coat or jacket is usually enough for Kyushu.
  • Layering: Thermal base layers, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts should be adequate.
  • Accessories: Consider a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
  • Footwear: Waterproof shoes or comfortable boots with warm socks are sufficient.

Okinawa Region:

  • Outerwear: A light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings is all you’ll need.
  • Layering: Long-sleeved shirts and a light sweater or cardigan are suitable.
  • Accessories: A hat and a light scarf may be helpful.
  • Footwear: Comfortable, breathable shoes are suitable for Okinawa’s milder climate.

Packing and Travel Tips

  1. Check the Weather Forecast:

Before you pack, check the weather forecast for the specific regions you plan to visit in Japan. This will help you pack appropriately for the expected conditions.

  1. Layer Your Clothing:

As mentioned earlier, layering is crucial. Pack versatile clothing that can be layered to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day.

  1. Pack Waterproof Gear:

Given the possibility of rain and snow in December, it’s wise to pack waterproof and windproof outerwear. This includes a waterproof jacket, pants, and an umbrella.

  1. Comfortable Footwear:

Invest in comfortable, waterproof boots or shoes with good traction. In snowy regions, insulated boots are a must.

  1. Portable Hand Warmers:

Consider packing portable hand warmers or heating pads for extra warmth, especially if you’ll be spending time outdoors in colder areas.

  1. Electrical Adapters:

If you’re bringing electronic devices, make sure you have the necessary electrical adapters for Japan’s outlets.

  1. Pack Lightly:

Try to pack as lightly as possible. Japan has an excellent public transportation system, but lugging heavy bags around can be tiring. Opt for versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched.

  1. Dressing Respectfully:

Japan has a strong cultural emphasis on modesty and respect, so when visiting temples, shrines, or traditional sites, it’s essential to dress appropriately. This often means covering your shoulders and knees, so pack clothing that allows for this.

  1. Currency and Payment Methods:

Familiarize yourself with Japan’s currency (yen) and ensure you have some cash on hand, as not all places accept credit cards, especially in more rural areas.

  1. Festive Season Considerations:

Keep in mind that December is a festive season in Japan, with various celebrations and events. Book accommodations well in advance, as this is a popular time for both domestic and international travelers.


  • What’s the weather like in Japan in December?

In December, Japan experiences a range of temperatures from cold to mild, with snowfall in northern regions like Hokkaido and cooler but milder temperatures in central and southern areas.

  • How should I dress in Tokyo in December?

In Tokyo, where temperatures are cool but not extremely cold, it’s advisable to wear layered clothing, including a medium-weight jacket or coat, thermal layers, and accessories like gloves and a scarf.

  •  Do I need to pack winter boots for Japan in December?

It depends on your destination within Japan. In snowy regions like Hokkaido, waterproof insulated boots are essential. In milder areas, comfortable, waterproof shoes with warm socks should suffice.

  • Can I wear jeans in Japan in December?

Yes, you can wear jeans in Japan in December, especially if you layer them with thermal leggings or long underwear for extra warmth. Pair them with sweaters or long-sleeved shirts.

  • What should I wear to visit temples and shrines in December?

When visiting temples and shrines, it’s essential to dress modestly and respectfully. This typically means covering your shoulders and knees. Long pants or skirts and long-sleeved tops or sweaters are appropriate.

  •  Are there any specific clothing customs I should be aware of in Japan during December?

While there aren’t many specific clothing customs in December, dressing modestly and respecting local traditions, especially during holiday festivities, is important. Also, remove your shoes before entering homes and some traditional establishments.

  • Can I buy winter clothing in Japan if I forget something?

Yes, Japan has a variety of clothing stores where you can purchase winter clothing, including popular international and local brands. You can find suitable clothing options in major cities.


In conclusion, preparing your wardrobe for Japan in December is a balancing act between staying warm and respecting local customs. Layering is key, with thermal base layers, waterproof outerwear, and adaptable accessories. Each region’s climate varies, so research and adapt your attire accordingly. Don’t forget practical items like umbrellas and comfortable, waterproof footwear. 

Embrace the enchanting December season in Japan, with its snow-capped landscapes and cultural festivities, by dressing appropriately and enjoying every moment of your journey. Safe travels and warm memories await in the Land of the Rising Sun.


About Hayami Mori

Hayami Mori is an awesome travel blogger & photographer. She was born and raised in Tokyo and have been here for nearly 25 years. She loves traveling and always wants to introduce her beautiful Japan to travelers from all over the world. Therefore, her blog is a great source of information for people looking for what to do in Japan as well as provides some tips to make their trips unforgettable.


Leave a Reply