[JAPAN] WINTER TRIP IN JAPAN – Travel Diary

winter japan

What did you do at the end of last year? If you follow our instagram @AnakJajan, you would probably knew that we were having our #TravelWithAnakJajan new year winter trip to Japan from the end of December 2014 till the first week of January 2015.

PS: check out the following link for Complete Japan TRAVEL GUIDE & TIPS
https://anakjajan.com/2014/08/14/ultimate-japan-travel-guide-tips/

winter japan

winter japan

winter japan

AnakJajan’ve been wanting to write a travel diary from this trip and wanna show you how winter in Japan looks like and what to expect in Japan during winter.It’s just 2015 has been a very busy year but finally the winter travel diary has finally been completed, after all it’s better late than never right? ๐Ÿ™‚

winter japan
winter japan
winter japan

This winter trip was my second trip to Japan so I have quite enough experiences in doing preparation already, besides writing our experience, hopefully some informations in this post also could be useful for all of you who are planning to spend holiday in Japan during winter. Winter in Japan normally starts from December till February.

winter japan

winter japan

winter japan

Based on our experience, in December the best time to visit Japan would be during Christmas before New Year to get the festive Christmas decoration and ambiance. Visiting Japan during New Year can be an unique experience but also quite frustrating since lots of shops and tourist attractions are closed between December 29th and January 4th.

UPDATE: Many of you asked for recommendation on what to do from the 31st of December till the 4th of January since most shops are closed during that time of period. Well, you don’t have to worry since there are still tons of things that you can do.
I think almost all shopping malls are open even during that time of period, so you can still do a shopping and restaurant hunting activities in the mall. Then you can still do sight seeing to touristy places such as park, temple, etc, also don’t forget to visit the annual Lights Illumination in town.

winter japan

New Year is Japan’s most important holiday, unlike other countries that celebrate New Year’s Eve (NYE) with party and fireworks, New Year’s Eve in Japan is kinda different, instead of partying, it’s a time of reflection. Japanese people normally will watch the popular music program on television and visit shrine or temple around midnight on NYE.

winter japan

The temperature in Tokyo was around -1 to 10 ยฐC in Tokyo and -1 to 8 ยฐC in Kyoto during our trip in the end of December 2014 and beginning of January 2015. We did expect some rain but not with snow as I double checked weather forecast in Accuweather before flying to Japan and it said that there won’t be snowing.

Mr. Jajan & his new X-T1 bought in Tokyo
Mr. Jajan & his new X-T1 bought in Tokyo

winter japan

winter japan
winter japan

1st January 2015, we visitedย Zojoji Temple in Tokyo near Tokyo Tower (in walking distance) to experience the festivity of Hatsumode where Japanese people welcome the New Year by visiting shrine and temple across Japan during the first day of the year to pray and purchase lucky charms.

winter japan

winter japan

Lucky lucky lucky us!!! It was snowing suddenly the moment we stepped in to Zojoji Temple!!

winter japan

The snow was not heavy and only last for a while but it was a priceless and unexpected moment! Talking about first time experiencing New Year like Japanese and first time seeing the snow on the first day of 2015. Magic!!

winter japan

winter japan

If you are in Japan during New Year, you can join the crowds doing hatsumode, the year’s first visit to a shrine or temple. Hatsumode festivities are held at practically every shrine and temple across Japan during the first dew days of the year, especially on January 1st.

winter japan

winter japan

winter japan

Also there are lots of food stands that are very inviting and hard to resist with their tasty looking dishes.

takoyaki
takoyaki

winter japan

hot potato croquette
hot potato croquette

winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan

During New Year, most business are shut down, you’ll experience a very very quite Tokyo as most of the people travel back to their hometown to gather with their family. The situation is kinda similar to Jakarta during Eid or Lebaran holiday.

quite Tokyo
quite Tokyo

winter japan
winter japan

winter japan

Miracle continued when we visited Kyoto for the first time. The minute we reached Kyoto, our eyes were opened wide startled by the white town of Kyoto covered by thick fluffy white snow. OHHH MY GOD!! THICK FLUFFY SNOW!! It was an unexpected yet unforgettable moment for us.

winter japan
winter japan
winter japan

winter japan
winter japan

The temperature was between -1 to 7 ยฐC, it was cold but luckily Kyoto is not as windy as Tokyo so we can survive the cold weather with ease. On the other hand, it was quite challenging for us to drag our heavy luggage through the snowy streets from station to our ryokan.

winter japan
winter japan

winter japan

As I said earlier, we didn’t expect to encounter snow at all since the weather forecast said that there won’t be snow during our trip, so we didn’t prepare for that kind of situation. Mr. Jajan had a shoes disaster situation, he wore that kind of leather boat shoes with lots of stitches on the soles and it made his feet wet when the snow melts, lucky me my shoes were water resistant.

winter japan

winter japan

snow fights!!
snow fights!!
snow fights!
snow fights!

winter japan

We stayed at Kyoto for two days, Kyoto is totally different compared to Tokyo. We just love the calm and traditional vibes of this city, the scenery became even more beautiful with the thick white snow. I’m gonna share with you list of must visit places in Kyoto next time.

winter japan

kamogawa river
kamogawa river
kamogawa river
kamogawa river

winter japan

winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan

Here are our first snowman ever!!

winter japan
winter japan

cold breath
cold breath

winter japan

gion
gion

winter japan

winter japan

Winter Illumination
Winter in Japan is wonderful as you can enjoy annual winter lights illuminations across the cities that are normally available from November for one until four months where they normally start to turn on the lights from 5pm till midnight.

caretta shiodome
caretta shiodome

winter japan

This one is our personal favorite illumination at Caretta Shiodome Tokyo around 5 minutes walk from Shimbashi station, Caretta Illumination an annual illumination event that is available starting 19th Nov 2015 till 14th Feb 2016 from 5pm till 11pm. Here’s the video:

winter japan

winter japan

Shinjuku Southern Terrace, south of JR Shinjuku Station

shinjuku
shinjuku
shinjuku
shinjuku

Roppongi Hills

roppongi hills + tokyo tower
roppongi hills + tokyo tower
roppongi hills + tokyo tower
roppongi hills + tokyo tower

winter japan

Tokyo Station

tokyo station
tokyo station

Haneda International Airport

haneda
haneda
haneda
haneda

Here are some informations or tips about winter trip to Japan that we think would be important or helpful for you:
– Check the up-to-date weather forecast everyday to make sure you are well prepared with the weather (bring umbrella if it’s going to rain, thick coat if it’s going to be cold, etc)
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan

– Bring proper outfit to keep yourself warm for example thick and warm coat or sweaters. For innerwear, we love the Heattech innerwear from Uniqlo, it’s a thin and comfort innerwear that is pretty similar with long john but with heat retaining feature to keep the body warm. (FYI, it’s way cheaper in Uniqlo Japan than in Uniqlo Indonesia)
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan

– Purchase Touchscreen Winter Gloves, in that way you can use your smartphone without needing to remove your gloves and getting cold. It’s available in most shops, I bought mine in Uniqlo.

touchscreen gloves
touchscreen gloves
omiyage (edible souvenir)
omiyage (edible souvenir)

– Bring proper shoes that are warm, not slippery and water resistant especially if you visit snowy places, to avoid shoes disaster.
winter japan
– Most shops are closed during New Year from 29thย Dec till 4th January, most shops update the holiday announcement on their website or social media so make sure you check it first to avoid disappointment. But most shopping malls are open even during that time of period, so you can still do a shopping and restaurant hunting activities in the mall, and do sight seeing at the touristy places such as park, temple and don’t forget to visit Lights Illumination in town.
winter japan
winter japan
– Each season has its own unique cuisine, don’t forget to enjoy Winter cuisine and eat a lot!! You’ll get hungry easily in cold winter ๐Ÿ˜€
winter japan

winter japan
winter japan

winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japan
winter japanwinter japan

Vending machine usually provides hot drink, pay attention to the color of vending machine’s buttons. Blue for cold drinks and Red for hot drinks.
winter japan

hot button for hot drink
hot button for hot drink

– Purchase Fukubukuro or Lucky Bag or Mystery Bag. During new year, most shops will provide bags filled of unknown random items and sell it for a substantial discount, usually more than 50% off. It’s an event that should not be missed by any shopaholic ๐Ÿ™‚
winter japan

– Have fun visiting Winter Lights Illumination. You can search “Winter Illumination” on Japan-Guide website for up-to-date schedules and locations.

caretta shiodome
caretta shiodome
roppongi hills + tokyo tower
roppongi hills + tokyo tower

– Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun!! For full detailed guide, you can check our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide / TIPS https://anakjajan.com/2014/08/14/ultimate-japan-travel-guide-tips/

Overall, twinkling lights, fluffy snow, cold hands, warm hearts, we left our hearts once again in Japan. Thank you again Japan for showing your magic and gave us another unforgettable memories.

winter japan

We’ll share a complete itinerary guide on where to go and what to eat in Japan on our next Japan Travel post, stay tuned! Let’s Travel!!

Check link below for more Japan Travel posts ย https://anakjajan.com/category/location/japan-location/

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28 thoughts on “[JAPAN] WINTER TRIP IN JAPAN – Travel Diary”

  1. Your post is always awesome. I like…I like. Semoga ada rezeki saya pun bisa sampai ke Jepang. Memandangi foto-foto di post ini, serasa saya pun ikut ke Jepang ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What a lovely couple, with lovely story, and lovely pictures ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love your blog, The Jajans! Thank you for the sharing, I learnt a lot!
    My spouse and I are visiting Tokyo for the first time on Golden Week.. yeah.. I know. Bad dicision.
    I was wondering, have you ever experience Japan on Golden week? Or late spring around May? If you have, how was it? It term of climate and crowds.

    1. Thank you:)
      Our first visit to Japan was actually during Golden week, the crowd was still manageable only the hotel accomodation can be more expensive. And about the climate, it could be rainy (medium to light rain) for whole day, so remember to check the weather forecast and bring umbrella. Have fun!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. awesome post ! kalau boleh tahu itu foto di bawah tulisan “Youโ€™ll get hungry easily in cold winter๐Ÿ˜€” restaurant apa ya? bagus banget, soalnya aku mau ke jepang des ini. Thanks before mrs Jajan ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Aku suka semuaaa foto yg kakak post di web maupun di ig, hasilnya bener-bener menggoda orang untuk nyicipin makanan/ ngunjungin tempat yg di post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Hi! Loved your post! Is it a good decision to visit during last week of Dec till 1st week of Jan (say 23rd Dec to 7th Jan) if it’s my first time visiting? I would like a “full” Japan experience but like you mentioned, a lot of the shops seem to be closed during that time.

    Thanks!

    1. Hello, for full experience we recommend you to visit on the last two weeks of Dec, let’s say 16-30dec, first you get to enjoy winter illumination fully (some illuminations only last until 26dec), second because lots of shops are closed from 31 dec to 4 jan, but on the other side if you visit from 23dec-7jan will get the chance to experience the new year celebration at the temple on 31 dec night and 1 jan morning, and you still can enjoy it fully from 23dec-30dec & 5-7jan

  6. Hi!
    We are going to go to japan on early Dec 2016. Could you recommend itinerary for us? Our ticket from Jakarta to Haneda and will be back from Haneda to Jakarta.
    But we are planing to go to Disneyland, DisneySea, Osaka, Kyoto. Are we able to visit the tourist-thing in 12 days in Tokyo and Osaka? Is it enough time to visit Yokohama?

    1. Hello, for Disneysea or Disneyland, you will need to prepare one day for each destination. Yokohama is located near Tokyo so it won’t be a problem to have a visit when you stay in Tokyo. I think 12 days are enough to explore Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, maybe 1 day Disneysea, 1 day Disneyland, 2 days Kyoto, 4 days Tokyo (including Yokohama) and 3 days Osaka. For recommended places you can check our blog on Japan category https://anakjajan.com/category/location/japan-location/ or check our instagram hashtag #AnakJajanJapan https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/anakjajanjapan

  7. awesome and great post , super helpful since we plan to go there this year at december 3-15 and was wondering how cold it will be , apalagi buat adik aku yang belom pernah ngerasain musim dingin, kit aplan ke yokohama juga ada recomendation but makanan di yokohama ?

    1. Glad to hear that ๐Ÿ™‚ harusnya di awal Desember masih manageable dinginnya, tapi kembali ke pribadi masing-masing seberapa bisa tahan terhadap cuaca dingin. Untuk perkiraan cuaca yang detail bisa cek di accuweather agar bisa maksimal persiapan pakaiannya. Bagi yang baru pertama kali ngerasain musim dingin kita highly recommend untuk membawa longjohn atau seperti kita menggunakan dalaman baju dan celana serta kaus kaki bahan Heatech dari Uniqlo karena bisa membantu keep hangat suhu tubuh agar tidak mengganggu aktivitas jalan2 karena suhu dingin.
      Untuk Yokohama bisa explore China townnya, tapi yang paling menarik adalah Yokohama Ramen Museum, utk review detail bisa cek blogpost berikut https://anakjajan.com/2014/08/04/japan-shinyokohama-ramen-museum-yokohama/

  8. awesome pics…awesome story…since I will go to Japan (Sapporo, Hokkaido) next year in early February, this could be my guidance to experience winter there…loved that

  9. Hi hi, thanks for sharing this wondering trip with us~ ๐Ÿ’•

    I wanted to ask, if many shops and attractions are closed from the 31st of December till the 4th of January, what would you suggest to do during those days?

    1. You’re welcome. I think almost all shopping malls are open even during that time of period, so you can still do a shopping and restaurant hunting activities in the mall. Then you can still do sight seeing to touristy places such as park, temple, etc, also don’t forget to visit the annual Lights Illumination in town ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog! My family and I are going to Japan on Dec 30 of this year and we are staying there until Jan 8 2017. Your post and pictures are truly beautiful! Can you recommend a decent accommodation in Osaka? Did you stay in a hotel? Or did you avail of AirBnb’s services. I am so excited!

    1. Hiii, thank you for your sweet comment. For accomodation there are lots of it depends on your budget so you can check the review of available hotel or airbnb to find the perfect place to stay for you. What I can recommend is the location, I personally enjoy Dotonbori or around Namba station area to stay since there are lots of interesting things to eat and shop there and it’s pretty convenience to get around the town via subway from there. Happy holiday!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Halo, keren banget blognya, saya masih bingung ttg Jepang ini karena baru sadar kayaknya saya salah beli tiket gara-gara promo ๐Ÿ™‚
    Saya rencana ke Jepang pertengahan feb 2017 ini, 4org dgn 2 anak kecil (9 dan 12thn) via kansai. total sama perjalanan 9hari, jd efektip 7 hari jln.
    Sebelumnya saya berencana osaka-kyoto-tokyo-osaka
    Setelah saya cari info, rasanya gak cukup waktu buat ke Tokyo krn disana mengejar disneyland dan disneysea juga mt-fuji
    Bisa rekomend apakah saya mendingan jln daerah osaka kyoto dan sekitarnya sehingga tidak perlu beli JR Pass mengingat waktunya mepet dan bawa anak kecil (hemat JR Pass juga dengan asumsi budget JR Pass buat ambil ambil tiket promo next year ๐Ÿ™‚
    Atau tetap hajar Tokyo seperti rencana semula?

    Bisa rekomend tempat main salju didaerah tsb buat anak-anak?
    Sorry nanyanya kepanjangan.. thank you

  12. So lucky of experiencing the snow! I also been to Japan in Des and Jan this year, but there’s no snow in Kyoto. Great post anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I was planning to go Tokyo 31 Dec until 4 Jan , since you said most of the stores are closing. Is it including the shopping street ?

    1. Hello, I’m not very sure which shopping street that you’re referring, the stores that are closing on new year mostly are small cafe/ restaurants but not big chain restaurants, for example MOS Burger, Yoshinoya, etc are still open.
      As for street food/market, on new year, you can find it inside the temple areas (for example Zojoji, Ueno, etc), lots of street market vendors are open there ๐Ÿ™‚

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