December sees the arrival of winter (December to February) in Japan, with bright skies and cold temperatures throughout the country.
Snowfall typically hits north Japan more frequently in late December when the skiing season is approaching. Meanwhile, central and south Japan stay dry most of the time. Additionally, you can expect warmer temperatures earlier in the month.
Exotic oriental culture, fantastic winter illuminations, and traditional hot spring bathing make Japan an ideal destination for Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Find out about average temperatures, rainfall, and tips on where to go and what to wear in Japan in December below...
Japan Weather in December: Averages
- Temperature range: 5–11°C (42–52°F)
- Rainfall: 65 mm (3 inches)
- Rainy days: 7
- Sunny days: 24
98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+
Wonderful 10 day trip in Japan!!!
Well planned trip by Alisa . Everything was well scheduled, guides and drivers were excellent!! The cars were extremely comfortable and the hotel she chose for us was beautiful!! Enjoyed planning with her she was very professional and always offered other choices.More
Lianne Stone, May 2023
11 days trip to Japan
I am planning my trip to Japan in November with Sharon's help and she has provided amazing customer service.She is very responsive and put together very quickly an incredible plan for 11 days in Japan. She provided recommendations and made changes based on our interests and budget. She also provided information about visa restrictions and the best way to get tickets for transportation services. Thanks so much Sharon, looking forward to this trip!More
LE, May 2023
Hi Cathy! I just want to thank you for making our Japan trip so much fun & memorable! We loved everything that you had scheduled for us! All the guides and drivers were great & punctual! We love Japan so much that we’re planning to go back next year to different part of Japan! We’ll definitely contact Asia Highlights for our trip again! SereneMore
Serene Storslett, May 2023
Quick, easy and detailed service
Alisa was our advisor from Asia highlights and she prepared for us a wonderful 28 day trip to Japan, taking into consideration our needs and desire not to be traveling everyday and to have a mixture of slow and busy days. We've not yet taken our trip, but very much looking forward to it Thank you Alisa for the quick response and wonderful itineraryMore
Lynette Whittle, Apr 2023
Sharon Huang did an excellent job in planningour 15 day Cherry Blossom Japan tour. Shewas available during our trip to answer our questions and readily agreed to the itinerary changes.Everything was arranged - accommodation,breakfast, guide, car, entrance fees and train tickets. The guides were knowledgeable, and managed the tour very efficiently. The drivers were punctual and very patient. We visited must see places in and near Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. We also got to experience Japanese Tea ceremony, Sushi making, Sake tasting, shopping etc.We highly recommend Asia Highlights for your travel needs.More
Madhu, Apr 2023
I organized a trip to Japan for my
I organized a trip to Japan for my parents who don’t speak English and Alisa was so amazing helping make an itinerary for them. They needed a Spanish guide and she coordinated everything so they wouldn’t have any trouble when they got there. She was so patient changing and adjusting the itinerary to their needs and wants, it’s been a total pleasure working with her and she always responds promptly to any question I have. I definitely recommend this company and if you can ask to work with Alisa.More
Luisa, Apr 2023
Trip to Japan. I have had the pleasure to book with…
For the reasons above, I decided to book again with Asia highlights for our trip to Japan this year in September. Until now it’s been a pleasure dealing with Albee Ning. She was so efficient and pleasant in adjusting our itinerary. Whenever I had any questions I could count on her to answer promptly. I am very lucky to have her as our organiser for our future trip to Japan. I have had the pleasure to book with Asia Highlights when we went to China in 2018. We were extremely satisfied with the exceptional services rendered by our organiser, Robert Hui and private guide William.More
Mrs Cristina Hidalgo Loris, Apr 2023
Albee Ning and Asia Highlights - wonderful to work with.
I and my daughter planned a trip to China and Japan. We worked with Albee Ning who was fantastic in developing a itinerary based on our desires and needs. She was extremely responsive, taking into account all of our requests and worked closely with us, it wasn't just selecting from one of several pre-developed itineraries. We decided to postpone the trip until next year and received the guaranteed refund, minus a small deposit on next years trip. We look forward to working with her again on next years trip and trips in the future. We highly recommend Asia Highlights and Albee NingMore
Nancy K, Apr 2023
Handcrafted tour of Japan by Asia Highlights
My initial inquiry to this company (based in China) was answered in under 10 hours by an amazing travel consultant, named Alisa. She is such a professional in the ways she conducts herself and serves her clients. Alisa is a great communicator and listener. She is very open to requests for additional experiences which require research on her part to arrange. Alisa also provides very detailed information about each experience, location, guides, private car transfers, trains, hotels. This approach is very appealing since detailed communication is so useful and important to me. Alisa also makes the process simple and easy to follow. Answered tons of questions and created the perfect tour for us. We are looking forward to this once in a lifetime visit to Japan and are so grateful we have had the chance to work with Alisa at Asia Highlights!More
Laurie Lee, Feb 2023
Great Overall Experience
Our guide in Tokyo, Fuki, was outstanding. We saw things we would never have otherwise seen, if Fuki had not been there.More
Todd Hankinson, Dec 2022
Plenty of options and personalized tours as needed
Monica Mo was very helpful from the beginning after I enquired about my travel plans to Japan. She listened with understanding and took careful notes and clarified things to make sure she got everything.More
Ginybel Belgira, Sep 2022
Asia Highlights especially Ms. Kanae Chida superb
Asia Highlights and particularly our Tokyo guide, Ms. Kanae Chida, were the best. When Kanae met us, she asked for details of what we wished to see and she constructed an outstanding combination of visits for the day.More
Geoff Rayner-Canham, May 2019
I have arranged a 27 day tour of China, Japan and Hong Kong China
Peggie's English is impeccable and she uses lots of nuances which usually only a native English speaker would know. I have found her very prompt in responding to emails and her knowledge is terrific.More
Ailsa West, Jul 2018
Very professional, great customer service
We travelled to Japan this May (2018). We had contacted Asia Highlights to organise our trip for us. Miss Peggie Lyoo was very helpful, super-friendly, very professional and very prompt with all her replies!More
Tibor Marton, May 2018
Great job!! We had an amazing vacation to Japan. We will use Asian highlights for all of our trips to AsiaMore
Joe, May 2018
In addition, I want to specifically mention the guides provided in certain locations. Rum, in Siem Reap, made the most memorable experience possible. His positivity was contagious - even when it felt like 1000 degrees and we were tired. He brought it all to life, and created a couple days of Ankor Wat, etc. that we will never forget! He heard my daughter's request for specific Cambodian food, and changed our itinerary to go to a village and eat at a locally known shop. He brought the dessert she asked about to us in the car! Overall, he and his driver "Lucky" were a reason to go to Siem Reap. In addition, the other guides (minus one which was switched out immediately) were stupendous. Mon in Bangkok was friendly and provided a great day there; Eak in Chiang Mai gave us a world-class food-tour and day touring the city and its surrounding temples with lots of laughs; Tommy in Hanoi kept us from getting killed in the traffic and gave a stupendous food and architecture/history tour - so very friendly and funny; the fishing village tour in Hoi An, as well as the side-car tour in Saigon, were both unforgettable! Thank you Sharon, and Asia Highlights. Would definitely use again for future trips!More
Teri Simpson, Apr 2023
Cambodia and Vietnam adventure!
Our guide in Cambodia, Meas Darapolaith (Pol), was absolutely amazing. He was knowledgeable, friendly and so helpful. His English was excellent and he shared important insights about history and the magnificent sites we visited. We highly recommend him!More
Jennifer Roth Krieger, Apr 2023
My daughter and I wanted to discover SE…
My daughter and I wanted to discover SE Asia. Being the first in that region, we wanted to use a tour service company. We ended up using Asia Highlights. From the beginning we were impressed with their services. We left home with of mind because all the pre-travel arrangements were taking care and communicate to us efficiently. All our questions were answered promptly. Once in the countries, we were welcome by our excellent tour guides. Everything was taking care for us. We did not have one issue. They selected the right tours guides for us, they were highly knowledgeable and so much attentive to our needs. We had Dhat in Vietnam and Borin in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I highly recommend Asia Highlights. I came back home so much rested, and with plenty of wonderful pictures and memories. I will definitely use Asia Highlights again for my next trip to Asia.More
Isabelle Dessaux, Apr 2023
Fabulous tour and guide in Cambodia
We have been touring Cambodia, guided by Borin ( and driver 007) for the last 2 days. What a fabulous experience! Borin has been a wonderful guide, the best so far in Southeast Asia, explaining the history and culture of Cambodia through his tours of the temples in and around Angkor, as well as the Landmine museum. He has answered all our questions, made sure we were comfortable, and that we have had great food. 007 made sure we always had enough water and cool towels for our face/neck.We highly recommend Borin as a tour guide for Cambodia!!More
Monica, Mar 2023
Best Travel Service for Asia Travel
Alisa Liu was in charge of making the arrangements and she helped us from the start to make all of the arrangements and also helped us when we had questions and requested some adjustments. Her service is of the highest professional level. We are 100% confident that our trip will be perfect. We’re also 100% confident that, if anything comes up during our trip, that Alisa will be there to guide us through and take care of us. We won’t even consider using another agency for travel around Asia and we would like to have Alisa work for us again.More
Leo Pospichal, Mar 2023
Weather of Japan’s Major Cities in December
|Japan City||Ave. Min. Temp.||Ave. Max. Temp.||Average Rainfall/Snowfall|
|Sapporo||-4°C (25°F)||2°C (35°F)||113 mm (4 in) of snow|
|Tokyo||4°C (39°F)||12°C (54°F)||58 mm (2 in)|
|Kyoto||4°C (38°F)||12°C (54°F)||57 mm (2 in)|
|Osaka||5°C (42°F)||12°C (54°F)||56 mm (2 in)|
|Hakone||5°C (42°F)||12°C (50°F)||48 mm (2 in)|
|Nara||2°C (36°F)||11°C (53°F)||57 mm (2 in)|
|Hiroshima||4°C (39°F)||12°C (54°F)||54 mm (2 in)|
|Okinawa||17°C (62°F)||22°C (71°F)||111 mm (4 in)|
Hokkaido and Northern Japan: Snow Wonderland
In December, north Japan can be freezing and snowy with an average temperature of -1°C (30°F). You can expect snowfall, particularly in the second half of the month.
The snowy weather turns north Japan into a winter wonderland: ski resorts reopen and winter illuminations continue.
Because of the snow, some roads might be blocked. You’re suggested to take a private tour, which is helpful to eliminate the hassles and flexible to avoid such seasonal disruptions.
Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Winter Trip>>>
Tokyo and Central Japan: Great for Atmospheric Winter Celebrations
Central Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka…) is cold and dry in December, averaging 6°C (43°F). The sunny weather softens the cold temperatures in the daytime.
You would have the highest chance of getting a clear view of spectacular Mount Fuji in December. Christmas celebrations, winter illuminations in Tokyo, ryokan inns and hot springs in Hakone, and the Japanese Alps area are other December highlights.
As December is usually a great time for family reunions/ vacations, you might be interested in our hand-picked family tour: 2-Week Japan Private Family Vacation>>> or would like to get some inspiration about planning your family trip in December.
Okinawa and Southern Japan: Winter Getaway
Unlike the cold central and north, southern Japan is still cool and pleasant.
December is the driest month of the year in southern Japan with temperatures ranging from 21°C (70°F) and moderate rainfall of 104 mm (4 in).
Water activities and sunbathing are still available. If you are a nature lover, you can also go on a whale-watching sea expedition.
Learn about how to plan a trip to Japan>>>
The 5 Best Places to Visit in Japan in December
Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka allow a summative view of Japan. You could discover their highlights with few crowds in the first half of December, but to encounter atmospheric festival celebrations, visit around Christmas and New Year.
Snow and hot springs are the themes of winter in Japan. Nagano and Hokkaido won’t disappoint you. Learn more about how long to spend in these cities>>>
1. Tokyo: Most Festive Celebrations, Winter Illuminations
Tokyo in December is fairly good for outdoor activities with plenty of sunny days. If you prefer a warmer and less-crowded time in Tokyo, visit in early December.
As it is the time for celebrations, Tokyo is full of festival atmosphere. The streets and shopping malls are decorated with shining illuminations from late November.
You could browse Christmas markets, celebrate Christmas with your favorite Disney Characters, and join in the New Year’s countdown parties in late December.
2. Kyoto: Traditional Cultural Experiences in Heated Buildings
In Kyoto, the average maximum temperature in December is 12°C (54°F).
As Kyoto is an ancient capital, its traditional cultural experiences are great ways to escape the cold weather. Whether you’re on a couple’s vacation or a family trip, Kyoto has something to offer.
Inside heated premises, taste traditional Japanese tea with a geisha, try on a kimono, go for an interactive ninja experience session, and take a swordsmanship lesson.
With a magical atmosphere, the bell-ringing ceremonies in Kyoto’s temples are a special way to welcome the New Year in Japan.
3. Osaka: Mouthwatering Food and Super Nintendo World
Osaka in December is generally sunny and dry, with some occasional rain or snow.
During the cold days, sampling authentic Japanese food is ideal for warming up and learning about local life. As much as Tokyo is popular for its fancy Michelin cuisine, Osaka is well-known for affordable street food.
The holiday season is also celebrated in Osaka. Winter illuminations are easily found everywhere, and don’t miss the eye-catching Osaka Castle Illumination. You and your kids can experience a Christmas extravaganza in Universal Studios and play games in its Super Nintendo World.
4. Nagano: Encounter Snow Monkeys
In December, Nagano experiences cold and snowy weather conditions, with average temperatures ranging from -2°C to 6°C (28°F to 43°F). Blanketed by snow, you could fully immerse yourselves in winter fun.
Your Nagano trip would not be complete without a hot spring experience. You could also capture iconic pictures in Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park: photograph snow monkeys soaking in the hot springs. Skiing among the breathtaking scenery is exciting as well.
5. Hokkaido: Say Hi to Cute Penguins in a Snow World
Travelling to Hokkaido, you’ll step into a snow world. Go skiing, take a dip in an ice village, and stroll the beautifully-lit paths along rivers in Otaru...
If you’re travelling with kids, don’t miss the traditional winter penguin walk in Asahiyama Zoo after mid-December. You could see the adorable penguins waddle along their purpose-built path.
Full of winter illuminations, December offers a great atmosphere of holiday cheer around Christmas and New Year.
Costs and Crowding in December
You could discover Japan with few crowds and lower costs in the first half of December. You could get around easier and enjoy the iconic attractions without having to fight through crowds of tourists.
However, it gets crowded towards the end of December due to the Christmas and New Year holidays. With high demand, flights and hotels are easily booked up during the holidays. Their prices always rocket as well. Thus, you’d better book your private trip at least half a year in advance to lock in the price and enjoy early-bird benefits.
Check the classic Japan tours or contact us to customize your own private tour! With us, you enjoy 100% refund of any payments made to Aisa Highlights prior to 3 weeks before departure (See more on our booking policy).
What to Pack in December
If you head to central and northern Japan, heavy winter clothing is essential to keep you warm. Pack overcoats, down jackets, mufflers, snow boots, and heat packs. Don't forget to bring along winter accessories, such as hats, scarves, and gloves.
On the warmer southern islands, “summer/autumn” layers are enough to adjust to the changes of weather in the day and night.
Sun protection is suggested because of the abundant sunny days.
Check more details about the best times to visit Japan: for the most comfortable weather, for the lowest crowds...
Monthly Weather and Travel Information for JapanLearn about the weather in Japan for 12 months and find out the best places to visit each month.
|Japan in January||Japan in February||Japan in March|
|Japan in April||Japan in May||Japan in June|
|Japan in July||Japan in August||Japan in September|
|Japan in October||Japan in November||Japan in December|
Exploring Japan with Asia Highlights
At Asia Highlights, we have created over 10,000+ big trips for insightful travelers, mostly for families and couples. We will be happy to personalize your private Japan tour that offers you an unforgettable memory!
Get inspiration from the below hands-on itineraries. All of them could be customized to your interests/schedule within 24 hours!
Why Travel with Asia Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)
- Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
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- Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.
Get Inspired with Our Sample Itineraries
At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.