January is in mid-winter in Japan. It’s the coldest and driest month of the year. With its long extent from north to south, the further south in Japan you go, the warmer weather you can get (Sapporo averages below freezing and Okinawa is mild in January).
Snow falls more frequently than in December (though less in quantity). Thus, January is the best time for winter sports and experiencing a ryokan (Japanese inn) with hot springs.
At the end of the holiday season, Japan’s festive celebrations provide an atmospheric way to welcome in the New Year with your beloved and family. After the first week of January, you’re likely to enjoy discounts on hotels/flights and quieter attractions.
Find out about average temperatures, rainfall, and tips on where to go and what to wear in Japan in January below...
Japan Weather in January: Averages
- Temperature range: 2–9°C (35–48°F)
- Rainfall: 67 mm (2 inches)
- Rainy days: 8
- Sunny days: 23
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 January
|Japan City||Ave. Min. Temp.||Ave. Max. Temp.||Average Rainfall/Snowfall|
|Sapporo||-6°C (21°F)||0°C (32°F)||137 mm (5 in) snowfall|
|Tokyo||1°C (34°F)||10°C (50°F)||60 mm (2 in)|
|Kyoto||2°C (35°F)||9°C (48°F)||53 mm (2 in)|
|Osaka||3°C (37°F)||10°C (50°F)||47 mm (2 in)|
|Hakone||-3°C (28°F)||8°C (46°F)||54 mm (2 in)|
|Nara||0°C (32°F)||9°C (48°F)||52 mm (2 in)|
|Hiroshima||2°C (35°F)||10°C (50°F)||46 mm (2 in)|
|Okinawa||13°C (55°F)||19°C (66°F)||143 mm (6 in)|
Hokkaido and Northern Japan: Powder Paradise
Northern Japan, particularly the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions, average -3°C (28°F) in January. Blessed with abundant snowfall, northern Japan becomes an excellent destination for skiers and photographers.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, head to Tsurui (eastern Hokkaido) to spot red-crested cranes.
You could get itineraries from the well-organized private Hokkaido tour or contact us to tailor-make your own itinerary.
Tokyo and Central Japan: Full of New Year Celebrations
Packed with sunny days, your trip would be less affected by the weather in cultural and historical cities, like Tokyo and Kyoto, as you could experience most of the highlights inside heated buildings.
Unlike slightly warmer December, central Japan gets cold enough for occasional snow in January. But the cold weather also brings benefits of the lowest prices and the least crowding after the New Year holiday.
For New Year celebrations in Japan, early booking is advised to guarantee room availability and avoid rocketing prices.
You’re also suggested to stay in major cities, like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, because shops and restaurants are likely to be closed during the New Year holiday (December 29 to January 3) in remote areas.
Check the classic Japan tours or contact us to customize your own private tour! Your travel expert would call or email you within 24 hours!
Okinawa and Southern Japan: Off-Season for Beach Activities
Although January is the coldest month, Southern Japan (Kyushu and Okinawa) still experiences mild and comfortable weather. The average daily temperature range is from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F).
Being a winter month, January’s cool water keeps most people away from the bays, so you're likely to have the beach to yourself.
Wanna celebrate New Year with your family in Japan? See the well-picked private Japan family tour>>> or read more about planning a trip to Japan>>>
5 Best Places to Visit in Japan in January
Winter activities are the highlights of January. Hokkaido is ideal for skiing and winter illuminations. You could overlook Mt. Fuji and pleasantly soak in hot spring baths in Hakone. For a tranquil experience, see the exotic snow wonderland with its charismatic lighting-up event in Shirakawa-go.
If you want to celebrate New Year with your family in Japan, Tokyo and Kyoto are great destinations that are full of New Year celebrations.
Learn more about how long to spend in these cities>>>
1. Hokkaido: Immerse Yourself in Winter Fun
Hokkaido averages -4°C (25°F) with 200 mm (8 in) of high-quality snow in resorts in January — ideal for winter sports.
When celebrating New Year, what could be better than skiing on powder snow, then enjoying a delicious hot meal of local Japanese cuisine and a soak in an onsen (hot spring)? An iceberg cruise could make your trip more adventurous as well!
Early January is peak season in Hokkaido, so you’d better make reservations at least 6 months. Contact us to book your private Hokkaido tour with early-bird benefits!
Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Winter Trip>>>
2. Tokyo: Experience the Best New Year Celebrations
January is the second sunniest and second driest month in Tokyo with only 52 mm (2 in) of precipitation (mostly snow) on 5 days on average.
Traveling with kids, Tokyo has so much to offer indoors: anime centers like the Pokémon Center, science museums with walking robots or hands-on train models, and an exciting ninja or sumo classes... Don’t miss the first sumo tournament (Jan. 14 to 28, 2024) of six annual sumo tournaments in Japan as well.
You could experience the best New Year celebrations in Tokyo, whether you're looking for something traditional like The Oji Fox Parade or a modern countdown party. For something special, you could visit the closed inner grounds of the Imperial Palace on January 2nd in an even year like 2024.
Further reading: How to Plan an Incredible Family Trip to Japan
3. Kyoto: Soak in Snowy Temples and Culinary Delights
January is the coldest month in Kyoto, with an average high temperature of 9°C (48°F). The occasional snow is part of an average precipitation of 50 mm (2 in).
Kyoto is an attractive year-round destination, no matter the season. Blanketed by snow, the ancient temples and gardens become more impressive. The winter illuminations also create a romantic atmosphere.
Food hunting could be an interesting experience for couples or families, which also perfectly avoids the cold. Browse the indoor Nishiki Market, attend a tea ceremony, and end with some fine dining, like kaiseki (traditional Japanese cuisine).
4. Hakone: Warm Up in Hot Springs with Mt. Fuji Views
With cold and dry weather, maximum temperatures average around 8°C (46°F) in Hakone. The amount of rain and snow in January on average is around 54 mm (2 in).
During the cold days, charming ryokans offer the best winter getaway. Staying in these traditional Japanese inns, you could have personalized service, taste traditional kaiseki (multi-course fine cuisine) and soak in its private hot springs.
To see iconic views of snow-capped Mt. Fuji, you could take a romantic stroll through Hakone Shrine, or take a scenic cable car ride to soak in the breathtaking winter scenery.
5. Shirakawa-go: Find Serenity in a Rural Village with Enchanting Illuminations
In January, the daily temperature in Shirakawa-go peaks at 2°C (36°F), with an average of 11 snowy days during the month. Hidden in the mountain areas, Shirakawa-go offers an off-the-beaten-path experience in January.
It features Gassho-zukuri farmhouses (traditional Japanese farmhouses have long thatched roofs). The most Instagrammable pictures come with the snowfalls and lighting-up events between January and February, typically on weekends and holidays.
Costs and Crowding
In northern Japan, January is the peak season. You have to prepare for high costs and more travelers in ski resorts and hot springs spots, especially on weekends and holidays.
For central and southern Japan, January is considered the off season, with lowest crowding and prices, except in the first week of January. The popular cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima) are not so busy with tourists in January.
During the New Year holiday (December 29th to January 3rd), last-minuting bookings always mean limited availability and price hikes. Contact us at least 6 months before to enjoy early-bird deals.
Shrines and temples are full of Japanese people praying for good luck at New Year. If you’re not keen on cultural traditions, visit them after New Year.
You could learn more about trip costs in Japan: How Much Is a Trip to Japan>>>
What to Pack in January
As the coldest month in Japan, you’re suggested to bring heavy winter clothing, such as heavy coats, down jackets, and thermal underwear for northern and central areas.
Warm accessories are advisable as well, such as hats, gloves, and other winter gear to keep warm. Additionally, you’d better prepare waterproof boots for potential snowy days.
The only exception is the southern islands, where autumn clothing, like layers to cope with changeable temperatures (sweaters, light jackets…), is fine.
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.
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.
- Hassle-free travel and peace of mind: Every aspect of your trip will be carefully planned and organized by your 1:1 travel consultant.
- 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.