Hokkaido Travel Guide Winter

What to Wear During Winter in Hokkaido

How to dress right and enjoy the winter in Hokkaido? It gets very cold there in the winter months (December – February). It does not mean people there stay inside their houses and watch TV all day long till they get to sleep at night. Rather, they prepare themselves to cope with the freezing cold weather.

Life goes on! Some of you are very worried and looking for some guides for enjoying your winter holiday in Hokkaido region.

As I am here with some winter costume ideas, I believe my ideas would help you to survive the winter in Hokkaido while exploring its winter festivals and other sightseeing attractions.

Extreme Snowy Weather and Ryuhyo Norokko Train in Abashiri, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: bryan… at Flickr.

When it comes to talking about dressing right in winter, the first thing comes to my mind is – about layers. Take a look at my favorite winter jacket (Columbia Sportswear).

You cannot go out with a single layered costume idea which even may help you to catch cold let alone traveling around. It is a very good idea to be able to adjust temperature with clothes and avoid hypothermia.

Cover your upper body surface with warm clothes like coat, jacket, sweater and yeah of course this beanie.

To enjoy every experience of your winter holiday in Hokkaido you have to think of how you could fight against the cold weather than just being stylish and attractive with your costumes.

Freezing Cold Weather of Hokkaido

Snow is Everywhere in Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Jason Luk at Flickr.

Is this winter going to be cold in Hokkaido? Certainly it is going to be cold, no doubt about that. Due to geographical position, Hokkaido is much colder region than other parts of Japan.

In 1902, the coldest high temperature (-41 DC) of Japan was recorded in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. Since then it has been the coldest temperature ever Japan received till now.

This clearly indicates that Hokkaido’s weather is far different than Kyoto and Tokyo. The temperature extremely changes from morning to night. January is Hokkaido’s coldest month of the year. Though it’s important to note that indoors are warm!

In such a severe weather condition, people are not scared because they know the way of dealing with such condition. Adaptability is the key to success here.

When the temperature drops very low in most of the major cities in Hokkaido including the capital city – Sapporo, you must wear double layers clothing. Soon I would be sharing a simple way of living in a cold weather there in Hokkaido, especially the attire.

Boot – Footwear

You Can Wear This Kind of Snow Boots in Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Tzuhsun Hsu at Flickr.

A pair of quality waterproof non slip/non skid boot is enough for walking down the street or elsewhere. As it snows a lot during winter here in Hokkaido, you have to wear shoes that are slip resistant waterproof.

You can’t walk with a pair of Geta that is usually worn by Geisha. They are able to walk outdoor with those on the slippery surfaces of the roads covered with snow. But I know none of you want to go out wearing Geta!

If it is winter now, you will surly encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors, no matter how well the snow and ice is removed from sidewalks. Think of your kids, they need to stay out of this kind of situation.

Please don’t let them fall down. Make sure all of your family members wear non-slip waterproof shoes/boots. Please check this pair right away and this brand has got shoes for all members of different ages.

In addition, you may want to attach cleats (ice grips) to your shoes for walking on the icy surfaces. 

Jacket and Sweater – Upper Body Protection Guide

A Skier at Rusutsu Ski Resort in Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Jeremy Eades at Flickr.

Whether it is a Jacket with hood or just a plain jacket/long coat, make sure it is lightweight as much as possible but the quality has to be great.

This means I want you to buy a jacket which is lightweight but comfy and produces heat inside. When a Jacket is added with a hood then you don’t need to buy a beanie or so called winter hat.

I have been to several shopping malls in Tokyo where latest fashion tread is a kind of issue for everyone.

I experienced that the collection of new design winter jacket or coat is huge there, I am sure it would be hard to choose one because everything looks perfect!

You can have a warm sweater inside when you decide to wear a leather coat. It is not awkward because you need heat when you get outside off the hotels, malls, restaurants, stations or trains.

They do have heating system inside. Therefore, if you decide to go to hotels or restaurants you could take your jacket off and stay there comfortably wearing the sweater.

You can check this wonderful waterproof ski jacket, which has a hood! Buy it before it gets sold.

Snow Gloves and Mittens

Which one is much warmer snow glove or mitten? To be honest, I don’t know the exact answer because I use both and feel comfortable with them.

The main reason to use these for keeping your hands warm and make sure they stay as dry as possible.

It would likely always be a matter of personal preferences as I believe gloves is more useful while skiing. When the weather is mild, sunny and frosty you better use thermal mittens for traveling around.

That’s my advice though I think you know better than me if you live in a snowy and frosty weather.


Wear Thermal Socks when you Snowboard. Photo Credit: Jun Kaneko at Flickr.

You don’t buy ordinary socks but thermal ones. Thermal sock is the ideal options when you prefer to roam around a snowy weather. Hokkaido has the best ski resorts in Japan.

A lot of visitors who like winter sports events and adventurous head toward Hokkaido’s top ski and snowboarding resort.

If you are one of them please buy few pair of outdoor thermal boot socks. When the temperature is very low and you decide to snowboard, I guess at that time a pair of socks like would be your best friend.

Oh… I have forgotten to let you know that, bring couple of thermal underwear which you really need for skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of the designated ski resorts.

Pants and Tights – Lower Body Protection

If you want to go for skiing, you can rely on ski rental shops available at the designated ski resorts across Hokkaido, especially in Niseko. Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito at Flickr.

In the winter months of Hokkaido, visitors around the world get there for several reasons mostly for participating in the snow festivals that takes place across Hokkaido.

When I go out for a walk, I always prefer wearing thermal jeans/fleeced lined jeans which protects me from the windy cold weather. You can wear skinny or slim-fit jeans so that it sticks with your legs as much as possible and works as a resistant from the cold weather.

You can wear any kind of thermal pants, but make sure to add an extra layer to that by wearing tights

Skiing in jeans is a bad idea. So avoid wearing jeans when you hit the slops. Instead wear high-tech snow pants for safety and comfort. 

All kind of snowboarding and ski accessories can be rented from the shops located around any ski resorts in Hokkaido. Therefore, you don’t have to bring a pair of ski pants there from home.

If you are interested in buying a slim fit thermal jeans pants then please check this out right away.

Scarf and Hat

A Woman Wears Beautiful Snow Hat and Scurf in Otaru, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Hsuanya Tsai at Flickr.

Both these accessories are used for protecting our ears and mouths from a freezing cold weather winds. Relatively, nowadays people use scarf as part of attire style as well.

I have a Russian style winter ear flap hat that I use while I hike in the wild areas of Hokkaido in winter. With the right outfit like this is simply enjoyable in outdoor winter activity.

There are beautiful scarves for women and men you can find at different online stores. You can check and make a purchase before you arrive in Japan for a winter vacation.

A few days ago, I went to Sapporo and seen that many shops are featuring variety of stylish scarves especially for women. However, wear it around your neck and feel comfortable with it.


Ski Resort in Niseko, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: hirotomo t at Flickr.

Wear a thermal long-sleeve shirt or a fleece shirt for a winter evening stroll.

Use that as a base layer, whereas you need to wear a heavy coat or jacket/sweater over it. Women could wear tights long sleeve tops if they really feel cozy with.

You don’t need to buy these in Japan, rather bring some that you have at home.

Why to waste money buying these in Japan? I guess, with those amount of money you could buy some cute Japanese souvenirs for others.


Often you have to umbrella if it’s snowing out there constantly. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

In Hokkaido, snow begins to fall from late November and soon it can be seen everywhere including urban and rural areas. Japanese people use umbrella for snow storm as they do for rain and sun.

Maybe there is a debate whether you should use it or not when it snows out there. But, as it has been one of our traditions I believe I should share this idea with you.

Here, sometimes it snows like the rain. You would not get wet in such conditions, if you don’t use an umbrella though.

Should I Buy Winter Clothes in Japan?

I am neither a sales person nor an affiliate partner of Japan Uniqlo or Kenzo. I won’t suggest you to buy winter clothes from these stores in Japan since nothing bad or good would happen to me if you make a purchase there.

You may buy winter clothes here in Japan if you don’t want to pack this thing at home. But I honestly believe you should bring your winter clothes from home.

You don’t need to buy new ones here, it would be just time consuming for you at the same time expensive. Don’t lose your valuable time buying such thing that you could do at home easily. You can order online or go yourself to the shop.

You want to have an enjoyable walk on the snow? Then please buy or have those accessories I have mentioned here in this article.

Winter is all about fun activities in the snow and to make it perfect you have to come with appropriate attire. Please keep in mind that, add as many layers as possible depending on your choice.

I believe winter without snow is not a real winter at all. If winter season is a piece of paper then snow is the color/pen you want to draw something with.

Now gear up, get ready for experiencing Hokkaido’s extreme cold weather and the Sapporo Snow Festival.

This guide could be applicable for other parts of Japan as well, if you are looking forward to explore them in the winter.

So, you get the answer of the questions like “what to wear during winter in Japan?” or “what clothes to bring for winter trip to Japan?” Thank you.


  1. Hi, thanks a lot for your very informative post! However, I am a little confused over your statement about uniqlo…are the stuff sell there ok for Hokkaido winter? I am going to Sapporo in beginning to mid December, so thinking to buy those in Uniqlo Singapore first…for eg their thermal socks, is that sufficient?

    Thank you!

    • Hi, actually there is nothing to be worried of. Yes of course, the stuff they sell is fine for Hokkaido winter. My statement here does not have any impact on Uniqlo product quality. They sell quality products based on a consumer’s needs & wants. I think most of the stuffs I have suggested here can be purchased from a Uniqlo outlet in your home country. Good luck and thanks for visiting this article.

  2. Hi! I’m going to Sapporo Snow Festival 2016 and struggling what to wear. I’m coming from the coldest region of Russia myself (Yakutia), so I’m used to cold weather but Japanese climate is way more wet so I was confused. Your article was very helpful, now I know what to look for next time I go shopping. Cheers!

    • I am so glad that my article has revealed something very useful to you. I hope you would have a very good time in Sapporo. Good luck and Thank you very much.

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