Monday, December 7, 2015

Should You Visit Japan on Winter Vacation?

Japanese woman enjoying an onsen with monkeys
photo credit:

And we're at the end of another year. Where did the year go? Time flew so fast!
It's winter again, my 4th and last winter in Japan. How I survived the last three winters amazes me.

Anyway, a couple of people have asked me if winter vacation is good time to visit Japan. I'd like to say, it depends but I'd be required to give more explanations. So, I just wrote them the pros and cons of visiting Japan in winter. I'll share here what I wrote to them. 

A. Why You Should Visit Japan in Winter

1. It's a great time for winter sports.  

If you love skiing or snowboarding, then by all means, come to Japan on your winter break. The snow is simply perfect at this time. You don't need to go all the way to Hokkaido. You can enjoy winter sports along the slopes of Mt. Fuji, on the mountains in Nagano or in the northern prefectures from Tokyo. 

2. There are wonderful illuminations to see. 

Japan is obsessed with winter illuminations. Almost everywhere, there's some kind of local illumination during the winter break. Some illuminations have light shows and other related events. 

3. The New Year's sale is amazing. 

If you're planning to go shopping, don't miss the New Year's Day sales all over Japan. Prices drop to as much as 70% off. This is called Hatsu-uri. A lot of shops also offer Happy Bags or Lucky Bags called Fukubukuro. These bags contain various goods which are worth much more than what you'll pay for. (For example, if you buy a 10,000 Fukubukuro, you may get goods worth 30,000- 50,000)

4. Juhachi Kippu or 18 Ticket is available.

Juhachi Kippu is a cheap seasonal ticket for local trains. You can go all over Japan with this ticket if you don't mind spending tons of time in the train. For only 11,800 Yen, you can ride any local train for 5 days.  

B.Why You Should Not Visit Japan in Winter

1. It's really, really, horribly cold. 

It's cold, cold, cold. This is the primary reason why it's not a great time to visit on winter vacation. It's just sooooo cold everywhere. 

2. It's peak season in tourism.

Vacation time is a peak time for tourism. It means things are more expensive than in low season. Lodging is especially more expensive. If you're visiting in winter on a budget, consider Air BnB. 

3. Establishments are closed from December 30 to January 2. 

If your time is limited, visiting on winter vacation is not a good time. Most tourist places, except for parks, are closed for the New Year. Even the big cities are unusually quiet and peaceful. 

4. Christmas is an ordinary day and New Year is very quiet.

Don't let the Christmas decors all around Japan fool you. People go to work on Christmas. It's not a holiday in Japan. Then Japan's New Year celebration is very quiet. No parties, no fireworks just sounds of the temple bells. The atmosphere during these times are solemn, not festive. 

The things I've listed are based on my experience. Some of the pros maybe cons to you and some of the cons may actually be pros to you. It really depends on how you see things. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...