End of year celebrations are plentiful in December in Japan and the weather accommodates these well. The driest month of the year across the majority of the country, skiers can head to the north with the majority of people making their way to the mainland for Tokyo and Kyoto celebrations and sightseeing and southern islands see some of the mildest temperatures, keeping the beaches to yourself making it a great season to be visiting here also.
December's a fun time to be in Japan. Days are crisp and dry and there's a festive vibe, especially in the cities where Christmas lights abound and locals are getting involved in 'forget the year' parties! If you’re looking for a Christmas getaway, Japan is an excellent choice. Early booking is essential.
During December, temperatures in Hokkaido drop dramatically (avg temp: 2°C) as Siberian weather fronts bring cold winds and the arrival of snow, transforming Japan’s northernmost island into a winter wonderland. It’s time to hit the slopes as the much anticipated ski season in Sapporo and Niseko begins in earnest.
December is the driest month of the year across Honshu, typified by crisp, sunny and short days, with sunset in Tokyo around 4.30pm (avg temp: 8-9°C). Temperatures in Northern Honshu (around Tohoku) and the Japanese Alps are cooler than in Honshu’s cities and snowfall is common in December, although Hokkaido’s ski resorts offer better skiing opportunities this month to those on Honshu.
Despite being further south, temperatures across the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu are similar to those in Honshu during December (avg temp: 8-9°C), with Nagasaki, Fukuoka and Matsuyama experiencing their driest month of the year. Christmas lights in Fukuoka rival those in Tokyo as seasonal shoppers flock to the city.
Okinawa and Japan’s southwest islands enjoy some of the country’s mildest temperatures in December, with the mercury pushing the warmer side of 20°C. It’s also the driest month of the year in Okinawa and Kerama, making it the perfect time to visit the islands – you’ll have the beaches to yourself - although with cold water temperatures only the hardy should venture into the sea and dive schools are now closed for the winter.