Going to be in Japan in December? Here are some fun things to do in Japan in December. Check it out!
Embark on a winter wonderland adventure with our guide to the best things to do in Japan in December 2024.
From dazzling illuminations to serene hot springs, embrace the festive spirit and cultural marvels of Japan during this enchanting month, creating memories that will sparkle as brightly as the season itself.
Top Things To Do In Japan In December: Ultimate Japan Travel Guide For December
Enjoy The Charm of Chichibu Night Festival
The moment we think of beautiful lanterns and fireworks, our mood lights up too.
That’s why Chichibu Night Festival has the charm of making people cheerful in the middle of chilly weather at night.
This feast is held in Chichibu Shrine, located at Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture, which is only 90 minutes away from central Tokyo. It is organized annually from December 2nd to 3rd, and is considered one of Japan’s top three float festivals with Kyoto’s Gion Festival and Takayama Matsuri.
During the celebration, the floats are adorned with beautiful lanterns, carpets, and wood carvings. They are accompanied by flute and drum music to represent the festive mood.
Another attraction is the fireworks display that lasts for two to three hours. You will find several standing food stalls lined by the streets offering delicious items.
If you want to catch the main highlight of Chichibu Yomatsuri, then you must have to attend it on 3rd December. The floats are displayed in their relevant neighborhood and Chichibu Shrine from the afternoon to early evening.
Around 7:00 PM, they are being pulled through the streets towards the city hall. And here, the climax takes place when one after another float is pulled up the slope.
You will see fireworks displays from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM, which can be seen from many places around the town.
Go On A Osaka Shinsekai Food Tour
Discover the true Osaka by exploring the local food at Shinsekai. The Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka is a bustling area that combines traditional and modern food.
Fill up on some of the best cuisine Japan has to offer. For a genuine local experience, go through and around the marketplaces that serve traditional Osakan cuisine.
Here are some local food recommendations for you to try at Shinsekai: The forst stall you should try is the takoyaki (battered octopus balls) stall. After that try some genuine Osakan kitsune Udon and Japanese-style chicken wings at an Izakaya restaurant.
Then try the locally made kushikatsu, which are skewered vegetables, meats, and shellfish that have been delicately deep-fried.
Then head to smaller Japanese local restaurants for delicious nikudoufu or beef and tofu stew, yakitori, and local beverages – both alcoholic and non alcoholic.
Around here, you’ll also find a restaurant that specializes in gyoza dumplings.
Then you can head to another Japanese restaurant in the same line to eat some tonpeiyaki with edamame and karaage.
After this for dessert, you can try the Japanese castella cake at the market!
Be Mesmerized with The Winter Illumination
One of the top attractions of Japan’s winter month is definitely the glittering illuminations events.
When the daytime is suitable for exploring different attractions, your nights will be more colorful with all of these glittering light events.
And, the good thing is, most of these winter illuminations take place in urban areas like Tokyo.
For example, you may go to Yebisu Garden Place, Roppongi Hills Christmas, Meguro River Minno no Illumination, Shinjuku Southern Terrace Winter Illumination, Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, Marunouchi Illumination, Odaiba Illumination, and so on.
Most of these events run over the whole month of December, but few are held until Christmas.
So, while visiting Tokyo in December, try to attend as much illumination as possible because each one has a different vibe.
But, Tokyo is not the only place where you can admire this type of event.
You will find them in almost every city in Japan, such as Sapporo White Illumination (in Hokkaido), Sendai Pageant of Starlight (in Sendai), Ashikaga Flower Park (in Ashikaga), Sagamiko Illumination (in Kanagawa Prefecture), Toki no Sumika Resort (in Gotemba), Nabana no Sato (in Mie Prefecture), Festival of Lights (in Osaka), Kyoto Illumiere (in Kyoto), and many more.
Go to Shirakawago Village: A Winter Wonderland
Shirakawago Village is such a spot that knows how to mesmerize people with its magical panorama.
Although you can visit this town all year round, the winter attraction is unique and breathtaking.
From mid-December, snow starts falling around this town, and the roof of the Gassho Zukuri houses gets covered by it. And this snowfall enhances the beauty of the village to another level.
Even if the daytime panorama is stunning, I admire the night beauty most.
In winter, an illumination event is held at night, making the town look straight out of a fairy movie.
The best part is, you can even stay in these old-style houses and enjoy the chilly environment coupled with a mug of hot coffee.
I think, if you want to escape the city lights, this will be a perfect hideout.
Explore Biei Town in Hokkaido
Blue Pond, which is situated in Biei Town, Hokkaido. It was made while preventing mudflow from the outburst of Mount Tokachi reaching the town.
It became popular as it reflects the color blue. It’s because of the presence of Hydrogen Peroxide in the water, which turns into a rainbow of different blue shades based on the season.
And the best time to witness the blue pond is during winter when it’s encircled with snow because the blue color compliments the pristine white.
It looks even more impressive after the evening as the pond is illuminated with spotlights, and the color of the water reflects on the snow.
Well, you won’t come all the way to Biei to see the blue pond only, right?
Even I will not let that happen because you can’t afford to miss the spectacular Shirahige Waterfalls. It is nestled only half an hour drive away from Biei town.
It’s rather unusual compared to other Japanese waterfalls as it flows from an underground river. The elegance of the fall becomes particularly stunning in winter when frost-covered trees and twinkling icicles flatter the blue river below.
The light-up event in the cold season makes the aura more magical, leaving you breathless.
After you experience the attraction of the whole Biei town, you may go to the Yumoto Shirogane Onsen hotel to stay overnight and enjoy a relaxing bath in the spa’s lukewarm water.
Yumoto Shirogane Onsen hotel Location
As Biei is one of the good places to go in December, I think you shouldn’t miss out on any of these stunning locations at any cost.
Try Out Ice Skating
One of the most trendy winter activities in Japan is ice skating, which can be enjoyed in the chilly environment of December.
You can choose to drop by the Fuji Q Highland amusement park situated nearby Mt. Fuji, in Fujiyoshida city. This park has one of the largest skating rinks where you can satisfy your longing for some fun ice skating.
After skating, if you want to do something crazier, then riding the roller-coaster will be a top-notch choice to feel the cool air.
Just put your hand up, and let go of all the fear!
Aside from these, there are other fun rides that you may try out too.
Now, if you want to stay within Tokyo, there are several outdoor ice skating rinks in the central area.
For example, Urban Dock Lalaport Toyosu, Tokyo Midtown, Sacas Square, Tokyo Skytree Town Ice Skating Park, Futako Tamagawa Rise are some of the best ice skating rinks in Tokyo.
You will see people of all ages here, from young couples to cute kids.
So, if you are in Japan with your sweetheart, how about going out on a romantic date. I mean, if your other half doesn’t know how to skate, you can try to hold and spend some fun and romantic moments.
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Visit Kyoto to See Its Attractions
I can’t imagine someone coming to Japan and not visiting Kyoto. As it is one of the top cities of Japan explored by tourists, you will be blessed with many eye-catching sites.
For about 10 days in December, the Arashiyama Hanatouro Festival takes place in western Kyoto.
During the celebration, the Arashiyama area and the Sagano Bamboo Forest are colorfully illuminated with open-air lanterns.
These lanterns brighten up the trees and bamboos of the forest, creating a fantastic night time sight.
The lights are being turned on at 5 PM and glitter until 8:30 PM. Several temples and shrines beside the light-up route also remain open for tourists to visit at night.
After wandering around the pathway of the bamboo forest, you may head to Togetsukyo Bridge to see the art display and pale blue lights shining.
Also, the Nonomiya Shrine, Okochi Sanso Villa, Jojakko-ji temple, and the Poet’s hut Rakushisha are all illuminated and waiting for your visit.
The other must-visit places of Kyoto are Gion District, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kinkaku-ji, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto Botanical Garden, Philosopher’s Path, Kodai-ji Temple, and many more.
Pamper Yourself with Hot Onsen Bath
Experiencing a hot onsen bath is a must-do thing in Japan for every traveler, and the best season to indulge yourself in one is the winter.
When your body is exhausted or wants to escape from the cool environment, a hot spring bath will be the perfect treat.
As we Japanese people love this type of relaxation, there are loads of onsen scattered around all over the country to meet the need.
You can choose to feel the chill of the outside by going on an outdoor onsen like Lake Toya Onsen (in Hokkaido), Matsudai Shibatoge Onsen Unkai (in Niigata), Lake Kawaguchi Onsen (in Yamanashi), Maguse Onsen (in Nagano), and Tamatebako Onsen (in Kagoshima).
All of these hot springs have a fantastic view of mountains, and your moments will be full of satisfaction and pleasure.
By the way, are you a kinda shy person? Then maybe you don’t like the idea of going to the outdoor onsen.
In such a case, there are several indoor onsens available in Japan that you may consider going to. Even some of the hotels and ryokans have private bath hot spring facilities.
Indoor or outdoor, whatever you end up selecting, your body is gonna thank you for such a hot! hot! treatment.
Wander Around Some Christmas Market
There are a great number of things to do in Tokyo in December, and one of them is roaming around some Christmas markets.
From munching on delicious Christmas food, watching decorations of trees to purchasing cute merchandise, all are available there.
And some of the significant market places in Tokyo are Roppongi Hills, Yebisu Garden Place, Tokyo Skytree, and Hibiya Park.
Meet The Cute Snow Monkeys
If you want to see the adorable Japanese monkeys taking a bath in a hot onsen, Jigokudani Monkey Park is waiting for you.
It’s not like only human beings need to be pampered in the winter temperature; animals like macaques also have the same right!
As the monkeys are wild animals, there are some rules for visitors to follow. Therefore, I advise you to check out their official site to know all the information before heading out there.
Anyway, you can easily visit the park on a day trip from Tokyo and return. Or, you may stay overnight in Nagano to see the city’s alpine beauty.
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Participate in The Countdown Events
What do you think of celebrating New Year’s Eve with us?
Well, I will feel really pleased if you stay in Japan till the 31st night. Who knows, maybe we end up counting from 10 to 1 together without knowing each other in person.
I participate in the Tokyo Bay Countdown Cruise most of the time because it shows gorgeous fireworks, and the environment feels more romantic to me.
Also, Universal Studios Japan has its own countdown party, which has a totally different vibe with all of its adorable characters participating along.
You will find countdown parties in almost every big city in Japan that all are equally fun and exciting.
Just choose whatever place you want and see all the sparkling fireworks that light up the sky of our country.
Finally, I have finished talking about where to go in Japan in December and what to do.
Now, it’s time to know other essential information associated with this topic.
Japan Weather During December
From December to February is the winter season in Japan. As December is the beginning of this season, the cold is milder than in January and February.
The temperature at the start of the month is warmer than later.
Here is a detailed chart of average temperatures according to different cities.
As mentioned, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Fukuoka daily high temperatures are still relatively warm than other cities.
However, Sapporo (capital of Hokkaido) and the other northern cities are much colder, with low temperatures decreasing to minus degrees sometimes.
On the other hand, Okinawa’s tropical & subtropical islands are nicely warm but not hot.
You may expect snow in Hokkaido and the northern parts of Japan, but there is a possibility of little rain in other places.
Osaka and Tokyo remain sunny in December, which makes up for the cooler environment.
Essential Travel Packing Tips for December in Japan
For your December holiday trip to Japan, here is a list of things you should pack.
1. Insulated Jacket: For visiting northern parts of Japan, you need a well-insulated Jacket. Also, on the mainland, the temperature drops after evening, so you will need them.
2. Warm Innerwear: Innerwear is the extra layer of clothing that will give you the additional warmth you need.
3. Hand gloves/ Finger Gloves: A pair of hand gloves are required in Sapporo and the other colder regions. However, if you are not comfortable holding something with gloves, you can consider taking finger gloves. It will help you hold the camera, coffee mug, and browse your smartphone.
4. Warm socks: Carry a few pairs of warm socks cause you have to take off your shoes in some places like temples & shrines and even while entering someone’s house. So, winter socks are a must-item to keep your toes warm.
5. Long-sleeved t-shirts and long pants.
6. Some light outfits: For relatively warm daytime.
7. Comfy pair of shoes: I suggest you take well worn-off shoes. It will help you not have blisters while enjoying walking tours.
8. High boots: For places where it may snow like Hokkaido.
9. A mid-heavy jacket or cardigan: Some regions don’t feel over-the-top freezy. Hence, it is wise to keep a mid-heavy jacket or cardigan with you.
10. Sunscreen: If you want to go skiing, your skin can be damaged by the sunray. Therefore, pack sunscreen to protect your pretty skin.
11. A mid-sized backpack: To carry your essential travel items while leaving your hotel room for visiting attraction points.
12. Heating pads: It’s not necessary that you have to carry heat pads all the way from your home to Japan. In our country, you can purchase them from any convenience store. And they can quickly warm up your hands and feet.
13. Don’t forget your other mandatory items: Travel documents, toothbrush, mobile charger, power bank, camera, a mini first-aid kit, necessary skincare products.
Tourist Statistics & Expected Costs When Traveling To Japan In December
Japan sees relatively lower foreign tourists in December. Most of the people who travel during this month are here to spend a delightful Christmas with their families.
You will even find groups of adults and young people coming to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Local Japanese people even take holidays at the end of the month to enjoy the last days of the year. They often visit the countryside to escape from the bustling city life.
Even the winter vacation of Japanese schools starts in late December, which causes rush in amusement parks and other entertainment locations.
That’s why I suggest you book accommodation and train tickets beforehand, if you are traveling to Japan at Christmas time and stay till New Year’s Eve.
And, of course, the hotel price during any event will raise more than usual, hence be prepared to spend a few extra bucks.
But, if you want to avoid as much crowd as possible, I recommend you to travel during early December.
Is Japan a good place to visit in December?
Winter in Japan is absolutely so December is a good time to visit Japan. Japan in December will be covered in snow so you can take part in a lot of winter activities during December. Other than that, Japan has a lot of events and activities for tourists and locals in the month of December since it’s the Christmas season. You can enjoy beautiful illuminations wherever you go in Japan in December, you can go snowboarding or skiing. Other than that, you’ll also get to eat some seasonal Japanese dishes in December.
Which part of Japan to visit in December?
If you want to experience the thick snow in December in Japan then go to cities like Hokkaido, Akita, and Fukushima. If you want to enjoy the snow but still want it to be mildly sunny then stay in Tokyo or Osaka. These cities are also closer to other places like Kyoto, Nara, Kobe so you can even make a day trip out of it!
Is December a good time to visit Tokyo?
December is a good time to visit Tokyo especially if you don’t want there to be much of a crowd. The weather is dry with little to no rain and some snow. But you should know that most places in Tokyo are closed from December 29th to January 3rd because of the shogatsu holiday. But you’ll see that the entire of Tokyo is lit up with illuminations which is absolutely mesmerizing.
By this time, I hope you have decided what things to do in Japan in December.
I feel honored that I could help you in this regard. And, I will be even happier if you come to our country for your next trip.
Alright, see you later in another writing of dearjapanese.com. Till then, have a great time.