【Osaka/Kyoto】December to February Month-by-Month Guide for Winter Travel — What Clothes to Wear for the Weather and Temperature

It is always prudent to check the weather of the destination and the appropriate clothing before leaving on a trip so you can enjoy your time there. So this article provides a month-by-month guide to temperatures and clothing for those planning to visit Osaka or Kyoto between December and February. It includes the average temperatures, weather and recommended clothing for each month.

When does winter start in Japan?

In Japan, winter is generally thought to consist of the three months from December to February. Although the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture can get a lot of snow, the cities of Kyoto and Osaka, where most popular tourist destinations in the Kansai area are, tend not to have much snow. Even if it does snow in the cities, it is usually not enough for there to be snow on the ground.
The illuminations and lights, which can be found in a variety of places, are some of the best attractions during the winter season. Make sure you are properly bundled up before you go out to enjoy the magical winter scenes.

The weather in Kyoto and recommended clothing

It is often said that the cold in Kyoto is the type that "chills one to the bones". Kyoto City, which is full of popular tourist destinations, is a valley surrounded by mountains so the cold air tends to get trapped and it can feel colder than the temperature suggests. Although Kyoto City gets little snowfall, Northern Kyoto Prefecture, which is away from the city, can get a lot of snow. In fact, Northern Kyoto Prefecture is designated as snow country, so if you are visiting the area, be sure to take anti-slip shoes.

December (Average temperature: 7.0℃)

The average high temperature in December is 11.6℃ and the average low is 3.2℃. The temperature drops in the second half of the month with only a few days of temperatures over 10℃.
A light coat would be sufficient during the day for the first part of the month, but it becomes quite cold in the middle of the month so heavy coats become necessary. It would be prudent to have items such as knitted hats, scarves and gloves so you can adjust the warmth. Even better to have cardigans and hoodies that you can put on and off and bring some light down jackets as well.

January (Average temperature: 4.6℃)

Temperatures drop even more in January. The highs are below 10℃, with an average of 8.9℃. The lows drop to near freezing at 1.2℃. Daytime temperatures also fall nearer the end of the month with late January to February being the coldest time of the year.
The recommended clothing is a sweater plus outerwear that keeps out the cold. The best type of sweater is a turtleneck that covers the neck, and the best type of outerwear, a down jacket. Choose thick pants for the bottom. If you are prone to getting cold, consider wearing tights under your pants. Be sure to have cold weather gear such as scarves, knitted hats and gloves, and consider wearing thick socks and carrying heater packs.

February (Average temperature: 5.1℃)

The average high temperature in February is 9.7℃ and the average low, 1.4℃. It usually stays bitterly cold during the first half of the month—in 2018, there were even days with lows at -3.3℃. However, during the second half of the month, there are days with signs of the coming spring. On a sunny day, temperatures may go up to around 15℃ during the day, but temperatures will drop at night so this is the time of year with the largest temperature difference in a day.
During the first part of the month, be sure to bundle up as you do in January. Once in the second half of the month, clothing that can be adjusted for the temperature fluctuations between night and day are recommended.

The weather in Osaka and recommended clothing

Unlike Kyoto, Osaka does not get cold enough for it to be "bone-chilling", but average temperatures do drop to single digits. Beware that it will feel even colder the closer you are to the ocean, such as at the popular theme park - Universal Studios Japan, and the aquarium - Kaiyukan. In particular, at Universal Studios Japan, a fair amount of time is spent standing in the cold such as to wait for rides, so don't forget to bundle up.

December (Average temperature: 8.6℃)

There are many days in December in Osaka with temperatures above 10℃, and the average high is 12.3℃. However, the average low is 5.1℃, so mornings and nights can be quite cold.
The recommended clothing is basically the same as in Kyoto in December, with a light coat being sufficient during the day in the early part of the month. Scarves, gloves and knitted hats are recommended for the cold mornings and evenings. It would be better to have hoodies and cardigans that can be taken on and off and to have a light, portable down jacket. It will be cold enough to require a thick coat from around the middle of the month.

January (Average temperature: 6.0℃)

Average temperatures in January drop 2℃ from December, with highs at an average of 9.5℃ and lows of 2.8℃. There can be days with some snowfall, but the snow rarely builds up in Osaka.
It is the coldest time of the year, so be sure to dress warmly. It is best to have a jacket that won't let the cold in, such as down jackets and thick coats. Also be sure to wear warm clothing underneath, by, for example, wearing both a turtleneck and sweater.

February (Average temperature: 6.3℃)

February is still the coldest time of year with the average high temperature at 10.2℃ and average low at 2.9℃, but near the end of the month, there are more days with temperatures above 10℃. On particularly warm days, temperatures can even go up to about 15℃. However, it is still cold and mornings and nights can be particularly cold, so be sure to dress warmly.
As in January, plan to go out in warm clothing. If you are visiting at the end of the month, take clothing such as hoodies and cardigans that allow you to adjust for different temperatures.

How was it? If you are visiting Osaka or Kyoto between December and February, it is important to prepare for the cold. Be sure to read this article in advance so you know how cold it will be and prepare for it in advance.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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