Top 10 Things to Do in Japan in December

Best things to do and places to visit in Japan in December

Best Things to Do in Japan in December

December is one of the best months to visit Japan as there are numbers of special events held across the country from big Christmas celebrations to gorgeous winter illuminations. If you need some travel tips,  check out my list of the 10 best things to do in Japan in December!!

Japan in December

In December, the beginning of winter, both domestic and international people enjoy seasonal events including Christmas Market and New Year’s countdown parties in Japan as well as skiing and snowboarding and Onsen hot springs. Towns are lit up by colorful illuminations in December. You will see hot pot dishes and other Japanese delicacies perfect for winter as well as weird tradition like celebrating Christmas with KFC in Japan. The average daily temperature in December in Tokyo is 6-10°C (42.8-50°F). Of course, it is colder in snowy areas such as Hokkaido, Tohoku Region and the Japan Alps while it is warmer in Okinawa and other southern prefectures.

1. Winter Illumination

Romantic and spectacular winter illuminations in Tokyo

Winter illuminations are definitely Japan’s top attraction in winter months. Numbers of illumination events are held at cities across the country, and you should definitely visit and see the spectacular illuminations as many as you can! Typically illumination events are available until Christmas day, but nowadays many events run after new year, even until spring following year.

Please check out the links below and find the best illumination events in your area!

Tokyo ▶ Tokyo Winter Illumination Guide
Kanto area ▶ Best Winter Illuminations near Tokyo
Western Japan ▶ Best Winter Illuminations in Western Japan
Hokkaido ▶ Best Winter Illuminations in Hokkaido
Japan ▶ Japan Illumination Map: Best Winter Illuminations

2. Christmas Markets

Dreamy German style Christmas markets in Tokyo

The best way to celebrate the winter holiday season is by drinking hot wine and munching some German sausages, don’t you agree?? There are several authentic Christmas Markets in Tokyo open during Christmas season where you can simply have a good time with delicious Christmas food, hot wine, Christmas tree and decorations.

More info:

3. Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of most wintry and festive activities this season, and Tokyo has several outdoor ice skating rinks in a central area. Have a great time with festive ice skating rinks with hot snacks, drinks and illuminations.

More info:

4. Onsen

Onsen is one of must-do things in Japan for every tourist through the year, but the best season to enjoy it is winter. The hot onsen bath feels so much better when outside is cold, and even better when the bath is outdoor. In the mountains and the northern part of Japan have numbers of Onsen spots where you can enjoy watching snow while bathing!

Best Onsen Spots in Japan:

5. Chichibu Night Festival

Chichibu Night Festival: Traditional Japanese festival in winter

Chichibu Night Festival or Chichibu Yomatsuri (秩父夜祭) is a traditional festival held in Chichibu City from 1st to 6th December annually. The takes place at Chichibu Shrine in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture which can be accessed around 90 mins from central Tokyo. The festival lasts for 6 days, but the main events are held on 3rd December displaying a parade with massive floats and fireworks

Official Website:

6. Ski/Snowboarding

The world-class ski resort in Japan

Japan is one of the best countries for snow activities, and ski and snowboarding are a huge attraction even for foreign visitors. There are several world-class ski resorts offering great courses and fine quality powder snow especially in Hokkaido and Hakuba (Nagano Prefecture). There are several great ski resorts accessible from Tokyo, too!

Check the links below for best ski resorts in Japan!
▶ Best Ski Resorts in Japan

7. Hasedera Autumn Leaves Illumination

Hase Temple (or Hasedera) is a temple in Kamakura City, founded in 8th century. The hill-top temple complex is home to a gorgeous Japanese garden with maple trees, and it is surrounded by the beautiful nature. In autumn, the view of the historical temple and colourful autumn leaves can be enjoyed, and the special light-up is held from late November to early December annually.

Official Website:

8. Disney Christmas

Numbers of special events are held at Tokyo Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea) through the year, but the best one comes at the end of the year! Disney Christmas brings 100% Christmas vibes as the whole park will be decorated with the Christmas theme from early November to 25th December.

More info:

9. Hot Pot Dishes

Delicious and warm Nabe (Japanese hot pot dish)

There are several winter seasonal foods in Japan, but our favourite is definitely hot pot dishes. Hot pot dish is called Nabe in Japanese which comes with multiple ingredients in various kinds of flavours. Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki are also popular dish which are kind of hot pot dish.

Shabu Shabu & Sukiyaki Restaurants in Tokyo:

10. Countdown Events

Don’t miss the grand finale of the year on New Year’s Eve! Celebrating the coming year is one of the most exciting things in winter. There are numbers of parties and events from 31st December to 1st January including Universal Studios Japan countdown party and Tokyo Bay cruise with fireworks!

Countdown events in Tokyo : Best New Year Countdown Events in Tokyo

Countdown events in Japan :  Best New Year Countdown Events in Japan

▽Check out this Japan Bucket List of 30 Best Things to Do throughout the year!▽

▼ Check the Travel Info in Japan in January!▼

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How did you enjoy the list?? If you are planning to visit Japan in winter season, please check out these articles, too!

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