Throughout the year, Japan offers a relatively adjustable climate and temperature. Although northern parts such as the Hokkaido (北海道) and Tohoku (東北) regions have severe winter conditions with lots of snow, on the other hand, southern parts including Okinawa (沖縄) rarely snows in winter. You can visit Japan without proper winter boots or a heavy winter jacket if you stay in major cities, however, there are some factors you may want to consider before experiencing your first winter in Japan.
This may surprise you but most Japanese houses are not built with central heating. Unlike Korea, which ensures central heating and double-glazed windows, Japanese houses are quite bare in terms of a heating system. Although houses in Hokkaido are equipped with central heating, you may need to keep in mind that most houses are just as cold inside as it is outside, if you don’t turn the air conditioner on or use the kerosene stove. This may explain why Japanese people tend to wear more layers of clothing rather than a heating system.
No central heating at home encourages people to stay warm by using alternative heating methods. HEAT-TECH, heat-generating inner-wear produced by UNIQLO, is very popular among Japanese people. It is surprisingly thin and lightweight, with a soft texture which contains natural amino acid from milk protein. HEAT-TECH fabric absorbs body moisture and creates heat to make your body warm. It’s affordable and used by people of all ages for any purpose. UNIQLO offers good deals on weekends so, check out one near you if you’re interested!
Generally speaking, Japanese people will start wearing masks around the New Year’s holiday. This does not necessarily mean that they have a cold or flu (although some do) but most wear masks as a protection of seasonal flu, which usually starts in January. It is common among students who are about to sit their entrance exams in January or February, and office-workers who are constantly exposed to many people. Although this phenomenon might seem bizarre, it is part of a typical winter scene in Japan in an attempt to prevent sickness spreading.
I hope this information will help explain some of the common factors involved in a typical Japanese winter.
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