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Visiting Kyoto in Winter: Ultimate Guide to Kyoto Weather in Winter and Clothes You Need!

Visiting Kyoto in Winter: Ultimate Guide to Kyoto Weather in Winter and Clothes You Need!

Date published: 7 April 2020
Last updated: 10 June 2020

Kyoto in winter is known for its cold temperatures, and locals call it the “deep freeze.” Recently, the winters have trended to be milder.

The winter air in Kyoto is dry and makes it easy to catch a cold if you don’t dress appropriately. Be sure to take care in choosing clothes to stay warm while you enjoy events from the Christmas season to the end of the year.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Kyoto's weather in winter?
  2. What is Kyoto in December like?
  3. What are the best clothes to bring for Kyoto in December?
  4. Kyoto points of interest in December
  5. What is Kyoto in January like?
  6. What is the best outfit for Kyoto in January?
  7. Best things to do and see in Kyoto in January
  8. What is Kyoto in February like?
  9. ■What are the best clothes for Kyoto in February?
  10. Top things to see and do in Kyoto in February

What is Kyoto's weather in winter?

What is Kyoto's weather in winter?

The Tamba Mountains are located almost in the center of Kyoto Prefecture, which has a north to south orientation. The climate is different between the northern and southern regions. The northern part of Fukuchiyama, Maizuru, and Miyazu, where Amanohashidate is located, has a Sea of Japan climate. This means it has many cloudy days throughout the year and a short summer period, so autumn comes early. In winter, it goes below freezing, and the northern tip of the Tango Peninsula has a lot of snow. It is an area with high humidity throughout the year.

The city of Kyoto, home to Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Kinkaku-ji Temple, is a basin surrounded by mountains in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture. Because of this, it is extremely hot in summer and very cold in winter. There is a large temperature difference between day and night.

Another characteristic of the basin is that the elevation increases as you approach the mountain, so the weather and temperature are different between the urban area in the south and the north. It is known in Kyoto that "the height of the five-storied pagoda of Toji in the south and the height of Kitayama-dori in the north are the same," and the height of the five-storied pagoda is 54.8 m. With only 8.5 km, the altitude changes and the temperature drops accordingly.

What is Kyoto in December like?

What is Kyoto in December like?

According to data from the last 30 years in the south, the average temperature in December is 7°C, with an average maximum temperature of 11.6°C and an average minimum temperature of 3.2°C. The cold in the morning and evening gradually increases toward the end of the year when it is very cold. In December, there are few rainy days, and there are many sunny days to enjoy a blue sky.

Averages for December in southern Kyoto (announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency: normal values from 1981 to 2010)
Temperature (℃)
7.0
High (℃)
11.6
Low (℃)
3.2
Precipitation (mm)
48
Humidity (%)
68

In the northern area of Kyoto, December weather is mostly cloudy, windy, periodic sleet, and the temperatures feel cooler than what they are. Each day sees a dramatic drop in temperature after sunset. The city is in a winter landscape in this month.

Averages for December in Northern Kyoto Prefecture (Miyazu City) (JMA announcement: normal values from 1981 to 2010)
Temperature (℃)
6.5
High (℃)
10.9
Low (℃)
2.7
Precipitation (mm)
152.9

What are the best clothes to bring for Kyoto in December?

What are the best clothes to bring for Kyoto in December?
Model: Ryuto Mizue

In December, it is best to have a heavy, lined coat and a scarf and gloves to go outside. If you plan on wearing a skirt, be sure to pair it with thick tights or short boots. The northern part is cooler than the southern part, so be prepared for the cold of the northern area if you visit there.

●The best items to pack
Tops (men and women): jackets and coats
Bottoms (men and women): wool pants, (women) skirt + thick tights
Shoes (men and women): sneakers, shoes, (women) short boots

Kyoto points of interest in December

From mid-December to late December, flower lanterns are displayed from the Arashiyama to Kita-Sagano area. The lanterns come on at sunset, providing for a truly fantastic landscape to gaze at. We recommend taking a stroll from Hankyu Arashiyama Station to Togetsukyo and Sagano. Be sure to check out nearby temples and shrines that offer nighttime special visits so you can experience the beauty of Kyoto.

What is Kyoto in January like?

What is Kyoto in January like?

The average temperature in January in the south is 4.6°C. The average maximum temperature is 8.9°C and the average minimum temperature is 1.2°C. The cold becomes more severe and is cooler in Kyoto than in Osaka or Kobe. There are many sunny days, but even if it is sunny, the weather can change without warning, and you may experience a snowfall.

January averages of southern Kyoto prefecture (JMA announcement: normal values from 1981 to 2010)
Temperature (℃)
4.6
High (℃)
8.9
Low (℃)
1.2
Precipitation (mm)
50.3
Humidity (%)
66

The average temperature in the northern part of January is 3.7℃. The average high temperature is 7.6°C and the average minimum temperature is 0.4°C. In recent years, the amount of snowfall tends to be lower due to higher temperatures, but snow measures are still indispensable.

January averages of northern Kyoto prefecture (Miyazu city) (JMA announcement: normal values from 1981 to 2010)
Temperature (℃)
3.7
High (℃)
7.6
Low (℃)
0.4
Precipitation (mm)
179.6

What is the best outfit for Kyoto in January?

What is the best outfit for Kyoto in January?
Model: Shohei Hirota

In the southern part of Kyoto, in the Kyoto Basin, the cold winds blow down from the surrounding mountains. In the north, the winds blow in from the Sea of Japan. Both areas are quite cold and experience true winter. Be sure to choose warm clothes so you stay comfortable outside. Pack long-sleeved shirts, wool sweaters, and a long, warm coat. If you are wearing a skirt, be sure to pair it with thick tights or boots. Good accessories for the wind are mufflers, gloves, and masks.

●The best items to pack
Tops (men and women): coat, down jacket
Bottoms (men and women): wool pants, (women) skirt + thick tights
Shoes (men and women): sneakers, short boots
Accessories (men and women): mufflers, gloves

Best things to do and see in Kyoto in January

The New Year's shrine in Kyoto is full of first-time visitors. From January 8-12, there is a festival at Kyoto Ebisu Shrine in Gion, one of Japan's three largest shrines. On the 9th, Hoe Kago will parade from Uzumasa to Kyoto Ebisu Shrine. On the 10th, a movie actress will give Fukusa, and on the 11th, Maiko will give Fukusasa and Fukumochi.

What is Kyoto in February like?

What is Kyoto in February like?

The average temperature in February in the south is 5.1°C. The average high temperature is 9.7°C and the average low temperature is 1.4°C, with cold days comparable to January. Even if the southern part of Kyoto city, Toji Temple or the vicinity of Kyoto Station is sunny, the northern part of Ohara and Kurama may be snowing, so be aware of this potential when touring around the city.

Averages for February in southern Kyoto Prefecture (Meteorological Agency announcement: normal values from 1981 to 2010)
Temperature (℃)
5.1
High (℃)
9.7
Low (℃)
1.4
Precipitation (mm)
68.3
Humidity (%)
65

In the northern part, the February temperatures are not that different from January, and the cold temps continue on into the month. Highways may be subject to winter tire regulations because temperatures can drop below freezing and snow can accumulate.

Averages for February in Northern Kyoto Prefecture (Miyazu City) (JMA announcement: normal values from 1981 to 2010)
Temperature (℃)
3.8
High (℃)
8.1
Low (℃)
0.2
Precipitation (mm)
148.0

■What are the best clothes for Kyoto in February?

■What are the best clothes for Kyoto in February?
Model: Ryuto Mizue

Similar to January, be prepared for winter weather. Most people wear long-sleeved shirts and sweaters with long coats. Women tend to wear more pants than skirts, and may even wear tights under their pants when it is very cold out. It is recommended to wear warm socks and boots. Accessorizing with a scarf and gloves is recommended. On days when it is sleeting, disposable pocket warmers (called Kairo) are useful.

●The best items to pack
Tops (men and women): coat, down jacket
Bottoms (men and women): wool pants, (women) skirt + thick tights
Shoes (men and women): sneakers, short boots, (woman) long boots
Accessories (men and women): mufflers, gloves, disposable warmers

Top things to see and do in Kyoto in February

Plum blossoms bloom starting in early February. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is especially famous for its plum trees. Here, you can see 1,500 plum flowers, including white plum, red plum, single and double. On February 25, the anniversary of Michizane Sugawara's death at Tenmangu Shrine, a plum blossom festival is held, and you can also enjoy tea from a geisha from the nearby Kamishichiken. Visiting a shrine in Kyoto, where the air is really cool, will make you feel more relaxed.


In recent years, warm winters have become more normal, but Kyoto is still cold. Commercial facilities and transportation are well heated, but since shrines and temples are usually visited outside, so be sure to dress for the cold. If you go sightseeing in warm clothes, the cold wind will be easy to handle.

Reference: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Meteorological Agency website

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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