The transition from summer to winter in Japan is quick. There’s about a month where the temperature slowly cools down. Then, boom. Winter hits.
The transition from hot and humid weather to cold and dry can greatly affect both your home and your lifestyle. There’s a lot of change to be made from your everyday clothes all the way down to remodeling some parts of your home. We put together a list of items to prepare in order to survive winter in Japan as well as some tips to staying comfortable and healthy.
Items For Your Home
A small heater is probably the most essential item for your home during winter. Most Japanese homes come with an AC that also functions as a heater, but these heat up your entire room before you actually feel the warmth and this can be a drain on your electricity bill. A small heater would only heat up the area that you’re occupying, saving a significant amount on your electricity bill.
A lot of people living in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka are constantly busy but if you’re one of those people that like to enjoy your time at home, a Kotatsu Table is recommended. A Kotatsu Table is basically a table with a blanket attached to it and a built-in heater to keep your lower half warm. It’s the perfect item to enjoying some Netflix before falling asleep.
For most parts of Japan, winter gets very dry from the lack of rain. Having a humidifier can raise the humidity inside your home, keeping your skin and lungs healthy.
Bubble Wrap and Thick Curtains
Japanese homes are known for having poor insulation. Covering your windows with bubble wrap and using a thick curtain should be enough to prevent heat from escaping through your windows.
For those that have a hard time falling asleep when its cold, a hot carpet is a must. Just keep it under your bedsheet and warm it up for a couple minutes before going to bed. This is also a good alternative to having a Kotatsu Table as well!
Toilet Seat Cover
Almost everyone knows the discomfort of sitting on a cold, frozen toilet seat. A toilet seat cover is the answer to this. Even the 100 yen one from Daiso can make a big difference in comfort!
Uniqlo HEATTECH Clothing
One of the main items you need in the winter is Uniqlo’s HEATTECH clothings. These clothes are super thin and prevents the loss of body heat. This line of clothing is immensely popular in Japan because you don’t need to wear thick layers in the winter to stay warm anymore. They come in various levels of warmth and are available as socks, leggings, and shirts.
Many people in Japan wear surgical masks when they’re sick or in the train to prevent getting sick. These masks are also perfect in the winter for keeping your breath warm. At the drugstore, you can buy either the reusable ones or a box of disposable ones.
Kairo is the disposable instant heat packs that you can buy almost anywhere in Japan. Keeping a few of these around in your bag when you’re moving about can come in handy on a colder than usual day. We recommend getting the sticky type so you can stick it to your stomach or feet area. Just make sure to stick it to your clothes and not directly onto your skin.
This may seem like common sense, but some foreigners underestimate how cold your feet can get in the winter, especially in the northern region of Japan. Having some thick socks with kairo can make walking in the snow a much more pleasant experience.
Non Slip Shoes
Speaking of walking in the snow, also having non slip shoes is a necessity in regions that snow often. The ground gets super slippery once the snow freezes onto the ground and sometimes your regular tennis shoes or dress shoes aren’t the best type of shoes. They also sell anti slip stickers for your shoes at Daiso that you can attach to any shoes.
Lotion, Moisturizer, Facepacks
As mentioned before, winter can get really dry in Japan and this isn’t good news for your skin. Make sure to keep your skin hydrated with frequent use of lotion, moisturizers, and face packs.
Microwavable warmers can be chilled or warmed up and have various uses from treating headaches to keeping your body warm. One great use for this is to keep your feet warm when you go to sleep at night.
Additional Tips for Surviving in Winter
- Even if it’s really cold, try to avoid wearing excessive layers. Keep in mind that subways and buildings are heated, so you will eventually want to take off your outer layer.
- Dry your laundry inside. The warmth of your house will dry your clothes faster and the moisture from your laundry will humidify your home.
- Go to the onsen. Not only does the hot springs feel good on a cold day, but going to the onsen is also very good for your health.
- Eat Nabe. Nabe is a traditional hot pot dish in Japan and it is the staple food during Winter. Nabe is also filled with lots of vegetables and nutrients which is never a bad thing for your body!