Nagano Prefecture will have a full-scale winter in December. The mountains of the Japanese Alps are covered with snow, and ski resorts such as Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are opening one after another. Major cities located in basins such as Nagano City and Matsumoto City are colder and snowy than Tokyo. However, it does not snow as much in urban areas as in mountainous areas. Karuizawa, which is an hour by Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo, is located on a plateau, but the amount of snow is not so large.

Overview of Nagano Prefecture’s climate (year-round)

Snow begins to accumulate in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture in December, Hakuba, Japan=Shutterstock

Snow begins to accumulate in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture in December, Hakuba, Japan=Shutterstock

In Nagano prefecture, there is a big difference in climate depending on the location such as mountainous areas and basins. So, first, let’s get an overview of the climate of Nagano prefecture throughout the year.

Mountainous areas are cold and snowy

In Nagano prefecture in the central region of Honshu, mountainous areas (Japanese Alps) with an altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 m are connected from north to south, and major cities such as Nagano City and Matsumoto City are located in the basin. Mountainous areas such as Hakuba, Kamikochi, and Shiga Kogen are cold and ideal as summer resorts, but in winter it is very cold and it snows a lot.

Basins have relatively little snow

On the other hand, in Nagano City, Matsumoto City, Suwa City, Iida City, etc., which are located in the basin, the maximum temperature is as high as in Tokyo during the daytime in summer, but it is cool in the morning and evening. It doesn’t snow as much as in the mountains in winter, but it’s colder than in Tokyo and Osaka.

Karuizawa does not get much snow in winter

Karuizawa, an hour away from Tokyo on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, is a popular highland resort area as a summer resort. However, Karuizawa has much less snow than Hakuba and Shiga Kogen. The entire area of ​​Nagano has less rainfall than other areas such as Tokyo. The cherry blossoms bloom a little later than in Tokyo and after early April.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear in Nagano Prefecture in December?

In December, temperatures in Nagano Prefecture are cooler than in Tokyo or Osaka, so in addition to a coat, gloves and a scarf are recommended. If you are going to mountainous areas such as Hakuba or Shiga Kogen, you should wear a heavy coat, just as you would if you were going to Hokkaido. We recommend that you do not go outdoors in the morning or evening, except for skiing or other activities. See also the following articles on winter clothing.

When do ski resorts in Nagano Prefecture such as Hakuba and Shiga Kogen open?/ Can I ski or snowboard in December?

When the ski resorts in Nagano Prefecture open depends on how early the snow begins to fall each year. If the snowfall is early enough, many ski resorts open in November. Recently, however, global warming has delayed the snowfall. In any case, most ski resorts in Nagano Prefecture are open by the end of December. Hakuba Village ski resorts such as Hakuba Happo One Ski Resort and Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park often open in late November.

Will snow accumulation cause the Hokuriku Shinkansen to stop?

The Hokuriku Shinkansen is designed on the assumption that it will be covered with snow, so it is usually not affected by snow. However, please note that it may be suspended during heavy snowfall.

Weather in Nagano Pref. in early December

Sightseeing scenery that simply shows the weather in Nagano in December4

Matsumoto,Japan – December 03, 2017:Matsumoto castle (Matsumoto jo) in winter on blue sky background = Shutterstock

Sightseeing scenery that simply shows the weather in Nagano in December3

Artificial snowfall machines are active in Karuizawa, where snowfall is not so heavy, Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan=Shutterstock

The snowfall figures for Hakuba are for Hakuba Village, and the ski resorts in Hakuba have much more snowfall.

Average temperature
Highest temperature
(Lowest temperature)
Total precipitation
(Total snowfall depth)
Nagano City 4.1℃  (39.4°F)
9.0℃  (49.8°F)
0.0℃ (32.0°F)
14.1 mm (0.56 inch)
4 cm (1.57 inch)
Matsumoto 4.2℃  (39.6°F)
9.9℃  (48.2°F)
-0.6℃ (30.9°F)
12.0 mm (0.47 inch)
1 cm (0.39 inch)
Hakuba 1.7℃  (35.1°F)
6.6℃  (43.9°F)
-2.2℃ (28.0°F)
38.1 mm (1.5 inch)
18 cm (7.09 inch)
Karuizawa 1.1℃  (34.0°F)
7.1℃  (44.8°F)
-3.6℃ (25.5°F)
10.7 mm (0.42 inch)
4 cm (1.58 inch)

※ Source: All figures are the average for 30 years of 1991-2020 announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency

Weather in Nagano Pref. in mid-December

Average temperature
Highest temperature
(Lowest temperature)
Total precipitation
(Total snowfall depth)
Nagano City 2.2℃  (36.0°F)
6.7℃  (44.1°F)
-1.4 ℃ (29.5°F)
14.6 mm (0.57 inch)
11 cm (4.33 inch)
Matsumoto 2.3℃  (36.1°F)
7.8℃  (46.0°F)
-2.4℃ (27.7°F)
9.1 mm (0.36 inch)
2 cm (0.79 inch)
Hakuba -0.2℃  (31.6°F)
4.1℃  (39.4°F)
-3.9℃ (25.0°F)
44.9 mm (1.77 inch)
44 cm (17.32 inch)
Karuizawa -0.7℃ (30.7°F)
5.2℃  (41.4°F)
-5.3℃ (22.5°F)
8.5 mm (0.33 inch)
6 cm (2.36 inch)

※Source:  All figures are the average for 30 years of 1991-2020 announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency

Weather in Nagano Pref. in late December

Sightseeing scenery that simply shows the weather in Nagano in December1

DECEMBER 24, 2015: Entrance to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano = Shutterstock

Sightseeing scenery that simply shows the weather in Nagano in December2

DECEMBER 31, 2016: An unidentified man poses for a photo next to a Japanese snow monkey on December 2016 in Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, Nagano, Japan = Shutterstock

Sightseeing scenery that simply shows the weather in Nagano in December5

December 31, 2018 : Landscape and Mountain view of Nozawa Onsen in winter , Nagano, Japan = Shutterstock

Average temperature
Highest temperature
(Lowest temperature)
Total precipitation
(Total snowfall depth)
Nagano City 0.8℃  (33.4°F)
5.1℃  (41.2°F)
-2.8 ℃ (30.0°F)
20.7 mm (0.81 inch)
16 cm (6.30 inch)
Matsumoto 1.1℃  (34.0°F)
6.5℃  (43.7°F)
-3.6 ℃ (25.5°F)
11.6 mm (0.46 inch)
5 cm (1.97 inch)
Hakuba 1.7℃  (35.1°F)
6.6℃  (43.9°F)
-2.2℃ (28.0°F)
38.1 mm (1.5 inch)
18 cm (7.09 inch)
Karuizawa -1.9 ℃  (28.6°F)
3.9℃  (39.0°F)
-6.7 ℃ (19.9°F)
10.3mm (0.41 inch)
9 cm (3.54 inch)

※ Source: All figures are the average for 30 years of 1991-2020 announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency

What to wear in Japan during winter

For winter clothes, please refer to the following article.

Monthly weather in Nagano Pref.

Below are articles about the weather in Nagano Prefecture. Click on the month of interest to see articles about that month.

January February March
April May June
July August September
October November December

Weather in tourist destinations around Japan

Below are pages showing the climates of various regions in Japan at the same time of the year.

Tokyo Osaka Kyoto
Hokkaido Sendai Nagano
Nagoya Hiroshima Fukuoka
Okinawa

 

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