On this page, I will explain about the weather in Hokkaido in January. If you travel in Hokkaido in January, please do not forget enough winter protection such as a coat. In the west side of Hokkaido, the clouds coming from the Sea of Japan will snow and so much snow is piled up. On the east side of Hokkaido, snow does not fall as far as the west side. However, the temperature sometimes falls below freezing point 10 degrees. Please be careful. This article contains a lot of pictures to help you imagine the weather in January in Hokkaido, so please refer to them.

Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Click on an article if you want to know more.

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

Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in January. 

For winter clothes, please refer to the following article.

Q & A about Hokkaido in January

Does snow fall in January in Hokkaido?

It snows all over Hokkaido in January. Especially from mid-January, there is a lot of snow. Moist clouds coming from the Sea of Japan hit Hokkaido mountains and cause snow. It snows often in Niseko, Otaru and Sapporo near the Sea of Japan. On the other hand, in eastern Hokkaido on the Pacific side, it is very cold, but there is relatively little snow.

How cold is Hokkaido in January?

It is very cold in Hokkaido in January. Even in urban areas such as Sapporo, the daytime maximum temperatures are almost below freezing. If you travel to Hokkaido in January, you need winter protection.

What kind of clothes should we wear in January in Hokkaido?

You should have a full-fledged winter clothing in January. Please refer to the following article about the clothes of this time.

When is the best time to visit Hokkaido?

If you want to enjoy the beautiful snow scene, January-February is the best time. In early February, winter festivals will be held in Hokkaido, including Sapporo and Asahikawa. If you want to see the glamorous winter festival, you may want to travel in early February. On the other hand, there will be less tourists in January than in early February, so you will enjoy a relatively quiet atmosphere in January.

 

Weather in Hokkaido in January (overview)

Temperature change in Hokkaido (Sapporo) in January

Graph: Temperature change in Hokkaido (Sapporo) in January

Graph: Temperature change in Hokkaido (Sapporo) in January

※ Based on the data released by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Both high and low temperature data are averages over the past 30 years (1981-2010)

As you can see from the above graph, Hokkaido in January is almost the world below freezing. It is much colder than Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, etc. Please be careful.

Overview

A pedestrian crossing the frozen road surface at night. January 2017 Sapporo city center Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

A pedestrian crossing the frozen road surface at night. January 2017 Sapporo city center Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

In January the temperature does not often exceed 5 degrees Celsius even during the day. Midnight and dawn are below freezing point 10 degrees.

Snow falls often in western cities such as Sapporo, Hakodate, Otaru and Asahikawa. Previously, I was walking in the wilderness on the outskirts of Sapporo during this time and I was about to be buried in the snow.

Snow removal is well done on major roads in major cities. However, as you can see in the picture above, the roads are frozen and so slippery.

Mountainous areas in the center of Hokkaido are closed by snow. Because the temperature is low, snow may shine like a jewel called diamond dust. Previously, I went into the mountain to see the diamond dust, I was surprised because it was too cold.

The city in the east side of Hokkaido, the temperature drops considerably. In the northern city of Abashiri, the temperature may fall to as low as 20 degrees below freezing. Before, I was blown by a strong wind coming from the sea at the cliff of the outskirts of Abashiri, the body really cooled down. People who live in Abashiri say that it was much colder in the past.

It seems that it has become somewhat warmer recently due to global warming. Still it’s really cold, so please be careful.

Below is the meteorological data of Hokkaido in January released by Japan Meteorological Agency.

 

Hokkaido weather in early January

Map of Hokkaido

Map of Hokkaido

Weather data in Hokkaido (early January)

Highest temperature

(Lowest temperature)

Total precipitation

(Total snowfall depth)

Sapporo  0.2℃ (-6.3℃) 40.0mm (58cm)
Otaru  0.0℃ (-5.3℃) 53.2mm (65cm)
Asahikawa -2.8℃ (-11.4℃) 23.7mm (59cm)
Biei -3.6℃ (-14.3℃) 15.4mm (60cm)
Furano -3.4℃ (-14.1℃) 16.7mm (55cm)
Wakkanai -1.6℃ (-5.8℃) 29.1mm (52cm)
Abashiri -1.3℃ (-8.3℃) 18.8mm (35cm)
Utoro -1.5℃ (-7.3℃) 28.3mm (55cm)
Nemuro -0.1℃ (-5.9℃) 13.2mm (19cm)
Kushiro  0.4℃ (-9.3℃) 17.1mm (14cm)
Obihiro -1.2℃ (-12.8℃) 15.9mm (21cm)
Hakodate  1.4℃ (-5.3℃) 30.2mm (36cm)

※ All figures are the average for 30 years of 1981-2010 announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency

Hokkaido at this time seen in photos

January 09, 2018; women Playing on snow sledding with trey or snow rafting at winter festival in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

January 09, 2018; women Playing on snow sledding with trey or snow rafting at winter festival in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

Weather and sunrise / sunset time

As you can see from the above table, snow falls often in Sapporo, which is relatively close to the Sea of Japan. Snow falls more in Otaru facing the Sea of Japan. On the other hand, there is not much snow in Kushiro on the Pacific side, which is located in Eastern Hokkaido.

 

Hokkaido weather in the middle of January

Weather data in Hokkaido (middle of January)

Highest temperature

(Lowest temperature)

Total precipitation

(Total snowfall depth)

Sapporo -0.7℃ (-7.1℃) 32.5mm (52cm)
Otaru -0.9℃ (-6.1℃) 38.2mm (56cm)
Asahikawa -3.7℃ (-12.3℃) 20.7mm (53cm)
Biei -4.5℃ (-15.5℃) 14.0mm (58cm)
Furano -4.3℃ (-15.2℃) 14.8mm (54cm)
Wakkanai -2.9℃ (-6.9℃) 25.3mm (55cm)
Abashiri -2.6℃ (-9.4℃) 18.1mm (36cm)
Utoro -3.1℃ (-9.0℃) 22.3mm (51cm)
Nemuro -1.3℃ (-7.0℃) 11.5mm (21cm)
Kushiro -0.9℃ (-10.5℃) 13.5mm (16cm)
Obihiro -2.1℃ (-13.5℃) 13.1mm (20cm)
Hakodate  0.5℃ (-6.5℃) 21.3mm (38cm)

※ All figures are the average for 30 years of 1981-2010 announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency

Hokkaido at this time seen in photos

January 09, 2018; women Playing on snow sledding with trey or snow rafting at winter festival in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

January 14, 2017: Unidentified pedestrians walk in front of Former Sapporo Government Office Building in winter with snow and leafless trees in Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

Weather and sunrise / sunset time

By mid-January, it will be colder in the morning and evening. The temperature does not rise much even in the daytime. There will be more snow.

Hokkaido’s trains and buses will basically operate properly even if it snows. But there can be delays on heavy snow days. So be careful not to make a hard schedule itinerary.

 

Hokkaido weather in late January

Weather data in Hokkaido (late January)

Highest temperature

(Lowest temperature)

Total precipitation

(Total snowfall depth)

Sapporo -1.1℃ (-7.5℃) 41.1mm (63cm)
Otaru -1.2℃ (-6.7℃) 50.9mm (73cm)
Asahikawa -4.0℃ (-13.1℃) 25.2mm (62cm)
Biei -4.8℃ (-16.2℃) 16.6mm (61cm)
Furano -4.5℃ (-15.9℃) 18.2mm (58cm)
Wakkanai -3.4℃ (-7.7℃) 29.9mm (66cm)
Abashiri -3.1℃ (-10.4℃) 17.7mm (33cm)
Utoro -3.7℃ (-10.2℃) 32.3mm (62cm)
Nemuro -1.9℃ (-7.8℃) 10.8mm (23cm)
Kushiro -1.3℃ (-11.3℃) 12.7mm (13cm)
Obihiro -2.3℃ (-14.5℃) 13.8mm (18cm)
Hakodate  0.3℃ (-6.8℃) 25.7mm (43cm)

※ All figures are the average for 30 years of 1981-2010 announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency

Hokkaido at this time seen in photos

January 09, 2018; women Playing on snow sledding with trey or snow rafting at winter festival in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

30 January 2018: King Penguin walking parade show on snow with people around watching with fun at Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan = Shutterstock

Weather and sunrise / sunset time

It is the coldest of the year from late January to the first half of February. If you really want to travel to cold Hokkaido, this time is the best. At Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, the penguins who love cold are very happy to meet you, as shown in the picture above.

Snow falls a lot during this time. Preparations for the Snow Festivals begin in various places using accumulated snow. The Snow Festivals are held from the beginning of February to the middle of February.

 

Recommended Videos

If you look at the above video, you can imagine the weather in Hokkaido during this period. Although the sidewalks of the main roads are cleared of snow, please be careful as the road surface will freeze.

※ Sunrise and sunset times are based on the 2019 data released by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. I posted the time of the 5th for the beginning of January, the time of the 15th for the middle of January, and the time of the 25th for the end of January.

 

Thank you for reading to the end.

For Hokkaido, please refer to the following articles if you like.

>> Hokkaido! 21 Popular Tourist Areas and 10 Airports

>> Winter Wear in Hokkaido! What should you wear?

>> New Chitose Airport! Access to Sapporo, Niseko, Furano etc.

 

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