With its majestic natural environment, Hokkaido offers visitors an unlimited choice of delightful activities. Their memories of this region also vary from season to season: cherry blossoms in the spring, the greenery of summer, red leaves of autumn, and snowscapes during the winter. The weather and the air temperature also differ widely according to the part of Hokkaido they visit and the time of year. When you visit Hokkaido, it is important to not only prepare to protect yourself from cold weather, but to select clothing that you can remove with ease in response to the rising and falling air temperature. We recommend that as you plan your visit to Hokkaido, you investigate seasonal clothing and the temperatures you will experience in its major cities.
Mid-winter in Hokkaido is a time of intense cold and heavy snow, so when you visit Hokkaido during this cold season, you must bring a down coat to keep warm and snow boots to ensure you do not fall down. Even in the summer, the temperature rarely exceeds 30 degrees Celsius, so we recommend you bring something you can slip on in the cool mornings and evenings you will experience, even in mid-summer.
- March to May
In March, the snow begins to slowly melt, but the temperature continues to be low. Snow remains, so to be safe, you should wear a thick coat and waterproof boots. April brings warmer weather during the day, but the temperature falls sharply from the evening to the early morning hours, so we recommend you bring a light coat or a jacket. Many days in May are pleasantly warm as the temperature passes 10 degrees Celsius. But you will need a light coat or a jacket to protect yourself from the frequent chilly breezes. We urge you to wear several layers so you can respond quickly to the wide temperature fluctuations that you will face at this time of year.
- June to August
The beginning of June brings Hokkaido’s famous balmy weather. A long-sleeve shirt is all you will need during the day, but you should bring a light jacket you can put on during the often chilly morning and evening hours. In July, a short-sleeve shirt is perfect day-time wear. But when you go out at night or visit a mountain or lake, you will need a cardigan, trainer, or a light jacket. Summer wear is fine until the middle of August, but do not forget that in Hokkaido, the morning and evening temperatures may start to fall in mid-August.
- September to November
In September, a long-sleeve shirt, a sweater or a wind-breaker are the most appropriate choices. With the arrival of October, the mornings and evenings become increasingly chilly, so you will need a light down jacket or a thick coat. In November, daytime temperatures fall sharply, then in late November, snow begins, even on the plains. We recommend a light down coat or thick cloth coat and several layers of inner-wear so you can adjust quickly to rising and falling temperatures.
- December to February
Snow starts to pile up in earnest about the middle of December. The average temperature falls below freezing. Along with a thick coat or down jacket, you should choose boots that will prevent you from slipping on the snow-covered ground. And be sure to prepare for the cold by packing a hat, gloves and a muffler. Well-heated interiors even when it is bitterly cold outside is a special feature of winter life in Hokkaido. When choosing your outer-wear, prioritize protecting yourself from the cold air and the wind. And plan for several layers of inner wear that you can put on and take off with ease.
Regional temperature differences
Hokkaido, which is the northernmost part of Japan is noted for its unique winter weather. In Sapporo, the major city of Hokkaido, the annual average temperature is 8.9 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature is 26.4 degrees Celsius in August, and the minimum temperature is minus −7.0 degrees Celsius in January. As the figures in the following tables show, the temperature varies sharply between regions. Be sure to check the temperature of the part of Hokkaido you plan to visit.