Japan Today
Irabu Bridge on Miyako Island Image: iStock/ Noa195

Warm destinations to visit during winter in Japan

By Whitney Hubbell

Japan is not typically considered an ideal destination for a winter tropical escape. The most familiar images of Japan in winter include the thatched-roof houses of Shirakawago blanketed in snow and the snow-dusted monkeys of Jigokudani in Nagano warming up in the hot springs. While it’s true that places like Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps get virtually buried in snow every winter, that is not true of Japan’s subtropical southern prefectures. In these places, the word “winter” hardly even applies.

If you long to escape the cold this winter, consider these destinations that Japanese people travel to for warmth and Vitamin D.

Miyazaki City

Fantastic scenery in Miyazaki Prefecture Image: iStock/ kanonsky

Located on the southeastern coast of Kyushu, it is the capital of Miyazaki Prefecture, one of the warmest cities on the main islands of Japan. This small subtropical city used to be one of the most popular destinations for domestic tourists, and its beaches and resorts made it particularly appealing to honeymooners. The city’s popularity has declined since the 1980s but has returned recently. However, Miyazaki is free of the adverse effects of overtourism that several places in Japan are currently experiencing. This makes it ideal as a quiet destination that is a bit off the beaten path but still easily accessed.

Average highs during the winter months: 13–15 C

Flight from Tokyo: ¥6,000–|¥43,000

Kagoshima City

The Kagoshima skyline with Sakurajima in the background Image: iStock Sean Pavone

The capital of Kagoshima Prefecture and the southernmost major city in Kyushu is often compared to Naples, its sister city in Italy. This is because of Kagoshima’s Mediterranean-like climate, palm-tree-lined streets, and, most importantly, its proximity to Sakurajima. This active volcano in Kagoshima Bay is a counterpart to Vesuvius near Naples and a symbol of Kagoshima City. It is also easily accessed from the city by ferry for hiking, hot springs and even (safe) eruption observation. Kagoshima has a rich feudal-era history and offers plenty of museums, hot springs and shrines.

Average highs during the winter months: 13–15 C

Flight from Tokyo: ¥8,000–¥48,000

Click here to read more.

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Off to Okinawa next week for a few days. I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it, lol.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Bonus points for The Pointer Sisters reference.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Kyushu looking good. I lived in Oita one year and wouldn't mind venturing back.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tokyo has been experiencing warmer winters in recent years too. Japan's Islands weather is very unpredictable, it suddenly be unbearably windy and cold such that recommending these places as winter escapes can highly be misinformative.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Scrolled down, saw these two cities and thought, "Once again Okinawa is kicked out of Japan"

Doh, Okinawa IS the ONLY tropical area in the entire country! It also has the ONLY actual, by definition, jungle in Japan as well.

Oh and we get between 500,000 to 700,000 tourists PER MONTH, so it's fairly obvious that whomever wrote this article is naicha-centric and discriminates against Okinawa!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Okinawa is mentioned in the story.

Love Kyushu, the best island to live in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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