When Is the Best Time to Visit Hokkaido? Weather and Climate by Month

Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture of Japan, famous for its pure white snow. But that doesn’t mean it’s perpetual winter there. In this article, we’ll introduce the weather and climate in Hokkaido by month, including interesting events or activities you can participate in each season. We also cover questions you want the answers to, such as when is the best time to visit Hokkaido.

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*The data for each month's average high, average low, and average rainfall was taken from the Japan Meteorological Agency's 2023 records.


Average high: -1.1°C/30.2°F
Average low: -7.4°C/18.6°F
Average rainfall: 71.5 mm

Although January is the coldest month in Hokkaido, the atmosphere in the prefecture is joyous and dazzling thanks to the many light-up installations, which are common to see throughout Japan in the winter. One of the most romantic is the Yukitouro (Snow Candle Way) at Jozankei Shrine, featuring 1,000 snow candles made by the locals.

Needless to say, you’ll need proper winter gear for a January jaunt to Hokkaido. The roads can get pretty slippery around this time, so it might not be a bad idea to attach anti-skid bands or tape to your shoes, which you can find at many stores in Hokkaido.


Average high: 0.7°C/33.26°F
Average low: -6.6°C/20.1°F
Average rainfall: 104.0 mm

Though it’s slightly warmer in February, you won’t be able to ditch your winter coat. If you plan to do a lot of walking, down jackets are recommended as they are light but keep you warm throughout the day. Ones with a hood will be especially useful when it’s snowing or breezy. Another good way to deal with the cold is wearing tights or leggings under your pants.

The most popular Hokkaido event in February is the Sapporo Snow Festival, showcasing grand and intricate snow and ice sculptures at the sites of Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome. People gather from all over the world to participate in the International Snow Sculpture Contest. There’s also plenty of fun for the whole family, with snow rafting, snow slides, and other outdoor activities.


Average high: 9.3°C/48.74°F
Average low: 1°C/33.8°F
Average rainfall: 35.5 mm

Every March, Japan’s largest cross-country ski competition “Vasaloppet Japan” is held in Asahikawa City. Spanning two days, the first day is the true race, while the second day has many smaller events that even young children can take part in. For more family fun, drop by the Karurusu Onsen Winter Festival held at the Sanlaiva Ski Resort in Noboribetsu. Highlights include hunting for mandarin oranges in the snow and pounding fresh mochi!

While March is a good deal warmer, temperatures are still chilly, and we recommend wearing a hat and gloves. The drop in precipitation means that you shouldn’t see a lot of fresh snow and the roads should be much easier to traverse.

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Average high: 13.5°C/56.3°F
Average low: 5.5°C/41.9°F
Average rainfall: 61.0 mm

While parts of Hokkaido remain cold and winter-like, the beginnings of spring can be felt throughout most of the prefecture in April. Thanks to the melting snow, you’ll be able to replace your winter boots with sneakers or something similarly lightweight.

Spring, of course, means cherry blossoms! Sakura flowers in Hokkaido start to bloom from mid to late April, much later than on the Japanese mainland. Especially recommended are the cherry blossoms at Goryokaku Park, where around 1,500 trees light up at night to create an outstanding view. The view of the park from the nearby Goryokaku Tower is also a spectacle worth seeing.

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Goryokaku Tower Ticket in Hokkaido

It does cost money to see Odori Park from the Goryokaku Tower. Save time and avoid language barriers by getting your admission ticket through Klook!



Average high: 19.2°C/66.5°F
Average low: 9.4°C/48.9°F
Average rainfall: 21.5 mm

In May, you will finally feel the true warmth of spring. During the daytime it can get pleasantly warm, making it a great time for strolls and sightseeing. However, nights can still get rather cold, so it is still wise to take a coat with you and dress in layers.

The cherry blossoms of April continue into May in Hokkaido, inviting over many fans of the flower. But there’s far more than just cherry blossoms to see. For example, at Odori Park in Sapporo, you can see around 400 lilac trees in bloom during the Sapporo Lilac Festival. There’s also an outdoor musical festival and plenty of stalls selling all kinds of local foods and even locally produced wines.


Average high: 24.2°C/75.5°F
Average low: 15.2°C/59.3°F
Average rainfall: 133.5 mm

While June is the Hokkaido’s rainiest month, don’t expect constant downpours. Unlike mainland Japan, Hokkaido doesn’t really have a rainy season. With the lower humidity, this makes June a wonderful month for sightseeing in Hokkaido. Early mornings and evenings can still get a little chilly, though, so be sure to bring something long-sleeved with you, just in case.

The Yosakoi Soran Festival is one of the main summer events in Sapporo. Held in early June, it’s an energetic celebration where around 30,000 dancers, all dressed in colorful outfits, parade throughout Hokkaido’s capital, attracting around 2 million visitors each year.


Average high: 27.8°C/82°F
Average low: 20.7°C/69.2°F
Average rainfall: 61.5 mm

July marks the start of Hokkaido’s short but sweet summer. You can get by perfectly fine in summer wear, but note that it can get a bit chillier in the evening, so if you’re sensitive to cold, you may want to bring a cardigan or jacket.

When it’s hot out, nothing feels more refreshing than a cool glass of beer. Attracting more than a million visitors each year, the Sapporo Summer Festival that goes all the way until early August is worth experiencing just for its extensive summer beer garden serving the finest local brews and food.

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Average high: 30.9°C/87.6°F
Average low: 23.7°C/74.6°F
Average rainfall: 69.5 mm

August is the peak of summer in Hokkaido. Unlike other parts of Japan, it is pretty dry even when it is hot. It is really nice and cool in the shade, but it still gets a bit chilly at night, so consider carrying a thin jacket or shawl if you plan to be out until late.

The Kushiro Port Festival takes place at the beginning of August. It is the biggest festival in Kushiro, and a lot of people visit every year just to see the three big parades that take center stage. There’s music, dances, and even a fishing boat-shaped festival float procession.


Average high: 25.5°C/77.9°F
Average low: 17.9°C/64.2°F
Average rainfall: 146.0 mm

It starts to feel pretty cool from mid-September. You may not be comfortable in just a T-shirt anymore. It would be better to wear a long-sleeved shirt or take a windbreaker with you when you go outside.

Autumn is known as the season for feasting, and Hokkaido goes all out with the Sapporo Autumn Fest. During the festival period, which spans nearly the whole month of September, you can try all kinds of dishes that are unique to Hokkaido. It is one of Sapporo’s most famous events of the year, with thousands of visitors coming just to taste the various delicious local dishes.


Average high: 17.9°C/64.2°F
Average low: 9.3°C/48.7°F
Average rainfall: 88.5 mm

Starting from October, it gets colder and colder. You will need a jacket or coat when you are going outside. You may even need scarves and gloves, especially at night!

The cold will no doubt have you craving for some good warm food and wine, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at the Lake Toya Tsukiura Wine & Gourmet Festival held in the small town of Toyako in October. Try the local Lake Toya Black Wagyu beef, which can be found in very limited quantities throughout Japan, and savor the area’s special Tsukiura Wine.

Our Top Tips

One of the best ways to ward off the cold is by soaking in a hot spring. Hokkaido is full of hot spring resort areas, including Toyako Onsen. Here's a list of the 10 best onsen areas in Hokkaido, as rated by the Japanese locals.


Average high: 10.3°C/50.5°F
Average low: 2.9°C/37.2°F
Average rainfall: 126.5 mm

November means that it is already winter in Hokkaido. This is the time of year when Sapporo and Asahikawa usually get their first snow. You will need some proper winter clothes. It is recommended that you put on a down jacket, gloves, warm hat, and scarf.

The Sapporo White Illumination begins in November and ends in February or March, depending on the year. Landmarks in the city, such as Odori Park, will be beautifully lit up at night from November. You will be surprised when you see the size and scale of the illuminations!



Average high: 2.2°C/35.9°F
Average low: -3.7°C/25.3°F
Average rainfall: 47.0 mm

In December, it will snow daily, and the roads will be frozen. Take caution by wearing proper shoes for the weather, and if traveling anywhere by car, making sure it is outfitted with snow tires or even snow chains.

Light-up displays are a popular way to celebrate winter in Japan, and that’s also true in Hakodate. The Hakodate Illumination starts in December and is held all the way until February. Using over 150,000 light bulbs, the trees and historic buildings around JR Hakodate Station are lit up, providing magical night views.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Weather and Climate in Hokkaido

Which month is the best month to visit Hokkaido?

It depends on what kind of Hokkaido experience you want.

If you want a magical snow adventure, January or February are probably the best months to visit. January is the coldest month of the year, while February is when the famous Sapporo Snow Festival takes place. The ski resorts are in full operation in both months as well, so you can have all kinds of fun in the snow with friends and family!

Hokkaido is also a popular summer destination among locals, as it’s far less muggy and hot compared to mainland Japan. Visit in June or July to experience a beautifully mild summer along with typical Japanese summer celebrations like beer gardens and dance parades. Summer in Hokkaido also brings its lavender fields into full bloom, so you can see carpets of color everywhere you look in places like Furano.

Our Top Tips

Hokkaido Furano Tomita Farm Tour With All-You-Can-Eat Melon Option

One of the most popular places in all of Japan to view lavender fields is Farm Tomita. If you're looking to tour around the farm in style and with a happy belly, consider booking this convenient tour. You'll make a couple of other stops along the way for a true sightseeing adventure.

When does it snow in Hokkaido?

Hokkaido normally starts experiencing its first snowfall in November. It picks up from December to February, eventually fading away by the end of March.

How much snow does Hokkaido get?

On average, Hokkaido gets around 350 to 450 centimeters of snow each year. In the heavier months of January and February, it’s not uncommon to experience between 120 to 180 centimeters of snow in a month.

*Above data is based off historical snowfall records from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Is Hokkaido cold in summer?

While it can get pretty hot in the summer in Hokkaido, it can still be a little chilly in the evenings. If you're sensitive to the cold, you'll feel the need to bring a cardigan or jacket to avoid the chill.

Is Hokkaido colder than Tokyo?

On average, yes. It actually rarely snows in Tokyo, whereas Hokkaido regularly gets snowfall each year. You can check out our article on the weather in Tokyo to compare the two for yourself.


What is the coldest city in Hokkaido?

Rikubetsu – but it’s actually a town and not a city, with a population of just around 2,500. Situated in eastern Hokkaido, it is not just the coldest part of Hokkaido but all of Japan, with temperatures dropping below -30°C/-22°F in the coldest months of the year.

Hokkaido Is Fun to Visit All Throughout the Year

Hokkaido might be most known as a snowy land with a long and heavy snow season, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth traveling outside of the winter months. It is actually a secretly popular spring and summer destination among the Japanese locals, and even its short but sweet fall season has plenty to enjoy.

You can check out our comprehensive list of things to do in Hokkaido if the suggestions in this article just aren't enough. It covers everything from the best attractions to shopping spots and even kinds of food to try!

Arm yourself with the knowledge in this article to take your Hokkaido trip to the next level!


Thumbnail: Peera_stockfoto / Shutterstock.com

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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Cezary Strusiewicz
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