TOP 10 JAPAN WINTER TRAVEL TIPS — What to Wear, Where to Buy, How to Deal with the Cold

TOP 10 JAPAN WINTER TRAVEL TIPS — What to Wear, Where to Buy, How to Deal with the Cold


You would think it’s intense. Hey TPTers! Welcome to another episode of Vins & Yosh! In this episode, we’re gonna talk about two of our favorite topics. Japan and winter!
-Yes! So for this episode, we have enlisted the help of our teammate. Our dear teammate and very very close friend. And sometimes, housemate. Asta! So a lot of you… Maybe some of you guys know, Vins and I has… the guys behind the true… the true traveler? The Poor Traveler blog But it’s been three years that we have built a team. So Asta is part of The Poor Traveler team. It’s not just Vins and I, Asta is a part of that too. Hello guys! So we have just arrived from another trip to Japan. And although it was autumn when we visited, it’s a little more… A little more? Little? What is it really? Little or more?
-Little or more? Choose one. Can it be both? It was already too cold. So it’s like winter already. It’s already transitioning to winter. Winter came early there. Even them, they were surprised too.
-Yeah. The thing is, most Filipino travelers, we love snow. Right? Like me, when I was a kid, it was really my dream to see snow. Was it also your dream too? Yes it was, because of course, it’s very humid in the Philippines, right? And when I was young, the snowball. It’s my favorite during Christmas. Looking at that in malls. How about you? You’re not saying anything. Yeah, because I see it in TV. And it’s really my dream to experience snow as well. Like what you see in Disney films. I was always like “oh my gosh snow!” I remember watching Home Alone as a kid because there was snow, right? The kid there was Kevin. Most travelers who want to experience snow uhmmm…. If you want to experience snow, Japan is one of the most accessible destinations. Because it’s not…I mean, rather than going to Europe or US, Japan is just there. It’s closer, the fares are cheaper, and it’s easier to get a visa. If you want to make your icy dreams come true in Japan, you have to prepare for it. Winter may be dreamy, but it’s often harsh and can be unforgiving. So here are some tips on how to enjoy Japan in winter! But before we begin, please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking the subscribe button and clicking the bell icon for instant notification for our future uploads. Okay, let’s start! Number 1! What to wear? It can be challenging to walk around in multiple layers of clothing. So the best way to minimize this is by being smart with the pieces that you wear. Usually, when we travel, we wear 4 layers. So the first layer…like onions. or cake according to Shel. Okay, for the 4 layers, the first is the base. What we usually use as base is thermal underwear. Not fats, okay? That’s really our number one defense, our fats.
-Yes. That’s really it. But if it’s me… So boastful! Boastful. So those who doesn’t have a lot of fat deposits, you will shiver. The first layer is what we call the base. So what we do, we use thermal underwear as base. So what is thermal underwear? Thermal underwear traps the body heat to insulate the wearer against the cold air outside. It covers your entire body, not just the torso, but also the arms and the legs. So thermal underwear is just like…it looks just like leggings and… what do you call that? It’s long sleeves.
-Yes, long sleeves. Either turtle neck or crew neck. But sometimes there are also heat tech that are not long sleeves. Yes, it’s just like a shirt. So what it does is it traps the heat inside. So you’re still warm. You’re still hot. That’s our first layer. The second layer is…I burped, guys. Wait. The second layer is sweater. Sometimes I wear a second shirt. But if it’s not -10 or something…if it’s not negative, I wear a sweater as second layer. So the sweater can be fleece, wool…and I wear pants as second layer too. How about you guys? Me, sometimes, I still wear a shirt. You still wear a shirt?
-Yes, I wear a shirt. Or a thin long sleeves. I really get cold easily because I don’t have a lot of fat deposits, right? For me, t-shirt. I mean, I can’t… Wear a sweater and then another?
-Yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable already. And of course, we look more fat in pictures so I try to avoid it. For me it’s really…when it’s normal, when I can handle the cold, I wear a shirt. But if…or long sleeves, aside from the thermal long sleeves, I wear another long sleeves. But if it’s too cold, I wear a sweater. I wear a sweater as a layer. And then the third layer is the outer wear. So these are the jackets, coats, things like that. My favorite is…I like trench coats because it makes you look taller. It can be a a trench coat, pea coat, or padded hoodie. It depends on your activity for that day. And it can be wool, fleece, polyester. It depends. There’s also the padded one like I’ve mentioned. That’s what we often see in Japan. Yes, that’s what we always see, the padded one. But what I use is the…I bought…can I mention the brand? Yeah I bought something from Decathlon… I won’t mention the brand, just the store. It’s double purpose. It has a thick one inside, and then it has a windbreaker. Oh, like that jacket from Northface too?
-Yeah. You can detach the two. So if it’s not too cold, I can remove the thick jacket inside and just use the windbreaker which is thin. But usually, I don’t remove it because I really get cold easily. So it’s double. If you want to fit in in Japan… when you’re in Japan, you will notice that they’re not big on colors when in comes to what they wear. Unless maybe it’s summer or spring. But during winter, you’ll see it’s always black, gray… -Only light or solid colors.
-Navy? But there’s no print. There’s no loud prints. Usually it’s dark [colors], but if it’s light [colors], it’s just plain. So yeah, it’s just always like that. Of course there are exceptions, but generally, they like muted colors. And the fourth layer is the accessories. So these are the gloves… gloves Gloves? I said gloves. Gloves on your head? Gloves, scarfs, and what do you call this? Beanie.
-Bonnet Bonnie, yeah. Bonnie? Beanie and bonnet. And sometimes, others wear earmuffs if it’s very windy.
-Yeas, when it’s really cold. And if it’s windy too. Because it’s different when there’s snow and it’s windy and when there’s snow but there’s not too much wind. When there’s wind, it hurts [on your skin]. For the gloves, if you always use your phone, You can buy gloves that has…are a bit… You can touch the screen.
-Yes, you can touch the screen of your phone. Back then, when I haven’t invested in that kind of gloves yet, when it was my first time to travel, I always remove my gloves every time I would use my phone and take photos. But sometimes, it’s like…it hurts when your hands get too cold. For me, my favorite is wearing a beanie. Because I already have less hair over here so… So I have to cover it to keep it warm because I might totally lose it. Another things is socks and shoes. So let’s talk about socks first. If you’re travelling around Japan, you should really have nice socks. Don’t wear just any socks, because you’ll be removing your shoes many times. Whether you’re eating at a traditional restaurant or entering a temple, you have to remove your shoes. Just recently, we went to Nagasaki and even in their church, you have to remove your shoes. Catholic church. Make sure it doesn’t have holes in it because that’s also a bit disrespectful for them. And for the shoes, if you can invest in boots that…what’s important is the grip is good. Because otherwise…it’s not easy to walk on snow. You think it’s cute as you see in cartoons, but in reality, it’s very difficult to walk on snow. It’s slippery so it’s a must that the grip of your shoes is good. Before, I’ve experience just wearing rubber shoes and my butt hurt. There were a few times when I…
-Slipped I sounded Batangueño for a while. I’m from Batangas by the way. My butt hurt so bad. I really fell hard. I really fell on my butt. I’ve realized that. The importance of investing in socks too. Before, I thought it’s not that important. But when I was in the middle of…because I was in Gifu then. And it’s a Japanese… What do you call that? Alps. So it’s really high and I didn”t… Even if I have thick socks, I still had to go down one of our stops which is a gasoline station. Then I bought socks that are thick and has something you see in stuff toys. Because it was really cold and I can’t feel my toes anymore. Number 2! Accessories Don’t forget sunglasses too. Just because it’s winter there doesn’t mean the sun can’t be harmful. In fact, it’s more dangerous because… First, because it’s cold, you don’t notice that you’re getting sun burnt. Every time I go on a trip and there’s someone who’s experiencing winter the first time, They always wonder why I have sun glasses when we’re not going to the beach. Just because it’s cold and cloudy doesn’t mean the ultraviolet rays are not there. We still need to protect our eyes even if we’re in a snowy place. In fact, up to 85% of the UV rays from the sun bounce off of snow. So think about it. It’s really harmful on the eyes. There’s a condition called snow blindness. The medical term is photokeratitis. You also have to protect your eyes. That’s why you can see those who are skiing, they are wearing shades too. Number 3! Where to buy? So where can we buy…because of course we don’t have winter here in Manila. I mean, in the Philippines. Just Manila? Again. So of course we don’t have winter here in the Philippines, where can we buy winter clothes and accessories? For me, back then there was no Uniqlo yet in Alabang, so my go to is really Decathlon. And there were also a lot of people shopping for winter there in Decathlon. So there. There’s Uniqlo here in the Philippines. Even the thermal underwear, you can find that in Marks & Spencer. If you want something cheaper, you can go to SM…
-Daiso! Surplus Shop, Daiso
-Yes, they also have it in Daiso, I saw that. So there are many places where you can buy, but here’s our scoop for you guys. It’s cheaper if you will buy it in Japan. Like 50% cheaper. For example, you can see a thermal underwear here in the Philippines worth Php1,000. But when you get to Japan, you will see that same product from the same brand for just ¥1,000. So the difference is…because ¥1,000 is like Php500 only. So it’s really half the price. Actually, not just half because it’s just four hundred something [in pesos]. You will really save if you will buy it in Japan. So what I usually do then when I need winter clothes, either I’ll just borrow…for example a jacket, if you don’t have a jacket yet. Because when it was my first time, of course I don’t have a jacket. So I just borrowed a jacket. And then, I bought my own there. Or buy one here, and then buy the rest in Japan. You can buy in Don Quijote. There are a lot there, as in. It’s also cheap in GU. It’s also a brand from Uniqlo, but it’s cheaper. GU is the budget arm of Uniqlo. It’s cheap there and you can find a lot of winter clothes. The ones with beautiful designs that you see in branded stores like Zara, there are similar designs there, so you can save because it’s really cheap. If you have to buy a jacket, make sure you buy one that is easy to wear and easy to take off. Because you will take it off and wear it a lot of times. Because although it is cold outside, once you get inside, it’s hot. Even inside the train and inside the restaurants. So it’s a bit annoying when you have to take it off and wear it a lot of times. So make sure it’s easy to take off. Not something that would take you…like you have to go to the rest room first just to remove it. Number 4! Sun screen, moisturizer and lip balm Winter is very brutal to the skin. Especially for Vins. When you see Vins…explain it. I’m very sensitive to the cold. My lips crack, and then I get… It bleeds.
-My skin is flaking and my cheeks get so red. It gets really irritated and itchy. So I need extra protection like moisturizer and lip balm. So when you’re in Japan or a really cold country, don’t forget to apply lip balm, sun screen and moisturizer. Again, sunscreen is important because being in a place that’s cloudy and cold, doesn’t mean you won’t get burnt. You will still get burnt if you’re under the sun. And your problem is not just the sun itself because the UV rays bounce on snow. Even though your whole body is covered, cover your face with sunscreen too. Your face, yes.
-Yes. Suncsreen and…you can buy a sunscreen that also has moisturizer too. So buy something like that so it won’t be a hassle. Number 5! Heatpack So in Japan, you’ll find… I don’t know how to describe it.
-There’s a lot of types. It’s like that. You can see it on the screen right now. It comes in different sizes.
-Yes, it has different sizes. So these are heat packs or in Japan, they call it kairo. Kairo. For foreigners, kairo is more commonly referred to as heat pack or pocket warmer. It’s a small package that contains heat-generating powder or liquid that you can attach to your clothing. It’s perfect for those with low cold-tolerance because it will provide the necessary warmth for around 12 hours. So just remember that if you’ll use it, stick it to your clothing. Inside. For example you have a heat tech, or you have a shirt inside or inside your outer wear. Stick it on your clothing and not your skin because it’s hot so you have to be careful. Where can we buy this, Vins? In convenience stores. There are different brands, just choose from there. And there are 2 kinds of heat packs. There’s a stick-on heat pack and there’s a heat pack that you will just hold. For your pocket.
-For your pocket, yes. So there. Just choose. And now it’s time for a heat pack tutorial. So this is how you put on a heat pack. Open and look for the layer. One, two… On the tummy part. Here. Put it on your abs. Then cover, cover. There! It will take effect 30 minutes after, friends. Number 6! Hot drinks from vendo Another way to battle the cold is having a hot drink. In Japan, you don’t need to walk into a cafe or restaurant to have a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Hot drinks are widely available at many vending machines throughout the country. Many first-time travelers in Japan don’t notice them because they’re usually in the same machine as the cold beverages. So we were surprised then. I think I was on my 4th or 5th trip when I learned that there are hot drinks in the vendo. I thought everything in there is cold. I really didn’t know. I learned about it the first time when we were in Kanazawa. Do you remember when it was really cold outside? I think I’m the one who bought coffee then. Yes, and I was like “What? Where did you buy this?” In the vendo. So just remember, in vending machines, there’s usually a blue and red mark. Red means hot and blue is for cold. So if it’s too hot and you can’t handle it, rather than going to a cafe, you can buy a hot coffee or chocolate. Since there are a lot of vendos in Japan. Just look for it. If it’s red, it’s hot. But I remember someone left a comment before that sometimes it’s not marked as red. Really? Yeah, it’s like… Just remember that when… Maybe it’s orange. Joke!
-Usually, if its… If it’s a tall aluminum can, usually it’s a hot drink, right? Then if it’s platic, that’s the…
-Cold drinks The pet bottles, that’s the cold drinks, usually. Number 7! Walking on snow Walking on snow can be dangerous so take extra care. If it’s your first snow experience, you may feel tempted to step on snow immediately. True story. But you need to figure out which parts are slippery and which parts are safe. Here are some pointers: If there is a designated walking path, stay on that path. There’s a reason why that is the path. What happened to me, Asta and I, we were in Tottori, snowshoeing. If you’re not familiar with snowshoeing… They attach a… Yes, a steel.
-That’s really bigger than your feet. Because sometimes the snow is really deep, right? So you won’t…
-It’s thick. Yes, it’s thick. So here, if you’re wearing the snowshoe, you won’t sink. Because your weight is spread on that. That’s why the snowshoe is big. So Asta and I went snowshoeing in Daisen. In Mount Daisen in Tottori. And then there’s a…of couorse there’s a walking path there. There. So because I’m…because… I’m a bit hard-headed too, I think I fell twice. Something also happened in…I think in Sapporo. We went to an international ski marathon. Then there’s also a walking path. For some reason, I didn’t read it because I think I was texting or something. So I was just walking on snow, I wasn’t on the walking path. And then I fell on a hole. As in a hole. It’s this high. Oh my god! It’s a good thing I was able to get out safe. So don’t be like me. Make sure that if there’s a designated walking path, stay on that path. Don’t just step anywhere. Because you don’t know what’s under the snow. You don’t know how deep it is or how thick it is. I didn’t experience slipping on snow because I learned from you when we were in Tottori. You told me that if it’s a bit grayish, don’t go there because it’s already dry and it’s a bit slippery already. So I shouldn’t step on the grayish area. If the snow looks dark, wet, compact or icy, it’s probably slippery. So yeah, don’t step on it.
-Don’t even attempt to. Usually if it’s dark, it means it already turned to ice. So the snow is cute, it’s okay to step on it if it’s thin. But if it’s been pressed already, if it’s been stepped on many times, it’s already ice. And yellow… Yellow? I mean, it’s already ice. And ice is slippery. It’s like the ice in old refrigerators, in the freezer. It’s like that. So don’t step on it. It already melted and then froze again. If you really need to walk on ice, this is why it’s important that the grip of your shoes is good. So that’s number one. Number two is…for extra protection, make sure you stretch your arms. So you can maintain the balance when you’re walking on a slippery surface. Do you remember our trip to Sapporo when we went for ramen? All of us… As in all of us were walking like this. So if someone slips, they’ll be catched right away. Because it’s really not easy to walk on…
-the snow. And then, guys, don’t put your hands in your pockets. And your hands should be free. You shouldn’t be holding your phones or cameras. So in case…just in case you slip, you can balance yourself immediately. You won’t worry about things you’re holding in your hands or something. And you won’t break it.
-Yeah, you won’t accidentally drop it. Number 8! Check the weather forecast I know someone… who really wants to experience snow. It’s her first time. And then when she got there, there’s a snow storm. Who is that?
-Do you know that? I think I know her. Is that you, self? So it’s very important to check the weather forecast. Because it doesn’t mean that because it’s sunny today, it will be sunny tomorrow. It’s funny because most of the time, we get messages from some of our readers who are asking, “We have a trip on January 25, is there a snowfall on that day?” Of course we can’t answer that. Why is hard to answer that? Because it’s like asking, if here in the Philippines, “Will it rain on July 25?” Of course we don’t know. Because it’s like that. We’re not Zenaida Seva. We can’t predict that. And we’re not Storm, we can’t conntrol it. It’s like that too, because snow is also precipitation. We can say that it’s likely that there’s snow on the ground on January, February, something like that. Late January to February. We can say that. But if there’s an actual snow fall, it’s hard to know that. You’ll just know that like a day before if you check the weather. But sometimes, even if you check it online a day before..
-It’s still wrong? Because that’s really the nature of the weather, right? I mean, it really changes a lot. It’s hard to… As they say “the direction of the wind changes quickly” Why do you have to check it? So you know what you will do on that day, what you have to wear, if you really have to wear gloves or something if it’s not that cold. That’s why you have to know that. And also, for example, if there’s a snow storm, adjust your plans. I peeked outside for a bit. I’d go outside for a bit. Like this. It’s also frightening because the wind howls. But it’s still fun. That’s still snow, you know. I wanted it to snow and I was given tons of snow. Number 9! Timing is everything Winter may not be as vibrant as the other seasons, but it doesn’t mean it’s boring. Before booking your flight, check the schedule of festivities in your destination. What’s good about winter is there are a lot of festivals. Especially if you’ll go to Hokkaido. During February, there’s Sapporo snow festival. This is when…yes.
-There are giant ice sculptures on the park. They also have the snow lamps festival. That’s in…Jokanzei? Jozankei? Jozankei.
-Jozankei, yes. And then important… So Christmas is not big in Japan. It’s a regular day for them. But New Year is the most important holiday in Japan. That’s when they don’t have work. And they have this thing called Hatsumode. Hatsumode is the first Shinto shrine visit of the year. You will see that. I’ve tried this. The lines were long, but it’s a good experience. If you’re in Tokyo also, every January 2, the Emperor greets the public. In the Imperial palace. So you can see the emperor during January 2. There’s a lot of people too and it’s also a great experience. And of course, winter illumination. So what it winter illuminations? For example, Nabana No Sato in Nagoya. The whole park is winter illuminated. It means there are light shows. There are light…they make light tunnels. Then there are other parts that really has light shows. You will see there are moving lights. It’s very beautiful. And even though…because during peak winter, the flower park has no flowers. There are flowers inside. The indoor gardens have it year-round. They have greenhouses where the flowers are there. But the people still visits because of the winter illumination. In Hokkaido, there are also a lot of winter illuminations installed. In Aichi. Where else? In Gifu, right? In Shirakawa, the whole village. Another thing that you have to consider when you’re travelling in winter is of course, the days are shorter. Which means you have fewer hours of daylight. So for example, you don’t like exploring when it’s night time already, you have less time. And establishments also close much earlier than… usually an hour or 2 hours earlier. So make sure you double check the schedule…the winter schedule of the places you’ll visit. Just because it’s until 6pm during summer doesn’t mean that it’s also until 6pm during winter. Usually, it changes.
-It changes. And if you’re into photography, of course the golden hour is earlier. So around 4pm, the sun already sets. Number 10! Protect your gadgets If we struggle with the cold, it’s the same for our gadgets. Yeah. For example, for us, our cameras and gopros. Make sure that it has sleeves or that your bags are well-protected. The cloth is thick, the bag is thick. And then the camera also has leather sleeves. Make sure that it doesn’t get snowed on. Don’t let it get wet.
-Yes, don’t let it get wet. And the exposure. For example you have action cams, it’s weak to the cold so it shuts down immediately. The batteries. Yes, time the use of your cameras. Because one time, we were in Sapporo, we have one unit that stopped working because it was too cold. And it never turned on again. Even the pocket wifi, make sure it’s inside your bag. Your cameras, cellphone, and pocket wifi, make sure it’s inside your bag. Don’t…for example, I’m used to having my camera strapped like this outside. So unluckily, it broke. Its lens doesn’t want to cooperate. It should always be inside your bag. Just take it out when you’ll use it. And then your cameras, if you have SLRs with you, and you’re gonna use it a lot, make sure to just leave it on. So the temperature of the camera will be regulated. Not like if you take it out on the cold… The change will be abrupt.
-Yes, if the change in temperature is abrupt, it will cause more damage. Correct. Which means that you should have extra batteries too. Because it gets low battery easily. Even people, right? When it’s very cold, we get low battery easily. Yes. Just bring a powerbank if you don’t have extra batteries. But don’t take out your powerbank too much too. Because it drains easily too.
-Just keep it in your bag. Keep it in your bag. So that’s it for this episode of Vins & Yosh. Yes. Yeah, with Asta. Did you introduce Asta? Yeah!
-Yes. My intro was long. Please cut that. Please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking the subscribe button and clicking the bell icon for instant notification for our future uploads. And if you want us to… If you want us to tackle a topic that you’d like us to discuss, just sound off in the comments section below. So that’s it for now. See you again next time! And may the #goals be with you! Bye!

4 thoughts on “TOP 10 JAPAN WINTER TRAVEL TIPS — What to Wear, Where to Buy, How to Deal with the Cold

  1. Hi Vinz and Yosh.

    Been watching your blogs on winter tips and found them really helpful and informative. May I know if you have contacts in Tokyo for airport transfers from the city to Haneda Airport during early mornings. We are going to catch an early flight on the 28th from Tokyo to Chitose and we just found out that trains starts running from 5am onwards. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you very much.

  2. I've heard some people wear adult diapers so they don't have to take off their snow suit to pee.. is it true????

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