Winter in Hokkaido is notorious for bone-chilling cold and endless snow. Despite these harsh conditions, there are plenty of tough travelers willing to brave the cold to have some wintery fun!

To get the inside info on Hokkaido’s winter, we asked travelers from 5 countries what shocked and surprised them the most!

(The following statements are the opinions of the respective individuals)

1. Studless Snow Tires

“When I rented a car in Hokkaido, I was surprised to learn about the benefits of studless snow tires. While England has the same latitude as Hokkaido, it rarely snows, and even if it does, it melts quickly. I’ve never had the need for special snow tires before! It sounds simple, but it was actually quite interesting!” (English man)

Studless tires were developed to prevent slipping and allow safe driving on frozen or snowy roads. They are made from a special combination of rubber that allows them to stay soft during freezing temperatures and grip onto icy roads. While they are a necessity in Hokkaido, they’re essentially useless in places that don’t have constant snow.

All rental car outlets provide options for studless snow tires, so if you’re planning to drive around Hokkaido in winter, we highly recommended them! However, don’t be overconfident and let your guard down! Winter roads in Hokkaido are dangerous no matter what tires you have.

Getting Around Hokkaido in Winter: Transportation Tips to Know Before You Go

2. The Surprising Warmth!

“While staying at a hotel in Sapporo, I received a message from my Japanese guide warning me that today was going to be extra freezing! I was intrigued, so I checked the weather to see it was just -10°C. In my country, winter days of -20°C are normal, so I think freezing is a bit of an exaggeration!” (Russian woman)

This traveler came from the Russian state of Sakhalin Oblast, which is further north than Japan’s most northern town of Wakkanai and endures a winter that lasts almost half a year!

The snowfall is extremely heavy, and there are places that drop below -30°C! While Sapporo does experience blizzards and heavy snowfall, it is generally not as extreme as places like Canada and Russia.

3. Asahikawa’s Hearty Ginger Ramen!

“While I thoroughly enjoy the renowned Sapporo ramen, I argue that Asahikawa, with its perfect balance of seafood and pork broth, holds the title of Hokkaido’s best ramen city! The ginger ramen in particular warms your body on cold winter days, making it both lifesaving and delicious!” (Australian man)

Asahikawa ramen uses thin, wavy noodles and a broth extracted from pork bones and seafood known as a “double soup.” …

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