Snow in Kyoto: January 15, 2017

Snow in Kyoto


January 14, 2017, Snowy night, Umamachi, Kyoto

January 14, 2017, Snowy night, Umamachi, Kyoto


In Kyoto it started snowing in the evening of Saturday, January 14, 2017. It fell quite heavily through Sunday, and continued intermittently until Monday night. There were even a couple of flurries on Tuesday.

Looking east along Marutamachi. You cannot see the mountain!

Looking east along Marutamachi. You cannot see the mountain!

The Internet went wild with images of Kyoto’s landmarks peeking out from under the pristine covering of white. The response was phenomenal! There were postings asking about snow in Kyoto. When does it snow in Kyoto? Will it snow in Kyoto during March? How much snow will there be in the last week of February?

I am not a meteorologist, but I will share what I’ve observed from living in Kyoto for a couple of decades. This post may not reinforce the image that the recent snowfall brought to the world through photographs shared on social media sites.

Over the last couple of decades, I’ve seen snowfalls in Kyoto from November to April. Of course, it is more common to have snow in January and February, which are the coldest months. However, it is actually pretty rare for it to fall enough to blanket the city in white. Even when there is a fairly heavy fall of snow, it usually melts in a day or two. You are more likely to experience flurries that melt on contact with the ground. Depending on the size of the snowflakes, you can take great pictures of it snowing, even though it is not settling very much.

Where to go

In short, most winter days are at least partly cloudy and cold. When it snows, it is a gift to be appreciated and experienced. On days such as these, huge numbers of people flock to Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkakuji, and Kiyomizu Temple.

I prefer to go to places that are not so crowded so that I can appreciate the quietude and sense of wonder that the snow brings to the temples, shrines, and gardens of Kyoto. Some of my favourite places to visit when it snows are Nanzenji Temple, Heian Shrine (including the garden), Keninji, Daitokuji, and Kurodani Temple. Just walking around the neighbourhoods of Kyoto in the snow will also help you feel the magic of Japanese winter.

The snowy entrance to Kyoto Nama Chocolat Teachouse, Okazaki, Kyoto

The snowy entrance to Kyoto Nama Chocolat Teahouse, Okazaki, Kyoto

You will not be able to plan your stay to coincide with snow, but if you are lucky, you too will experience the gift of snow in Kyoto.

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