In short order I am heading off on a trip to Hokkaido – Japan’s most northerly main island. I have been warned by the group that invited me to be prepared for chilly temperatures. They obviously don’t live in Calgary where chilly takes on quite a different meaning.
Hokkaido, which is at the same latitude as Toronto, is famous for its spectacular mountain scenery, volcanoes, natural hot springs and ski areas. I am told that the average temperature in Sapporo in January is -3.6 °C – and I suspect that’s a moist rather than a dry cold which is always more penetrating, but still it’s not the -25°C temperatures we’ve been having for the last few weeks.
Over the eight days I’ll be in Japan I have to pack for drift ice walking, downhill skiing, fat tire biking and snowshoeing – not to mention visits to onsens or hot springs, the Akan International Crane Centre and nightly dinners.
My goal is to take carry-on only so almost every piece I take will have to have multiple uses.
Here’s what to pack for Japan in winter – appreciating that it can be rainy, snowy, cold and sunny – though not nearly to the degree we usually see in Alberta.
- Enough winter socks and underwear for a week
- One scarf
- One buff – great for keeping the wind off your neck
- One winter hat like this one
- One pair of gloves like these Summit G5 from North Face that feature a built-in overmitt; one pair of warm mitts
- One pair of snow boots that I can wear on the plane
- One pair walking shoes
- One pair of flip flops (for padding around hotels)
- One complete pair of long underwear
- One pair warm outdoor pants like these insulated ones from Varg
- One pair of black leggings
- Two pairs of comfortable pants for walking with one pair to be used for everyday wear and one pair for on the plane or in a relaxed setting like the Levita pant from Arcteryx
- One Goretex raincoat – that can be also be used as a base layer like this one
- One warm coat that can be worn under the raincoat; this North Face one would be perfect
- One set of sleepwear
- One fleece top with a hood like this one I love from Varg made from recycled wool
- Two – three long-sleeved wicking shirts like this one from Black Yak and this one from Varg
- One short sleeved shirt (I’ll bring one of my Icebreakers)
- One bathing suit (though they don’t seem to wear them in onsens)
- Toiletries and makeup
- One pair of sunglasses (I’m a huge fan of Maui Jim)
- A book or two, notebook, computer, phone, chargers
- One GoPro – on sale right now
- Camera and lenses with a battery charger
- Water bottle
- A few bars in case of travel delays
After I’m back from Japan I’ll make any adjustments I deem necessary in the blog from my on-the-ground experience but I think I have enough clothes both to stay warm and to cover all the planned activities.
Note: Sporting Life has a major winter sale going on right now so it’s a great time to score some deals.
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Thank you to Sporting Life for making this post possible.
Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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