10 Ways To Keep Warm In Tokyo In Winter

Snowing in Tokyo | © Danny Choo/Flickr
Snowing in Tokyo | © Danny Choo/Flickr
For some, the dry, cool winters of Tokyo are a welcome change from the summer heat. For others, it’s just downright cold. It doesn’t help that many older buildings don’t have central heating or proper insulation, meaning heating bills can skyrocket during the winter months. Here are ten ways to stay warm this winter in Tokyo.


A wintertime favorite in Japan – these heated tables are perfect for small gatherings with friends or family. But electric heated blankets or floor pads are a good alternative if storage space is an issue.

Kotatsu at a hot spring facility © Nori Norisa/Flickr

Onsen & Sauna

They’re enjoyable at any time of the year, but there’s something special about onsen in the wintertime. Tokyo has many natural hot springs perfect for relaxing on a cool evening, and many public sento and onsen offer reduced sauna-only rates.

Onsen © Petr Meissner/Flickr


Hizakake are small, portable blankets for keeping warm at home or work. They’re perfect for a drafty office, where you don’t have much control over the thermostat.

© Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash 

Space Heaters

Space heaters are another popular way to beat the winter chill. Although kerosene and oil options are widespread, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real concern and causes several deaths each year. Especially if you’re insulating your windows, an electric heat source is safer, cleaner, and more likely to come with an automatic shut-off function.

Paloma gas space heater © Tatsuo Yamashita/Flickr


Disposable, personal heating packs are a dime a dozen at this time of year. If you know you’ve got to spend a lot of time outside, it might be worth investing in some. ‘Hokkairo‘ is the brand name of kairo that first made these packets famous in Japan, making the name synonymous with the product, just like Kleenex did for tissues in the West. These days, eco-friendly reusables are gaining in popularity.

Kairo © Nori Norisa/Flickr

Thermal Wear

Thermal wear in Japan is some of the best in the world, and one of the simplest ways to keep out the cold. It’s thin but efficient, meaning there’s no need to compromise on style. Try Uniqlo’s Heattech or stop by any convenience store for the basics.

Uniqlo Harajuku © Melanie M./Flickr

Hot Drinks

Hot drinks can warm us up, calm us down, and even make us friendlier. And there’s nothing like winter to get us running for the kettle. Many vending machines serve hot drinks or soup in addition to cold beverages, and convenience store warming ovens will be stocked with hot coffee cans for on-the-go.

Be A Good Neighbor coffee kiosk in Harajuku © Ryosuke Yagi/Flickr

Winter Specialties

Cold weather is the time for nabe (hotpot), steaming bowls of ramen and oden. Take advantage of the cold weather to get acquainted with Japan’s winter specialties.

Nabe © Alpha/Flickr

Utility Bag

In places like Taiwan and Japan, many women like to carry a second bag in addition to their handbag. This utility bag is smaller, like a half-sized tote, and carries non-essential items like today’s lunch and an umbrella. Magazines like to give these away as a freebie. Fill your utility bag with winter-ready layers like a scarf and sweater.

Mercury Duo half-sized tote © Alicia Joy


Window shrink film, a temporary insulation solution for the home, is a cheap and easy option for minimizing the heat loss during the winter months. No need to use special tools – a hairdryer will shrink it down to size. Pick some up from Amazon.

Snowing in Tokyo © Danny Choo/Flickr