Winter is quickly making its way south over the Japanese archipelago. I personally love the cold, but my other friends utterly despise it!
As a native Californian, the only time I really experienced these type of winter conditions were the handful of times I visited the mountains.
Japan can be a bit different for those of us used to getting around in cars vs. public transportation because people here generally spend a lot of time walking around and on bikes (especially when you're traveling).
For those of us who come to Japan from warmer climates, the cold and snow can definitely be a bit of a shock, but I'm here to rescue you with some sweet tips on how to stay warm!
1. Start warm
If you're warm when you leave your house, you're more likely to stay that way!
A few things you can do to get warm in the morning is to take a nice, warm shower (although others suggest switching between hot and cold for circulation), eat something hot, or do some exercises to get your temperature up. (If you live in an apartment building, you might want to skip the jumping jacks!)
2. Layer it up
For winters in Japan, dressing in layers is the name of the game. It'll be cold as you walk around outdoors, but most places will be blasting the heat inside.
That means that once you leave the freezing temperatures outside, you won't be roasting while shopping or trying to enjoy a fine meal.
Unless you live way up in Hokkaido, you probably don't need a crazy winter coat with fur. You do, however, need to get a nice jacket that can block the wind.
In my experience, it's the strong, cold winds that make for exceptionally chilly experiences!
My personal preference is to go for a lighter shell that I layer over a sweater, sweatshirt, or fleece top. If your legs get cold, you can get some tights (a must if you're planning on wearing a skirt). You can keep all of that warmy-goodness in with a nice scarf.
A lot of other people in Japan love to opt for the thin, ultra-light down jackets like they sell at Uniqlo.
You can also pick up something rugged and cheap at Workman (ワークマン - they have big sizes too - like up to 5L).
Either way, you want to make sure that you'll be as comfortable out in the elements as you will be indoors (where it can sometimes feel like summer!).
3. Cover your dome
For me, my head and my ears are some of the places I get the coldest. Even if you're layered up, your head will be exposed.
Any hat will usually do. You want to make sure that you have something that covers your ears. If you're not using a beanie/knit cap, you can buy some cheap ear warmers at your favorite ￥100 shop. If you end up losing it somewhere, you can just go and buy another!
4. Protect your meat-hooks
Gloves can be tricky. Some people go with the cheap stretchy gloves. I find those to be too thin (and too small) for my manly meat-hooks. I have a few pairs of gloves (especially since I bike a lot).
One is a thin Mechanix M-Pact glove. They have lots of grip and some protection without too much insulation.
Another pair I have are convertible mittens. They flip open to reveal fingerless gloves. This comes in handy when you need to reach for keys, money, train passes, etc.
I also have a pair of warm, leather gloves for dressy occasions. Of course, they are touchscreen compatible.
Lastly, I have a thick pair of ski gloves for when it snows. I've only had to use them a handful of times, but the warmth they offer along with the water resistance are unmatched.
5. Keep those doggies warm!
Since your feet are really far from your core, it's also another place that tends to get really cold.
A good pair of wool (or thick) socks can keep your feet toasty all day.
If it's snowy, any kind of sneakers you have might not do too much to keep the cold out. A pair of hiking boots or something that blocks wind will help a lot!
6. Warm-up your body from the outside and the inside
There are a lot of products in Japan that people use to stay toasty in the winter. Be on the lookout for kairo (カイロ). They're disposable hand warmers that really do the trick! They're personally too hot for me, but you might love them!
If you're out in the middle of nowhere and you need something to use for a hand warmer, look for a vending machine.
You can buy a few hot drinks and hold onto them before you drink them. Sticking one in each pocket while you wait for the bus = good times.
You can also drink lots of hot beverages. If you're at work, most places have a hot water dispenser. You can drink this straight up or make tea/coffee/cocoa.
When I'm going to work, I usually care a spill-proof coffee mug with me and a bunch of individually packaged instant coffee or tea. Just add hot water and enjoy unlimited warmth!
7. Choose your style
Aside from staying warm you still wanna look good, right?
If you're wearing a three-piece suit and then have a North Face jacket on, it might look a little silly. The same could be said for wearing something sporty with a fine wool peacoat.
Depending on your style, you might want to invest in a few different options.
8. Try building up your cold-tolerance
This last tip is not one for the faint of heart, but it can pay off dividends.
Legal disclaimer: The content on Yokkaichi Connections is intended for entertainment purposes only. We assume no responsibility and/or liability for any and all damages readers may incur as a result of following this advice. (I may go to law school ... someday)
The sudden shock of cold may get to you, but the more time you spend in it, the more tolerant you will become.
Some ways to do this are going for short walks with fewer layers, taking cold showers, and using the heating less in your apartment.
Just be sure that you don't over do it, keep a good diet, and monitor your health.
I started training for a half-marathon in my first year in January. I would run in just a shirt and shorts in rain, sleet, and snow!
That'll do it for this blog. Which tips do you think are good? Is there anything you would add? Let me know in the comments!
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