What are the must-know Japanese winter words?
Great question, glad you asked.
Japan has words for all seasons — Japanese spring words, summer words, and autumn words.
In this guide, you’ll pick up 23+ winter words that are commonly used around winter time. Culturally relevant words.
Words for things that are common during winter in Japan.
Plus, fun words like… “snowball fight.”
So, take a scroll down, start absorbing these words, and start speaking some wintry Japanese.
The first Japanese word you’ll want to say during the winter is samui! It can get very cold in Japan, especially up north near Hokkaido.
This is a beautiful word that is reflected in the kanji character. You’ll notice the character has a roof on top with snow like dashes underneath. Japanese people love to enjoy the snowy days by staying warm inside.
- New Years
One of the most important traditional holidays is the New Year. This is a time for families to get together and celebrate. They will reflect on the past and welcome the New Year by eating special dishes and going to the shrine or temple.
Although it is a western holiday, Japanese people enjoy celebrating Christmas, and there are ways to say Merry Christmas in Japanese.
But, there’s a difference! Christmas in Japan is usually a time for couples to spend a romantic day together and exchange gifts.
- Yuki daruma
- Snow man
There is a unique word in Japanese for “snow man”. The word daruma means a traditional type of round doll. Since snowmen are made of round snowballs, this word fits perfectly.
- Simmered fish cake stew
Oden is one of the many unique Japanese foods and is a popular winter dish.
You can find this delicious and warm dish in convenience stores or at special restaurants. The dish features a light soy sauce broth with various ingredients from vegetables, eggs, and fish cakes.
- Hot pot
Another important winter dish is nabemono. These are simmered dishes or stews that can have a huge variety of ingredients and flavors. There are also dedicated hotpot restaurants all over the country.
This is one of my most favorite Japanese winter words.
Say it with me: fu-bu-ki! It’s similar to “hanafubuki” or “cherry blossom blizzard” — a word on my “beautiful Japanese words“ list.
Now, Fubuki or blizzards can happen frequently in the northern parts of Japan. The word for blizzard is made up of the kanji characters 吹, which means “blow”, and 雪, which means “snow”.
If you’re a fan of winter sports, Japan has many ski resorts all over the country. Make sure to experience the amazing snow quality by visiting one of these resorts.
A list of Japanese winter words isn’t complete without the word for winter, fuyu! Japanese people value seasonality. Winter is a time when everyone looks forward to the New Years celebrations.
- Heated table
Most Japanese households have a kotatsu at home during the winter. These are tables with a heater inside and a blanket on top. It’s an amazing Japanese invention where you can use a table and stay warm at the same time.
You can find huge icicles in northern Japan hanging off of the houses. Be careful not to stand underneath them!
- New Years money
Kids look forward to the Japanese New Year because they receive money from family relatives. This is a great way for them to learn how to save and spend money.
- Fuyu yasumi
- Winter break
Winter break lasts further into January in Japan. Since the New Year is important for Japanese people, work and school don’t resume until around January 7th.
- Hot spring
One of the most enjoyable things about being in Japan during the winter is to enjoy the hot springs. In Japan, there are many hot springs which are located outside. The cold air and the warmth of the water can be a relaxing combination.
A misleading word in Japanese is sutoobu because it sounds like “stove.” A stove in English indicates a place to cook food but in Japan it means a heater.
An important winter weather item is a scarf! Hand knit scarves are a popular gift item during the cold months in Japan.
Mittens/gloves are written with the kanji characters for “hand” and “bag”. Just like scarves, you’ll see that in some anime or dramas, hand knit mittens are a common winter gift.
Oranges are an essential winter fruit. Japanese people love to sit at the warm kotatsu with a pile of oranges when it’s cold.
- Warm sweet red beans with mochi rice cakes
- Yuki gassen
- Snowball fight
The word for snowball fight translates into something more like “snow battle” in Japanese.
- Light decorations
In Japan, light decorations are a beautiful part of the winter season. There are huge areas with Christmas lights all over the city. It is a popular spot for couples to go on dates.
- Kagami mochi
- Special New Year’s rice cakes
These are rice cakes that are used as decoration and eaten during the New Year’s celebrations in Japan. They are two large round rice cakes that are dried and placed on top of each other.
Although in the west we associate pumpkins with the fall, in Japan it is a winter food. Many people believe that eating pumpkin helps to prevent colds.
- Yuki Matsuri
- Snow festival
In northern parts of Japan, snow festivals are a major event. At these festivals, you can see impressive snow sculptures! The largest one is called the Sapporo snow festival which has hundreds of sculptures and a wide variety of local food vendors.
Conclusion— Back to You.
Now, you know some common Japanese winter words.
If you want to remember these words, print out this page.
What’s your favorite one here? Leave me a comment. I read ’em all.
– The Main Lingua Junkie