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23 Japanese Winter Words that Fluent Speakers All Know

Cynical Japanese learner

What are the must-know Japanese winter 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.

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1. 寒い

  • Samui
  • Cold

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. 

japanese winter words

2. 雪

  • Yuki
  • Snow

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.

japanese winter words

3. お正月

  • Oshougatsu
  • 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.

japanese winter words

4. クリスマス

  • Kurisumasu
  • Christmas

Although it is a western holiday, Japanese people enjoy celebrating Christmas. However, Christmas in Japan is usually a time for couples to spend a romantic day together and exchange gifts. 

japanese winter words

5. 雪だるま

  • 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.

japanese winter words

6. おでん

  • Oden
  • Simmered fish cake stew

Oden is not to be missed during the winter. 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.

japanese winter words

7. 鍋物

  • Nabemono
  • 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.

japanese winter words

8. 吹雪

  • Fubuki
  • Blizzard

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”.

Fubuki Blizzard

9. スキー

  • Sukii
  • Ski

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.

Sukii Ski

10. 冬

  • Fuyu
  • Winter

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. 

冬 Fuyu Winter

11. こたつ

  • Kotatsu
  • 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.

kotatsu

12. つらら

  • Tsurara
  • Icicle

You can find huge icicles in northern Japan hanging off of the houses. Be careful not to stand underneath them!

つらら Tsurara Icicle

13. お年玉

  • Otoshidama
  • 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.

お年玉 Otoshidama New Years money

14. 冬休み

  • 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.

冬休み Fuyu yasumi Winter break

15. 温泉

  • Onsen
  • 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.

温泉 Onsen Hot spring

16. ストーブ

  • Sutoobu
  • Heater

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.

ストーブ Sutoobu Heater

17. マフラー

  • Mafuraa
  • Scarf

An important winter weather item is a scarf! Hand knit scarves are a popular gift item during the cold months in Japan.

マフラー Mafuraa Scarf

18. 手袋

  • Tebukuro
  • Gloves/mitten

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.

手袋 Tebukuro Gloves_mitten

19. みかん

  • Mikan
  • Orange

Oranges are an essential winter fruit. Japanese people love to sit at the warm kotatsu with a pile of oranges when it’s cold.

みかん Mikan Orange

20. おしるこ

  • Oshiruko
  • Warm sweet red beans with mochi rice cakes

Oshiruko is a must-try Japanese dessert. It can keep you warm and it is relatively healthy since it is made with beans.
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21. 雪合戦

  • Yuki gassen
  • Snowball fight

The word for snowball fight translates into something more like  “snow battle” in Japanese. 

雪合戦 Yuki gassen Snowball fight

22. イルミネーション

  • Irumineeshon
  • 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.

イルミネーション Irumineeshon Light decorations

22. 鏡餅

  • 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. 

Kagami mochi Special New Year's rice cakes

23. かぼちゃ

  • Kabocha
  • Pumpkin

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.

かぼちゃ Kabocha Pumpkin

23. 雪まつり

  • 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.

雪まつり Yuki Matsuri Snow festival

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

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