Tokyo Snowpocalypse Experience

Snow in Tokyo is a rare occurrence, except for February 8th. It was said that this was the most snow that Tokyo has seen in over 45 years. Now, if you’re from Canada or anywhere where snow is the norm during winter, then this will sound like nothing. There has been light snow over the course of winter but nothing like this. Here’s a photo for comparison.

Vending Machine With Snow
The before and after of the vending machine outside my apartment.

I am used to fluffy and dry snow back home, but the snow here was sticky and wet. This made for a slushy mess everywhere. The pathway from my apartment to the train station was nothing but slush and if you were not wearing boots, your feet were going to get soaked.

Slushy Snow in Tokyo
Wet and sticky snow makes for some wet feet unless you’re wearing boots. This is right infront of my apartment.

For those who deal with this every year, then this is nothing. But, Tokyo and the surrounding areas are not well equipped or used to handling such a huge amount of snow in such a short time span. What affects the most people is public transportation. Now, you can call me crazy but I was brave (or stupid) to make my way to Tokyo Disneyland. Since this amount of snow is rare, I had to take photos.

Snow day at Disneyland

Snow at Tokyo Disneyland
There was a ton of snow at Tokyo Disneyland along with adorable Mickey and Minnie Snowmen.

I expected there to be train delays, and going across Tokyo was not bad at all. Granted this was earlier in the day. My train line Keio, was delayed only by half an hour. On the way back from Disneyland, that is a whole other story in itself.

4 Hour Commute Home

Maihama Station Coved in Snow

Maihama Station train platform completely covered in snow. That train was there for almost 30 minutes.

As a friend and I were enjoying Tokyo DisneySea there came an announcement throughout the entire park. They were warning guests that due to inclement weather, the trains and buses may stop for extended periods of time. They were politely telling us that if you need to take public transportation home, you better leave now.

Not knowing how much of a delay I was going to experience it was in my best interest to start making my way home. When I arrived at Maihama Station, it was completely full with people who were at Disneyland. I waited around the train station for about an hour before the next train would come by. The one train that was going the opposite direction of me was stopped at Maihama Station due to wind, and they were waiting for it to die down before proceeding to the next station.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tokyo Disneyland, it is located in Tokyo Bay. Which means there is a lot of wind.

Finally, after an hour our train, bound for Tokyo, finally arrives. Since there was so many people waiting, you bet the train was crowded just as if it were rush hour on a weekday. The train was packed with people holding onto their Disney purchases, which made it just that much more crowded.

Snow Covered Train Platform Stairs in Tokyo
Employees were constantly clearing the snow.

We slowly make our way towards Tokyo Station, when at the last stop before our destination an announcement comes on. It was telling passengers that Tokyo Station was completely full, and that we had to wait for an undetermined amount of time before we could get to the station. We were advised to transfer to the subway at this stop.

Myself and a couple hundred other people got off the train and made our way to the subway station. We get to the ticket gates and the area was at a stand still. The employees locked the ticket gates because the platform for the subway was completely full and we had to wait for it to clear. Now, I am standing with at least another 200-300 people, all crowded in this tiny space waiting to get through. Not being able to move, literally.

After about 10 minutes the employees open the ticket gates to begin allowing people through. There was such a push to get through the gates that you had no choice but to go with the flow, regardless if you even had a ticket to get through or not. Eventually the employees opened ALL the ticket gates. Since there was such a flood of people, no one was able to either tap their commuter pass cards or insert their tickets. Everyone just went through the gates.

After flowing down the river of people to the subway, I got on and made my way to Shinjuku Station. Once I got to Shinjuku station I transferred to the Keio Line, which was only running local and semi-express trains. Normally there are Special Rapid trains, but not that night.

Nearly Missed Last Train

Too Much Snow in Tokyo
When they said there was a lot of snow, they were not kidding. This is almost Saskatchewan snowfall!

I get on the train and continue on the last leg of my journey home. I had to make one transfer in Chofu before I could get home. When I transferred I noticed that the train I was going to be taking was the last train of the evening. Service was being suspended after that due to weather. It was only 10pm. Normally, the last train from that station is particular is 12:43am.

Finally Home

Grocery Store Covered in Snow
The grocery store in front of the train station looks completely different with all the snow.

Finally, after 4 hours I got home to my station. Normally it is only a 1 hour journey. But, the fun was not over yet. There was so much snow that the area I live in was completely transformed by the snow. It looked like the Apocalypse had hit. All the stores were closed (expect 7-11) and there was wet snow up to your ankles.

Pathway Home
The pathway home was wet and sticky. My already soaked feet got even more soaked.

The pathway to my house was a wet and muddy mess. My shoes got completely soaked. It was only 10pm but there was not a soul in sight. I guess they were the smart ones.

Not Doing That Again

The snow was nice as it reminded me of home. But, I do not want to have to experience this again. Wet and sticky snow is terrible, and I much prefer the white fluffy stuff we get back home in good ole Saskatchewan.

Wet and Sticky Snow in Tokyo Disneyland
Never going out in that type of weather again. Even with a raincoat and umbrella I still ended up looking like this.

Keeping Warm in Japan

As a Canadian from the arctic prairies of Saskatchewan, you would think I would be able to handle the mild cold weather here in Tokyo. I thought that my winter clothing would be sufficient. How wrong I was. I quickly learned how to keep myself warm as the humidity and wind, chill you right to the bone if you are not dressed properly. While it only gets down to maybe -2C at it’s coldest, it can still feel miserable. Japan does not have central heating, so I have to use my heater to keep my living area warm. This only affects the small room where I spend the most time in. It does not heat the kitchen, toilet, or shower room. Waiting for the water to warm up while standing in the show is the longest 30 seconds of my day. Also, you spend a lot of time outdoors walking places such as to the store, train, or work. It’s not like being back in Saskatchewan, where we can run from the house to a warm vehicle then into the office. Therefore spending a minimal amount of time outdoors. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about keeping warm here in Japan …

Tea, Soup, or Anything Spicy

Spicy Ramen
You simply cannot go wrong with a nice hot bowl of Ramen.

Drinking hot green tea or having miso soup keeps your insides nice and warm. It is almost like having a blanket on your insides! Also, having anything spicy. I recently had Taiwan Ramen, it was so spicy that I completely forgot how cold I was because I was too busy sweating, coughing, wiping my nose, and wiping the tears out of my eyes.


While it does keep you warm, it does not however, make your hair white.

I am not a fan of fleece, only because everything sticks to it. Dust, hair, small pieces of fluff, pet hair, etc. But, I put that all aside and bought myself a lounging set made of fleece. The best 3000 yen that I have spent. I even bought fleece socks. I wear this around my box sized apartment and also sleep in it. While everything does stick to it, the fact that it keeps me completely warm outweighs my dislike of the fabric.

Heat Tech from Uniqlo

Heat Tech Uniqlo Uniqlo is a cheap clothing store in Japan (it now has stores in the US) that sells decent quality clothes are reasonable prices. For winter they have thin shirts called “Heat Tech” which will keep your body heat. A long sleeved shirt will run about 950 yen and a t-shirt version about 750 yen. They are worth they weight in gold. Not only do they keep you incredibly warm, they are so thin you can wear it under pretty much anything. I have three pairs and there’s no way I could go without them now. Ultra Light Down Another famous item from Uniqlo is the “Ultra Light Down”. This is an incredibly light jacket or vest that will cut the wind from chilling you to the bone. They come with a small bag so you can take it anywhere and pull it out when needed. A vest/jacket will run you about 4000 yen. Not only do the keep you warm and are incredibly light, they look pretty stylish too. They come in a variety of basic colours so you can easily work it into your wardrobe.

Kotatsu (炬燵)

This is a small table that has a removable top so you can put a blanket in between the top of the table and the legs. The heater inside keeps you nice and toasty. While I do not have one in my place, as it’s too small, I have used them at other people’s houses and they are fantastic.

Onsen (温泉) or Hot Bath

Onsen in Sakura-shi, Tochigi, Japan
Onsen in Sakura-shi, Tochigi, Japan

The onsen is the traditional Japanese Public Bath. Where you bathe yourself in an open room with a small shower and stool then relax in the natural hot springs. All while being completely naked in front of everyone. While that is intimidating at first, you quickly realize that most people are not paying any attention to you. John Himpe gives a really good and in-depth explanation of our onsen experience. After the onsen you are left nice and toasty for the rest of the evening. Now, I cannot get to the onsen every night so most nights I opt for a steaming hot bath, which leaves me just as warm for the evening. I quickly shower (because you never go into the bath without washing yourself first), turn on Saskatchewan’s Largest Morning Show on TuneIn Radio, and relax in the bath for about 20 minutes each night. While it was pretty miserable the first month, since I had to figure out how to stay warm, I now am able to keep warm in the mild but humid Tokyo winter.