Weather officials warn that a winter-like atmospheric pressure pattern may bring blizzards to Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido through Saturday, and that transportation could be disrupted.
The officials say some areas of Hokkaido, mainly on the Sea of Japan, are experiencing violent winds and fierce snowstorms.
They say that before 5 a.m. on Friday, maximum wind gusts topped 99 kilometers per hour in Wakkanai City.
Winds as strong as 90 kilometers per hour are expected through Saturday, and waves as high as six meters are forecast.
The officials also say that up to 50 centimeters of snow is expected along the Sea of Japan during the 24 hours through Saturday morning.
They are calling on people to prepare for violent winds, high waves, snowstorms and transportation disruptions.