Pedestrians walk through the snow in Otaru, Hokkaido, on Saturday Image Credit: Japan News-Yomiuri

Freezing weather in North Asia has seen temperatures in China drop to unseen levels and left Japan bracing for blizzards.

The temperature in Mohe, northern China, dropped to a record -53C (-64F) on Sunday in a cold snap that is expected to continue into this week. Meanwhile, northern and western Japan may see heavy snowfall through Thursday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Colder-than-usual weather is set to prevail in the region until the end of this month, which may boost heating demand in major energy importers China and Japan. For now the effect is likely to be muted, with factories shut in China for the Lunar New Year holidays and Japan able to count on stockpiled liquefied natural gas to feed its power plants.

Officials in China's Mohe have increased boiler activity to continue to be able to provide heating and hot water to houses, boosting coal consumption to about one-third higher than normal, according to local media, and there have been no reports of power or fuel shortages. Frigid air in Heilongjiang means many parts of the province will flirt with record low temperatures through Wednesday, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Many parts of Japan may see snow Tuesday, with temperatures set to drop below freezing on Wednesday in major cities including Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka, the JMA said in a forecast. The nation's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on Monday urged people to refrain from going outside in the event of heavy snow and for drivers to take necessary precautions.

Japan Airlines Co. and ANA Holdings Inc. both said that flights may be delayed or canceled because of the weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. Railway operators West Japan Railway Co. and Kyushu Railway Co. also said schedules may be disrupted.