Many tourists think Japan sightseeing is for cherry blossom time in spring. Not many think of travelling during winter. Well we recommend winter as this is one of the quietest seasons and one of the beautiful times of the year to explore Japan.
Here are 5 highlights of winter in Japan.
1) Snow sports
Japan has become one of the popular ski destinations simply because of the powder snow. Over 70% of Japan’s land is covered in mountains which makes winter’s in Japan one of the most snow-sure regions in the world. Most popular ski resorts are in Hakuba, 4 hours away from Tokyo and Hokkaido where you need to take an internal flight. Ski seasons last from December to end of March. Hakuba is also home to winter Olympics held in 1998 and some facilities are still in use. If you experience the powder in Japan, you will surely want to come back again.
2) Snow monkeys
You can see the snow monkeys relaxing in the hot spring baths in the town of Yudanaka. This will be a unique experience for you, if you plan your trip for winter. You can visit Yudanaka as a day trip from Tokyo or stay overnight in the small traditional hot spring town and do a leisurely walk up to the snow monkey park.
3) Hot springs (onsen)
Every region in Japan has its hot springs and they are highly popular across Japan. Rotenburo which are open air hot spring baths are exceptionally beautiful when the snow falls and the steam whirls up the baths. We highly recommend hot spring bathing, to experience landscape and Japanese culture in winter.
4) Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Snow festival)
Snow festival is held early February each year in Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo. Many snow and ice sculptures are exhibited and the city transforms in to a winter wonderland. There are many locals travelling for this festival and accommodation get booked up from very early on in the year. You should plan ahead if you are thinking of visiting snow festival in Sapporo.
5) See Mount Fuji
Best chances of seeing Mount Fuji is during winter time. Of course it is very cold but there is a higher possibility of seeing Mount Fuji in winter due to clean and cold air.