Only because the weather is freezing, it doesn’t mean you cannot have fun. Plan your trips with the activities below and enjoy the best winter ever in Japan:

1. Go Skiing and mountain climbing with the ropeways

Skiing and have fun

Skiing and have fun. From Wikipedia

Go Skiing, or have a mountain climbing with the ropeways, who knows, maybe you will have fun time snowball fights with your friends or family! As Japan have plenty of mountains, it’s a paradise of skiing resorts.

The best locations are Hokkaido, Niigata, Yamagata, and many more!

2. Ice-fishing

All the things you see in movie actually can happen in Japan, just like dropping your fishing rod down a ice hole!

Ice-fishing

Ice-fishing. From Wikipedia

Best place to go ice-fishing in Japan is Yamanashi Prefecture or Hokkaido

For more information:
Yamanaka Lake Ice Fishing

Sapporo Ice Fishing

3. Go for a onsen trip

Japan is known for its bathing and onsen traditions. You can enjoy onsen mostly elsewhere in Japan, but I’d recommend you a trip to Oita, Beppu, where called Onsen Capital!

Beppu Onsen with tons of steam!

Beppu Onsen with tons of steam! From Wikiepdia

Or Ginzan Onsen (“Silver Mountain Hot Spring”) is a secluded hot spring town nestled in the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture. The area originally developed around a silver mine; however, these days it is better known as one of Japan’s prettiest onsen towns with historic ryokan lined up along the river, as well as the shooting location for the famous Japanese Drama: Oshin.

Ginzan Onsen in summer

Ginzan Onsen in summer. From Wikipedia

Ginzan Onsen in winter

Ginzan Onsen in winter. From Wikipedia

Especially, you can enjoy outdoor onsen almost anywhere, and sometimes you can watching the snow fall, it’s called “rotenburo”. With snow, the view of rotenburo becomes a lot more enjoyable.

Rotenburo with snow

Rotenburo with snow. From Flickr

4. Join Sapporo Snow Festival

Take a plane, or train to Hokkaido and enjoy the annually Sapporo Snow Festival. You can enjoy lot of snow sculptures that of animation characters and many others, and they are really really neat! Also Hokkaido is a paradise of delicious winter dishes such as soup curry and ramen-noodles.

Neat snow figure found at Sapporo Snow Festival

Neat snow figure found at Sapporo Snow Festival. From Flickr

Check out the Sapporo Snow Festival websites for more information: http://www.snowfes.com/english/

5. See the Snow Wall in Toyama

The massive wall in Toyama! Because you saw it, and now in Japan, you definitely must see it!

Toyama' Snow Wall

Toyama’ Snow Wall. From Wikipedia

This year 2016, it said that the route is scheduled to be open from April 16th to November 30th! 

Take an one hour train from central Toyama City (JR Toyama Station) to Tateyama Station. Here, you can enjoy the huge snow wall by cable car, highway bus, or simply walking!

6. Enjoy Illuminations

Illumination is a term for Christmas lights in Japanese. Free-entrance to all the illuminations are opened everywhere in Japan, starting from November, until the end of February in some major cities. What are you waiting for? 

Christmas Illumination lights at Roppongi

Christmas Illumination lights at Roppongi. From Flickr

7. Get warm up with significant Japanese winter dishes

Nabe, Oden, Steamed buns, to significant seasonal winter fruits. Your stomach never gets bored when enjoying Japan’s delicious foods!

A typical nabe

A typical nabe. From Wikipedia

Shabu shabu

Shabu shabu. From Wikiepdia

Steamed buns are popular snack bought at convenience stores.

Steamed buns are popular snack bought at convenience stores.

You can find out more about Japanese food in winter from our article: The Best Japanese Food You Should Taste in Winter

8. Shop till you drop

From Christmas till New Year is one of the biggest discount seasons in Japan. From malls to malls, let’s shop till you drop!

A huge shopping mall “Landmark Plaza” in Yokohama

A huge shopping mall “Landmark Plaza” in Yokohama. From Flickr

9. Celebrating New Year Oshogatsu style

Watching the very typical music program “kohaku uta gassen” on TV, then go to temples and shrines pray for lucks and blessings, don’t forget to enjoy the significant New Year dish Osechi!

New Year dish “Osechi”.

New Year dish “Osechi”.

Find out more about Japanese Oshougatsu from our article: The Japanese New Year Oshougatsu Marks a New Beginning

10. Relax in kotatsu

Japanese has a home staple called “kotatsu”, a piece of furniture, which is a table that comes with blanket attachments and a heater underneath. It’s now famous worldwide and I’m sure once you sit with your kotatsu, it’s hard to resist from the warmth and leave your chair!

Japanese furniture Kotatsu

Japanese furniture Kotatsu. From Flickr

11. Visit Shirakawago

Shirakawa is a village located in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is best known for being the site of Shirakawa-gō, a small, traditional village showcasing a building style known as gasshō-zukuri.

Especially, the houses will be lightened in winter becoming tremendous scenery.

The village at night

The village at night. From Wikipedia

Visit the websites for more information: http://shirakawa-go.org/en/

How to access Shirakawago from Tokyo;
1. Tokyo———Nagoya 2hrs.(Railway)
2. Nagoya——-Takayama 2hrs.(Railway)
3. Takayama—Shirakawa-go 50mins (Expressway shuttle bus)

12. Visit Biei in Hokkaido

Biei is a small town surrounded by a picturesque landscape of gently rolling hills and vast fields in Hokkaido. A pleasant way to enjoy the charm of Biei is The West side of JR Biei station, which is known for its “photo spots.” For snow-capped tips of the Taisetsuzan contrasting the bare soil. The Northwest Observatory Park, Seven star tree, and Mild Seven hill are on this side of Biei. The area northwest of the town center is named “Patchwork Road” and the area south of the town center “Panorama Road”.

The Biei fields in winter

The Biei fields in winter. From Wikipedia

Famous “Christmass Tree” in Biei.

Famous “Christmass Tree” in Biei.

Besides sightseeing and taking photos, further east towards the mountain range you’ll find the Shirogane onsen area, where you can enjoy indoor onsen as well as delicious winter dishes of Hokkaido.

Access to Biei:

15 min by car from Asahikawa Airport

From Sapporo by car; 2h30mins via the Hokkaido Expressway and Route 237 from the Asahikawa Takasu I.C.

From Sapporo by JR train; 120mins via the Hakodate Main Line from Sapporo to Asahikawa

Website:
http://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/

13. Enjoy Snowy temples and shrines in Kyoto

Winter is the quietest season in Kyoto. The scenery in Kyoto coated with silver snow is fantastic, especially the shrines and temples. In Kyoto winter, you can go for sightseeing the snowy shrines and temples or go sightseeing cultural assets and join the pilgrimage of the Seven Deities of Good Luck.

Ginkakuji in Kyoto with snowy scenery.

Ginkakuji in Kyoto with snowy scenery. From Wikipedia

14. Watch Japanese monkey in Onsen

This is a place in Nagano where you can see “snow monkeys” (Japanese Macaque) chilling out in an onsen hot spring. The Jigokudani Yaenkoen park opened in 1964 and since then many thousands of people from around the world have visited the park to observe the lifestyle of the Japanese Macaque.  The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) is a monkey species native to northern Japan, and is the most northern-living non-human primate, surviving winter temperatures of below -15 °C.  They have brown-gray fur, a red face, hands and bottom, and a short tail – and often seem remarkably human like.

Snow monkeys bathing in hotsprings

Snow monkeys bathing in hotsprings. From Wikipedia

The park is located in the Yokoyu River valley, which flows down from Shiga Kogen.  At an elevation of 850 meters, the area is called Jigokudani (“Hell’s Valley”) due to the steep cliffs and hot water steaming out from the earth’s surface.  It’s also a fairly harsh environment in winter with snow on the ground for a third of the year, but it is also a paradise for the couple of hundred monkeys that live there. Don’t forget your camera and expect to meet more non-Japanese people too.

Address:
6845 Yamanouchi-machi Shimotakai-gun Nagano

Access:
-taking a bus to Kanbayashi Onsen from Yudanaka Station (10-15 minutes), then take a 30-40mins walk to the Monkey Park
-or Shibu Onsen (5-10 minutes) get off at the “Snow Monkey Park” bus stop, and take a short walk away, around 10mins

Hours:
April to October 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
November to March 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fees:
500yen

Website:
http://jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/

Thumbnail image is from Flickr