Winter in Japan

As soon as the winter season begins in Japan, and the snow starts to fall, the entire country undergoes a slight shift and changes its mood. Winter in Japan is a very magical and special time. Other than the natural inherent beauty, there are also often fewer crowds in the winter time. From north to south, Japan in the winter time is a very special place that can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. Here are some ideas on how to best enjoy Japan in the winter.

Skiing in Hokkaido


From beginners to the most advanced skiers, the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido is famous for winter sports and offers some of the world’s best skiing terrain. From ice skating to sledding, travelers can also hit the slopes and enjoy fun-filled days outside and warm up inside over a hot pot or warm bowl of ramen soup. There are many resorts situated in Hokkaido, ideal for spending a night or two during winter in Japan enjoying the winter sports during the day, and cozy warm nights. Skiing in Japan is a special experience offering powdery snow and perfect conditions. A visit to Hokkaido is a must for those traveling in Japan in the winter.

Onsens/Hot springs

Found all throughout Japan’s islands, there are a variety of natural hot springs known as onsens. Since Japan is a volcanically active country (for example, Mount Fuji is actually a volcano), the naturally flowing hot spring water is a wonderful place to bathe and relax. There is a variety of Ryokan along these hot springs, providing a traditional experience committed to rest and relaxation. One of the best things to do in Japan in the winter is sit back, relax, and let the spring water work its magic. It is best to enjoy a warm and soothing cup of tea along with the onsen, to stay warm against the colder climate.

Mount Fuji

There is nothing quite as majestic and beautiful as Mount Fuji in the winter in Japan. The snowy cone-shaped peak is the most impressive and memorable in the snow. Marveling at the mountain peak in the winter is both awe-inspiring and profound. Mount Fuji can be seen from many places in the country but is best seen up close. Joining a Mount Fuji tour is one of the best ways to see the Five Lake Region with Lake Ashi and surrounding areas, dusted with snow and boasting wintery magic.

Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido

Every winter in Japan, the Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in Hokkaido showcasing a wide array of ice sculptures and snow structures both large-scale and small and intricate. The Snow Festival is fun for all ages and is the epitome of winter. There is also ice fishing, ice skating, and a beer garden along with other winter illuminations. For the ultimate Japanese winter activity, a visit to the Sapporo Snow Festival is a must.

Shiretoko National Park

Winter Illuminations

All throughout Japan in the winter, winter illuminations brighten up the country adding a certain magical quality. Starting in November and December around Christmas time and into the New Year, these light installations create art and a thrilling site throughout Japan. There are many to choose from, some more popular than others. In Tokyo, the Shidome and the Tokyo Midtown are the most popular illuminations, attracting both tourists and locals coming to marvel at the bright lights. In Osaka and Nagoya, there are also noteworthy illuminations during winter in Japan.

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