Although it may be cold and daylight hours may be shorter, winter brings about a treasure trove of experiences and stunning views which can only be enjoyed during this season. With some of Japan's heaviest snowfalls, the Eastern Japan region transforms into a white wonderland with magical scenery!

Ski Resorts

1 GALA Yuzawa

Easy access!
Recommended for families or day trips from Tokyo, GALA Yuzawa is only 75-min by bullet train, and is directly connected to the shinkansen station. After exiting the gantry, you’re facing the counter to purchase your gondola tickets! All items can be rented (jackets, pants, shoes, equipment, etc) so you can come empty handed! JR EAST PASS holders get special discounts. Beginner lessons are offered in English, Chinese and Thai. Other than skiing / snowboarding, people who just want to enjoy playing in the snow can try out the snow mobile ride or snow sledding.

2 Hakuba Valley

Power quality snow!
Hakuba Valley is the largest snow resort in Japan, and has beautiful powder snow. The mountains are also high and offer amazing views. With 10 resorts in the area, there is something for everyone!

3 Karuizawa

Early opening!
If you visit in late November or early December, most ski resorts will not yet be open as snow has not yet accumulated. However, if you really want to ski, you can visit Karuizawa, which uses artificial snow and opens around 23 November. Only 60-min by bullet train from Tokyo with a large outlet mall nearby; there’s something at Karuizawa for the whole family!

4 Nozawa Onsen

A small charming village offering a unique Japanese experience, Nozawa Onsen is not just a ski resort, but also an onsen (hot spring) town! After a long day of hitting the slopes, relax in the hot springs dotted around the town.

5 Appi Kogen

Family Friendly!
With a dedicated children’s ski area and a family park with sledding and snow activities, Appi Kogen caters to families looking to enjoy the snow. It is the largest ski resort in Tohoku, and its northern location provides high quality powder snow, with the average open season being 30 November to 06 May. It also has English support and can arrange for Muslim-friendly meals.


1 Iiyama Kamakura Snow Village Resturant

Late January ~ Late February
At the Iiyama Kamakura Snow Hut Village, you can enjoy dining on Noroshi Nabe inside a kamakura (snow hut)! A warm hotpot dish, Noroshi Nabe is a special blend of local vegetables, mushrooms, miyuki pork and potato balls. Try out this unique experience of sitting on seats made from ice and dining inside a snow hut!

2 Hirosaki Castle Snow Sakura Illumination

Evenings of December ~ February
Famed as a sakura spot, Hirosaki Castle Park houses thousands of cherry blossom trees which get blanketed in snow during winter. For every night in December to February, the area around the Otemon Exit is illuminated, making the snow-covered trees look like sakura is blooming in winter!

3 Tokamachi Snow Festival

Mid - February
Tokamachi has one of the highest snowfalls in Japan, and sometimes the snow might cause inconvenience. Instead of thinking of it negatively, the snowfall is celebrated with the Tokamachi Festival, where many beautiful sculptures made from snow and ice are created.

4 Nagano Lantern Festival

Approx. 1week in early-mid February
The Nagano Lantern Festival is held annually to commemorate the 1998 Winter Olympics, for which Nagano was a host city. Zenkoji Temple is covered in the 5 Olympic colors, and beautiful handmade lanterns decorate the street from Nagano Station to Zenkoji Temple.

5 Tsunan Snow Festival

Two days in mid-March
Started with the aim of revitalizing Tsunan Station, the Tsunan Snow Festival is now famous for the beautiful sky lanterns reminiscent of the movie Tangled (Rapunzel).

6 Sendai Pageant of Starlight

Mid-late December
The Zelkova trees lining Jozenjidori and Aobadori are covered with 600,000 lights, creating a fantasy-like walkway.

7 Aomori Lights & Paper Pageant

Late November ~ early February
Brightening up the dark and cold winter, the Aomori Lights & Paper Pageant features colorful lanterns and small snowmen lining the streets, each meticulously handmade by local citizens for the visitors to enjoy.

Sightseeing Spots

1 Snow Monkeys

You’ve probably seen photos of the snow monkeys ‒ Japanese macaques soaking in the hot springs, looking very human-like. Have a look at the real thing for yourself! Along the way, enjoy beautiful views of the onsen towns.

2 Hakuba Mountain Harbor

Take a gondola up Mt Iwatake and head to Hakuba Mountain Harbor, a newly built (opened Oct 2018) observation terrace overlooking the mountains of Hakuba. Other than the magnificent views, there is also a bakery with delicious cinnamon muffins and hot chocolate!

3 Ginzan Onsen

With its dim yellow gas lights, Ginzan Onsen is exceptionally beautiful in winter evenings, especially when snow falls, creating a magical atmosphere reminiscent of a Studio Ghibli movie.

4 Zao Snow Monsters

Snow monsters are a natural phenomenon that occurs due to frost accumulating on trees. Over time, it accumulates until the shape resembles that of a monster, hence the name "snow monsters". There are many places to see them, with the most famous being Yamagata Zao.

5 Mogami River Kotatsu Boat

The Mogami River is the largest river in Yamagata Prefecture, and a vital source of water. Only during winter, these boats are fitted with kotatsu - low tables with heated blankets - to keep your feet warm and toasty. Enjoy the ride and all-white snow scenery, which peaks in February.

6 Koiwai Farm Ipponzakura

Against the backdrop of the majestic Mt. Iwate, a lone sakura tree 「ipponzakura」stands in the middle of the expansive grounds of Koiwai Farm, blanketed in white during winter. From afar, the frost on the tree’s branches make it look like it is blooming.

7 No.1 Tadami River Bridge

Enjoy picturesque winter scenery from the No. 1 Tadami River Bridge Viewpoint. Catch a train passing by for an even more stunning view!

8 Ouchijuku

Ouchijuku is a former post town along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route. The old-style buildings with thick thatched roofs are most stunning in winter, when the town is blanketed in snow. A local specialty is negi soba - soba noodles eaten with a leek as a spoon!
JRET - Indo Map_cs6