Japan in winter is a magical time, when the gently falling snow is an excellent complement to the country’s already stunning natural beauty. On this 15-day tour, travel throughout Japan, seeing the cities and villages which transform into a winter wonderland. As you travel, enjoy Japanese hot spring baths, meet the local wildlife, and eat a variety of delectable food. Though the trip leaves you with many memories, it inspires you to return to Japan in the spring, summer or fall.
Tokyo – Welcome to a Winter Wonderland
Your plane touches down at Narita International Airport. After clearing customs and immigration, your guide meets you at baggage claim. You then board a limousine bus that takes you directly to your Tokyo hotel. This evening, you are free to explore Tokyo. Dinner is on your own, but your guide is glad to give you suggestions on nearby restaurants.
Kushiro – Traveling North
Kushiro – Majestic Wildlife
Abashiri – Cold Ice, Warm Baths
Sapporo – A Journey Through the Snow
Sapporo – Endless Ice Art
Yudanaka Onsen – Take a Relaxing Soak
Yudanaka Onsen – Meeting Monkeys
Takayama – Traveling into the Past
Takayama – Breathtaking Beauty
Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa – Stunning Homes & Delectable Sushi
Kanazawa to Mt. Koya – Finding Peace in Nature and Meditation
Mt. Koya to Kyoto – Japan’s Ancient Capital
Kyoto – In the Footsteps of Geisha
Kyoto – One Season Down, Three to Go
- Spend a night at a Buddhist temple on Mt. Koya, one of the world’s most sacred mountains
- Experience the Sapporo Snow Festival, and see hundreds of expertly-crafted ice sculptures and snow structures
- Take to the seas, and venture through glaciers on an ice breaker cruise in Abashiri
- Encounter the famous Japanese Snow Monkeys as they relax in outdoor onsens, thermal hot springs
- Enjoy a private Japanese tea ceremony led by a geisha
- Stay in a variety of ryokans, traditional Japanese inns and bathe in the onsens, thermal hot springs
You arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s capital. Your time here is brief, as you leave the next day for Kushiro, a coastal city in Hokkaido. Far to the north, Kushiro is home to Japan’s majestic red-crowned cranes. Brought back from near-extinction, you view these amazing animals up close as they frolic in the snow fields. It is an opportunity where you do not want to forget your camera.
From Kushiro, you travel by train to Abashiri. Situated on the Sea of Okhotsk, Abashiri’s harbor freezes over each winter. Just feet below you, the thick ice breaks away as you ride the sturdy icebreaker on your tour of the harbor. After a cold day on the ice, this evening features a seafood feast and a warm onsen bath at a traditional Japanese inn.
You arrive in Sapporo during the height of the Sapporo Snow Festival. For a day and a half, you wander among the 400 ice and snow sculptures. Each is a testament to the Japanese concept of mono no aware, an appreciation for the temporary beauty present in all things. To take shelter from the cold, Sapporo has some of the best ramen shops in Japan.
Leaving Hokkaido by plane, you travel to Yudanaka Onsen. Home to some of the best onsen baths in Japan, the people aren’t the only animals who enjoy relaxing in Japan’s famous warm waters. While in Yudanaka Onsen, you take a day trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Here, it is possible to stand only feet away from these monkeys as they take a relaxing soak in the hot spring baths.
You travel to Takayama by train, where for centuries this city was isolated each winter by the heavy snow. Takayama’s history of isolation has ensured that visitors feel like they are stepping into the past. With a guide and on your own, experience this city’s charm, and learn what life was life here long ago. While there, don’t forget to sample the local delicacy, Hida beef.
Shirakawa-go is a short bus ride away from Takayama. Known worldwide for its famous thatched roof houses, you have ample time to explore this village before continuing to Kanazawa. Here you have the chance to eat some of the finest seafood in Japan, and tour one of the country’s most beautiful gardens.
Mt. Koya is an isolated community of Buddhist temples spread out among the mountain’s eight peaks. Checking into your accommodations, a functioning Buddhist monastery, you become part of a long tradition of pilgrims spending the night with the monks. While there, you dine on the monks’ vegetarian cuisine and rise early to witness morning prayers and ceremonies.
Your final destination is Kyoto, the birthplace of much of Japan’s culture. For a day and a half, you tour the city on your own and with a guide. See the best shrines and meet the city’s geishas. On your last night in Japan, enjoy a farewell dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants.
This tour is perfect for couples, friends, and families. The tour is available in February and is flexible depending on the dates of the Sapporo Snow Festival.
$5,995 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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