Winter in Japan

December 24, 2021 5 min read

winter in japan

Enchanting landscapes, low prices... Japan in Winter is an excellent choice of destination.

From December to March, you can benefit from the best plans while avoiding the crowd. With its numerous winter activities, the archipelago conceals beautiful surprises at this time of the year.

Discover Japan in winter as you have never seen it before!

Why visit Japan in winter?

Although spring and autumn are great seasons to travel to Japan, winter is not to be outdone. On the contrary, if you don't mind the cold, it might be the ideal season to visit the archipelago. By opting for a trip to Japan in winter, you will be less bothered by tourists and you will also benefit from interesting prices. On top of that, the Land of the Rising Sun offers some breathtaking landscapes under the snow.

winter landscape in Japan

Winter landscape in Japan in Mishima city, Fukushima prefecture.

💵 Enjoy low prices in winter

Whether it is the flight ticket, the traditional inns (ryokan), the hotels or the numerous tourist attractions, the prices are much more accessible in low season. You dream of traveling to Japan, but the budget makes it hard for you? This is your chance to take the plunge!

🗻 Admire beautiful, snow-covered landscapes

The art of admiring snowy landscapes dates back to the Japanese prints of the Edo period and is called yukimi. In winter, the sky often is clear and the Japanese archipelago with its white coat is full of splendid panoramas. It is also the ideal time to contemplate the most beautiful Japanese sites such as Mount Fuji which, under the sun, offers an unforgettable view.

😎 A dry and sunny climate

If the freezing winter temperatures in the north of Japan can dissuade the most chilly travelers, know that Japan offers a mild and dry climate in the south of the archipelago as on the island of Kyushu for example. In the capital, temperatures remain comfortable, without going down below zero degrees. And although the wind is sometimes well present in the winter, the sun comes to warm up the hearts.

😅 Avoiding tourists

You hate long waiting lines and crowded streets? A trip during the low season is the ideal solution to enjoy more peace and quiet. The months of January, February and March are the least frequented by tourists. Visiting the archipelago at this time of the year guarantees a total immersion in the Japanese culture.

🎿 Winter activities in the Japanese archipelago

Japan, the land of mountains and forest is a dream destination for winter sports fans. Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or even dog sledding, the cold season is a perfect time to go to Japan. In the North of the archipelago and on the Japanese Alps, snow falls in abundance and covers the mountains as well as the plains. Snow lovers will be delighted! Japan in winter is also the season of unforgettable experiences such as lounging in a warm onsen while watching the snow fall or going to meet the snow monkeys. Lastly, those who like to play can try a game of yukigassen, a very fun Japanese sport.

🛷 Try out the snow sports

snow sports in japan

Hakuba Iwatake ski area and Mount Shirouma in Hakuba, Nagano, Japan.

If you like snow sports and you are not afraid of the cold, winter is the ideal time to enjoy the numerous ski slopes of the Japanese Alps or the mountains of the wonderful island of Hokkaido. The north of the archipelago has real winter seasons with harsh temperatures and incredible snow quality. Let's have a closer look at how skiing became popular in the archipelago.

⛷ A brief history of skiing in Japan

The first skis appeared on Japanese territory at the very beginning of the twentieth century. However, as no one knew how to use them, this winter sport was not practiced right away. The soldiers of the imperial army were the first to discover skiing in the archipelago, under the influence of the Austrian army. Originally, this sport had a military vocation. The sport grew in popularity in the post-war period with the economic boom, and became a very popular activity. Japan was the first country in Asia to host the Olympic Games in 1972 and also hosted the first Asian Winter Games and the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. With these international events, the popularity of skiing in Japan soared. It must be said that the winter climate in the north of the archipelago is ideal for winter sports.

😍 The most popular ski resorts

With more than 400 ski resorts, Japan is the country with the most structures worldwide. Among the many Japanese ski resorts, some are particularly famous.

On the island of Honshu, the Happo-One resort in the Hakuba valley is famous for having hosted the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. Similarly, Naeba, in the center of Honshu, is popular in international skiing and for its big rock festival. Easily accessible from Tokyo, it offers a 20km long ski area with good slopes. Lastly, Zaô Ski Resort, located in the Tohoku region, is known for its snow monsters. This large ski resort opened in 1925 and has slopes of all levels.

On the beautiful island of Hokkaido, Niseko and Rusutsu resorts are known for their quality snow and exceptional scenery. With a great snow cover, these resorts will please off-piste and expert skiers. As for beginners, they will prefer the Sahoro resort and its gentle slopes. Lastly, the elderly will undoubtedly remember Sapporo for the 1972 Olympic Games.

Good to know: Most Japanese ski resorts propose hot springs (onsen). Great for relaxing after a fun day of skiing or snowboarding!

🥵 Warming up in an onsen

onsen in winter

Winter in the Land of the Rising Sun rhymes with cozy. Thus, delicious local dishes, hot tables (kotatsu) and tea are waiting for you. It is also the season of onsens. These are natural hot springs resulting from volcanoes. Japanese people are very fond of them. What would be more pleasant to do when it's cold, than to bask in a hot thermal bath and see the snow falling in the pools without the slightest shiver?

🐒 Meet the snow monkeys

Jigokudani in Yamanouchi snow monkeys

If you like unique experiences, make sure you visit Jigokudani Park in Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture, to meet the snow monkeys. Recognizable by their thick fur and crimson face, these creatures adapted to the harsh climate of Japanese mountains. Moreover, snow monkeys are particularly fond of hot springs. You will be surprised to find these Japanese macaques bathing in hot springs and relaxing as humans would. The origin of this phenomenon? In the 1960s, a monkey accidentally fell into the water. Finding it pleasant, the animal repeated the experience and passed on his discovery to his fellow monkeys.

⛳ Playing a game of Yukigassen

yukigassen

Source: www.insidehook.com

Yukigassen is a Japanese winter sport that resembles a giant snowball fight. To win, you have to catch the flag of the opposing team while avoiding the projections or reach a maximum of opponents. Be careful, if you get hit, you're out of the game! Yukigassen is perfect for a great laugh with friends and fall back in childhood for a while. Note that in Japan we do not joke with snowballs. It became an official sport in 1989 and the World Championship takes place every year in Sobetsu, on the island of Hokkaido. Of course, regulation clothes and respect for the game are required.

 

Despite the cold weather, there are many advantages to going to Japan in winter. Whether it is to enjoy low prices, beautiful snowy landscapes or Japanese winter activities: winter is one of the best seasons to visit Japan.


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