Rather than spending the winter comfortably under a blanket, how about going outside and enjoying Japan’s spectacular winter scenery? From world-class ski resorts and steaming hot springs to icy winter phenomena such as drift ice and ice monsters, truly unforgettable attractions await as you venture out in the cold. Drive north to experience one of these spectacular winter vacations.
Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Yeti in Yamagata Miyagi
Zao Onsen Ski Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in Japan. It is also full of the charm of a hot spring town and is famous for its snow monster phenomenon. The trees that live on the highest peaks of Mount Zao are covered in ice by the Siberian winds, forming strange and conspicuous shapes, like monsters watching everything below them. Crossing ice monsters while skiing or snowboarding is a truly unforgettable experience, and Zao Onsen Resort should be on your bucket list this winter.
The resort has 17 runs to enjoy and cater to skiers of all levels, from beginner runs to routes through the forest and ski jumps for advanced skiers. The longest track is 10 kilometers long! When you’re done, you can soak in one of the hot springs (hot springs) to warm up. There are many paths to choose from, from public to private hot springs, with numerous accommodation options. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, bars, and gift shops for you to enjoy, all adding a sense of community to this epic ski res
Nagano Hakuba (Japanese Olympic-level rooftop winter sports)
Head to the Northern Alps from Nagano and experience Japan’s largest ski resort and the world’s best powder snow, just a short drive from Tokyo. It’s one of the easiest places to visit in Japan in winter, and the weather is so pleasant that you can soak in the powder snow while admiring the blue sky. Home to the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba Valley offers ski runs from beginner to Olympic level, attracting people from all over the world to enjoy the exciting terrain and ski on the rooftops of Japan. Look forward to stunning panoramic views, cross-country skiing, a vibrant nightlife with ramen dishes and craft beer in the evening, and a selection of Japanese inns to unwind at the end of the day.
Niseko, Hokkaido and surrounding areas
The Niseko region is centered on Mount Niseko Annupuri, known for its consistent and reliable snowfall of over 50 feet each year. 55 miles southwest of Sapporo, four resorts have teamed up for Niseko to create more than 2,200 acres of pristine wilderness for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Many skiers try to conquer Mount Yotei, the towering volcano that resembles Mount Fuji, but like it or not, be sure to snap a photo of this majestic peak. If you want to try other winter activities, you’ll find options such as snowmobiling, dog sledding, and snowshoeing.
For those who just want to soak in hot springs and enjoy the view, there are plenty of private and public hot springs, as well as local bars and restaurants serving the best Japanese food. You can also visit the nearby seaside town of Yoichi, where you can sample some of Japan’s best whiskies, visit the Nikka Distillery, and even sample some local wine or seafood. from Japan
Drifting ice boat on the coast of Okhotsk in northeastern Hokkaido
One of the most unique winter holidays in Japan Head to the coast of Okhotsk and experience the natural phenomenon of drift ice while enjoying the cool winter breeze. Thick drift ice flows from the mouth of the Amur River in Russia and requires an icebreaker to cross, meaning you can enjoy this icy wonderland on board. You can photograph large swaths of snow and ice and spot some interesting wildlife that thrives in these harsh conditions.
Don’t forget to pack your bags! If you want to learn more about drift ice, some of the nearby museums in Monbetsu and Abashiri explain this fascinating process in detail. If you’re not already on the ice, you can also try ice fishing, or visit the Drift Ice Festival in February, where you can see stunning ice sculptures and sample local food and drinks. Be sure to sample the region’s incredible seafood, including long-legged crabs and a variety of sashimi dishes.
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