There are many things you can only experience during winter in Japan. From winter illuminations to bathing monkeys, here are best things to do and places to visit in winter in Japan!
A large number of tourists visit Japan from December to March for winter activities, mainly ski and snowboard. The most popular area is Hokkaido as there are several great ski resorts with fine quality powder snow. Also, there are some ski resorts where you can easily access from Tokyo even for a day trip!
2. Open-Air Onsen
Onsen is much better when it’s cold and even better outdoor. During winter, Onsen in the northern area of Japan is really special as the surrounding area is covered in snow and you can enjoy the really beautiful scenery while bathing. Also, enjoy staying at traditional Ryokan inn and hot Japanese dishes.
3. Winter Illumination
Winter illumination is the most popular attraction during winter, and light-up events are held across the country. Some events end after Christmas but, most of them continue through the whole winter, so it’s still not too late for winter illumination viewings.
4. Ice Skating
No time to go skiing? You can still enjoy a winter activity in town! Tokyo has several outdoor ice skating rinks which open during winter in central areas. Especially recommended for families and couples!
5. Sapporo Snow Festival
The greatest winter festival in Japan, Sapporo Snow Festival is scheduled to be held from 31 January to 11 February in 2019. The event features spectacular snow and ice sculptures and attracts over 2 million visitors.
6. Shirakawago Village
Shirakawago is a beautiful traditional village which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It’s recommended to visit all year round and the village displays gorgeous view on each season, but I must say that winter time is especially spectacular as the village is covered in white snow, and light-up events are held occasionally during winter time.
7. Kamakura Festival
Another spectacular winter event, featuring the winter tradition of the northern part of Japan, Kamakura (snow huts). At Yunishigawa Onsen, Kamakura festival is held every winter and displays over 100 miniature Kamakura lanterns.
8. Sumo January Grand Tournament
The new year tournament of Sumo begun at the capital city, Tokyo, and it lasts for 2 weeks from 14th January. Sumo is one of the most iconic and traditional things in Japan and becoming more popular among foreign visitors.
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9. Early Viewing of Cherry Blossoms
Don’t wait till spring to see cherry blossoms! First cherry blossoms of the year can be seen at Kawazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture in early February as the city is known for early blooming cherry trees, Kawazu Sakura. Also, these cherry trees bloom longer than other cherry trees and last for about a month!
10. Eat Crab
There are some seasonal dishes recommended to eat during winter such as hot pot dish, mochi (rice cake), etc, and crab is one of them. Of course, the best place to eat crab is Hokkaido, but there are also great places in Tokyo, too including crab all-you-can-eat. Check the link below for recommended crab restaurants!