The cold harshness of winter is no match for the spirit of Japan. Festivals and scenes one can gaze upon only in Japan’s brilliant frozen snowscapes warm the heart and soul in this tour for those brave enough to step out into the cold.
- Sculptures of snow and ice at the Sapporo Snow Festival
- Festive winter sights at the Asahikawa Snow Festival
- An exciting night at Kurashiki’s Hadaka Festival
- Exploration of the Hokkaido wilderness and national parks
- Serene scenes of drift ice on the North Sea (cruise subject to weather conditions)
- A visit to the Toyota Automobile Factory (visit subject to permission)
- The world-famous Miho Museum
- Naoshima island and its acclaimed art projects
- Relaxation in some of Japan’s famous onsen hot springs
- Stays in beautiful, traditional ryokan inns
The following tour is an example of what we can offer you during a winter tour of Japan. If interested, feel free to contact us to find out what we can add to this schedule to make it special for you. We look forward to making a custom tour for you!
Day 1 Yokoso, and Welcome To JapanOvernight in Sapporo City
After arriving in Japan, you will transfer to your accommodation in Sapporo. Itinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
Day 2 A City of Snow and IceOvernight in Sapporo City
Today you will explore Sapporo City during its greatest festival. Taking leisurely walks or trips via public transportation (traffic regulations during the festival prohibit cars from driving in/near the festivities) you will pass by intricate palaces, strong samurai, world wonders and more carved out of nothing but frozen water. Sapporo is also a good place for eats and drinks. We recommend trying the local chocolate, lamb feasts, and beer, Sapporo beer of course being famous worldwide.
Day 3 A Celebration of SnowOvernight in Asahikawa
In the morning you will drive (via rental or private car) to Asahikawa for another day of snow festivities. This time around, the artwork made of snow will seem to come to life with the unique use of light Asahikawa employs to make its festival stand out. On the way to Asahikawa, you will make a stop at a fascinating art project (subject to time and weather conditions).
Day 4 Hokkaido’s Wilderness in WhiteOvernight in Asahikawa or Daisetsuzan National Park
This day will be dedicated to exploring Hokkaido’s famous nature reserves. You will start with a visit to Daisetsuzan National Park, the largest and most impressive national park in the country. Getting your fill of the dramatic, mountainous scenery, complete with snow-covered plains and roaring rivers. You will then continue on to Abashiri where you will get the chance to learn about the culture and history of Hokkaido’s indigenous people – the Ainu.
Day 5 Ice DriftsOvernight in Tokyo City
As long as the day’s weather is fit for sailing, from Abashiri you well set course through the northern sea to take in spectacular view of an arctic wonderland. Among other points of interest, Abashiri is home to a unique prison museum, allowing you a view into a world usually left behind bars. Later in the day, you will take a flight to an area of Japan that may seem a world apart – Tokyo City.
Day 6 Multifaceted TokyoOvernight in Tokyo City
Today you will explore Tokyo, the center of modern Japan. You will explore the main sights of the city, getting a thorough introduction to the life of a typical Tokyo-ite. Tokyo is a huge metropolis, cities within a city that hold amazing surprises around every corner. Tokyo is an exciting and vibrant city where everything and everyone moves at high speed. Nighttime Tokyo reveals yet another side to the modern capital with neon signs brightening the sky as thousands of lively restaurants, clubs, and bars within Tokyo’s entertainment districts give the city new life.
Day 7 Hell Valley – Snow Monkey’s HeavenOvernight in Yudanaka
You will start today on a trip out of the metropolis using one of the best train systems in the world. Taking said train to Nagano Prefecture, you will visit the area’s unique natural phenomena and other delights as time allows. Your day will focus in and around a national park known as Hell Valley. Here, you will see the famous snow monkeys of Nagano as they keep warm in the natural onsen hot springs. The evening will bring you a stay at a traditional ryokan inn nestled in the near-by countryside, complete with your own chance to relax in the famed onsen hot springs of Nagano, and a Japanese kaiseki dinner of fresh, seasonal ingredients, a true evening of Japanese culture.
Day 8 Modern Creations, Traditional InfluencesOvernight in Kyoto City
Today will begin with a beautiful train ride through the snowy countryside to Nagoya. There (availability and permission pending) you will get the chance to visit the welding line of the Toyota Automobile Factory, during which you will get an idea as to why the company is so world-renowned, and creator of the world’s number one automobile factory. From modern mechanics to artistic flare, you will move on to the renowned Miho Museum. Miho is famous for its unique architecture that combines traditional styles with modern materials. Created by I.M. Pei, designer of the Louvre pyramid, the architect designed the building as homage to the country’s spiritual heritage. In the evening, you will arrive in the historic capital of Kyoto.
Days 9 and 10 Kyoto – The Heart of Traditional JapanOvernights in Kyoto City
our next two days will be dedicated to Kyoto, a city that for hundreds of years has been an island of tradition in the swirling whirlpool of progress. Kyoto has seventeen World Heritage Sites, boasting the most properties in one city, each being a representative masterpiece of the era in which it was constructed. Over these two days, you will encounter the history, cultural aesthetics, religion, and daily tales that make up the Japanese story. You may discover echoes of the past rippling through the everyday life of the locals.
During your visit, you will come into contact with the fundamentals of aesthetics, Zen, architecture, and horticulture through visits to famous places such as the distinguished stone garden at Ryoanji, the spectacular Golden Pavilion, the castle of a shogun general, a downtown market, making sure to include visits to some hidden gems. The day will wind down while walking through winding paths and picturesque streets where you’ll perhaps catch a glimpse of a geisha on her way to work.
Your visit to Kyoto will also include a visit to Nara, Japan’s first capital. There you’ll find an impressively large wooden temple that’s home to a similarly impressive statue of the Great Buddha. In Nara, you’ll also get to enjoy strolls around the city’s central park where deer roam freely, often nudging passers by for a snack.
Day 11 Warehouses of Pottery and a Festival of Naked MenOvernight in Okayama City
Leaving historic Kyoto, this day will take to a place where you will be introduced to a unique style of pottery that is closely connected to Zen Buddhism. From there, you will continue on to Kurashiki – a cozy town with charming historic roads and buildings, the most famous being the white-walled warehouses once used by merchants in the feudal era. Those warehouses are now used to house galleries, cafes and shops, as well as museums of art and toys. A walk by the willow tree-lined canal adds a special charm to the day. The late evening of this day holds one of the highlights of this tour – The Hadaka (Naked) Festival. One of the wildest festivals in Japan, nearly 9000 men wearing only a while loincloth run around the small town toward the area’s sacred temple.
Day 12 Naoshima and its Sea of ArtOvernight in Osaka
Your last day in Japan will be spend on incredible Naoshima Island. This entire island has been transformed into an impressive art project, all the while maintaining its traditional heritage as a fishing village. Naoshima boasts three impressive museums – highly acclaimed for their Tadao Ando-designed architecture – and a unique art project that uses old village houses as part of the artwork. Some of the island’s works are interactive, while others play with shadows, making fascinating uses of darkness and light. Overall, you are in for a incredibly unique experience. In the evening, you will take a shinkansen bullet train to Osaka spending the night there, taking in its unique brand of nightlife.
Day 13 Sayonara
Today you will depart from the land of the rising sun. We wish you a pleasant and safe journey! We are happy knowing that you are taking with you lasting memories of places and people you’ve encountered during your stay in this splendid country. Farewell, and sayonara.