Winter in Japan, a wonderful forgotten season

The pleasures and beauty of winter Japan

Winter is often the period forgotten by visitors going to Japan. And yet, this season sublimates the Japanese archipelago! Between the illuminations of December, the end of year celebrations with the tradition of Oshogatsu, and the ski slopes of the Japanese Alps... There is no shortage of activities to organize a trip to Japan in winter.

From the icy waters of northern Hokkaido to the cherry blossoms of the islands of Okinawa, discover Japan's well-kept secrets in winter.



The beauty of Japan in winter

L'hiver au Japon

The beauty of Japan under the snow

Snow-covered, the landscapes of Japan become enchanting! Among the places not to be missed under the snow: the Zen gardens of Kyoto, the Kinkaku-ji temple whose golden color stands out particularly under a white coat, the Jigokudani with its monkeys bathing in the outdoor onsen and its valley of the hell or the village of Biei. Discover our selection of the most beautiful Japanese landscapes under the snow.

Not to be missed in Japan in winter:

  • Created in the coldest of winter, the ice sculptures of Lake Inawashiro, also called "Shibuki-gori ", are a natural phenomenon that can be admired from January to February.
  • A boat trip on the Abashiri icebreaker, in the very north of Japan, to see the Ryuhyo, the Sea of Okhotsk covered with ice from Siberia.
  • The winter village of Shikaribetsu Kotan was built for two months on the frozen lake of Shikaribetsu in the grandiose landscape of Daisetsuzan National Park.
  • Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the village of Shirakawago transforms into a fairy-tale landscape when its old thatched houses are covered in a blanket of white snow.
  • Winter is the best season to admire Mount Fuji. Thanks to clear weather, you will be able to take magnificent photos of this Japanese natural treasure.
  • The village of Tsurui is the place of migration in January of the Tancho, the Japanese cranes, one of the symbols of Japan. It is also an opportunity to visit Kushiro Shitsugen National Park and discover the sumptuous nature of the island of Hokkaido.


Winter Hanami: Winter Flowers

Plum blossoms, the winter sisters of cherry blossoms, bloom from mid-February to mid-March in Tokyo and Kyoto! It could be a bit cold, but it is still possible to enjoy the Hanami tradition in winter.

Not to be missed in winter in Japan, the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom in Okinawa from January!



The best winter activities, what to do in Japan in winter?

Go skiing in Japan

Going to Japan in winter is the guarantee of being able to enjoy quality powder snow! Japan has mountainous geography and there are many ski resorts in the Japanese Alps and within the island of Hokkaido.


The best onsen for winter

One of the peculiarities of the Japanese mountains is the presence of natural hot springs of volcanic origin. There's nothing like relaxing after a long day of skiing or snowshoeing in the hot bath of one of the onsen located near the ski resorts.

You will find all kinds of onsen in Japan! In winter, we advise you to go to an establishment offering outdoor baths, called rotenburo, such as Noboribetsu onsen.



Winter events in Japan are not to be missed

Winter festivals in Japan

Japanese matsuri is often associated with the summer season, but festivals are organized throughout the year! Especially in winter with the magnificent snow festivals.

Discover the winter matsuri of Japan not to be missed:

  • The Sapporo Snow Festival with its awe-inspiring ice sculptures held in the capital of the island of Hokkaido the first two weeks of February.
  • The Setsubun, on February 3 the Japanese drive out demons with bean throws. In Kyoto, at the Yasaka shrine, beans are thrown by geishas and maikos, one of the rare events when it is possible to witness the living Japanese legends.
  • The Toka Ebisu festival is from January 9 to 11, where the Japanese seek success for the next 12 months of the year.
  • The impressive Yamayaki festival in Nara during which Mount Wakakuza is set ablaze the last weekend of January.
  • The Seijin no Hi, or coming of age ceremony, takes place on the second Tuesday of January throughout the archipelago. On this occasion, young women aged 20 wear magnificent kimonos, a spectacle that can be admired in the streets of Japanese cities.


The most beautiful winter illuminations

The beginning of winter rhymes with illuminations in Japan! On the occasion of the end-of-year celebrations, Japan dresses up in a thousand and one lights, giving a magical air to the cities and parks of the archipelago.

You can admire them everywhere in Japan and especially at Arashiyama Hanatôro in Kyoto in December, around Lake Sagami in Kanagawa Prefecture, or Takayama in the Subzero Forest. Illuminations are also installed in different districts of Tokyo and all the major cities of the archipelago. To enjoy it, all you have to do is walk around after sunset, between 5 pm and 11 pm for most facilities.

In the west, fireworks are associated with the summer season, but in Japan, it is possible to admire them throughout the year. In winter, they are often launched during one of the snow festivals above a lake to admire their reflections in the water.



Experiencing the end-of-year celebrations in Japan differently

The end-of-year celebrations are celebrated differently in Japan. In Japanese culture, Christmas is a celebration of couples like Valentine's Day, the New Year is a family celebration where people pray in a temple or shrine on the morning of January 1st. Are you familiar with Hatsuhinode, the January 1st tradition of admiring the first sunrise of the year?

Immerse yourself in this festive atmosphere:



Our winter tours in Japan 

Discover Japan in winter with one of our tours created by and for enthusiasts. Far from the crowds, visit the essentials of the Tokyo and Kyoto archipelago and explore the Japanese Alps to enjoy the splendid spectacle of Japan under the snow! Go on an intimate journey to the land of the rising sun.

Discover Japan from the inside out with excursions to the cities of Takayama and Kanazawa. Under a blanket of snow, their traditional streets and wooden houses are enhanced by the winter sun.

Do you like to ski? Then this tour is for you! Explore key places in the archipelago and enjoy the exceptional ski slopes of the Japanese Alps in the spa village of Nozawa Onsen.


Itinéraires de nos circuits specials hiver