Japan is an exceptional country. It possesses a distinct culture and a unique way of commemorating each festival, which sets it apart from all other nations around the globe. Japan is a nation characterized by predominantly mountainous terrain, resulting in harsh and cold winters, while the summers are pleasant. There is a significant disparity between these two seasons in this country. If you happen to spend a winter in Japan, we have compiled a comprehensive guide that lists the finest activities to engage in while in Japan.

Winters in Japan cover img

13 Finest Activities for Winter in Japan

After conducting extensive research and analysis based on various parameters, including age groups, we have developed a list that will inform you about 13 exhilarating activities to partake in during the winter season in Japan. We hope that this guide assists you in having a remarkable time in the country.

1. Japan: Embrace skiing


Due to its vast mountainous expanse, Japan receives abundant snowfall. The western areas of Nagano and Niigata Prefectures are ideal locations to indulge in some of the finest alpine sports in all of Asia. With steep slopes and peaks reaching heights of up to 2,000 meters, this region provides excellent skiing opportunities. After your skiing adventure, you can unwind in hot springs and dine at the numerous cafes nearby.

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2. Sapporo Snow Festival: Admire the snow sculptures

Enjoy viewing the Snow Sculptures

The Sapporo Snow Festival is the largest snow festival in Japan and is renowned as one of the world’s major snow festivals. Originating in 1950, this festival showcases colossal snow sculptures crafted by talented artists. The sculptures encompass a wide range of subjects, from Pikachu and Hatsune Miku to historical samurai figures and immense statues of Buddha. Gaining global recognition in recent years, teams from Western countries such as the USA, Germany, and Canada have started to participate in this festival as well.

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View the first sunrise

3. Japan: Witness the initial sunrise or Hatsuhinode

The Initial Sunrise refers to the primary sunrise of the New Year and it is so popular in Japan that there are designated locations for the same. People from all across the globe come to witness the initial sunrise from atop Mt. Fuji which is considered the premier spot for this activity. Despite the harsh winter, a significant number of individuals come to see this event because it is considered auspicious and the views of the winter sunrise are always awe-inspiring.

Go visit the Blue Pond

4.Hokkaido: Explore the picturesque Blue Pond

The Blue Pond located in the small town of Biei is an man-made lake. It was created after the mudflow of River Biegowa was halted due to the construction of a dam in the area in 1988. The Blue Pond gained fame as it reflects a blue hue because of the presence of Hydrogen Peroxide in the water. The lake was captured and transformed into a wallpaper for the Mountain Lion processor of Apple MacBook.

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Watch the Japanese Macaques

5. Japan: Discover wildlife

Take a leisurely walk through the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park in Nagano to witness the untamed Japanese macaques delighting in their bath in the Hot Springs within the park. Winters in Japan can be extremely severe, especially for creatures like macaques that are not accustomed to the subzero winter temperatures in Japan. This is an excellent location for these animals to obtain much-needed warmth and survive the winter while enjoying the hot springs of Japan.

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6. Japan: Indulge in the renowned crab cuisine

It is globally accepted that the crab season falls in the months of December and January, although this is actually a significant misconception. It is merely a coincidence that crabs are the most shipped item from Hokkaido to countries on the opposite side of the Sea of Japan. The most renowned dining establishments for relishing crab dishes in Japan are the Kani Douraku outlets, which originated in Osaka and are celebrated for their ingenious approach to crab cuisine.

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7. Japan: Engage in the New Year’s eve tradition


The ‘tolling chimes’ custom of Joyo na Kane is a significant New Year’s eve tradition for the Japanese. The tradition involves striking a large bell at a Buddhist temple using a substantial log of timber. The bell is struck 108 times. The figure is believed to represent the total of all the human cravings that exist in the world. After the chimes, you enter the temple and offer prayers to the deity to conclude the year on a positive note.

Enjoy the New Year

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8. Yokote: Attend the Kamakura Festival

Visit Yokote for the Kamakura

Every year in the middle of February, the Kamakura festival occurs for a duration of 2 days. Traditionally, children invite individuals to come and enjoy in their self-constructed Kamakura’s and partake in rice cakes and tea. Nowadays, families and friends relish the festival by sitting together and conversing. Approximately 100 Kamakura’s are available for visitors to observe during this festival. Remember to show reverence to the water deity.

9. Japan: Embark on a leisurely stroll through Shirakawa Go

Visit the site of Shirakawa-Go

Make sure to explore the UNESCO world heritage site registered village: Shirakawa Go. This is a petite village in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan. The village has 114 thatched thick-roofed houses, which may seem quite distinct from the houses throughout Japan. This is because in the past, it was isolated from the rest of Japan. The village appears particularly stunning during winter and is a popular spot for tourists.

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10. Otaru: Attend the Festival of Illuminated Candles

See the Candlelight Festival of Otaru

Otaru is a petite Japanese town located on the Japanese Island of Hokkaido. After 5 PM in the month of February, the town illuminates around 120,000 candles to celebrate the annual festival of illuminated candles. The town resembles a scene from a fairy tale book during this period, and the view is regarded as one of the finest during the winters in Japan. Be sure to attend this festival.

11. Japan: Engage in Ice Skating

Enjoy Ice Skating in Fuji Q Highland

Fuji Q Highland is an amusement park situated on the foothills of Mt. Fuji in the city of Fujiyoshida. This park boasts the largest ice rink in the country, which also functions as a swimming pool during the summers. In addition to the rink, the park features various thrilling rides such as roller coasters and Ferris wheels. The rink is impeccably maintained and the park offers one of the finest panoramas of the sacred Mt. Fuji. Ice skating is considered as one of the top activities to indulge in during the winter in Japan.

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12. Japan: Explore the Rokuon-ji Temple

Visit the Rokuon-ji Temple

The sanctuary is a Zen Buddhist place of worship that is situated in Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto. It was established in the year 1397 and it used to showcase a mansion of a significant politician. A must-visit location in Kyoto, the sanctuary offers some of the most stunning sights in Japan. Though the winter season in Japan is severe, numerous people come and visit this spot. Ensure you do as well.

13. Takaragawa Onsen: Encounter hot spring in Japan

Go to Takaragawa Onsen

Takaragawa Onsen was established in 1936 and provides a wide range of hot spring options to choose from. The most favored choice is the outdoor natural hot spring due to the captivating sights outside. The hot spring facility is known for offering top-notch amenities and is particularly popular among international tourists as they are willing to spend any amount of money to enjoy the services here.

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Japan is a magnificent country. Because of its hilly terrain, the country transforms into a winter paradise, particularly during December and January. With a friendly society and some of the best cultural traditions, you should reserve your ticket to Japan if you wish to explore some of the most distinctive places and engage in thrilling activities during winter in Japan.

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