Japan |Multiple regions
More and more people are choosing Japan as a destination for snow activities. Japan is said to boast very high-quality snow, and many people are coming to Japan to experience the pure white, dry powder snow called “japow.”
Here you will find snow activities that will enable you to enjoy Japan’s snow to the fullest, whether it is your first time to touch snow or you are an experienced snow goer.
Okuhida-Onsengo is a hot spring village surrounded by many famous and beautiful mountains, including the Yari-Hotaka mountain range, Mt. Norikura, and Mt. Kasagatake, the highest peak in Gifu Prefecture, together known as the Northern Japan Alps.
Blessed with superb natural beauty, many people visit this region each year to see the seasonal changes in scenery.
In winter, several kamakura festivals are held that take advantage of the abundant snowfall from the Northern Japan Alps.
“Kamakura” is the name of the snow domes that are a familiar traditional winter sight in Japan.
They are large enough for several adults to fit inside.
The Nakao Kamakura Festival is a festival where you can huddle in a kamakura, and it is held every year at Okuhida-Onsengo.
Inside the kamakura, you can sip on warm amazake, a sweet, non-alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice.
The experience of drinking amazake in the midst of the bitter cold will surely remain with you as an unforgettable memory.
An irori, or traditional Japanese hearth, can be found inside the kamakura and used to keep warm.
Some kamakura contain a kotatsu, a table containing a heat source and covered in a heavy blanket that keeps your lower half warm.
These are also popular, as the natural heat of the kotatsu will keep you warm enough to comfortably remain in the kamakura indefinitely in spite of the cold.
On Saturdays and the first and last day of the Nakao Kamakura Festival, you can watch a performance of the Nakao Meoto Jishi, a traditional “husband and wife” lion dance.
Lion dances are a well-known traditional performing art that can be seen in various parts of Japan, but the Nakao Meoto Jishi is especially satisfying to watch as it is a highly acrobatic dance performed by a pair of dancers.
Of course, photo-taking is allowed.
There are several other events that take place on days when the lion dance is not performed, such as rice cake making.
*Rice cake making has been cancelled in 2021.
Sun Meadows Kiyosato is a ski resort that is popular due to its location, which offers wide-open views of Mt. Fuji and the Southern Japan Alps on clear days.
It is also easily accessible from the Tokyo metropolitan area and therefore draws many people each year.
Snow sledding, an activity that allows you to slide down the ski slopes while seated, is popular among first-time visitors to the ski slopes.
At 100 meters in length, Sun Meadows Kiyosato offers a fairly long sledding slope on which you can experience the thrill of sliding down over the snow from a high place.
The sledding slope is also equipped with a snow escalator, which makes getting back up to the top of the slope after sledding down a breeze.
Another popular attraction is the carousel ride, a merry-go-round built on a hill of snow.
Seated in a donut-shaped rubber tube, riders spin around and around a snowy hill.
The “Snow Mountain” is a simple hill of snow that can be enjoyed by sliding down its slopes in a crouched position or by just climbing up to the top on foot.
Those who are intimidated by sleds or play equipment can use this simple snowy hill to get their bodies accustomed to the peculiarities of snow.
With an advance reservation, you can also experience a snow tour.
Wearing snowshoes, footwear designed to facilitate walking over the snow, even beginners will easily be able to embark on an adventure over the snow.
In the winter woodlands—a completely different world from how they appear in the summer—you may happen to find animal tracks in the pure white snow.
This is fun way to experience scenery found only in the winter.
Located 1,930 meters above sea level, Ryuoo Ski Park is a ski resort popular for the amazing views offered by its high elevation.
It features wide ski run that is approximately 6,000 meters long and spans an elevation difference of over 1,000 meters.
First-time skiers and snowboarders can also take lessons to learn the ropes from a professional skier or snowboarder.
If it is your first time to visit a ski resort, there is no need to worry—skis, snowboards, and ski wear are all available for rental.
The ski lessons offered here can be conducted in English or Chinese, enabling non-Japanese speakers to take lessons with the peace of mind in knowing that they will not miss a thing.
The resort’s website also provides information in multiple foreign languages, so it is a good idea to check their website for answers to any questions you have beforehand to make sure that you are prepared for your trip.
More advanced skiers and snowboarders will appreciate the famous Kiotoshi Course, a thrilling slope with a maximum 36-degree incline! Restricted to 20 people per day, if you access the slope early in the morning on the ropeway, you will be able to ski or snowboard down a powder slope untouched by anyone else.
This is an extremely advanced course that requires users to wear a helmet—why not give it a try if you are up to the challenge?
For those who do not ski or snowboard, the “SORA Terrace Sightseeing Plan” is another popular way to fully enjoy the snowy slopes.
You can climb up the snowy slopes to reach the SORA Terrace, located at an elevation of 1,700 meters, without ever equipping skis or a snowboard by riding the snowcat and ropeway.
The air up here is quite crisp and clear, allowing you to take in a panoramic view of the Northern Japan Alps and even Sado Island on sunny days.
Photos courtesy of: Oku-Hida Onsengo Tourism Association, Sun Meadows Kiyosato, Ryuoo Ski Park
This information is current as of October 19, 2020 and may be subject to change without notice.
For further details and the latest information, please inquire directly with the relevant establishments.