Winter in Japan: 10 Best Things to Do in 2021-2022

Top Things to Do in Japan in Winter

Shirakawago Village covered in snow in winter

Are you planning to visit Japan in winter?? During winter in Japan, there are many things that you can only experience in this time of the year. From winter illuminations to bathing monkeys, here are the best places to visit and things to do in Japan in winter!

1. Ski

Popular ski resort in Japan

A large number of tourists visit Japan during the winter months (from December to March) for snow 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! Check the listed links below for more great ski resorts in Japan!

▶ 4 Best Ski Resorts in Hakuba
▶ Best Ski Resorts near Mount Fuji

2. Onsen

From north to south, there are numbers of Onsen resorts across the country. Onsen (hot spring) is a popular tourist attraction through the year, yet it feels much better when it’s cold, and even better outdoor. During winter, Onsen in northern area of Japan is really special as surrounding area is covered in snow and you can enjoy really beautiful scenery while bathing. Also enjoy staying at traditional Ryokan inn and hot Japanese dishes.

▶ 5 Best Outdoor Onsen in Japan with Breathtaking Views
▶ Japan Onsen Map: the Guide to Japanese Hot Springs

3. Snow Festivals

Various snow festivals are held in Japan during winter, especially in northern part of the country. From artistic snow/ice sculptures to natural phenomena such as snow monsters and icicles, don’t miss the most spectacular winter scenery in Japan! Here are some of the most popular snow festivals held in Japan this year!

-Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival

The greatest winter festival in Japan, Sapporo Snow Festival is scheduled to be held from 1 to 12 February in 2022. The event features spectacular snow and ice sculptures, and attracts over 2 million visitors.

2022 Sapporo Snow Festival Guide
Best Things to Do in Sapporo, Hokkaido

-Kamakura Festival

Another spectacular winter event, featuring the winter tradition of northern part of Japan, Kamakura (snow huts). Two most spectacular Kamakura Festivals in Japan : Yokote Kamakura Festival and Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival are both held annually featuring numbers of Kamakura statues and lanterns.

Popular Kamakura Festivals
▶ Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival
▶ Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival


4. Winter Illumination

The spectacular winter illumination at Nabana no Sato

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.

Japan Illumination Map: Guide to Winter Illuminations
Tokyo Winter Illumination Guide
10 Winter Illuminations in Japan You Can still Enjoy after New Year

5. Ice Skating

No time to go for 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!

MORE INFO ▶ 5 Best Ice Skating Spots in Tokyo

6. Jigokudani Monkey Park

One of most unique and famous winter sights of Japan, bathing snow monkeys can be found at Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture. The monkeys inhabit in this park and can be seen all year round, but most people visit there during winter when snow covers the sites.

MORE INFO ▶ Meet Snow Monkeys @Jigokudani Monkey Park

7. Shirakawago Village

The picturesque scenery of SHirakawago Village in winter

Shirakawago is a beautiful traditional village which is on 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.

▶ Best Things to Do in Shirakawago

8. Sumo January Grand Tournament

The new year tournament of Sumo begun at the capital city, Tokyo, and it lasts for 2 weeks from 9th January 2022. Sumo is one of most iconic and traditional things in Japan, and becoming more popular among foreign visitors.

Get Tickets for the Sumo Wrestling Tournament in Tokyo

9. Early Viewing of Cherry Blossoms

Kawazu Sakura: the early blooming cherry blossoms in Izu

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 lasts for about a month!

Kawazu Cherry Blossoms: Early Blooming Sakura Festival

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!


Kanimitsu at Ginza, Tokyo
Kanikosen at Hibiya, Tokyo
Kitafuku Michelin 1-star Crab Restaurant in Tokyo

Have you enjoyed the list?? If you are looking for travel info for different seasons in Japan, please check out listed articles, below!

For more exciting things to see in Japan during winter, please check out links below!

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