Winter Checklist: 5 activities you cannot miss out on this winter in Japan

04:53 02/02/2024

Winter in Japan might just be the best season yet: the sky is clear, the air is crisp, the landscape covered in a blanket of snow is breathtaking, and there are seemingly endless activities and festivals to participate in.

It would be a waste for winter to pass without participating in all of the interesting activities offered during this time. Thus, in this article, GoEMON will guide you through our checklist of some of the best activities that you definitely cannot miss out on this winter in Japan! 

1. Skiing and snowboarding:

It would be a waste not to try skiing at least once when you are in Japan. Famous for being a haven for winter sports, Japan has some of the best powder snow and varied terrain. Thus, hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to Japan especially for skiing and snowboarding each year. 

The ski season here, though can differ from year to year and depends on the region, generally beginning from December and lasting until April, and peaks in January and February when the snowfall is most abundant. The best locations for snow sports in Japan are Hokkaido - the northernmost region of Japan, Nagano - home to the 1998 Winter Olympics, and Niigata - well-known for its heavy snowfall. There are heaps of skii resorts located in these areas, offering a wide variety of slopes, terrains, and services. Thus, anyone can find a resort that is most suitable for them, regardless of whether they are a beginner or experienced in snow sports. Many of these establishments also have natural hot springs where visitors can take a dip and relax after a long day of exercise.

2. Take a dip in the Onsen - Japanese Hot Springs

For a long, onsen has been a popular destination for both the local Japanese and foreigners in the country, as it is not only an amazing and effective form of relaxation and nourishment of the soul but is also extremely healing and good for your physical health and body. The hot water helps soothe your body and mind while also increasing blood circulation and oxidation, which consequently aids the process of removing toxins from the body by applying hydrostatic pressure. Onsen water is also filled with minerals, which will then be absorbed by the body, resulting in enhanced immunity, physical and mental relaxation, the production of endorphins, and normal gland function. 

As Japan is located in the middle of the volcanic belt of the Pacific region, the country possesses a dense network of hot springs, totaling up to an impressive number of 150 hot springs and more than 1,400 tributaries. Thus, these onsens are scattered all across the country and you should be able to find one conveniently located near you! 

3. Check out the Winter Festivals and Illuminations

Japan is full of festivals all year round, with festivals of each season having their own charms, among which winter festivals are famous for their dazzling illuminations and blankets of pure, white snow. 

Busy streets of large cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, etc. will be illuminated with hundreds of thousands of lights shining late into the night, creating a scenery so magnificent and beautiful that is sure to blow your minds away! 

Snowy regions such as Hokkaido, Niigata, and Nagano are also locations that you should consider visiting this winter. Winter festivals here feature mesmerizing ice and snow sculptures that are lit up with colorful lights when night falls, bringing them a magical and enchanting beauty along with a wide range of events and activities for visitors to participate in. 

4. Warm yourself up with some delicious winter foods

Seasons are Japan’s specialty and winter, of course, is no exception. As the temperature drops and the weather gets colder, nothing is better than warming ourselves up with a warming, hearty meal. Some of the most famous winter foods in Japan are Nabemono - one-pot dishes such as sukiyaki, shabu shabu, motsunabe, etc.

Some other famous dishes often eaten during the cold season in Japan include ozoni - a type of traditional Japanese soup featuring mochi as the star ingredient, ramen, steaming hot baked sweet potato, nikuman - steamed pork buns, oden, and so on. For the latter three, you can find them sold at convenience stores and supermarkets all across the country. 

5. Snatch the best Winter Sales deals 

In Japan, many stores and shopping malls will have major sales during December - The end-of-year Sale, and January - The beginning of the year Sale. Along with that of summer, winter sales is one of the biggest sales in Japan where you can get your favorite items at surprisingly cheap prices. You can find all sorts of stuff, from clothing, makeup, and accessories, to even home appliances and food available at great deals. 

How many activities in this checklist have you checked off? Let us know in the comments down below! 

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