Days
10
Price from
$5,330USD

Crunch through the snow on a winter adventure through northern Japan.

The impressive samurai temples, soaring mountains and steaming onsens of Japan are made more spectacular with the addition of white powdery snow. Step into the fairy tale landscapes of Yamagata and Nagano on this journey through northern Japan and discover a culture both modern and ancient. Watch a master chef prepare a soba noodle feast before your eyes, encounter the famous snow monsters of Mount Zao, and meet the adorable red-faced monkeys that call Yudanaka home. From your first sip of sake to the final waterside toast cruising along Tokyo Bay, this is a memorable Japanese adventure unlike any other.


Start
Tokyo, Japan
Finish
Tokyo, Japan
Country
Japan
Style
Peregrine
Code
PCJW
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Japan is a beautiful place made even more magical when covered in snow!

  • Experience traditional life in a ryokan, the quintessential Japanese inn

  • Taste sake in Yuzawa and learn about Japan's rich onsen culture with a luxurious soak.

  • Journey around the country like a local, travelling at high speed on the efficient bullet train network

  • Visit the northern Yamagata region and visit the beautiful Yamadera Temple, which sits perched on the edge of a cliff above a stunning valley. 

  • Discover Sakata, an old merchant town that found its fortune tradiing rice, and be entertained with a lunchtime performance by a maiko (apprentice geisha)

  • Watch adorable red-faced monkeys bathing in their own onsens in Yudanaka

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip travels primarily on public transport, as it is so efficient and convenient in Japan. Fast trains are used to move between cities, as well as some private and public buses.

  • A good degree of fitness is recommended for this trip as there is a lot of walking involved (up to 10 kilometres each day), particularly around Kyoto which is best seen on foot. Bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet.

  • Staying in a traditional ryokan, where you will sleep on a futon spread out on tatami mats, is a quintessential Japanese experience. Bear in mind that this bed will be at floor level. In Yuzawa we may have up to 3 people of the same gender per room.

  • Northern Japan in winter is cold, with temperatures likely to be below zero and many of our activities taking place outside. Appropriate clothing for the weather will be essential to your enjoyment of this trip.

Itinerary

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance and next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them at this meeting. Afterwards, you’ll have some free time to explore Tokyo’s exhilarating nightlife. Perhaps take a walk down Shinjuku’s Memory Lane. This crowded alley of busy restaurants and bar stalls started in the 1940s and quickly gained infamy as a black market drinking quarter. Today, it is still one of the best spots to try some of Tokyo’s famed ‘fast food’ dishes.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel to Yudanaka in the morning, a journey that takes approximately three hours. Pay an afternoon visit to Jigokudani Yaenkoen, commonly known as Snow Monkey Park, and see the red-face snow monkeys (Japanese Macaques) frolicking in the mountain onsens. Around 160 monkeys are living here at the moment and you can see them every day throughout the year. The park is located in the monkey's natural habitat, in the forests of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi and not far from the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka. The monkeys live in large social groups and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from a close distance and they almost completely ignore their human guests.
Included Activities
  • Yudanaka - Snow Monkey Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Depart from Yudanaka for Yuzawa, which will take approximately 2.5 hours. Stop en route at Zenkoji Temple, a 7th-century temple in Nagano, to stretch your legs and marvel at its unique architecture. On arrival in Yuzawa we will set out on the Hot Spring Literary Walk, based on Kawabata Yasunari's best-known novel 'Snow country' (Yukikuni), which was written while Yasunari was in Yuzawa. The story tells of a love affair between a Tokyo dilettante and a provincial geisha in a remote hot spring town in the mountains. On a walk through the powdered streets, you can still find some traces of the old-world charm that must have inspired Yasunari. The Literary Walk will guide you to all the main spots of town, including the Yuzawa Snow Museum, Yama-no-yu Hotspring and the Suwa Shrine. There will be an opportunity to try some sake at a tasting before returning to the hotel for the night. 
Included Activities
  • Nagano - Zenkoji Temple
  • Yuzawa - Hotspring Literary Walk
  • Yuzawa - Snow Museum
  • Yuzawa - Yama-No-Yu Hotspring
  • Yuzawa - Sake Tasting
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please note that rooms here are multishare (up to 3 to a room) and Single Supplement is not available while in Yuzawa.
Today we will take the Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway up the mountains. The ropeway has the capacity for 166 passengers and is one of the largest in the world. Stunning views await you at the summit, with spectacular panoramic scenery of Yuzawa and the surrounding valleys. Travel upwards to the White Kogen stage, located at an altitude of 1000 metres. Take advantage of a free afternoon in the snow to go skiing or perhaps unwind at a nearby hot spring in town.
Included Activities
  • Yuzawa - Kogen Ropeway
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Travel by train to Tsuruoka (approximately 3 hours). Sit down and have a Japanese style lunch with a 'maiko', apprentice Geisha, who will entertain the group with beautiful dancing, songs and music. In the afternoon, visit Sakata's many historical sites on a walking tour. See the impressive Seienkaku and Abumiya residences, which blend traditional samurai and merchant designs, and an old Sankyo rice warehouse. During Japan’s Edo Era (1603–1867), Sakata was a flourishing merchant city thanks to its prime location at the mouth of the Mogami River. The main trade item was rice from the Shonai Plain, one of Japan’s main rice growing areas. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel Route Inn or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sakata - Lunch with Maiko (Apprentice Geisha)
  • Sakata - Walking Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Visit Mt Haguro, one of the Three Mountains of Dewa. Mt Haguro is the smallest mountain and therefore the most accessible, with pilgrims often visiting the Haguro-San Shrine that lies at the summit. This shrine, which the group will visit today, symbolises birth and is usually the first shrine visited by pilgrims. Take part in a traditional monk's lunch at Temple Saikan, which is a sprawling yet secluded temple lodging atop Mt Haguro. Vegans and vegetarians may want to bring some extra food on this day with them, as cooks will not deviate from using fish broth in this location.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Route Inn or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Haguro - Shojin Ryori temple lunch
  • Mt. Haguro - Haguro-san Shrine
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Watch a delicious lunch being made before your eyes at a soba noodle making demonstration with an expert chef. Encounter the famous snow monsters of Zao Onsen and marvel at the fairytale-white landscapes atop Mount Zao.

Venture northeast to Yamadera Temple, which sits on the mountainside with magnificent views of the valley below. Spend free time in the temples, halls and pathways scattered about the mountain. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel Metropolitan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yamagata - Soba noodle making demonstration & lunch
  • Yamagata - Yamadera Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
After a free morning, take the Zao Ropeway to arrive at the top of the Zao Mountain range. The panaoramic views from the summit are stunning, particularly in winter when the landscape is coated in beautiful white snow. Zao Onsen is famous for its spectacular 'Ice Monsters' ('Juhyo') - heavily snow covered trees that have become misshapen. One of the natural wonders of Zao Onsen, these can be found at the top of the mountain during the coldest months, usually from late December to the middle of March.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Metropolitan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yamagata - Mt Zao Ropeway
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Return to Tokyo via fast train (approximately 3 hours). On arrival, check into the hotel and then have some free time before we head out for our final night together.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no activities planned for today and you can depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Edo Tokyo Museum - JPY600
  • Tokyo - Yaktabune Dinner Cruise - Free
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
  • Tokyo - Meiji Shrine - Free
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Tokyo Tower Observatory - JPY900
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

Meals

9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Bullet train, Local train, Public bus, Cable Car, Subway, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Ryokan (3 nights)

Included Activities

  • Yudanaka - Snow Monkey Park
  • Nagano - Zenkoji Temple
  • Yuzawa - Hotspring Literary Walk
  • Yuzawa - Snow Museum
  • Yuzawa - Yama-No-Yu Hotspring
  • Yuzawa - Sake Tasting
  • Yuzawa - Kogen Ropeway
  • Sakata - Lunch with Maiko (Apprentice Geisha)
  • Sakata - Walking Tour
  • Mt Haguro - Shojin Ryori temple lunch
  • Mt. Haguro - Haguro-san Shrine
  • Yamagata - Soba noodle making demonstration & lunch
  • Yamagata - Yamadera Temple
  • Yamagata - Mt Zao Ropeway

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip. For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, a Japan Rail Pass extension (total 14 days) is available. Please contact us at time of booking regarding this service.
2. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
3. Due to the expense of private transport, distances of airports from cities and the fact that Japan has very efficient public transport airport links, a complimentary arrival transfer is not included on this tour.
4. Tipping is not included in this trip as tipping is not customary in Japan.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.