While the Japanese winter can be bitterly cold, it’s also one of the most beautiful times of the year. The winter sky is often clear and blue, the powder snow fresh, the onsen steaming hot. Winter is a great time to explore the scenic countryside, take advantage of the snow sport opportunities, thaw out in a natural hot spring and eat until you can’t eat anymore.
If you’re staying in or around the Tokyo area, there are plenty of day trip opportunities that are not only extremely convenient, but also very budget-friendly. Here are just a handful of examples. Don’t spend your Japanese winter cooped up inside, rug up and get out there!
1. Visit Oedo Onsen Monogatari, the Edo-themed hot spring in Tokyo
Odaiba’s Oedo Onsen Monogatari is a large hot spring theme park, and the perfect spot for unwinding after a long few days exploring the city.
The complex features authentic Edo-era ambience complete with summer festival style lanterns, street food, games, and yukata-clad guests. Once you step through the doors, it won’t take long before you forget you’re in Odaiba, one of the most futuristic neighborhoods of Tokyo!
You can take steam baths. Stroll along an Edo-style trail dressed in a traditional yukata yourself. Soak in the outdoor baths. Sample traditional cuisine, and try your hand at a few festival games. A visit to Oedo Onsen Monogatari is an excellent way to see a different side of Tokyo, while also getting some much-needed relaxation time. On Klook, you can pick up passes for the discounted amount of ¥2,000.
2. Go snow monkey spotting in Nagano
Want to see something different? Head to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture, home to the very photogenic Japanese snow monkey (also known as the Japanese macaque). The park, tucked away in the forests of Jigokudani Valley, features several monkey-populated pockets, but the man-made pool not far from the entrance gate is where many of the fuzzy wild locals like to hang out and thaw out in hot springs.
Through Klook, you can book a full-day snow monkey tour, which for ¥14,900 includes transport to and from Nagano, travel guidance in English or Japanese, and a hearty beef sukiyaki lunch.
3. Spend a snow day on Mt. Fuji
Fujiyama Snow Town Yeti is one of the most accessible day trip ski destinations from Tokyo. It’s located at the second station of Mt. Fuji and is compact enough to explore in one day comprehensively; however, it still has a decent selection of ski runs that are suitable for all levels.
Snow Town Yeti is the perfect place for those who want to try skiing for the first time, as beginner slopes make up about 50% of the runs. 40% of the site is best suited to intermediate skiers, and the final 10% of runs are advanced level.
Through Klook, you can book a day trip package that includes ski rental, transport to and from the mountain, and lift pass for just ¥10,500 in the off-season and ¥11,000 during peak.
4. Explore Kiyosato Highland in Yamanashi
If you’re tired of the concrete jungle, nearby Yamanashi Prefecture has to be one of the most picturesque country escapes. Just two hours from Tokyo by bus, Yamanashi’s Kiyosato Highland is where you’ll find rolling hills, a botanical garden filled with bright flowers, and plenty of wholesome activities like snow sledding and fruit-picking, which the whole family can enjoy.
Klook offers an exclusive day trip package to Kiyosato Highland. Throughout the year, the tour includes transport and fruit-picking (peaches or grapes, depending on the season). Snow sledding at Fujimi Kogen is offered from December to March. There’s also a shabu-shabu lunch thrown in. Booking link.
5. Enjoy sledding, a snow crab buffet and strawberry-picking in Gunma
Country views, succulent crab, strawberry-picking, and pure-white snow—a day trip to Gunma Prefecture is one unforgettable way to escape city life, if only just for a moment. If you want to make the most of your time, signing up for a Tambara Ski Park and Harada Farm tour is a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time and on a budget. This one is perfect for the family.
The tour includes transport to and from Tokyo, an all-you-can-eat snow crab lunch, and an afternoon of strawberry-picking and sledding. It costs just ¥11,900, and you’ll be back in Tokyo in time for dinner—if you can fit it in after the buffet lunch, that is. Booking link.
6. Experience winter magic at Tochigi’s Yunishigawa Igloo Festival
Like a fairytale come to life, Yunishigawa Onsen’s Igloo Festival in Tochigi Prefecture is one of the most spectacular ways to enjoy the sights of Japan in the snowy winter. The festival, which runs from February to early March, features hundreds of tiny illuminated igloo houses, known as kamakura in Japanese.
If you want to explore the town during this magical time of the year, you can sign up for a Yunishigawa Igloo Festival, winter flower basket lunch, and strawberry-picking tour via Klook. The trip costs ¥12,980 and includes transport, festival admission, lunch, strawberry-picking, and English/Chinese translation services. Booking link.
Prices and tour itineraries are subject to change.