Take a mind-blowing tour of historic, cultural and modern Japan during its mesmerising winter
Ever-welcoming and always fascinating, Japan is a land of ancient cultures, austere traditions and groundbreaking technology. Experience the best that this diverse country has to offer from the excitement of lively Tokyo to the tranquil winter scenes in Yamagata. Watch the snow monkeys enjoy an onsen like a pro, feast on local delights at a Takayama market, take a sobering visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park and explore magnificent Kyoto temples. Discover ancient castles, magical winter wonders and fascinating feudal history on this authentic travel adventure. If you pack a good sense of humour and leave all inhibitions behind, the Land of the Snow Monkeys rarely disappoints.
Japan is a year-round destination with something in store for every season, and this Land of Rising Sun looks especially spectacular in winter. We are taking you to some of the best winter destinations in Japan on this trip, mixed with the other must see highlights too.
There’s no better way to get around Japan than the country’s famous railway system. Be impressed by the efficiency and ultra-modernity as you zip from place to place with your included 14-day Japan Rail Pass.
Enjoy some proper winter experiences in Yamagata and Yunadaka, admiring the unique 'snow monsters' and watch the snow monkeys enjoy their hot onsen in snow.
Stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and sample simple home-cooked fare in Edo-era Takayama. Explore local markets, the Hida Folk Village and perhaps stop by a sake brewery.
A visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park is a sobering but important experience for understanding the tragedies of Japan’s not-so-distant past.
Finish off your time in the Land of the Snow Monkeys in Kyoto, the country’s 'cultural capital' and home to a stunning selection of temples, tea houses and frozen-in-time Zen gardens.
Visit the country in a relatively quiet time, esp. in Takayama and Kyoto, that'll allow you more time to enjoy each destination without the crowds.
Japan is best to explore on foot - in fact most travellers are surprised at how much distance they end up covering just exploring places on foot. Make sure your shoes are comfy and you are fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.
In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon matresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more Western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in the Accommodation section of the Essential Trip Information.
Be prepared to pack light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels. This can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded train stations - if its' a wheeled suitcase, please be aware that you may have to pull your luggage through snow on the street between hotels and stations.
While heating inside buildings and trains is cosy, it gets very cold in Japan at this time of year (well below zero), so it's important to be prepared with warm clothes and waterproof shoes suitable for walking on ice and snow.The temperature in northern Japan is well below freezing from Nov to Mar and the weather can be unpredictable with overnight heavy snow as thick as 50 cm. It's important to come prepared for these weather conditions to best enjoy the trip - warm jacket that's rain and wind proof, hat, gloves, sturdy walking shoes with good traction are necessary.
Please be aware that the snow monkeys are wild animals with unpredictable behaviors - depending on the weather, their mating activities and other factors, the chance of seeing the snow monkeys is not 100% guaranteed.
Trip departures are unavailable.
There are currently no scheduled departures on our Japan: Land of the Snow Monkeys trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
1. A 14-day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip (validated on Day 2). For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, an Japan Rail Pass Extension (total 21 days) is available.
2. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
3. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. As a result our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.
4. We are currently unable to book pre or post tour accommodation at our start & finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through your travel agent or an online booking engine if you are planning to stay longer in Japan.
5. Please be aware that the snow monkeys are wild animals with unpredictable behaviors - depending on the weather, their mating activities and other factors, the chance of seeing the snow monkeys is not 100% guaranteed.
6. It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. From May 2020 there will be size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage over 160-250cm may require an additional 1000 JPY oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is over 160-250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.
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.View Essential Trip Information