Take a seriously frosty adventure through Hokkaido.
Say Hokk-hi-do to Japan’s northernmost main island on a 10-day winter exploration of its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and fabulous festivities. Beginning in Sapporo, discover the crisp notes of whisky at a distillery in Yoichi, have the chance to participate in an age-old tradition of dog-sledding in Shikaoi, see the renowned Japanese crane in Lake Akan, explore the depths of the Shiretoko National Park and possibly float through drift ice in Abashiri. With ryokans to stay in, local Ainu people to meet, traditional onsen to soak in and Hokkaido local drinks to warm you up to check out, you’ll be seeing Japan in a whole new light on this winter adventure.
If your timing is right, you’ll marvel in the lights and wonder of the Snow Light Path festival in Otaru – one of the region’s oldest festivals to celebrate the winter wonderland that Hokkaido is.
Escape the icy conditions by relaxing with a soak in a steaming onsen – a traditional Japanese hot spring.
Discover the Ainu people at a village visit in Lake Akan. This indigenous community of Hokkaido have a rich culture and long-withstanding traditions which you will be able to learn about on your visit.
Go in search for a quintessential image of Japan – the symbolic red-crested crane. These elegant birds inhabit the Kushiro region, and with a knowledgeable guide on hand, you’ll see them in all their glory.
Dodge the winter crowds with an unforgettable journey to World Heritage-listed Shiretoko National Park, with a guided tour through the forest in search of Hokkaido’s endangered species.
A key challenge is logistically getting around Hokkaido in the midst of winter when a lot can go wrong – snowstorms, blocked lines and roads, etc – and considerable distances to cover.
Not all departure dates will coincide with local festivals and certain activities are only available in deep winter (late January to March). So please read the day-to-day itinerary and check your dates if you want to be in a destination for a certain festival or time period.
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 mattresses 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.
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 November to March and it can be unpredictable, with heavy overnight snow as thick as 50 cm. It's important to come prepared for these weather conditions to best enjoy the trip – a warm jacket that's rain and wind proof, hat, gloves, sturdy walking shoes with good traction are necessary.
Hokkaido is a popular place to travel in winter, especially for Japanese travellers, so don't be surprised if some sights or destinations are busy and crowded, especially during festival times.
Trip departures are unavailable.
There are currently no scheduled departures on our Japan Expedition: Hokkaido Winter Adventure trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
2. This trip does not include a Japan Rail Pass. You will need to buy your own train tickets for any independent rail travel you wish to do in Japan.
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 an online booking engine if you are planning to stay longer in Japan.
5. Luggage that can be carried easily will be more suitable than suitcases for this trip due to the streets being wet, muddy, or snow-covered when travelling at this time of year.
6.The activities and festivals available in Hokkaido are largely weather dependent. Depending on the time of your travel, different activities may be arranged depending on their availability. Please check the day-to-day itinerary for details.
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