Now that November is here in Japan, it's just a matter of time before snow starts dumping on many parts of the country - in some spots it has already begun! If you're looking for ways to embrace all of the fun things that come along with winter and snow, here are 5 of Japan's best!
Japan has some of the world's best ski slopes - it's a worthy reason to plan a winter getaway in itself. From Naeba to Niseko, Hakuba to Furano and more, if you're into skiing or snowboarding you won't be short of places here. You can even get in a day trip for skiing or snowboarding from Tokyo if you're time-poor, at the Gala Yuzawa Resort.
One of the most memorable experiences I've had in Japan was visiting the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture. You can visit at other times of the year too, but there's something magical about seeing the monkeys bathing in the hot springs with steam rising up, surrounded by the snow. You can get quite close to the monkeys, but remember that they are wild animals - so make sure not to overstep your boundaries (or look them in the eye - it's seen as an act of aggression).
The most well known snow festival in Japan is the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, which is held annually in February. The 2018 event will be running from the 5th until the 12th of February - if you plan on going, look into accommodation options early, since it's such a popular attraction for both domestic and international travelers to check out. If you'd like more details about the festival itself, you can check out their website here.
What could be better in the bitter cold than hopping into a nice warm onsen, and admiring the snow without being outside in it? There are many places to visit that aren't far at all from Tokyo that can give you that incredible contrast between freezing cold and toasty warm. Try Yuzawa, which is under 80 minutes from Tokyo by Shinkansen - loads of snow, and lots of onsen facilities!
Another great animal encounter in the snowy weather is the Zao Fox Village, located in Miyagi Prefecture. It is a bit more off the beaten path than some other animal attractions in Japan, but it's worth it for the cuteness factor. There are about 100 foxes at the village - they're free to roam around as they like, so it's more of a true wildlife experience and not like a zoo if that's what you were expecting. You can find some more information regarding admission costs and holidays on their website here.
Hopefully some of these suggestions help you embrace the winter wonderland that is Japan in the coming months!
Enjoy Japan - stay warm, and safe travels!
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