Japan’s crisp wintry conditions aren’t just ideal for skiers and snowboarders in search of exhilarating runs blanketed in top-quality powder snow. Right throughout the winter season, Japan is full of festive events, activities, and customs that offer travelers the warming winter wonderland experience they’ve always dreamed of.
Japan in Winter is one of the most magical times to visit this beautiful country, here are two unique ways to celebrate the season.
1. Marvel at the illuminations
Making the most of the shorter winter days, parts of Japan’s towns and cities come to life in the evenings with spectacular light displays that are guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, despite the biting temperatures. Don’t miss the Shirakawa-go Winter Light-Up where traditional “Gassho-zukuri” style homes and surrounding trees are bathed in the warm glow of light to create a captivating scene against the icy snow-covered rural landscape.
Meanwhile, you could feed your imagination among the illuminated works of art and trees at the Sapporo White Illumination, or enjoy the enchanting experience of walking through the flower gardens of light at Kanagawa’s Sagamiko Illumination. And there are plenty of others to experience around the country. The following dates are for the 2022/23 winter season:
- Shirakawa-go Winter Light-Up – January 15th, 22nd, 29th & February 5th, 12th, 19th
- Sapporo White Illumination – November 22nd to March 14th
- Sagamiko Illumination (Kanagawa) – November 12th to April 2nd
- Midosuji Illumination (Osaka) – November 3rd to December 31st
- Lake Haruna Illumination Festa – December 16th to 25th
2. Experience the Chitose and Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival
At night, the ice sculptures become illuminated with colourful lights for a mesmerising display, while other attractions at the festival include, drum performances, fireworks, hearty winter cuisine, and the surrounding hot springs.
Around 40 minutes from Sapporo by road, the Chitose and Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival takes place from the 28th of January to February 23rd 2023 in Lake Shikotsu Onsen in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. With Lake Shikotsu known for its clear waters, visitors to the festival can explore the impressive ice sculptures which are created by spraying water from the lake which quickly freezes in the icy air.