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Geisha, Onsen, Snow & Sake

Nozawa Onsen - Takayama - Kyoto - Hiroshima

Duration: two weeks

This itinerary eschews the brash futuristic version of Japan and instead focuses in on the Japan of old. You stay in ryokans wherever possible, explore hidden temples & shrines and discover the Japan lost to many in the city. The skiing need not burst the bubble, as you are based in Nozawa Onsen, Japan's most atmospheric, authentic and historic ski resort. However, 20th Century history jolts you back to reality when you visit Hiroshima at the end of the itinerary.

Travel using a Japan Rail Pass. The super-modern bullet-trains expressing you to each new experience, or scenic branch lines carving a path through the snow covered mountains.

Day 1

Fly to Japan, heading for either Tokyo Haneda or Tokyo Narita.

Day 2

Transfer from the airport directly to Nozawa Onsen in the Japanese Alps. Check in to your central accommodation and relax after the long journey.

Days 3-6

Four days skiing in Nozawa Onsen. You should definitely take one afternoon for an excursion to visit the nearby snow monkeys.

Day 7

Catch the train from Iiyama (near Nozawa Onsen) to Takayama, checking in to a ryokan in the old town.

Day 8

A full day to explore the temples, shrines and atmospheric and ancient streets of Takayama.

Day 9

A scenic railways takes you down - out of the Japanese Alps - to Nagoya, and from here it is a bullet-train to Kyoto.

Days 10 & 11

Two full days to explore all that Kyoto has to offer. We can arrange guides, activities and experiences...or you may prefer to explore under your own steam using our self-guiding notes.

Day 12

Take the bullet-train from Kyoto to Hiroshima, perhaps breaking the journey in Himeji (for the castle), Okayama (for the gardens) or Kurashiki (for the crafts) en route. Once you arrive in Hiroshima, head straight over to Miyajima and check in to a ryokan and spend the night on this peaceful island.

Day 13

After a leisurely morning on Miyajima head back to the mainland and check in to central hotel. Spend the afternoon at the Peace Memorial Park and a final night in Hiroshima's lively entertainment district.

Day 14

Fly from Hiroshima to Tokyo and then connect up with your home-bound flights(s).

Obviously, cost depends on which accommodation you choose, how many excursions and activities you want to book, whether you wish to include ski hire and local backcountry guides, etc. An indicative lead-in price for this 13-day itinerary would be circa £2,542 per person, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes, Japanese rail pass and economy class flights from the U.K.

We don't have to include international flights. However, by keeping it all within one package, your arrangements are protected by ATOL.

Different Snow strive to offer the most competitive prices in all instances. However, we pride ourselves first and foremost on quality - we are an independent specialist tour operator and, therefore, are not beholden to any supplier. We make our decisions based only on who's best in each and every instance.

1. Get in touch with Different Snow

Whether you wish to plan your trip around one of these sample itineraries or you have other ideas, simply get in touch by phone or online. If using our online form, ideally we would like to still try get in contact with you by phone to discuss your requirements, but this is not essential.

2. Let us create a bespoke itinerary

We have the first-hand knowledge, travel industry experience and local contacts required to put your plans into action. We can answer your questions, offer suggestions and advice to suit your tastes and budget. We will carefully design your trip, creating a detailed itinerary which you will receive via email. We can then refine it until you are completely happy.

3. Confirm the arrangements with us

Once you are satisfied with all the arrangements, we ask you to complete a booking form and pay a deposit to secure your trip. Everything is secured once you receive our confirmation invoice. Even after booking, you’ll undoubtedly think of more questions. Feel free to call us at any time!

4. We'll send you your travel documents

Approximately three weeks before travel you will receive your travel documents. We will also provide additional information, such as restaurant recommendations, cultural notes, packing lists and one or two home-spun guides - created through our personal experience.

5. Tell your friends about Different Snow

It is important to us that your holiday exceeds your expectations! Different Snow will continue to grow through personal recommendations and word of mouth and, therefore, it is essential to us that you have a great holiday. We want you to travel with us again. Once you've returned we want to hear all about it and we'll certainly encourage you to tell all your friends!


Capital:  Tokyo

Time zone:  GMT + 9 hrs

Currency:  Yen

Language:  Japanese

Ski Season:  Early December until mid-April

Largest Ski Resorts: Shiga-Kogen is the largest..but we don't feature this ski resort (it's not very good!). Of the resorts Different Snow feature Hakuba, Niseko & Appi Kogen are the largest.

Access:  There are direct flights from the U.K. to Tokyo, either Narita or Haneda airports. Alternatively, it sometimes works out a little cheaper to route via Europe or another Asian city. From Tokyo the wonderful rail network, road transfers or a domestic flight up to Hokkaido Island will get you to the ski resorts.

Beyond the skiing:  Spending time in Tokyo is a must; it is the world's most exciting city. Kyoto is the cultural heart of the country. Get off the beaten track and stay in a ryokan or capsule hotel, visit markets, discover traditional Japanese arts and explore modern otaku culture.