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The Grand (Ski) Tour of Japan

Hakuba - Takayama - Kyoto - Hiroshima - Hakone - Tokyo

Duration: three weeks

Okay, not everyone has the time or the budget...but if you asked us to plan our dream holiday in Japan, this is what it would look like. Five full days skiing in the Hakuba valley gives us our powder fix and then you jettison the ski equipment and clothes (use the luggage forwarding service to send it on to your final hotel) and head off to explore the best of Japan. Trains cover the distance, ryokans (where appropriate) provide the accommodation, we supply the touring notes and you dive in to the best country on this planet.

With highlights too numerous to mention, this itinerary is utterly adaptable - we'd tailor it to your specific interests, preferences and requirements. Not enough time on the slopes, then perhaps we add in another ski resort and sacrifice Hiroshima or Hakone? Skiing in Niseko on your 'must-experience' list, then we'll get you up to Hokkaido first and then take out Hakuba? Anything and everything is possible with a love of deep powder snow...and an even deeper love of Japan.

Day 1

Fly to Japan from your home country.

Day 2

Arrive in Tokyo Haneda Airport and transfer directly to Hakuba, your ski resort in the Japanese Alps.

Days 3-7

Five full days skiing or snowboarding in the Hakuba Valley.

Day 8

Local train to Matsumoto, visit it's world-famous castle, and then take the local coach over the mountain passes to Takayama. Settle in to your traditional ryokan.

Days 9 & 10

Two full days to enjoy Takayama and perhaps visit Shirakawa-go.

Day 11

Scenic railway down to Nagoya and then the bullet-train expresses you on to Kyoto in no time at all. Settle in to your central accommodation.

Days 13 & 14

Two full days to explore Kyoto at your own pace.

Day 15

Use the bullet-train to get to the Western-most tip of Honshu Island and Hiroshima. Perhaps break the journey in Okayama en route, to visit the famous gardens.

Day 16

A full day to visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and head over to Miyajima to take a photo of the floating tori gate.

Day 17

The final long bullet-train journey, heading east - through Osaka - to Odawara, the gateway to the Hakone district. Check in to your ryokan.

Day 18

Spend the day exploring the Hakone district - onsens, cable cars, lake cruises and scenic railways. Relax in your ryokan for a second night.

Day 19

Catch the local train in to Tokyo, make your way to Shinjuku and check in to your central hotel. Enjoy the afternoon and your first night in the neon-madness of the capital.

Day 20

A full day in Tokyo - explore at your own pace.

Day 21

Head to the airport in Tokyo and fly home.

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 21-day itinerary would be circa £3,580 per person, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, rail travel, lift passes in Hakuba 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.