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The Japanese Alps Explorer

Tokyo - Nozawa Onsen - Hakuba - Kyoto

Duration: two weeks

The best that Honshu Island has to offer in the winter, this itinerary features both Nozawa Onsen and Hakuba in the Japanese Alps. It all starts in the excitement of Tokyo and ends up in Kyoto – Japan’s cultural heart.

Staying on the main island – Honshu – experiences that can be ticked off the list include riding the shinkansen (bullet-train), visiting the snow monkeys, relaxing in onsen waters and staying in a traditional Japanese inn - a ryokan. And there's no compromising on the skiing - two contrasting ski resorts offer the variety, terrain and challenge.

Day 1

Depart from the U.K., flying to either Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda.

Day 2

Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to your central hotel, which will invariably be either in Shinjuku or near the Imperial Palace in the east of the city. Dive in to the neon-madness of the capital.

Day 3

Spend the day exploring Tokyo. We have many excursions on offer, but you could also head out on your own – we have created sightseeing notes to help orientate you.

Day 4

Take the bullet-train to Iiyama and then make your way up to Nozawa Onsen, where you check in to your hotel or ryokan in this pretty hot spring village. In the afternoon, take an excursion to visit the nearby snow monkeys.

Day 5-7

Three days' skiing or snowboarding on the Nozawa mountain – ride by day, relax in the hot springs by night.

Day 8

Coach transfer from Nozawa Onsen to Hakuba. After settling in to your accommodation you have time to enjoy the afternoon / night skiing on Happo mountain, close to your accommodation.

Days 9-12

Four full days of skiing the Hakuba valley – our suggestion would be one day Happo One (cruising), one day Cortina (powder & trees), one day Goryu / Hakuba 47 (snow parks) and final day at Iwatake (the views!).

Day 13

Catch the train to Matsumoto - visit the famous castle - and then take the scenic line down to Nagoya. From here it is the bullet-train that whisks you in to Kyoto. Check in to your traditional ryokan in the centre of town.

Day 14

Full day sight-seeing in Kyoto. There are many excursions we can offer … but exploring the many temples and shrines under your own steam is also perfectly possible.

Day 15

Fly home to from Osaka Kansai Airport, which is not far from Kyoto.

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 £2,498 per person, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes, rail tickets, snow monkey excursion 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.