Japan Short Tours
Winter Snow Festival
9 Days – 8 Nights
3-12 February 2023
$3718 + Airfares per person Twin share
Japanese Winter Snow Festivals
Hokkaido, an area of 83454 square kilometres, is the most northern of all the Japanese islands. Hokkaido is known for its steaming volcanoes, natural hot springs (onsen), magnificent ski areas and the two largest snow festivals in Japan – one in Sapporo and one in Asahikawa.
This tour takes you on an exciting adventure across Hokkaido to both snow festivals where you can experience the peaceful serenity of standing out in falling snow, the romance of walking along lantern-lit canals or simply be in awe of some of the most amazing and enormous snow carvings and ice sculptures you have ever seen. From its snow-covered volcanic peaks and dense forests to the snow sculptures, snow stages, snow caves, ice skating, horse drawn sleighs or awesome ice bars, the scenery in this winter wonderland of Hokkaido will take your breath away and should not be missed.
Day 1– Sapporo
Morning: Depart Australia and fly to Chitose in Hokkaido
Afternoon: Arrive New Chitose Airport
Evening: At your Leisure
Fly direct to Chitose from Sydney Airport arriving at approximately 7pm. From the airport, we’ll travel for 40 mins into Sapporo which is the primary site of the world-famous snow festival, where you can spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Day 2 – Sapporo
Morning: Sapporo orientation
Afternoon: Sapporo Olympic ski-jump & museum
Evening: Odori Park snow carving
Today starts with a cold weather orientation and a quick tour of the Sapporo area before visiting the international ski-jump arena. Here we’ll ride the chairlift to the observation deck to look out over the 90m high ski-jump. Next, we head to the winter sports museum to see memorabilia from the 1972 Winter Olympics, browse the history of snow sports and have some fun on the snow sports simulators. After a short rest back at the hotel, we’ll head out to the Odori park area to take a look at the snow sculptures. Everything is lit and looks fabulous
Day 3 – Jozankei
All Day: Jozankei
After breakfast, we take a private bus to the onsen town of Jozankei in the mountains just outside of Sapporo. Here we will visit the Hoheikyo Onsen, a large open-air natural hot-spring bath designed purely for the comfort and relaxation of the bathers. Here you can spend the day comfortably bathing yourself amongst the 1000 tons of landscaped rock garden of these open-air baths, in the snow, allowing you to melt into your own satisfying and relaxing world. There is also a fabulous Indian restaurant onsite or you may prefer to just chill in the relaxation areas. When we arrive back in Sapporo, we will go to the Sususkino area to take in the atmosphere and amazing sights of the amazing ice carvings.
Day 4 – Sapporo
Morning: Sapporo, Yoichi
Afternoon: Yoichi, Otaru
After breakfast, we will explore the snow festival by day. We then make our way to Sapporo station for a train ride to the small town of Yoichi, home to the Nikka Whiskey Distillery, built in 1934 and one of Japan’s top whisky distilleries. With its historic old buildings and working distillery you can see all the stages involved in distilling whisky and sample some of the finished product. Next, we head to the small coastal town of Otaru for the Snow Path Light Festival along the canal and old town with it’s many different types of shops, magical Music-Box Museum and restaurants.
Day 5 – Asahikawa
Morning: Travel to Asahikawa
Afternoon: Tokiwa Park
Evening: International Ice Carving
This morning we take an 80-minute train ride through the countryside heading to Asahikawa to see Japans second largest winter festival including the International Ice Carving festival. On arrival, we’ll drop our bags at the hotel and visit the beautiful Tokiwa Park, known for its peace and tranquillity where you’ll get a great view of the main snow stage. Next we head over to the main festival site to see the amazing snow sculptures and take a closer look at the huge snow stage before heading back to the Iluminated international ice carving
Day 6 – Sounkyo Onsen
Morning: Tokiwa park
Afternoon: Sounkyo Onsen
Evening: Ice Pavillion
Today starts with a look around the beautiful Tokiwa park and the ice carvings before we take a scenic trip into the mountains to the beautiful Sounkyo Onsen in the Daisetsuzan National Park, a gorgeous unspoilt wilderness where deer roam free. Once we have checked in, we will head over to the Ice Pavillion, a man-made ice structure that features glorious illuminated ice caves built around a fast-flowing stream. Later, we will head back to the hotel and a relaxing bath in the mixed outdoor hot spring.
Day 7 – Sapporo
Morning: Travel to Sapporo
Evening: Own leisure
Today, after breakfast we take a relaxing journey back to Asahikawa where we will stop for lunch before catching the train back to Sapporo. The afternoon and evening are for you to spend more time at the snow carving or exploring the underground shopping around Sapporo. Tonight, we will all meet up for some farewell Japan drinks with your tour guide.
Day 8 – Chitose
Morning: Last minute shopping
Afternoon: Travel to Chitose airport
Evening: Fly to Australia
Today, after breakfast we have a relaxing day to revisit the snow festival or take in some last minute shopping before we head to the airport for the flight home