Japan tour, winter festivals

“Seven nights in Hokkaido, Japanís northernmost island, exploring, eating and celebrating at its many winter festivals on this small group guided trip.”


Sapporo | Ice and Snow Festival | Otaru | Snow Light Path Festival | Asahikawa Winter Festival | Sounkyo Ice Festival | Sapporoís Nijo Fish Market | optional trips and visits | ride the Bullet Train

Description of Japan tour, winter festivals

Explore Japan during winter, when the streets are lit up and blanketed in snow, the markets are bustling and the food is piping hot. This trip moves around Japanís northern island of Hokkaido in a relatively short amount of time, taking eight days to take in its beautiful towns and exciting winter festivals.

Experience the sensational Sapporo Ice and Snow Festival, world famous for its huge and elaborate sculptures, joining in with the eating, dancing, drinking and singing. In Otaru, youíll visit the Snow Light Path Festival, a true winter experience, with the whole city decorated with lanterns and snow statues, creating a fairy-tale feel. Stroll along the river, gathering around snow mounds filled with light and enjoy a glass of warming hot wine.

This trip also takes in the Asahikawa Winter Festival and Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival, which takes place along the Ishikari River and features large, multi-story buildings and structures made of ice and snow. In between festivals, pull on snow shoes for a wintery walk, getting to know the beautiful landscape, then warm up with visits to some of Japanís best-known breweries and whiskey distilleries. Youíll have a chance to visit Sapporoís Nijo Fish Market, the JR Tower Observatory and the Mount Okura Observatory, as you enjoy a natural, cultural and artistic adventure that celebrates the splendour of Japanís far north. Travel is by local train, the famous bullet train, public bus and subway and the tour starts and finishes in Sapporo.

From 1st January 2017 this trip will change. To constantly improve our itineraries we take on all feedback from our previous passengers and from our local team. For 2017 we have removed the free day in Sapporo as we have adequate time in this region, itinerary will be one day shorter due to this change.

2017 Itinerary:
1 Sapporo
2 Sapporo B
3 Otaru B
4 Asahikawa B
5 Sounkyo B & D
6 Sapporo B
7 Sapporo B
8 Depart B

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Check dates, prices & availability

04 Feb 2020
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 04 Feb 2020 departure
07 Feb 2020
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 07 Feb 2020 departure
09 Feb 2020
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 09 Feb 2020 departure

Responsible tourism

Japan tour, winter festivals

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


The winter festivals in northern Japan are a sight to behold, and this trip gives you a fantastic insight into some of the biggest and best! Guided throughout by your English speaking local group leader youíll experience the Sapporo Snow festival, marvel at Asahikawaís giant snow sculptures and be entranced by Otaruís Snow Light Path Festival.

Much of the travelling on this trip is done on the famous Bullet train. Journeying by rail produces significantly less carbon emissions per passenger than travel by either air or car, making this one of the most environmentally responsible methods to explore this magnificent country.
All travellers in the group will be encouraged to travel with refillable water bottles and purification tablets rather than purchasing water in plastic bottles to minimise waste and your group leader will also be on hand to advise on the responsible discarding of rubbish throughout the trip, recycling wherever possible.
We are a big supporter of the protection of endangered species around the world. It is against our Responsible Travel policy for leaders to take passengers to places that use cruel practices or supply or serve foods that are on the endangered species list, such as whale, turtle, tiger, birdís nests, pangolin and shark.

There are many activity options enabling you to interact with local people and learn and understand their traditions. We of course do what we can to demonstrate respect for local culture and tradition. While Japan is known for its 'out there' fashions overall, it is quite a conservative country. We spend time at temples, working monasteries, holy shrines, recreated villages and castles, cooking schools and ancient gardens. At these places it is important to be respectful to the staff and other visitors by wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. During your visit you will receive hospitality from local families and people. A great way to reciprocate is to bring a small gift from your country, eg. animal figurines, pens, flags or stickers.
The accommodation for this trip is a mix of small locally owned and operated ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and guesthouses, where our patronage is directly supporting local families. Our gracious hosts will help guide you around traditional practices and living arrangements. An outdoor onsen (hot spring bath) is a real highlight of a guesthouse stay. There are separate baths for males and females, and as no clothes or swimming costumes are allowed in the hot springs - it's time to shed those inhibitions!

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