China Span + One Globe
Day 1. arrive in Tokyo
Day 2-3. to Hell Valley Snow Monkey Park
Day 4. to Nagano
Day 5-6. to Sapporo
Day 7. to Otaru
Day 8. to Aomori
Day 9. to Akita
Day 10-11. to Yokote
Day 12-13. to Zao Onsen
Day 14. to Tokyo
Day 13. trip ends.
Japan in winter is mysterious not only because of its picture-perfect snowy landscapes, but also for hundreds of winter festivals and events and relaxing hot springs. We will take you on a trip to explore the magnificent winter wonderland of Japan.
Deep in the valley of the mountains in Japan where the hot and boiling spring flows, live the famous Japanese Snow Monkey, the Japanese icon animal. The once wild, now tame monkeys come to bathe in their own pool after the first snow falls in winter. Imagine these cute, little animals comfortably bathing in the hot spring surrounded by steam or huddled together on snow with their hair still wet! It is truly a natural wonder. Of course, it is another superb pleasure when we enjoy ourselves in the hot spring (separate from the monkeys), surrounded by quietness, punctuated only by the sounds of the whooshing steam and chattering monkeys and birds. We will stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan, an old wooden hotel run by the family, sleep on comfortable futons and enjoy the marvelous nature.
There is no better way to experience a culture at festival time. We will celebrate the Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan’s largest winter events. Hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures line up the street, turning Sapporo into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow.
Next we will explore the less traveled northern part of Honshu Island. We will experience interesting kamakura snow festivals featuring igloo-like snow houses. The Yokote Kamakura Festival has a history of over 450 years and the most famous one. The one in Hiburi has the unique element that involves fire while the one in Hirosaki Castle features lanterns all hand crafted by local citizens.
Lastly but certainly not least, we will travel to Zao Onsen located on the slopes of the volcanic Mount Zao. The hot springs in this area are famous for the sulfuric waters which are among the most acidic in the entire country with a PH value of close to 1. It is also one of the most famous ski resorts and one of only a few places in Japan where juhyo or “snow mountains” can be seen. The super cool water gradually adheres to the trees and develops the Juhyo unique shapes. During this time of the year, the snow monsters are illuminated and we can take the ropeway to the top of the mountain for a bird’s-eye view of this spectacular scene.
This is truly a unique trip to experience the winter wonderland of Japan!