Winter

The Best 10 Festivals to Enjoy Snow and Ice in Japan

Izumi

Sawada

Writer

Do you know that there are so many places to enjoy snow in Japan? You might think of the festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido, but that’s not it. I’m going to introduce more fascinating festivals in Japan in this article, so you will find Japan even more beautiful in winter. Let your winter be the best!

How to Choose Festivals?

You can choose where to go depending on your situation. For example, if you are with your family it is great to visit the ones that have snow activities, and if you travel with your partner, then the more artistic ones suit.

Don’t Forget

Needless to say, it will definitely be cold in any place where you can enjoy the snow. So bring a warm coat, gloves, and scarf with you. Snow can get your belongings wet, so it’s good to bring something to cover them up. Also, the transportation may not be available as usual, so I recommend you to check it before you go out. Preparation is needed to enjoy the cold weather. Forewarned is forearmed!

Contents

・Snow and Ice Festivals in Hokkaido Area
1. Christmas Fantasy in Hakodate
2. Snow Festival and Hot Spring in Sapporo
3. München Christmas Festival in Sapporo
Snow and Ice Festivals in Tohoku Area
4. Candle Festival in Iwate
5. Dog Festival in Akita
6. Uesugi Snow and Lantern Festival in Yamagata
Snow and Ice Festivals Around Tokyo
7. Illumination Festival in Chichibu
8. Tokamachi Snow Festival in Niigata
・Nostalgic & Photogenic Festivals
9. Ouchi-juku Snow Festival in Fukushima
10. Tsunan Snow Festival in Niigata
・How Japanese People Enjoy the Snow?

 

Snow and Ice Festivals in Hokkaido Area

1. Christmas Fantasy in Hakodate

Hakodate is one of the biggest cities in Hokkaido area, and there you can experience beautiful Christmas. It has a long history as Hakodate port was one of the first ports which Japan opened to trade with foreigners. So this city boasts a Western atmosphere. The main thing to do here is to see the big Christmas tree on the water near the bay area. It is 20 meters high and brings a very romantic atmosphere of Christmas time by the ocean. When you want to have a special Christmas, then this is the right place to be!

Dates and Access

Dates: Beginning of December to the 25th of December

Access: 5 minutes walk from JR Hakodate station.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2483/

2. Snow Festival “Yukizanmai” and Hot Spring in Sapporo

Want to enjoy both exciting activities and relaxing hot spring? Then, you should check here. At this festival, you can try many kinds of snow activities such as dog sledding and jet skiing. For small kids, there is a petting zoo as well. After you had a lot of fun, the greatest hot spring is waiting for you. It is pretty famous in this area, and it is absolutely nice to take an outside bath while watching the falling snow. This is a good deal for both children and parents.

Dates and Access

Dates of the snow festival: Middle of January

Access to hot spring: Take a bus from Shin Chitose Airport and it will take 1 hour and 40 minutes. The fee is 1,650 Yen for an adult, and 830 Yen for a child.
There are also direct trains to the place from JR Sapporo station. It takes 90 minutes to get there. The fee is 770 Yen for an adult and 390 Yen for a child.

Hot spring to the “Yukizanmai” Festival venue: There are free shuttle buses every 5 minutes.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2603/

3. München Christmas Festival in Sapporo

What makes you excited in winter is the Christmas market. It looks so gorgeous and shiny and always leaves good memories. In Sapporo, there is a German-style Christmas market, and it attracts many people. You can try German sausage and beer to feel traditional German Christmas, or you can also try a workshop to create ornaments for Christmas Day. If you are lucky, you might come across Santa Claus!

Dates and Access

Dates: From the end of November to the end of December

Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Sapporo station.
You can also take a Nanboku subway, and get off at Odori station. From there, it will take 5 minutes to walk.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2914/

Snow and Ice Festivals in Tohoku Area

4. Morioka Candle Festival in Iwate

At this festival, you can see many candles with snow candle stands. The place is Morioka town, Iwate prefecture. There is Morioka castle, which has 400 years of history as well. There is an amazing view to see them from the castle. The best time to go is after 5 p.m. because you can see the lights clearly. All of the works are made by people who live there, so you will feel the warmth of the town and local people.

Dates and Access

Dates: The second week of February

Access: From Shibuya station, you take JR Saikyo Line to go to Omiya station. From Omiya station, take bullettrain to Morioka station, which will take about 2 hours. You can walk from Morioka station to the festival venue, it takes about 20 minutes.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4072/

5. Dog Festival in Akita

Are you a dog lover? This is a festival where people pray for dogs’ health, and you can see some cool arts made of snow there. Its origin is based on a story about the robbers called Hakuto, and people put some dog-shaped ornaments in front of the door to pray for the robbers not to return. You can find many cute things such as key fobs or wooden dolls. You cannot stop saying “kawaii” there!

Dates and Access

Dates: The second weekend of February

Access: Take bullet train from Tokyo station to Omagari station, then take JR Okuu Line and get off at Yuzawa station. It will take about 10 minutes to walk from the station.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3617/

6. Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival in Yamagata

Have you ever heard the name, Uesugi Kenshin? He is one of the most famous samurais who lived in the 16th century. He was really brave and is also called the dragon of Echigo area. This festival has been held for 400 years in his honor. The combination of 1,200 lanterns around an authentic shrine is something you can’t miss.

Dates and Access

Dates: The second weekend of February

Access: Take a bullet train from Tokyo station to Yonezawa station. From Yonezawa station to the festival venue you can take a shuttle bus. The fee is 200 Yen for an adult, and 100 Yen for a child.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/800/

Snow and Ice Festivals in Around Tokyo

7. Icicles and Illumination Festival in Chichibu

Chichibu is famous for the flowers in spring, but you can see more incredible things in winter there. You will see huge icicles and they will be lighted up in the evening. Each of the icicles is bigger than a human, and what the most exciting point is that you can go through the path between them! It is just breathtaking, and you will be amazed at how great our nature is. It can be really slippery so it`s a good idea to bring a climbing stick.

Dates and Access

Dates: From the beginning of January to beginning of March

Access: Take Seibu Red Arrow Express or Seibu Chichibu Line from Ikebukuro station to Seibu Chichibu Station. You can take Seibu Chichibu Line and get off at Ashigakubo station to see Ashigakubo icicles. Or you can take Seibu Kanko express bus bound for Mitsumine Shrine and get off at Misoba Bus stop to see Misotsuchi icicles.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2328/

8. Tokamachi Snow Festival in Niigata

Image courtesy of Rebirth10

This festival’s concept is “living together with snow”, and it is said that it was the first snow festival that was held by citizens in Japan. At the festival you can interact with many local people, and also feel how they love the place. The remarkable thing there is the Snow and Music Carnival on the stage. There are lots of food stands and you can try Japanese “mom’s” cooking. It will make you warm for sure!

Image courtesy of Nihongo1234

Dates and Access

Dates: The third weekend of February

Access: Take a bullet train from Tokyo Station and get off at Tokamachi station. It will take about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

More details on this event here:
URL:http://snowfes.jp/?lang=en

Nostalgic and Photogenic Festivals

9. Ouchi-juku Snow Festival in Fukushima

Ouchi-juku is well known to be one of the biggest hotel areas of the Edo period, and you can see fantastic views at the festival. On the first day, there will be hundreds of snow lanterns and their warm lights are just beautiful. On the second day, it is good to see Edo period cosplay event. All of them are really well prepared and you will feel the time of Edo after seeing the plays. There are some activities that you can join too. For example, you can make buckwheat noodles and eat the fresh ones you’ve just made. It will be a great chance to have fun with your family or your partner.

Image courtesy of sumomojam

Dates and Access

Dates: The second weekend of February

Access: From Tokyo station, take Yamanote like to Nippori station and change to Jouban Line then head to Kitasenjyu station. From there, you should take a special rapid train to go to Aizutajima station, and change there to Aizu train Line. You need to get off at Yunokamionsen station. You can take a shuttle bus from there.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://www.jalan.net/event/evt_214602/

10. Tsunan Snow Festival in Niigata

This is what all girls dream to see at least once in their lives—Lantern festival. There will be over 1,000 of lanterns in the sky, and it really suits the city atmosphere because there are not so many lights as in the big city. You should not forget to bring a good camera with you to capture those beautiful moments. People let the lanterns go to the sky and pray for health and success for the year. It is one of the most precious moments you can imagine.

Dates and Access

Dates: The second week of March

Access:
By car: lantern ticket goes with parking reservation, and you cannot get only the ticket. Also, there is a lot of snow so you should wear winter tires or put chains so they won’t slip. From Tokyo, you should take Kanetsu expressway via Siosawa/Ishiuchi IC.

By train: Take Jyouetu shinkansen to Echigoyuzawa station, and take a bus from the station. It will take about 50 minutes, the fee is 500 Yen for over a 13-year-old person, and younger are for free.

More details on this event here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4361/

How Japanese People Enjoy Snow?

We – Japanese enjoy the contrast of coldness and warmth. For instance, we enjoy taking bath outside and it feels better because outside is cold. Children play in the snow and built a snowman, so they are pretty much looking forward to winter. You can put mandarins in the snow and make them frozen, which actually tastes amazing. We call them reitou-mikan. That is something you can enjoy only in winter.

Closing Remarks

How do you like winter festivals in Japan? As you saw, people are actually enjoying the cold weather in winter and it is always nice to see that. I recommend you go further to find your best place and favorite festival! Japanese winter is charming indeed!
If you have any questions, you can always contact Huber, which is the matching service for tourists and local Japanese people who speak English. Feel free to ask for help and recommendations to enjoy your winter!https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/836/

Would You Like to See the Biggest Winter Festival in Japan?

Hokkaido is the coldest Island in the Japanese archipelago. But this fact doesn’t scare Japanese people who have matsuri in their blood. Sapporo is holding the most significant winter event in Japan in February – Sapporo Snow Festival. So, if you are planning to come to Hokkaido in winter for skiing, visiting hot springs or even just on a business trip, don`t miss an opportunity to walk through the city and see this outstanding Festival! The following article will provide you with essential information on this beautiful event. Please check the link below!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/761/

More Lantern Festivals

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this great festival. Lantern festivals in Japan are very popular, and you can see it in any season. If you would like to know more about other lantern festivals in Japan, enjoy its mystical atmosphere, and admire a glowing night in Japan, please click on the link below and you will find an article on the best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5021/

Don’t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

For all foodies who enjoy Japanese Festivals would be nice to get acquainted with the rich choice offered by Yatai (Japanese festival food stalls). The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Did You Know That There is a Festival Every Day Somewhere in Japan?

Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/6572/

Izumi Sawada

A 21 year old girl who loves traveling and speaks 5+ languages. Don’t have any house and live on the earth literary. That kind of craziness is all I need in my life!

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