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Beyond the slopes

Beyond the slopes

For centuries, Japan has fascinated the world. It is a country totally removed from the West – mysterious, alluring, alien, distant, enigmatic. So, for us a ski holiday to Japan is as much about Japan itself as it is the game-changing powder snow. We are veterans when organising tailor-made tours in Japan, we know the stories you come home with will involve zen monasteries, neon jungles, nights in ryokans, cat cafés, bullet-trains, karaoke boxes and outdoor onsens.

Shinkuku, Tokyo - the centre of the world?
Shinkuku, Tokyo - the centre of the world?
Miyajima - stay in a traditional ryokan on this island off the coast of Hiroshima City
Miyajima - stay in a traditional ryokan on this island off the coast of Hiroshima City
Takayama - 'mini Kyoto' up in the Japanese Alps
Takayama - 'mini Kyoto' up in the Japanese Alps
Geisha - the streets of Kyoto
Geisha - the streets of Kyoto
Hakone - under the shadow of Fuji-san, a retreat from Tokyo
Hakone - under the shadow of Fuji-san, a retreat from Tokyo
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo
Red-crowned cranes dancing on Hokkaido Island
Red-crowned cranes dancing on Hokkaido Island
The backstreets of Kyoto
The backstreets of Kyoto

Exploring Japan

See and experience Japan beyond the ski mountains. Every holiday we create is tailor-made and we've travelled the length and breadth of Japan - from the northernmost tip of Hokkaido Island to the tropical Okinawa Islands in the Pacific - so let us plan your holiday together. We've been there, we've stayed in the ryokans and hotels, eaten in the restaurants, travelled on the bullet-trains. This is the experience that we channel into planning every trip.

Tokyo - the whirling, technicolour capital

It’s a blaze; a melange of people, sub-cultures and districts colliding to form one of the most dizzying cities on the planet; a good time city where food is a religion, business is big, and shopping is serious. Yet for all its complexity, it all seems to run spookily smoothly – the term ordered chaos must surely have evolved in Tokyo. From the zippy suits of Shinjuku to the ancient air of Asakusa and the hipster hangouts in Harajuku, this is a place with many faces.

Like most great capitals, Tokyo is any number of contradictions. If you’re flying all this way we’d highly recommend stopping by to breathe it all in. We guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it before.

Kyoto - temples, geisha, zen gardens & ancient streets

Don’t be fooled by the concrete-chic railway station; Kyoto is the city that best conjures the Japan of the imagination: magnificent Vermillion temples and perfectly pruned gardens, with the country's refined cultural arts still firmly rooted here - tea ceremony, Kabuki theatre, Zen, and Tantric Buddhism., Yes, there are modern malls and tacky souvenirs, but wander a while and you’ll soon stumble upon street corner shrines or kimono-clad locals haggling at markets.

Thanks to its cultural credentials, it sometimes swarms with an almost intolerable number of visitors, especially during the spring blossoms and autumn turn. However, we actively prefer to visit in the winter, when the city is quieter – and at its most authentic and you might just get to see the glittery golden pavilion of kinkaku-ji rising from a sea of snow.

Hakone - under the perpetual shadow of Mt Fuji

Hakone is a wonderful region in which to relax, explore and experience the 'real' Japan - all within easy striking distance from Tokyo. Indeed, it is possible as a day trip form the capital, but far better to stay overnight and enjoy the hospitality of a traditional inn, known as a ryokan.

Hakone is the gateway to Mount Fuji and the delights of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, where you'll find an eclectic mix of different attractions. Whether you wish to ride scenic railways, cable-cars and funicular railways, or admire views of Mt. Fuji, eat eggs boiled in sulphurous springs, visit world class art museums, or simply relax in the onsen waters, Hakone has it all.

Takayama - old-world charm in the Japanese Alps

Often compared to Kyoto because of its many shrines, Takayama is in fact only a fraction of the size, but it really packs a punch; it’s a great place to slow down for a few days and absorb the old-world charm, without the hassle of a big city.

Historically, the town flourished with creativity, sheltering Japan’s most skilled carpenters and artisans. Today you can still see evidence of their work in the charming houses along the banks of the Miyagawa River, and the warren of streets in the Sanmachi district remains alive with shops, museums and galleries.

Kanazawa - a cultural treasure & a trendsetting city

A fine cultural city, Kanazawa is seldom included on the standard tourist trail around Japan. But with the recent arrival of a line of shinkansen (bullet train), travel to Kanazawa has never been so easy and those who make the effort are handsomely rewarded. This medium-sized town, nestled between the Sea of Japan and the Japan Alps has much to offer travelers: exceptional historic sites, museums renowned arts, traditional cuisine and refined craftsmanship … an extraordinary union of unblemished Old Japan and a modern, trendsetting city.

More than 300 years of history have been preserved in the earthen walls and flowing canals of Naga-machi, the former samurai quarter west of downtown; the cluster of Buddhist temples in Tera-machi on the southern bank of the Sai-gawa River; and the wooden facades of the former geisha district, located north of the Asano-gawa River.

Modern art, fashion, music, and international dining thrive in the downtown core of Korinbo, and in the shopping districts of Tate-machi and Kata-machi. The Japan Sea provides great seafood and, in the winter, the harsh weather is offset by friendly people and only adds to the romantic air of the city.

Hiroshima - a city that requires little introduction

On August 6th 1945, at 8:15am, an atomic bomb attack effectively ended WWII in an instant. Today, millions of visitors flock to Hiroshima every year to reflect, pay their respects and, perhaps, try make sense of the tragedy. The moving Peace Memorial Park now sits at northern point of the triangle formed by two of Hiroshima's rivers, and monuments to that day abound in the park, but only one original site bears witness to that enormous release of atomic energy 70 years ago: the A-Bomb Dome. To visit is poignant, informative...and essential.

But look beyond and you'll find a city with a cosmopolitan disposition. The downtown area has wide and colourful streets, frantic shopping districts, and plenty of places to eat, drink and otherwise make merry. You soon learn - there is much more to Hiroshima than its sombre history.

The small wooded island of Miya-jiima is close by. Located in the Inland Sea, this island has the the incredibly photogenic Floating Torii Gate which has been sacred to the Japanese since the inception of the first shrine on the island over fifteen hundred years ago.

Sapporo - a cosmopolitan, festive & open-hearted city

As the capital of Hokkaido island, Sapporo is the entry and / or exit point for many ski resorts, including Niseko. It is renowned for its Snow Festival (which takes place mid-February), though it's actually well worth a day or two of your time whenever you choose to visit northernmost Japan. Dining-out here is a joy and relatively cheap, and there is also great shopping, raucous nightlife and a few interesting museums. Its snow covered wide tree-lined streets are a pleasure to wander, and there are a number of parks and gardens ideal for Japanese-people-watching, a favourite pastime of ours.

If you are here for the Snow Festival - which features amazing ice sculptures and a party atmosphere spilling out on to the streets - then we need to book well in advance. Visitors from all over the globe descend on Sapporo for this week, quite right so - it's fantastic!

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What our customers say

4.5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

Would recommend Different Snow to everyone

Different Snow organised a tailor made holiday for my wife and I, visiting the snow monkeys, a ride on the bullet train, a short stay in Tokyo and 10 days skiing in Hakuba / Arai, both amazing resorts and plenty of snow. Excellent hotels, all transfers etc and even arranged last minute changes to our itinerary at our request that were dealt with happily and efficiently, nothing was too much trouble for them.

Trevor  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

Different Snow - Different Class!

Late last summer we decided on a family ski trip to Japan. It was late notice really but we thought it worth a try. Different Snow somehow managed to put together a great holiday. DS organised all transfers, and provided a brilliant itinerary. We would thoroughly recommend them.

Stuart  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

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