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Japan Alps Explorer

Tokyo - Nozawa Onsen - Hakuba Valley - Kyoto
16 days

Staying on Honshu Island, this itinerary features two contrasting ski resorts; one somewhat Western in feel, though huge in scope, and the other a more traditional Japanese ski / hot spring village on a more compact, though enthralling, ski terrain. The end result - you will want for nothing both on and off the mountain...and you also get to tick off both of Japan's two major destinations; one your entry point, the other your exit point.

The best that Honshu Island has to offer in the winter, this itinerary features both Nozawa Onsen and the Hakuba Valley in the Japanese Alps. It all begins with the excitement of Tokyo and ends up in Kyoto – Japan’s cultural heart.

Staying on the main island – Honshu – experiences that can be ticked off the list include riding the shinkansen (bullet-train), visiting the snow monkeys, relaxing in onsen waters and staying in a traditional Japanese inn - a ryokan. And there's no compromising on the skiing - two contrasting ski resorts offer the variety, terrain and challenge.

Content & Map

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from the U.K., flying to either Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to your central hotel, which will invariably be either in Shinjuku or near the Imperial Palace in the east of the city. Dive in to the neon-madness of the capital.
Day 3
Spend the day exploring Tokyo. We have many excursions on offer, but you could also head out on your own – we have created sightseeing notes to help orientate you.
Day 4
Take the bullet-train to Iiyama Station and then make your way up to Nozawa Onsen, where you check in to your hotel or ryokan in this pretty hot spring village. In the afternoon, take an excursion to visit the nearby snow monkeys.
Day 5-7
Three days' skiing or snowboarding on the Nozawa mountain – ride by day, relax in the hot springs by night.
Day 8
Coach transfer from Nozawa Onsen to Hakuba. After settling in to your accommodation you have time to enjoy the afternoon / night skiing on Happo mountain, close to your accommodation.
Days 9-12
Four full days of skiing the Hakuba valley – our suggestion would be one day Happo One (cruising), one day Cortina (powder & trees), one day Goryu / Hakuba 47 (snow parks) and final day at Iwatake (the views!).
Day 13
Catch the train to Matsumoto - visit the famous castle - and then take the scenic line down to Nagoya. From here it is the bullet-train that whisks you in to Kyoto. Check in to your traditional ryokan in the centre of town.
Days 14 & 15
Two full days sight-seeing in Kyoto. There are many excursions we can offer … but exploring the many temples and shrines under your own steam is also perfectly possible.
Day 16
Fly home to from Osaka Kansai Airport, which is not far from Kyoto.

How much would this holiday cost?

Obviously, cost depends on which accommodation you choose, how many excursions and activities you want to book, whether you wish to include ski hire and local backcountry guides, etc. An indicative lead-in price for this 16-day itinerary would be circa £2,600 per person, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes, rail tickets, snow monkey excursion and economy class flights from the U.K.

If you were to move the dates to January (but still avoiding Christmas & New Year / Chinese New Year), this would then rise by approximately a couple of hundred pounds per person. And, of course, if you wanting the finest, most luxurious accommodation then....the sky's the limit really! Solo travellers should also be aware that costs increase, as you carry the burden of the accommodation cost alone.

We don't have to include international flights. However, by keeping it all within one package, your arrangements are protected by ATOL.

Different Snow strive to offer the most competitive prices in all instances. However, we pride ourselves first and foremost on quality - we are an independent specialist tour operator and, therefore, are not beholden to any supplier. We make our decisions based only on who's best in each and every instance.

Suggestions & Variations

With no set departures or fixed dates this itinerary can be extended, or even curtailed, to suit your available dates or match your budget.

You could reverse the trip, beginning the trip immersed in the culture of Kyoto and ending with the bright lights of Tokyo before flying home. Similarly, there is no reason you need to ski in Nozawa Onsen first and then head to the Hakuba Valley second - the itinerary works well either way around. The principal difference between these two options is the ski resort to Kyoto journey - if travelling from the Hakuba Valley, then you get to visit the amazing castle at Matsumoto en route, whereas if you reverse it and travel from Nozawa Onsen then the amazing city of Kanazawa is on your way. Either way, you should break the journey, and in Kanazawa's instance perhaps for a night or two?

Want to see more of Japan? We can easily add time in the Hakone region near Mount Fuji, or extend your stay at the end to head down to Kurashiki and Hiroshima. Alternatively, Takayama is easily accessible from Hakuba and certainly worth several days of your time.

If you don't quite have a full 16-days, then it is possible to include all the same locations but simply make better use of time. Late trains from the ski resorts give you a full days skiing, yet you can be in Tokyo or Kyoto that same evening. Private transfers between Nozawa Onsen and the Hakuba Valley allow for full days on the slopes and transfers in the evenings. And you can, of course, just spend the one full day in Kyoto and pack your sightseeing in with a local guide?

What our customers say

5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

I can’t rate Different Snow highly enough...

Different Snow put together a well thought out and carefully researched tailored three week trip. Their recommendations for ski resorts, hotels, sightseeing, entertainment and dining were spot on.

David  ·  United Kingdom

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  ·  United States

Please visit our Trustpilot page to read the full reviews.

Begin your journey
How to book

It's pretty straight forward. You simply need to take the first step by getting in contact with us...


Give us a call, or fill in the enquiry form, or send us an email. We’ll listen, give advice and make suggestions.


We create a tailor-made itinerary proposal and email this to you. Together, we then refine it until it is just as you want.


A 20% deposit secures the booking. The balance payment is not due until 10 weeks before departure.

Travel Pack

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