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The Cultural Skier

Tokyo - Nozawa Onsen - Kanazawa - Takayama - Kyoto
16 days

This one is for those who want to experience the real Japan, in what we believe is the country's best season - winter. Notwithstanding the fact that anywhere just looks better with a sprinkling of white, the winter months also attract less crowds (the Kyoto experience is transformed as a consequence!) and the piercing clear blue skies make all the sights that little bit more photogenic.

After a few days to acclimatise in Tokyo,  first head out for a couple fo days on the slopes in Japan's prettiest and most authentic ski resort, Nozawa Onsen. the snow monkeys are also waiting for you. The cultural odyssey then steps up a level as you head to Kanazawa to visit its castle, famous garden, local markets and samurai districts. Next it is back in to the mountains, to Takayama - perhaps our favourite place in all Japan - looking its finest in the snow. Finally it is a scenic rail journey out of the hills, down to the bullet-train tracks and on to Kyoto - Japan's cultural heart.

Content & Map

Day-by-day Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from the UK, flying direct to Japan on British Airways.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo in the morning and then make your way to your central hotel in Tokyo. We would say relax after the international flights, but you'll likely to be too excited and head out for the day!
Day 3
Full day at leisure in Tokyo - explore at your own pace.
Day 4
Morning shinkansen (bullet train) to Nozawa Onsen and then head out in the afternoon on an excursion to see the snow monkeys bathing in a local onsen.
Days 5-7
Three full days skiing or snowboarding in Nozawa Onsen.
Day 8
Catch the bullet-train which takes you direct from Iiyama (near Nozawa Onsen) to Kanazawa City. Check in to your hotel close to the station and spend the afternoon ticking off the big two sights - Kenroku-en Garden and Kanazawa Castle.
Day 9
Having ticked off the main sight yesterday, then today is left free to get under the skin of this amazing place. Local markets, ancient streets, Samurai houses and Geisha districts await.
Day 10
Catch the train to Takayama (via Tomamu) and check in to your traditional ryokan. Spend the afternoon walking the streets of historic Takayama, following the trails in the temple district.
Day 11
Spend a second day in Takayama or, alternatively, take a day trip to Shirakawa-go, famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses in a super-snowy valley.
Day 12
Today you take the train out of the mountains and the scenic Hida line to Nagoya is a real highlight of the holiday. You then change back on to the bullet-train which whisks you to Kyoto in less than an hour. Check in to your centrally located accommodation.
Days 13 -15
Three full days in Kyoto - enough time to get to grips with the major sights and perhaps spend a day out of the city in Nara, Arashiyama or Hikone.
Day 16
Transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport and fly directly home to the U.K. on Britsh Airways, arriving home the same day.

How much would this holiday cost?

Obviously, cost depends on the 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 somewhere in the region of £2,500, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes in Nozawa Onsen, Japan rail pass, ski equipment hire, excursion to see the snow monkeys 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.

This suggested itinerary merely scratches the surface of what's possible in Japan. Just staying on Honshu Island, we could add time in Matsumoto, the Kiso Valley, Hiroshima and Miyajima, Osaka, Kurashiki and Himeji...etc. The possibilities are endless and we know Japan, from top to bottom, better than anyone. If you prefer getting away from other tourists to find an authentic and rural Japan, then we know where to head (the Izu peninsula or the villages of Gifu Prefecture?). If you love big cities, but don't want to explore the obvious - then Kobe or Fukuoka are amazing. Want top get out and do some walking / trekking? The Kumano Kodo and Nakasendo Highway await.

Then there is the skiing. This itinerary gives you only three days on the slopes, which for most is not nearly enough. More time in Nozawa Onsen, or perhaps add time in the Hakuba Valley or Myoko Kogen?

What our customers say

5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

I would highly recommend Different Snow

They put together a Christmas holiday for 7 of us at fairly short notice. The holiday was well organised, the suggestions were excellent and everything worked like a dream. We had a great holiday and were extremely grateful.

E.M.  ·  U.K.

Niseko in January

I gave Different Snow a tight brief and they provided what I asked for and also helpful timeous responses to emails. Anytime I had a need to talk to Nick he was engaging and added value to the discussion. I would have no hesitation to use them again.

Gordon  ·  Canada

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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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