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Zao Onsen - Tokyo - Hakone - Kyoto
10 days

This is one for those who want to really explore Japan. If the Australian-dominated larger ski resorts are not for you, and authenticity is what you seek then Zao Onsen is the resort for you. And we're presuming that in making that choice, you would also want to see something of this magnificent country?

With only four days skiing, it would be easy to adapt this itinerary to include more days on the slopes either in Zao Onsen or another nearby ski resort. Indeed, heading north - deeper in to the Tohoku region - offers some amazing off-the-beaten-track possibilities, with the wonderful ski resorts of Appi Kogen, Alts Bandai and Geto Onsen within striking distance. The jewel in the crown for anyone heading deeper in to the north of Honshu Island would be Hakkoda mountain - a thrilling, deep powder experience with one single ropeway to the summit and not a piste-basher in sight.

Content & Map

day-by-day itinerary

Day 1
Depart from the UK, flying directly to Japan on British Airways.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo Narita (or Haneda) and then make your way in to the city. After you've check in to your hotel, spend the day relaxing after your international journey.
Days 3 & 4
Two full days at leisure in Tokyo, exploring at your own pace.
Day 5
Catch the bullet train north to Yamagata City (direct) and then we'll either have a private transfer or you can use the convenient public bus to climb out of the valley to Zao Onsen village. Settle in to your Japanese-style accommodation.
Days 6-9
Four full days skiing (or snowboarding) in Zao Onsen. Get in amongst those snow monsters by day, and relax in the onsens in the evening, after a bellyful of fine Japanese cuisine.
Day 10
Head back down to Yamagata City, from which the bullet-trains takes you to Odawara Station (via Tokyo). This is the springboard to the Hakone region, under the shadow of Mount Fuji. Check in to your traditional Japanese ryokan.
Day 11
A full day in Hakone - you explore using lake boats, funicular railways, cable cars and trains lines requiring switchbacks. Visit the wonderful open-air sculpture park.
Day 12
Head back to Odawara Station and catch the bullet-train direct to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital.
Days 13 - 15
Three full days to explore Kyoto and the surrounding area. Perhaps head to Nara for one day or, better still in our opinion, spend a day down by the river and in the bamboo groves of Arashiyama.
Day 16
Shared taxi transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport and fly directly home to the UK on British Airways, arriving home the same day.

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.

More time skiing? Four days on the slopes not enough? Fine...we can either build in more time in Zao Onsen or, alternatively, also include time in a second ski resort. Does Nozawa Onsen or Myoko Kogen appeal?

Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto ticks off the main sightseeing spots. However, for a deeper delve in to Japan, then perhaps you could also include (or replace) these with Takayama, Kanazawa or somewhere else a little more off-the-beaten-track. And for a stay in a rural and remote ryokan, then we have many options up our sleeve other than the (touristy) Hakone region.

Don't have the full two weeks, then straight to Zao Onsen for four or five days skiing and then back to Tokyo for a couple of nights. Boom. Done. A great one-week / 10 day ski holiday, ticking all the boxes.


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 two-week itinerary would be circa £2,400 to £2,800 per person, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes in Zao Onsen, Japan rail pass, 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. Zao Onsen and the Hakone region have some very fine (and expensive) ryokans and Tokyo and Kyoto...well, you know!

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 would then be protected under our ATOL licence.

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.

What our customers say

5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

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

They put together a well thought out and carefully researched tailored three week trip. Different Snow’s guidance notes and travellers’ aid pack were comprehensive and really well thought out. Their recommendations for hotels, sightseeing, entertainment and dining were spot on.

David  ·  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)

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

We post out your comprehensive travel pack, which also includes all our local contacts and our invaluable ‘How To…’ guides.