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6 Winter Sports To Enjoy In Japan In 2019-2020

6 Winter Sports To Enjoy In Japan In 2019-2020

Nagano 2019.10.11 Bookmark

Winter in Japan is a great time to enjoy various winter sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, and other activities outdoors. Read on to learn about the best locations for each activity, from ski resorts in Niigata to ice skating in Tokyo, and when to enjoy them.

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by MATCHA

Winter Sports and Activities in Japan

Some areas in Japan such as Hokkaido and Niigata Prefecture are famous for their stunning snow and winter sports, attracting many travelers annually between December and February. However, the amount of snowfall and season differs by area, and visitors may not be able to participate in an event that they desire during their visit.

This article introduces where and when to enjoy snowshoeing, ice floe walking, snowmobiling, skating, snowboarding, and skiing.

1. Snowshoeing

Photograph courtesy of Shinshu Sogo Kaihatsu Kanko

Snowshoeing is a trek on a fresh field of snow using special footwear designed for walking with ease on top of snow. A trip through the landscape mantled in snow offer sights completely different from our everyday lives.

Nagano: Kurumayama Kogen SKYPARK

Photograph Courtesy of Shinshu Sogo Kaihatsu Kanko

Visitors can try snowshoeing at Kurumayama Kogen SKYPARK, located at the top of Mt. Kirigamine in Nagano Prefecture. The mountain is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains.

Photograph courtesy of Shinshu Sogo Kaihatsu Kanko

With nothing to block the view of the North and South Alps peaks, participants will experience the vastness of the area.

Season: From early December, 2019 to late March, 2020

Kurumayama Kogen SKYPARK

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2. Ice Flow Walking - Ryhuhyo Walk®

Photograph courtesy of SHINRA

Hokkaido: SHINRA

Photograph courtesy of SHINRA

Ryuhyo walk®, a trek on an ice floe, is a popular activity in Shiretoko, Hokkaido. Come winter, the Sea of Okhotsk off of Hokkaido's northern coast receives ice floe. Participants in this special activity will experience the world of ice up close, and rare sights of marine animals such as sea angels.

Photograph courtesy of SHINRA

Participants wear an integrated type of drysuit that will cover their feet, so no special clothing is required. Even those who cannot swim need not worry, as the drysuit is buoyant. The tour guide will help you put it on.

Ryuhyo walk® is available only in winter, so if you have the chance, give it a try.

Season: February to March, 2020.
(Please check the official site for reservations.)

シンラ(SHINRA)

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3. Snowmobiling

Photograph courtesy of Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

A snowmobile is an open motor vehicle for moving across snow. No license is required as long as the vehicle is inside a certain area, making this an activity all travelers can enjoy. The driver can run around the mountain by using the accelerator and shifting his/her weight.

Gunma: Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

Photograph courtesy of Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

At Minakami Kogen Ski Resort in Gunma Prefecture, visitors can drive through the vast white field, or enjoy the scenery on a snow coach pulled via snowmobile.

Photograph courtesy of Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

Visitors can also try snow rafting (a raft pulled by a snowmobile). This is an exciting activity for all ages and is great for families as well.

Season: mid-December, 2019 to early April, 2020

Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

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4. Ice Skating

Ice skating is another popular major winter sport in Japan, along with skiing. The Olympics feature events such as figure skating with spins and jumps, and fast-paced speed skating. However, just gliding on the ice can be entertaining.

Tokyo: Sacas

Photograph courtesy of Sacas Promotion Office/Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.

White Sacas, one of the largest outdoor skate rinks in Tokyo, opens at Akasaka Sacas in 2019. The rink will be lit up in a fantastical style, so the visitors will be skating in a romantic atmosphere during the evenings.

Season: November 23, 2019 to early February, 2020

akasaka Sacas

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5. Snowboarding

Snowboarding is a popular activity all over the world and in Japan. Gliding down slopes effortlessly is challenging but fun. As there are many snowboarders in Japan, travelers can enjoy this activity at many ski slopes.

Niigata: GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort

Photograph courtesy of GALA Yuzawa Corporation

While snowboarding can be enjoyed at most ski resorts in Japan, one of the recommended spot is GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort, conveniently located next to a Shinkansen station. There are seventeen slopes in the resort, so all snowboaders, from beginners to seniors, can have fun.
Individual and group lessons in English are available, so use them to refine your skills. Be sure to make reservations, as the resort will be crowded on the weekends.

Season: December 14, 2019 to May 6, 2020

GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort

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6. Skiing

Skiing, a major winter sport, is also popular in Japan. With so many ski slopes, it may be hard choosing where to visit.

Gunma: Norn Minakami Ski Resort

Photograph courtesy of Gunma Snow Alliance Co., Ltd.

Our recommendation is the Norn Minakami Ski Resort in Gunma Prefecture, located an hour and a half away from Tokyo on the Joestsu Shinkansen. The slopes are steep, so it is fit for mid-level skiers.

Season: December 20, 2019 to April 5, 2020

Norn Ski Resort

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Winter sports can be enjoyed only at this time of the year, so don't miss the chance.

This is a revised 2019-20 version of the article originally published in December, 2017.

Main image by Pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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