Where to find snow near Tokyo

Rare snow in Tokyo's Inokashira Park

In the typical year, Tokyo gets only one or two days of light snowfall, and the snow rarely remains on the ground for more than a few days, if it collects at all. Yet the city is located reasonably close to several of Japan's popular snow destinations, many of which are easy enough to access in a daytrip. The best time to visit these snowy destinations is in January and February when the snow is at its deepest.

The following are some of the best places to see snow near Tokyo (see also our nationwide list):

Niigata Prefecture
Yuzawa
75-90 minutes, 6500 yen one way by Joetsu Shinkansen
Reached in under 90 minutes by Joetsu Shinkansen, Yuzawa is one of the most convenient destinations with guaranteed snow for a daytrip from Tokyo. The town offers good snow, hot springs and over twenty ski resorts, one of which is even connected directly to the Gala Yuzawa shinkansen station. Many resorts also have snow parks for non-skiers to experience snow.

Tochigi Prefecture
Okunikko
About 3 hours, 2500-5000 yen one way by train and bus
Nikko is a good place to experience a mixture of snow and culture. While in a typical year the shrines and temples around the town center do not get much snow, the Okunikko region located higher up in the mountains around Lake Chuzenji usually offers snowy landscapes and frozen waterfalls; although snow is not always guaranteed during warmer winters.

Gunma Prefecture
Kusatsu Onsen
About 3 hours, 6000 yen one way by train and bus
Kusatsu Onsen is blessed with large volumes of quality hot spring water and is consistently ranked the top onsen destination in Japan. In addition, the hot spring town is usually covered in snow in the winter and makes for a nice overnight visit from Tokyo, especially when combined with a stay at one of the local ryokan.

Gunma Prefecture
Manza Onsen
About 3 hours, 7000 yen one way by train and bus
Manza Onsen is a hot spring resort town located 1800 meters above sea level, high up on the slopes of Mount Shirane on the opposite side of Kusatsu Onsen. The mountain provides Manza with the country's most sulfuric waters, and large amounts of snowfall in the winter make the town one of the best places near Tokyo to enjoy an outdoor bath in the snow.

Gunma Prefecture
Minakami Onsen
About 2 hours, 3000 yen one way by local train
Minakami is a popular hot spring location within day trip distance from Tokyo. One of the best hot springs in Minakami is Takaragawa Onsen, which offers some of the largest and most famous outdoor baths in the country. Takaragawa Onsen is one of the closest mixed bathing hot springs from Tokyo, and its beautiful mixed gender baths lie along a river and take on a different character through the changing seasons. A women-only outdoor bath is also available.

Nagano Prefecture
Karuizawa
65-80 minutes, 5500 yen one way by Hokuriku Shinkansen
Karuizawa is an upscale mountain getaway for wealthy Tokyoites. As such, the town offers excellent shopping, including one of the country's largest outlet malls. In addition, there is the Karuizawa Prince Ski Resort, one of the earliest resorts to open each year in Japan, albeit with man-made snow in the early stages of the season.

Chubu Region
Mount Fuji
About 2 hours, 2000 yen one way by train or bus
Mount Fuji is covered by snow for more than half the year, but the snow is not always easily accessible. The Fuji Five Lake region at the mountain's northern base usually sees snow during winter, but it is not guaranteed. More snow falls at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station halfway up to mountain, but the very snow is responsible for the road there to be partially or fully closed during much of the season. Alternatively, there are two ski resorts on the mountain, Fujiten and Yeti, that use man-made snow if natural one is unavailable.

Snow in Spring

Toyama Prefecture
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
About 3.5 hours, 10,000 yen one way by train
With unbelievable amounts of snow, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route spans part of Toyama and Nagano prefectures. The route is closed in winter, but during spring you can traverse a corridor with up to 20 meter high walls of packed snow. The snow lasts into early summer, but the best time to traverse the corridor is in late April.

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Japan Guide Recommends:

Backpackers Hostel K's House Tokyo

One of the most popular hostels in Tokyo.

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Hostelworld

Hotel Century Southern Tower

The most conveniently located hotel in Shinjuku, just a few steps from the station entrance.

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Japanican

Hotel Metropolitan Marunouchi

Adjacent to Tokyo Station, this is one of the city's most convenient and comfortable hotels.

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Agoda Booking

Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku

Just a few steps from Shinjuku Station, this hotel ranks among Tokyo's best values.

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Keio Plaza Hotel

One of Tokyo's most popular hotels and best values, a 5-10 minute walk from the station.

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Ritz Carlton Tokyo Hotel

Leading 5-star hotel on the top floors of Tokyo Midtown.

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Shangri-La Hotel

Adjacent to Tokyo Station, this is the city's most conveniently located 5-star hotel.

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Page last updated: November 23, 2014