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Japan Snow Guide: News & Notes

Make the most of your winter in Japan! Enjoy unique winter tours, dine on seasonal cuisine and visit these new attractions at our favorite ski resorts around Japan.

Exciting things are coming to Hanazono Niseko this season, starting with the Hanazono EDGE, the new ski center. This center includes a restaurant, café and bar. A kids’ climbing wall and fun obstacles will keep children occupied at the Galaxy of Kidz Activity Center. The Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono is a ski-in, ski-out luxury accommodation opening this January.

Warm up with seasonal Hokkaido hot pot dishes like the traditional ishikari nabe, Hokkaido beef shabu shabu and king crab seafood hot pot at ANA Crowne Plaza Sapporo’s in-house dining. Courses start at ¥5,000 per person.

Take in the views from the 1,088-meter Terrace of Frost Trees at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu while sipping coffee or cocktails. The trees are lit up at night and you can enjoy the scenery from the Cloud Bar, an unusual viewing spot that looks like a bar sitting three meters above the ground at the terrace. 

The city of Tokyo shines brightest at the end of the year. The illuminated streets make for great cycling and colors and designs vary from area to area of the sparkling metropolis. Training around gets you to only a few places at a time; however dress warm and jump on a bike to hit 10 spots or more while exploring the city. Cycling Holiday Tokyo, produced by Takashi Niwa, offers bike tours in Tokyo for foreign visitors and residents. English guided tours on electric bikes are offered daily. Tokyo Illumination Rides are running through the end of the year.

Live it up at 14,000 meters with great views of the Hakuba Valley at the Hakuba Mountain Beach Resort at Hakuba Happo One. Relax in the open-air jacuzzi or sauna and dine on locally sourced cuisine. You can also enjoy Hakuba S Class, the resort’s VIP service which provides access to special lounges on the mountain, priority access to the gondola and designated lifts and pick-up services from your hotel. 

Get First Tracks at Yakebitaiyama in Shiga Kogen. Each weekend from Dec. 28 – Mar. 29 as well as from Dec. 30 – Jan. 3, Jan. 13 and Mar. 20. First Tracks are from 7:50 – 8:30 a.m. and tickets are ¥1,500 per person including one drink. On New Year’s Day, wake up a little earlier for the 6:45 a.m. first tracks lift and watch the sunrise from 2,009 meters high. Or take a break from Shiga Kogen’s slopes and enjoy Yakebitaiyama’s Snowshoe and Snowmobile Tours. A relaxing two-hour guided snowshoe tour is a good workout for beginners, while single and tandem snowmobile tours offer a bit more excitement. 

Get more for less with Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Super Value Tickets. These vouchers can be purchased until Feb. 29 and exchanged for one-day lift passes at 21 ski resorts around the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Region in Nagano and Niigata from Dec. 14-Mar. 31. Each booklet (¥23,000) comes with five tickets and can be purchased online or at the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Activity Center at Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku shinkansen line. Depending on the resort, you can exchange them for resort packages including lift passes, rentals, meals, access to hot springs and souvenirs. 

Naeba Ski Resort’s Fireworks Festival will once again be taking place nearly every weekend of the season as the mountains form a backdrop and fireworks light up the sky—and the slopes—Dec. 21, 28, 31, Jan. 1-4, 11-12, 18, 25, Feb. 1, 8, 10, 15, 21-22, 27, 29, Mar. 7, 14, 20-21, 28. 

Yuzawa area ski resorts are lit up nearly every weekend throughout February and March during the Yuzawa Fireworks Festival starting Dec. 31 at Yuzawa Park Ski Resort, NASPA Ski Garden and Kandatsu Snow Resort. Jan. 1: Yuzawa Nakazato Resort, Feb. 1: Iwappara, Feb. 8: Gala Yuzawa, Feb. 21, 27: Naeba Feb. 22: Kagura-Mitsumata, Feb. 29: Nakazato Snow Wood, Mar. 6: Yuzawa Kogen, Mar. 14: Kagura-Tashiro, Mar. 21: Ipponsugi Ski. 

Spend a romantic evening at the Gala Yuzawa Fireworks Festival on Dec. 21 and 31, Jan. 1, 11 and 25 and Feb. 8, 24 at Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort

Fly over the Kusatsu Kokusai Resort with Kusatsu Zipline Adventures. Their latest attraction is a 500-meter zipline.

Guests at Joetsu Kokusai or Iwappara Resort can enjoy the Snow Mobile and Igloo Experience. Stay cozy in the kamakura built near the Kids’ Parks or ride a snowmobile around the park. 

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