Winter in Japan: Open-air Onsen, Scenic Snowscapes, Skiing and More!


As we’ve written before on our blog (see links below), the Japanese take pride in the distinct charm of each of the four seasons.

The cherry blossoms of spring and the dazzling autumn leaves, the electrifying buzz of the cicadas in summer and the calm, sheer white snow of winter beckoning you to come play!

Autumn Leaves

The winter season is upon us now, so you may be asking yourself: what is there to do here in Japan? Well, let us give you just a few ideas!

In winter, you can enjoy snowy landscapes stretching over a wide range in Japan, from Hokkaido in the far north to the more central Northern Kanto where Shima Onsen and our Kashiwaya Ryokan are located. Although it depends on the conditions in each region, generally the snow season is from December until March.

The Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, the Igloo Festival in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture, and the snow-covered “snow monster” trees found on Mt. Zao in Yamagata Prefecture are just a few famous attractions of winter.

Now what’s winter without winter sports?

Japan boasts some of the best, most scenic skiing and snowboarding locations in the world.

Ski Resort(Naeba)

Ski Resort (Naeba)

From Hokkaido’s internationally renowned powder paradise at Niseko Ski Resort to the ski resorts opened in Nagano during the 1998 Winter Olympics, skiers and boarders alike have countless options when it comes to tearing up the slopes.
Even our Shima Onsen area is surrounded by excellent ski resorts among the beautiful mountain ranges.

If you’re looking to enjoy gorgeous winter scenery in Japan, your options are almost boundless.
But if you want to enjoy the full glory of winter at one of Japan’s best onsen (hot spring) areas only a short hop away from Tokyo, we recommend visiting Shima Onsen as well as the onsen in the surrounding Northern Kanto area.

At Shima Onsen, you can enjoy the snow and all it has to offer from mid-December to February.

Open-air Onsen Tsuki-No-Yu

Open-air Onsen Sakura-No-Yu

Imagine lounging in your cozy room and gazing out the window to see the snow falling, coating the town in glistening white.

Later, take a stroll through the town and enjoy a winter wonderland unlike anything you’ll see at home.

Actually, the biggest draw for visiting an onsen in the winter is bathing outdoors amid the snow.

Shima Onsen River Side

Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan

This is something that you can only experience in a few places around the world, most for only a short period of time.

At Shima too, winter slips away into spring, but while it’s here it offers breathtakingly beautiful views from the comfortably hot waters of the open-air onsen. The contrast of the hot water on your body and the cool air on your face as you gaze at the falling snow is something we highly recommend experiencing for yourself!
Ask any Japanese person, and they’ll undoubtedly say that open-air onsen in the winter is the best!

Here at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, we have three private open-air Onsen which are free for customers to use.

The waters of Shima onsen can’t be beaten by the cold winter, so how about enjoying it for yourself?

open-air Onsen

And while winter offers such beauty, it can also make travel difficult. Luckily, Shima Onsen is accessible by bus from Tokyo, so there’s no need to worry about driving on the winter mountain roads yourself. Not only does relaxation await you at Shima Onsen, but the journey is hassle free!

We welcome you to visit us during the beauty of winter and enjoy onsen, Japanese-style accommodations, and traditional Japanese dishes for a very unique Japanese cultural experience.

Oku Shima Lake

*Please note that snowfall varies year to year. Some years we may not experience much snowfall.

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan >