Experience Nikko in Winter

Nikko's mountains, lakes, temples, and hot springs are even more beautiful when blanketed in snow. The freezing winter temperatures present opportunities for season-specific scenery and activities. Nikko's snow-covered landscape is within easy reach from Tokyo, adding ease to your winter travels..

Be inspired by our Re: Nikko Winter video and read on for more details about experiencing Nikko in winter.

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Relax among snowy scenery

Bathing in a mineral-rich onsen is a highlight of a trip to Japan in any season, and relaxing in an outdoor bath surrounded by snow-covered nature is a particularly therapeutic experience. Stay in one of the four inns in the secluded Okukinu Onsen area to take a dip among the falling snow. Some facilities offer mixed bathing; just wrap yourself in a towel and sink into the water. Lake Chuzenji is particularly striking in the winter season, too. The surrounding hills are blanketed in snow, and trees on the lakeshore are bejeweled with encrusted ice when lake water splashes onto trees and piers, then freezes in place. Add a dose of mental calmness to the tranquil views of Chuzenji by engaging in a Buddhist experience at the lakeshore temple. You can try copying out Buddhist sutras, tracing the characters with a traditional brush. The experience is suitable for visitors with no Japanese writing ability. During the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Snow House Festival, the banks of the Sawaguchi River are covered with hundreds of miniature kamakura snow huts, each one illuminated by candlelight. The flickering glow adds magic and romance to a clear, crisp winter evening.

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Seasonal food and drink

Sake is central to Nikko's food culture, and the chilly winter season is peak sake-brewing time. During January and February, Katayama Shuzo, shown in the Re: Nikko Winter video, presses the main mash using the traditional "sase" method. Watanabe Sahei Shoten, another brewery in Nikko, offers tours during winter, in which visitors can observe the production process. Tours are available in English and reservations are required. Meals cooked in a traditional open hearth, an "irori," are another seasonal treat. Sit around the hearth to warm up while enjoying local vegetables and river fish grilled over an open flame. This cusine and cooking style has been a staple in the area for nearly a thousand years, originating from Heike warriors and peasants who fled to the Yunishigawa Onsen area after their defeat in the Genpei War (1180-1185).

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Thrilling ice climbing

Winter in Nikko isn't only about relaxation; there's room for excitement too. Get your thrills with ice climbing at Kirifuri Kakure-Santaki Falls, a 10-meter high waterfall nestled in Kirifuri Highlands. The waterfall, frozen into a solid column of ice and surrounded by snow-covered cliffs, makes for some stunning winter scenery. There are tours available for beginners and intermediates. The experienced, enthusiastic instructors make ice climbing enjoyable, even for first-timers. Equipment rental is included, and tours usually run between mid-January and mid-March. Tours last around six hours.

Areas of Nikko