questions & answers: itinerary check

winter in japan (17-26)

Winter in Japan (17-26)


I need help with my itinerary. I plan to travel back and forth to Tokyo since I will be staying at my friend’s house near Kawaguchi Station (Tohoku Main Line)
l will also be purchasing a JR Pass (Which i will use from Day 3)
It will be my first time to visit Japan, see snow and would like to visit the Ski resorts but and I am kind of hesitant to Ski. I might just visit for the View. Hope you could help me out. Thanks for the help.

Day 1 (Jan 17) – Tokyo Arrival (11AM Narita Airport)
*Go around Tokyo, Asakusa & Shibuya

Day 2 (Jan 18) – Mt. Fuji & Tokyo
800-1800 Book a Tour (Mt. Fuji Hakone Tour) Tokyo at night

Day 3 (Jan 19) – Niigata
Tokyo to Niigata -> Niigata to Tokyo (The only reason I chose to go to Niigata is for the scenic route, not sure if I should skip this one since I will not even Ski, I would just want to see the view)
Tokyo to Echigo Yuzawa (then ride the Hokuetsu Express for Scenic Route) Go to Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort *Tokyo at night

Day 4 (Jan 20) – Zao Onsen/ Visit the Snow Monsters
Not sure what else to do in Yamagata. I am also thinking going to Sendai instead since they say there is a bus going to Zao Onsen (haven't found the resources)
Tokyo to Yamagata -> Yamagata to Tokyo

Day 5 (Jan 21) – Nagano (Goal is to see the snow monkeys)
Tokyo to Nagano -> Nagano to Tokyo
Zenkouji Temple, Jigokudani Monkey Park, Shiga Kogen Ski Resort & Onsen

Day 6 (Jan 22) – Nyuto Onsen (Daytrip)
Tokyo to Tazawako -> Tazawako to Tokyo
Tokyo to Tazawako then Bus to Tsurunoyu Onsen (Walk to Onsen 45mins) (Not sure if this would be worth the travel but based on the reviews this is a good Onsen. Just wondering is the snow is too much when I go in January) I already checked and the Tsurunoyu Onsen is full. Checking the other onsens if I decide to stay.

Day 7 (Jan 23) – Travel to Kyoto
Day trip at Kyoto (Would just want to see how it would look in winter, I am aiming to see the golden pavillion covered in snow, and this would be my gateway to Nagoya)
*Kinkaku-ji Temple, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, Tenryu-ji Temple & Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Stay at Kyoto then Kyoto to Nagoya (Meet Tour at 950AM the next day)

Day 8 (Jan 24) – Book a Tour for Shirakawa Go (Lights)
I want to visit on this date since the place would be lighted up.
Overnight in Nagoya

Day 9 (Jan 25) – Matsumoto Castle
Nagoya to Matsumoto Castle, Back to Tokyo (Not sure if I should skip this)

Day 10 (Jan 26) – Departure Tokyo (11AM flight)


Hello there,

I see that you'll be on the move quite a bit! Lets have a look at your itinerary on a day by day basis.

Staring with day 3, The Hokuetsu is indeed a very beautiful ride and worth making if you enjoy riding the train and watching the outside scenery pass-by. Besides that, I would not really know what to do there besides winter spots during winter.
You could make a visit to Nikko, which would be a good alternative.

On day 4, you could head up to the Winter Wonderland in Yamagata. At the same time, Sendai could be a nice visit as well. I've always enjoyed visiting the city and the close by Matsushima is a nice visit too!

Nyuto onsen is a place which I've not yet visited and can't comment on directly. However it does look nice from online review. It's quite a trip to from Tokyo, be sure to plan ahead.

Day 7, a trip to Japan is not complete without visiting Kyoto :) Although one way is perhaps a little short, you will cover some of the most import places in the city. Consider adding a visit to Kyomizudera if you find some free time.

All in all, it looks like a very busy but nice trip

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

Hi Daniel-san,

Thank you for the tips  I have now adjusted my itinerary and I think this would be more relaxing.

Day 1 (Jan 17) – Tokyo Arrival (Asakusa)
Day 2 (Jan 18) – Mt. Fuji TOUR & Tokyo (Shibuya)
Day 3 (Jan 19) – Tsukuji Market, Kabukiza & Tokyo (Shinjuku)
Day 4 (Jan 20) – Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort, Hokuetsu Express, Tokyo
Day 5 (Jan 21) – Tokyo to Yamagata, Winterwonderland, Visit Sendai, Back to Tokyo
Day 6 (Jan 22) – Tokyo Nagano
Day 7 (Jan 23) – Tokyo to Kyoto (don't forget to go to Kyomizudera)
Day 8 (Jan 24) – Kyoto to Nagoya, TOUR for Shirakawa Go (Lights)
Day 9 (Jan 25) – Nagoya to Matsumoto Castle, Back to Tokyo
Day 10 (Jan 26) – Departure Tokyo (11AM flight)

My only question is about the Hokuetsu Express for the scenic Route. Which routes would you recommend? I plan to do this after a half day at Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort. Or do you think it is better to do it in the morning then Gala Yuzawa in the afternoon? (I will check the weather as well)

Thank you very much!


Hey Oman,

That looks like a good plan! Still busy but certainly a bit more relaxed that your initial plan. I would travel to Gala Yuzawa in the morning, you'll be more fresh and the weather in the morning is generally better.

For travel to Shirakawago, do you plan on using the Hide Wide View express between Nagoya - Takayama? This is also a very scenic route.

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

For the Shirakawago route. I will be joining a tour so they will pick me up at Nagoya. Maybe next time I visit I will go there without a tour.

Thank you Daniel-san. I will let you know how my trip goes!


Looking forward to reading your experiences :D

Expert button 2

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