This six-day winter escape takes place in the stunning Japanese Alps, located on Honshu island. Kick off the tour in the city of Matsumoto and then head toward small alpine villages and their onsen ryokans—traditional inns with private hot springs—where you can relax after snowshoeing and sightseeing. Finish the adventure with a cooking class where you'll prepare (and eat) regional cuisine with a local chef.


  • Visit one of Japan's best historic castles dating back to the 16th century
  • Snowshoe with a local guide through alpine forests in the Norikura Highlands
  • Ride a scenic cable car to view Japan's third-highest mountain
  • Explore a town known for master woodworkers and sake breweries 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Matsumoto, Explore Matsumoto
Day 2 Transfer to Nagano, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan Nagano
Day 3 Snowshoe Tour in the Norikura Highlands Nagano
Day 4 Transfer to the Oku-Hida Mountains, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan Oku-Hida
Day 5 Cable Car Ride to Mount Okuhotaka, Transfer to Hida-Furukawa Hida-Furukawa
Day 6 Cooking Class, Transfer to Tokyo or Nagoya, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Matsumoto, Explore

Take a self-guided tour of the historic Matsumoto Castle

Welcome to Japan! Upon arrival in Tokyo or Nagoya, you'll take a train to the city of Matsumoto and enjoy the scenic views along the way. Nestled between mountains in the heart of Japan, Matsumoto serves as a gateway to the Japanese Alps and is home to one of the country's best-preserved and most evocative castles.

If arriving earlier in the day, take the opportunity to explore the city at your own pace. You can easily spend a few hours touring Matsumoto Castle, as well as the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, which houses the world's largest collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Then meander some of the back alleys and outlying areas of the town where much of its heritage from the past can still be seen today. Tonight you'll stay at a traditional onsen ryokan, where you can soak in a private hot spring to help combat your jet lag.

Day 2: Transfer to Nagano, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan

Traditional Hot Spring Bath in Japan
Soak in a traditional hot spring bath after a day of travel

Wake up this morning and savor a leisurely breakfast before starting your journey to the northern Japanese Alps. Traveling by train and bus allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the picturesque winter landscapes along the way.

Tonight you'll stay in a peaceful remote mountain village near the city of Nagano surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks. This is the perfect setting to enjoy the natural beauty of Japan's alpine region. Your accommodation is another traditional onsen ryokan inn, which offers lovely indoor and outdoor thermal baths for guests. The waters in this part of Japan have long been revered for their therapeutic healing qualities.

Plan your trip to Japan
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 3: Snowshoe Tour in the Norikura Highlands

Snowshoeing in Alpine Forests
Follow a local guide on snowshoes through Japan's alpine forests

Fuel up at breakfast this morning before you set off to explore Japan's pristine winter landscape with a full-day guided snowshoe tour. The gentle, scenic walk takes you through snow-covered forests before turning to views of impressive frozen waterfalls and lakes, as well as grand vistas of the surrounding Japanese Alps.

You and your guide will snowshoe for roughly 4 miles (6.5 km) and make an elevation gain of about 321 feet (98 m). No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary, and the tour includes transportation to and from your inn, as well as snowshoes, walking poles, and lunch. After your snowshoeing adventure, return to your accommodation and relax in the hot springs before dinner.

Day 4: Transfer to the Oku-Hida Mountains, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan

Stay overnight in Japan's peaceful alpine villages

It's time to discover another alpine village today. You'll travel by local bus farther into the Oku-Hida mountains with views of the surrounding northern Japanese Alps. The region offers a handful of local onsen towns, which feature several different outdoor thermal bathing opportunities as well as an onsen museum.

From here, continue onwards to yet another quiet, secluded onsen ryokan where you'll stay the night. The traditional atmosphere and therapeutic hot springs make this the perfect place to relax deep in the Oku-Hida region.

Day 5: Cable Car Ride to Mount Okuhotaka, Transfer to Hida-Furukawa

Take a spin on this cable car for views of Mount Okuhotaka

This morning, you'll travel by bus to the Hotaka Mountain Range and ride a cable car over 3,281 feet (1,000 m) to a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding northern Alps. Here you can view Japan's third-highest peak, Mount Okuhotaka. During times of heavy snow, visitors can experience walking along a "snow corridor," which is a narrow pathway between soaring snow walls that creates a winter wonderland setting.

From here, pass through the city of Takayama on your way to the peaceful castle town of Hida-Furukawa, surrounded by dramatic mountains. Explore this picturesque town, known for its master woodworkers and carpenters who still use local goods and traditional techniques without nails. You can also discover one of the local sake breweries or walk alongside the atmospheric Setogawa Canal. After a day of exploring, settle into your onsen ryokan in Hida-Furukawa.

Day 6: Cooking Class, Transfer to Tokyo or Nagoya, Depart

Learn the basics of Japanese cooking before you depart Hida-Furukawa

It's time to say goodbye to the Japanese Alps! But first, spend a morning discovering the secrets of Japanese cuisine with a culinary experience at the home of a local resident in Hida-Furukawa. Learn how to prepare unique regional dishes and enjoy tasting them!

Afterward, you can spend a bit more time exploring Hida-Furukawa or take an early train to Takayama, where your tour ends. This is where there are several options for bus or train services back to Tokyo or Nagoya. Safe travels! 

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Map of Discover Winter in the Japanese Alps - 6 Days
Map of Discover Winter in the Japanese Alps - 6 Days