From Secluded Hot Spring to Resorts and Cities: Memorable Snow and Hot Spring Trips in Tohoku!

Located in the northeastern part of Honshu (Japan's main island), the Tohoku region consists of six prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima. Rich in natural surroundings such as the Zao mountain range and Mt. Hakkoda, the Tohoku region is also blessed with natural hot springs. It is well known for its heavy snowfall and is home to more than 60 ski resorts, where many people visit for the finest powder snow in winter. We will introduce a variety of winter vacations where you can enjoy both snow and hot springs, from secluded hot springs to resorts and even cities.

Enjoy Mysterious Lakes and Secluded Hot Springs in Akita

To reach Akita, it takes about an hour to fly or about 4 hours to take the Shinkansen from Tokyo. Akita is famous for its rice, which is produced by a huge difference in temperature between day and night as well as using pure water from the Ou Mountains. If you travel to Akita, be sure to try “Akitakomachi”, Akita-produced rice, and “Kiritanpo” (a local hotpot made with mashed rice wrapped around skewers and grilled over an open hearth.)

Lake Tazawa
Lake Tazawa is the most popular tourist spot in Akita and is place not to be missed. It is the deepest lake in Japan and its cobalt blue water gives the place a magical atmosphere. From spring to autumn, you can enjoy a relaxing 40-minute boat trip around the lake on a sightseeing boat.

Tazawako Snow Resort
In winter, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding with views overlooking Lake Tazawa at Tazawako Snow Resort. In addition to skis and snowboards, sleds and striders can also be rented out at the ski resort. It is a great place for those who want to enjoy various winter activities.

Nyuto Onsen Resort
After enjoying snow activities to the fullest, we recommend that you take a hot spring bath in Nyuto Onsen resort, 20 minute by car from the ski resort. It is a secluded hot spring that hot spring lovers want to visit at least once, with seven hot springs that lie deep in the mountains, all unique with different springs. Enjoy these hot springs with "Yumeguri-cho" (the Nyuto Onsen map) that can only be purchased by guests staying here, or just relax in a bath - spend your time as you wish.

More information about Tazawako Snow Resort here

Enjoy Skiing in Zao and the Juhyo in Yamagata

Zao is located in the area around the Zao mountain range on the border of the two prefectures of Yamagata and Miyagi. It is known as one of the largest ski resorts in the Tohoku region. In winter, many domestic and international skiers visit the resorts to find the finest powder snow. Zao is famous for its Juhyo (frost-covered trees). Juhyo is a phenomenon in which a white layer of ice is formed when dense fog or clouds consisting of supercooled water droplets, which do not freeze even when the temperature is below 0°C, hit trees and freeze and stick to them. In Zao, you can see the large Juhyo of "snow monsters" and "ice monsters,". This impressive Juhyo field, which can only be seen in a certain area in the Tohoku region, is a must-see.

Zao Onsen Ski Resort
The best way to spend your stay in Zao, Yamagata is to enjoy skiing and playing in the snow at “Zao Onsen Ski Resort'' during the day, and to watch the fantastic "illuminated Juhyo" at night. After you enjoy winter activities, you can enjoy the flavors of Yamagata's cuisine such as imoni (a traditional soup made with taro, vegetables and meat), tamakonnyaku, and sukiyaki with Yamagata beef. The hot springs in Zao Onsen will make your bath time relaxing. To reach Zao in Yamagata, take the Yamagata Shinkansen to Yamagata Station from Tokyo (about 2.5 hours) or take a bus to the Zao area (about 40 minutes).

More information about Zao Onsen Ski Resort here

Ski Trips and Onsen Near Sendai

Sendai City, located in the center of Miyagi, can be reached from Tokyo in at least about 90 minutes by Shinkansen. If you prefer to fly, it takes about 17 minutes by train from Sendai airport to Sendai. You can enjoy local food such as Sendai gyutan (beef tongue) and zunda mochi (rice cakes made with edamame paste), sights including Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium, and skiing in winter. If you want to get close to the nature around Sendai, "Spring Valley Izumi Kogen" is the best place to visit. This mountain resort is only a 45-minute drive from Sendai. During the green season, you can experience zip line adventures and barbeque. In winter, Spring Valley Sendai Izumi Ski resort opens for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and other snow activities. As Spring Valley Izumi Kogen is next to the city, it is the perfect ski resort for those who want to enjoy both sightseeing and skiing, even if you have a short stay.

Akiu Onsen in Winter
A 40-minute drive away from Spring Valley Sendai Izumi Ski resort is Sakunami Onsen and Akiu Onsen, which are also known for their autumn leaves spots. After a day of skiing, you can have a relaxing bath time at the onsen inns. Sakunami Onsen is known as a "beauty bath" popular for its skin-friendly springs. On the other hand, Akiu Onsen has a long history of 1500 years and is one of the best hot springs in Japan. Both hot spring resorts offer attractive hot springs and are easily accessible from Sendai, so you may find it hard to choose. Have a relaxing onsen stay in the night and enjoy sightseeing in the city the next day.

More information about Spring Valley Sendai Izumi Ski resort here

Enjoy Nighttime Snow in the Hakkoda Mountains in Aomori

Oirase Keiryu
Aomori is located in the northernmost part of Honshu. On the border with Akita, Lake Towada can be found here surrounded by a beautiful virgin forest. Oirase Keiryu, a 14 kilometer-long walking path from Lake Towada, is a popular tourist spot and one of the most scenic spots in Aomori along with Lake Towada. It is also known as a famous spot to admire fresh nature in spring and the autumn leaves in autumn.

Hakkoda Mountains
If you want to enjoy nature in Aomori to the fullest, the Hakkoda Mountains are also worth visiting. The Hakkoda Mountains are the collective name for more than ten mountains, including Otake and Takada Otake, and are among the most famous mountains in Japan. Whenever you visit, you can feel the beautiful scenery of each season. Oirase Gorge Onsen Ski / Snowboard & Spa Resort (formerly Towadako Onsen Ski Resort) is recommended for those who want to visit in winter. At the ski resort, you can look out toward the splendid views of Mt. Hakkoda while skiing or snowboarding down exhilarating slopes. If you are new to skiing, there are ski schools available to get started. Once you have gained a little confidence, you also can try backcountry skiing in the Hakkoda mountains. The huge juhyo trees can be seen as well.

Child skiing
In the evening, you can enjoy the finest meals and relaxing hot springs in Oirase Keiryu hot spring resort's inns. If you want to play in the snow through the night, it is recommended to join the "Winter Oirase Icefall Night Tour". A professional guide will take you to five locations along the illuminated Oirase Stream. Enjoy the fantastic scenery in the crisp midwinter air for a great memory of Aomori.

More information about Oirase Gorge Onsen Ski / Snowboard & Spa Resort (Formerly Towadako Onsen Ski Resort) here

Head to Tohoku for the Ultimate Winter Experience

Couple snowboarding
The Tohoku region offers you a relaxing time at resorts and secluded hot springs as well as experiencing snow activities at ski resorts close to the city. Besides the above mentioned, there are other attractive ski resorts, sightseeing spots and delicious food found here. The Tohoku region experiences plenty of snowfall and is full of fun attractions and snow activities. Come and stay to explore the best winter stay that Tohoku has to offer.

【Note】Pricing information and schedule is correct at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. Please check the official website before your trip.

Related ski resorts
No. 1 Ski Resort

Zao Onsen Ski Resort Yamagata Prefecture

No. 1 Ski Resort
Nov. 27th to May 5th
Longest run distance10,000 m
Maximum gradient38 °
Longest run10,000 m
Maximum38 °

Adult 2 people1 night

USD 97.34〜 (JPY 13,000〜)
Dec. 17th to Apr. 3rd
Longest run distance1,400 m
Maximum gradient36 °
Longest run1,400 m
Maximum36 °

Tazawako Snow Resort Akita Prefecture

Dec. 17th to Mar. 31st
Longest run distance3,000 m
Maximum gradient38 °
Longest run3,000 m
Maximum38 °
Dec. 27th to Feb. 25th
Longest run distance1,600 m
Maximum gradient25 °
Longest run1,600 m
Maximum25 °

Don't Miss Out on the Snow this Winter!

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