Tokyo to Mt. Naeba: A Cultural Ski Trip in Japan

Japan is one of those destinations that never fails to leave us truly spellbound. Culturally it stands alone with its unique heritage and fast growing modern metropolises, yet few of you may know it’s also a serious hot-spot for powder skiing. So we’ve put together this incredible trip combining some of the country’s cultural highlights with the unbeatable Japanese ski terrain. Head off for a 12-night trip to Japan visiting the vibrant cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Takayama before serious thrills on the piste with three days’ skiing down the famous Mt. Naeba. Look forward to mastering the art of sushi-making in Tokyo’s famous fish markets, spotting Geishas in Kyoto and enjoying some pretty epic powder skiing on this luxury holiday to Japan.

Sushi and temples in Tokyo

After landing and being driven to the prestigious Palace Hotel in Tokyo, feel free to spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the sights of the magnificent capital, or perhaps you would prefer to unwind in the hotel’s evian spa with panoramic views of the city – the first of its kind in Japan. Then after catching up on some sleep, start the first full day with a private tour of the fascinating Tsukiji Fish Market. Your tour will include both the Inner and Outer markets and puts your culinary skills to the test with a private sushi lesson – don’t worry, your efforts will be rewarded with a lunch containing some of the freshest fish imaginable. After lunch you will enjoy a private tour starting at nearby Hamarikyu Gardens, then gliding along the Sumida River via water boat to Asakusa for the Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest and most important temple. End the day by exploring the electronics paradise that is the Akihabara district (this is definitely one for the tech enthusiasts).

Make this itinerary yours

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After breakfast, set the wheels of your third day in motion as you move on to Kyoto via Bullet train. You’ll be met on arrival and taken to see some of the famous sights in the North West of the city, visiting the iconic Golden Pavilion and Ryoanji Zen Garden before ending the day at the Ninnaji Temple, which houses one of Kyoto’s most picturesque gardens. Retire for the night in the city’s beautiful Hyatt Regency hotel.

Today you are given time off to take in your surroundings at your own pace. If you’re still keen to explore, we suggest starting the day at the nearby Sanjusangendo Temple which houses 1000 statues of Kannon, Japan’s goddess of mercy. Continue your cultural experience on to Yasaka-jinja Shrine and into Maruyama Park, a popular cherry blossom viewing spot, then past the Kodaiji and Kiyomizu temples which provide spectacular landscapes of the city from the hillside. Cameras at the ready.

Heritage in Nara

On day five take a day trip out of Kyoto to nearby Nara, Japan’s ancient capital and famous for Todaiji Temple and its Great Buddha. Next, continue your journey with another Bullet train north to Takayama, where you’ll enjoy a tour viewing the beautifully preserved World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go, famous for its steeply-thatched gassho-zukuri houses before voyaging across the foothills of the Japanese Alps to Matsumoto, where a luxurious ryokan awaits your arrival. While here, pay a visit to the city’s stunning castle – one of Japan’s finest – then head back to indulge in your own private hot spring bath before enjoying a truly sumptuous kaiseki dinner in the evening.

Let loose on the slopes

To cap off a truly unique getaway, it’s time to don your skis and conquer Mt Naeba. With an array of coloured groomers catering for experienced and inexperienced skiers and Japan’s usual helping of powder, this is quite rightly regarded as one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan. Naeba spans a vast terrain – enough to cover 35 pistes – and extensive facilities including the world’s longest gondola ensure you can explore every last inch of this fantastic resort.

For ultimate convenience you will be staying on the resort’s doorstep in the marvellous Prince Hotel – complete with hot springs and ski in/ski out accessibility – so once your thighs are sufficiently burned you won’t have far to head back before resting up. To round off your time here, board the Bullet train back to Tokyo to return to the Palace Hotel before catching your flight home. An unforgettable adventure indeed.