Open Japan's winter doors and let the snow in - travel better with JR EAST PASSOpen Japan's winter doors and let the snow in - travel better with JR EAST PASSOpen Japan's winter doors
and let the snow in - travel better with
JR EAST
PASS

Enjoy unlimited travel in eastern Japan at an excellent priceEnjoy unlimited travel in eastern
Japan at an excellent price

Book online and receive around a 1,000 JPY discount

Route 1 Northern Tohoku

Snow, mountain monsters and fireworks

  • Iwate PrefectureIwate Prefecture

    ①Iwate PrefectureFind deep snow at Geto Kogen Ski

    Geto Kogen Ski snowfield is paradise for winter sports fans. The unusual bowl-like shape of the resort collects snow blown down from the towering peaks that crown this majestic resort. This creates a powder pocket of unequalled snow quality and depth, and providing a wealth of options - from practice slopes and snowshoe hikes to off-piste tree trails and advanced black runs.

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  • Akita PrefectureAkita Prefecture

    ②Akita PrefectureVisit the ancient hot spring village of Nyuto Onsen

    Picturesque, historic and relaxing, Nyuto Onsen is the perfect respite from the exertions of the piste. The traditional ryokan hotels, some dating back to the Edo Period 400 years ago, make this mountain village in the heart of an ancient beech forest an icon of Japan. And as heavy winter snows bend the boughs of the beech, soaking in the nutrient-rich waters of the hot baths is even more of an enthralling experience

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  • Akita PrefectureAkita Prefecture

    ③Akita PrefectureWarm your soul with Kiritanpo Nabe hotpot

    After spending the day in the snow, there’s nothing like soul food to give you back your glow. Kiritanpo Nabe - a hotpot of chicken broth full of burdock root, maitake mushrooms, leeks and meat is traditional winter fare in the Akita Prefecture. The dish’s iconic kiritanpo ‘dumplings’ - pounded cooked rice shaped around cedar skewers and roasted over charcoal - make this a meal your heart will always remember.

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  • Akita PrefectureAkita Prefecture

    ④Akita PrefectureExperience the legendary Namahage of Oga

    In folklore going back 2000 years, the ogre-like beings that dwell in the mountains of the Oga Peninsula come down every winter to find lazy or naughty children and tell them to behave. The legend is now recognised by UNESCO and lives on in the region. At the heart of the Namahage mythology is the Akagami Shrine and its 999 steps the monsters were tricked into building, thus invoking their anger.

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  • Aomori PrefectureAomori Prefecture

    ⑤Aomori PrefectureDare the Hakkoda Ropeway to ski fields and snow monsters

    Travelling 2,460m up Mt Tamoyachidake, the Hakkoda Ropeway pulls its gondolas to the start of one of the most unique ski courses in the world. The mountain’s ‘snow monsters’ - native fir trees encased in hoarfrost and ice - look like an army of stooping porcelain creatures marching through the snow. These looming figures, coupled with almost 11km of ski runs and a whole mountainside of off-piste exploring in deep, untouched powder, makes Hakkoda a true winter wonderland.

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  • Aomori PrefectureAomori Prefecture

    ⑥Aomori PrefectureCelebrate Lake Towada’s Winter Story Festival

    Every winter, on the shores of Towada - a lake formed in a volcanic crater - locals and visitors come to celebrate the Winter Story Festival together. Traditional music and dances entertain while food tents tempt and frozen features of ice sculptures glisten in the winter sun. Kamakura ‘igloo’ bars made of ice and snow serve cocktails and sake while every evening the lake lights up with fireworks that boom off the walls of the nearby mountains.

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    Northern Tohoku and its multitude of ski resorts receive record levels of powder each winter making it a skier and snowboarder’s dream. And with the region’s fascinating cultural history comes a wealth of festivals and customs like nowhere else in the world.

    Discount Pass

    JR EAST PASS(Tohoku area)
    JR East Pass (Tohoku area)
    • Adult : 19,350yen
    • Child : 9,670yen

    JR EAST PASS is valid for a total of 5 selected days (which must be used within 14 days after activation), and provides unlimited travel on any trains within the designated JR EAST PASS area, inclusive of Shinkansen bullet trains within the JR EAST PASS. It is a great way to travel through Tohoku this winter!

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    Tohoku Route1

    Route 2 Southern Tohoku

    Fairytale towns, snow spirits and sparkling winter rivers

    • Fukushima PrefectureFukushima Prefecture

      ①Fukushima PrefectureStep back in time at Ouchi-Juku post-town

      Since the Edo Period, travellers have stopped at Ouchi-Juku. And things haven’t changed much in this traditional post-town, so called as it was always the waypoint for weary travellers on their way to what is now Tokyo. In winter, this delightful village is even more picturesque. Its 300-year-old buildings, their traditional thatched roofs cloaked in thick snow, look almost make believe.

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    • Yamagata PrefectureYamagata Prefecture

      ②Yamagata PrefectureSavour Yonezawa Beef from the mountains of the Okitama Basin

      One of the finest beef breeds in the world, Yonezawa cattle are a Yamagata delicacy, carefully raised on rice straw that’s grown in mineral-rich earth of Yonezawa. This beef, best eaten as steak, sukiyaki or finely sliced shabu-shabu, is famous across the country and internationally, but the best cuts are still kept locally in Yonezawa itself.

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    • Yamagata PrefectureYamagata Prefecture

      ③Yamagata PrefectureSki at Zao Onsen and see their snow monsters

      Hitting the piste at the hot-spring ski resort town of Zao Onsen is an obvious choice, but its five-metre deep snows create another reason to come here. When Siberian winds plunge the native pines into the deepfreeze, they don’t cloaks of thick ice, becoming hunched spectres, frozen into a sparkling winter landscape. During the day, these ‘snow monsters’ cast an eerie presence over the ski fields and at night, colourful lights make them dance across the mountainside.

      Book a JR EAST PASS(Tohoku area)
    • Yamagata PrefectureYamagata Prefecture

      ④Yamagata PrefectureSet sail on the winter waters of the Mogami River

      Haiku master, Basho, wrote many poems about the grandeur and beauty of the Mogami River. And a winter cruise down its broad, meandering streets explains why. Set in the spectacular scenery of Yamagata, the snow-covered mountains and cliffs on either side give way to this magnificent waterway. Electric-blanket-style kotatsu heaters keep you warm as you wend downstream, even on the coldest winter’s day.

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    • Yamagata PrefectureYamagata Prefecture

      ⑤Yamagata PrefectureSoak up the beauty in Ginzan Onsen

      Over 500 years ago, Ginzan Onsen was a prosperous silver mine. These days, its original ryokan hotels and their wood and white plaster walls, public hot spring spas and little bridges over the Ginzan River make this town a must-see. During winter days, snow-clad roofs and narrow streets by the river are easy on the eye, but at night, with the gas lamps lit, Ginzan Onsen turns into a Japanese fairytale.

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    • Miyagi PrefectureMiyagi Prefecture

      ⑥Miyagi PrefectureSip pure Japan at Nikka Whisky Distillery

      Braced in the wooded glen between two pristine rivers in the low mountains of Miyagi Prefecture sits Nikka Whisky Distillery and one of the world’s finest single malt whiskies. In winter, the redbrick buildings, snow-covered hills and shallow, fast-running streams, could easily be mistaken for a distillery in the Scottish highlands. The difference is the whisky is so iconically Japanese, when you taste it at the end of your distillery tour, there’s no doubt where you are.

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      Picturesque Southern Tohoku boasts some of the country’s best-preserved Edo Period villages, mountainsides covered in eerie ‘snow monsters’ and magnificent rivers to cruise down. This is the trip Instagram was made for.

      Discount Pass

      JR EAST PASS(Tohoku area)
      JR East Pass (Tohoku area)
      • Adult : 19,350yen
      • Child : 9,670yen

      JR EAST PASS is valid for a total of 5 selected days (which must be used within 14 days after activation), and provides unlimited travel on any trains within the designated JR EAST PASS area, inclusive of Shinkansen bullet trains within the JR EAST PASS. It is a great way to travel through Tohoku this winter!

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      Tohoku Route2

      Route 3 Niigata area

      Culture, history and a side to Japan less seen

      • Gala YuzawaGala Yuzawa

        ①Gala YuzawaSki easy at Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort, Niigata

        With its own Shinkansen station right on the mountainside, Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort is the most convenient ski and snowboarding venue in Japan. In fact, it’s the world’s only ski resort accessible by bullet train. Gala has 16 courses, from beginner to advanced, and plenty of spots for non-skiers to enjoy the snow. Gala Yuzawa has everything for your time in Snow Country.

        Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
      • Yuzawa TownYuzawa Town

        ②Yuzawa TownBathe in sake at the Ponshukan Sake Museum

        Being one of the biggest and finest sake brewing prefectures in Japan, Niigata is the perfect spot to try Japan’s national drink. The Ponshukan Sake Museum’s three locations offer tastings of different sake and also vending machines (of course!) to purchase any of the 117 different types. In the Echigo-Yuzawa Ponshukan branch, you can even soak in sake. The slightly alkaline hot water and alcohol from the sake soften and smooth the skin.

        Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
      • Tsunan TownTsunan Town

        ③Tsunan TownParty at the Tsunan Snow Festival, Niigata

        Every winter, the people of Tsunan Town - one of the heaviest snowfall regions on earth - come out of their frozen front doors to celebrate. The Snow Festival, which was started to cheer up chilled locals, has everything from snow bicycles and snow treasure hunts to street stalls and fireworks. Best of all is the sky lantern launch, where thousands of paper lanterns and their glowing flames soar into the night’s sky.

        Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
      • Yuzawa TownYuzawa Town

        ④Yuzawa TownRide the GENBI SHINKANSEN art and food experience

        Appreciating art at almost 300km/h probably sounds a bit strange, but the GENBI SHINKANSEN bullet train offers modern art by prominent artists throughout its carriages as it hurtles quietly between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata. While you’re perusing, popular tsubame coffee and locally sourced desserts are on offer from the train’s cafe. There’s even an interactive modern art playroom for the kids.

        Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
      • Niigata CityNiigata City

        ⑤Niigata CityTaste the pinnacle of sushi

        Sushi from the famed port town of Niigata is unlike anything you’re likely to find on your average sushi train. With two estuaries of major rivers flowing into the sea here, the abundance of seafood makes for incredible eating in Niigata. Rosy sea bass, spear squid and cinnamon flounder have a place in sushi restaurants throughout the town and the kiwami - ‘the pinnacle’ - is a greatest-hits plate not to be missed.

        Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
      • Yahiko VillageYahiko Village

        ⑥Yahiko VillageAbsorb the energy and spiritual beauty of Yahiko Shrine, Niigata

        Power spots - places of significant energy - are an important cultural element in Japan. For 2,400 years, Yahiko Shrine has been a focal point for power spots. And when winter snow covers the torii gates, bridges and temples here, there’s an extra level of spiritual magnitude to this sacred site. Discover resting places of enshrined gods, take in the exhilarating scenery and see if your wish will come true with the wishing rocks of Hi-no-Tama-Ishi.

        Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)

        Niigata is a playground of culture, history and beauty you’re not likely to find anywhere else in Japan. Sake baths, shrines of the ancients and snow-covered mountains that have inspired Nobel prize-winning literature - this is a winter experience to show you a secret side to Japan.

        Discount Pass

        JR EAST PASS(Niigataarea)
        JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area)
        • Adult : 17,310yen
        • Child : 8,650yen

        JR EAST PASS is valid for a total of 5 selected days (which must be used within 14 days after activation), and provides unlimited travel on any trains within the designated JR EAST PASS area, inclusive of Shinkansen bullet trains within the JR EAST PASS. It is a great way to travel through Nagano and Niigata this winter!

        BUY A PASS
        Tohoku Route3

        Route 4 Nagano area

        Snow monkeys, sacred mountains and winter fruit

        • Shimotakai DistrictShimotakai District

          ①Shimotakai DistrictSpot snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park

          As steam rises in curling threads from the hot-spring pools and streams of Jigokudani Monkey Park, it creates an almost mystical air and sets the scene for one of nature’s most remarkable, unique and recognisable spectacles. Snow monkeys - native macaques - that live in the park love to come to these ‘onsen’ when the winter snows lie thick on that mountainside to bask and bathe eyes closed in the warm water.

          Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
        • Nagano CityNagano City

          ②Nagano CityWonder at the ancient mountain woodland of the Togakushi-Jinja Shrine, Nagano City

          Separated by 4km of pathways up Mount Togakushi, The Togakushi-Jinja shrine is a relic to ancient deities. The crowning glory of the shrine -Oku-sha, meaning ‘Deep Sanctuary’ lies at the end of the path lined with 70-metre-tall Japanese cedars. During the winter, the shrine and it’s giant snow cladded trees leave a strong impression while Kagamiike Pond’s mirror-like surface reflects the surrounding white-jewelled landscape.

          Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
        • Nagano CityNagano City

          ③Nagano CityTry Togakushi soba noodles of Nagano

          Soba noodles are a standard dish found anywhere in Japan these days, but Togakushi soba - soba noodles from Togakushi, Nagano City - are literally a law to themselves. This dish is so traditional and part of Nagano’s culture, there are rules about how it’s served, eaten, and even what condiments and sides it has. It seems all buckwheat noodles are soba noodles, but not all soba noodles are Togakushi soba!

          Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
        • Kitaazumi DistrictKitaazumi District

          ④Kitaazumi DistrictSki the spectacle at Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort

          High above the village of Habuka, the ski trails of Habuka Goryu Snow Resort not only offer great variety in skill levels, but also amazing close-up views of mountain peaks like Goryudake and Karamatsudake. You can also use the same ticket to access Habuka 47 - the ski resort right next door. If you’re not into skiing, it’s still worth coming to Hakuba for the incredible views out across the Northern Japanese Alps.

          Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
        • Matsumoto CityMatsumoto City

          ⑤Matsumoto CityClimb ‘Crow Castle’ - historic Matsumoto, Nagano

          Known as Crow Castle because of its black tiered walls, this striking edifice looms out of the snow from its moated palisade and lets you imagine what life would have been like in Feudal Japan. The country’s oldest remaining castle donjon, Matsumoto is a piece of living history and inside, its low ceilings and steeps stairs lead you through rooms full of armaments and weapons of past wars.

          Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)
        • Southern Nagano AreaSouthern Nagano Area

          ⑥Southern Nagano Area Taste the history of Nagano in ichidagaki

          Bitter persimmon from Minami Shinshu in Nagano - a basin ringed by 3,000m mountains - are a winter delicacy across Japan. Sweet, jelly-like and a rich orange colour, ichidagaki are dried using artisanal methods 500 years old and are part of traditional New Year’s Eve ceremony called ‘hagatame’. They’re also popular winter snacks. As it dries, each fruit develops a white sugar dust on its surface adding to its natural sweetness and deliciousness.

          Book a JR EAST PASS(Nagano, Niigata area)

          Nagano’s natural beauty is never more striking than during winter. Snow monkeys escaping the chill in their hot-spring pools, shrines atop mountains wear white capes and the prefecture’s sweet dried persimmon brings smiles to cold faces.

          Discount Pass

          JR EAST PASS(Niigataarea)
          JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area)
          • Adult : 17,310yen
          • Child : 8,650yen

          JR EAST PASS is valid for a total of 5 selected days (which must be used within 14 days after activation), and provides unlimited travel on any trains within the designated JR EAST PASS area, inclusive of Shinkansen bullet trains within the JR EAST PASS. It is a great way to travel through Nagano and Niigata this winter!

          BUY A PASS
          Tohoku Route4

          What's JR EAST PASS

          The JR EAST PASS is a special discounted pass available only to international travellers to Japan (with a short-term visa no longer than 90 days) and holding a foreign passport.
          It allows unlimited rides on all JR East train lines in the JR EAST PASS designated area. For example, you can start your journey by taking an express train from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport to Tokyo, explore Tokyo, and maybe hop aboard the Shinkansen to Tohoku area or Nagano, Niigata area.
          * There are several types of passes, and the areas you can travel to depends on the pass type.

          JR EAST Pass
          The JR EAST PASS is a special discounted pass available only to international travellers to Japan (with a short-term visa no longer than 90 days) and holding a foreign passport.
          It allows unlimited rides on all JR East train lines in the JR EAST PASS designated area. For example, you can start your journey by taking an express train from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport to Tokyo, explore Tokyo, and maybe hop aboard the Shinkansen to Tohoku area or Nagano, Niigata area.
          * There are several types of passes, and the areas you can travel to depends on the pass type.
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          JR EAST PASS in 4step

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