There is plenty to experience during the winter months in Japan. Explore beautiful landscapes, take a dip in therapeutic hot springs, and enjoy seasonal gourmet food and events. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go and traditional Ginzan Onsen are particularly magical places to visit when covered in snow. The landscape takes a particularly dramatic turn during the winter as the frighteningly jagged “snow monsters” descend upon some of the mountain slopes and a big freeze turns the sea to drift ice.

Defy the cold by soaking in an outdoor hot spring bath as the snow falls, and enjoy steaming bowls of nabe hot pot or oden — stewed fishcakes, meat, vegetables and eggs in a bubbling dashi broth. Winter illuminations add some romantic sparkle to towns and cities, you can spot some Japanese snow-dome igloos, known as kamakura, and enjoy the festivities of many winter events including the Sapporo Snow Festival. Even if skiing or snowboarding isn't part of your snow-season itinerary, Japan is full of fantastic winter experiences.