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Ginzan Onsen and Other Amazing Snowy Places in Japan!

Thalia HarrisThalia Harris
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January 24, 2024
A woman taking ap icutre at Ginzan Onsen.

Ginzan Onsen is one of many places in Japan that looks amazing in the winter! But there are so many more places to visit in the country during this time of year! Here are some places you can check out!

Ginzan Onsen 

Ginzan Onsen is a charming hot spring town in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, known for its traditional buildings and pretty views that remind people of the animated movie Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli. The word “ginzan” means “silver mountain” because of its connection to the mining industry. The town has old-fashioned buildings and narrow streets that give it a calm and nostalgic feeling, making it a favorite for travelers who want to experience old Japan.

Ginzan Onsen at night.
Ginzan Onsen was featured in “Spirited Away”! Image via Shutterstock

Besides its cultural and movie connections, Ginzan Onsen is also famous as a winter resort town. It’s easy to explore on foot because everything is close together. There are many attractions to discover, including hot springs. The inns in the area offer guests access to these hot springs, and some are even open during the day. Ginzan Onsen is a perfect place for people who want a relaxing hot spring experience in a setting that feels like a time long ago.


Shirakawa-go, located in Gifu Prefecture, is a special place recognized by UNESCO, like a significant award. This is because of its historical villages and unique houses with steep thatched roofs called Gassho-style houses. These houses look like they’re praying, which is what “gassho” means.

In 1995, Shirakawa-go and Gokayama became UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include villages like Ogimachi in Gifu Prefecture, Ainokura, and Suganuma in Toyama Prefecture. This site also shows they adapted to their environment a long time ago. The villages look like a glimpse into Japan’s past, attracting tourists with their unique houses and history.

Shirakawa-go in Gifu, a snowy places like Ginzan Onsen.
Shirakawa-go is an amazing UNESCO site! Image via Shutterstock

Ogimachi is the most famous village, with 59 houses with big thatched roofs, surrounded by mountains and many forests, making it extra special. To keep their history safe, the village has rules like no fireworks and limits on where tour buses can go.

Preserving these unique houses is challenging, so the village takes extra care. They have organized plans to prevent fires and people patrolling to ensure safety. Visiting Shirakawa-go is like stepping into Japan’s history, whether you’re interested in unique houses, cultural stories, or just a peaceful setting.

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Biei, in Hokkaido Prefecture, is a beautiful town famous for its stunning natural scenery, like the famous Biei Shirogane Blue Pond and huge wheat fields. The Blue Pond in the Shirogane area is a unique and fantastic sight with blue water made of natural minerals. It’s set against rolling hills and faraway Tokachi Mountains, making it a place people love to visit all year.

Lake Biei in Hokkaido.
Lake Biei is an enchanting shade of blue. Image via Shutterstock

Biei’s unique landscape comes from its history shaped by volcanic activity, attracting photographers and nature fans. Besides the Blue Pond, Biei is known for its big wheat fields, adding to its charming vibe. These fields are essential to Biei’s farming, helping the town’s crop rotation.

The wheat fields and other colorful crops and flowers make the hills look like a beautiful mix of colors, especially in the summer and fall. Exploring Biei’s countryside, with its hills and farmland, gives visitors a peaceful experience, letting them enjoy the natural beauty of this region.


Tateyama, in Toyama Prefecture, you can find the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a famous mountain sightseeing path in Chubu-Sangaku National Park. This route lets you see amazing alpine scenery, changing 2,400 meters from Toyama to Nagano Prefecture.

During the journey, you’ll use different types of transportation, like the longest one-span ropeway in Japan and the Tateyama Tunnel Trolleybus, the only trolley bus in the country. The route is open from April 15 to November 30, giving you access to incredible views above the clouds. Nature lovers and adventure seekers will love it!

The Tateyama Alpine Wall.
These walls are a major landmark in Tateyama. Image via Shutterstock

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is extra famous when the leaves change colors in the fall. They even have special events and online tickets to enjoy the stunning display of autumn colors. The beautiful scenery, many attractions, and easy to get there make it a favorite for people from Japan and worldwide.

While the route is a big attraction, Tateyama is like a gateway to natural beauty and outdoor activities. This makes it even more appealing for those who want to experience Japan’s majestic alpine landscapes.


Karuizawa, in Nagano Prefecture, is a popular place to visit during the summer because it has a cool climate and is surrounded by nature, providing a nice break from the hot weather. Even though it doesn’t always get a lot of snow in the winter, Karuizawa still attracts visitors with its calm atmosphere and daytime temperatures ranging from 6-8 degrees Celsius, making for a milder winter experience.

The Karuizawa Church on a snowy day.
Karuizawa Church is a popular tourist spot. Image via Shutterstock

This town offers fun things during winter, like enjoying luxury hot springs, attending winter festivals, and trying snow sports. The Karuizawa Winter Festival, from late November to late February, has fabulous light displays, a Christmas market, and lots of snow sports, creating a festive and lively atmosphere. With options like skiing and ice skating, Karuizawa becomes an excellent place for people who love outdoor activities in a beautiful winter setting.

Why should I visit snowy places like Ginzan Onsen?

A woman taking a picture in a snowy place.
What’s your favorite snowy place in Japan? Image via Shutterstock

Consider visiting snowy places like Ginzan Onsen because they provide a memorable experience different from the usual travel spots. The calm beauty of snowy landscapes, like in Ginzan Onsen, turns the surroundings into a magical winter scene. The enchanting snowfall adds a bit of magic, making the atmosphere peaceful and nostalgic, capturing your attention. Have you ever been to a snowy place in Japan? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Thalia Harris

Writer living in Tokyo who likes stories, music and video games. <3

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