If skiing, spending time in hot springs, and seeing bathing monkeys sounds like a bit of you, you'll want in on these Japan rail deals from H.I.S.
With over 500 branches across 69 countries, you know you’re in good hands when you plan your travel with H.I.S. Experts in the field of Japan travel (it’s their homebase, so they know all the ins-and-outs!), they’re currently offering a range of sweet offers on the JR East Railway, so you can discover the winter beauty of East Japan. From monkeys that bathe in hot springs to magical ski resorts and delicious food, this will be one vacation you and the family will never forget. Plus, they’re giving Honeycombers readers a special perk when booking, read on to find out more.
Two options; two areas
First thing first, you’ll need to decide which part of East Japan you want to explore. The Tohoku Area pass, gives you access to Tokyo, Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Akita and Aomori, meaning that you can jump on and off wherever you desire for any five days within a 14-day period.
Looking for somewhere different? The Nagano and Niigata Area pass will have you zooming between Tokyo, Nagano, Niigata, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Izu, so you can see all of the unique beauty of the region.
Highlights in East Japan
Meet snow monsters in Yamagata
Discover the natural beauty of Yamagata Prefecture, a special place sitting next to the Sea of Japan on one side and a mountain range on the other. Renowned during the winter for its snow monsters, snow-covered trees that sometimes resemble monsters, the area is also home to the wonderful hot spring resort town of Ginzan Onsen, as well as less-busy ski resorts and the Mountain temple Yamadera is even the subject of one of Japan’s most famous haikus.
H.I.S. offers a special tour with an English-speaking guide around Takahata, where you’ll get to experience an exclusive lunch, learn more about the Showa period through a museum visit and experience a wine tasting at Takahata Winery, a vineyard famed for its sweet wine known as Mahoroba no Kifujin.
Discover more than just dogs in Akita
Beloved by locals and tourists alike for its hiking trails, Akita offers an array to see and do in the great outdoors. Tazawako Ski Resort has multiple runs, while Nyutu Onsen next door is the perfect spot to warm up after a day on the slopes. Culture lovers will want to make a stop of the Akita Museum of Art and indulge in some Kiritanpo, a dish featuring rice on a stick with various toppings.
Want to experience something completely different? H.I.S can arrange a farm-stay during your time in Akita. You’ll get to try your hand at making local cuisine, spend the night in a farm lodge and meet locals who can share about their life in rural Japan.
Find bathing monkeys in Nagano
There’s a reason the 1988 Winter Olympics were held in Nagano! It’s the perfect winter destination, and a great option for the entire family. Take a visit to Jigokudani Monkey Park and see the only group of monkeys in the world who enjoy spending time in the hot springs, discover one of Japan’s most famous Buddhist temples: Zenko-Ji, or hit the slopes of one of the many ski resorts.
At Nagano Ryuoo T Hotel, life is made simple thanks to their ‘ski-in, ski-out’ concept. As soon as you exit the hotel, there’s a chairlift waiting to take you up the mountain, so you and the family can enjoy maximum time on the slopes.
Experience diverse Fukushima
Made up of three distinct regions–coastal, central and western, Fukushima shines in every season. During winter, the western district of Aizu is a haven for skiers and snowboarders, while in centrally located Naka-dori, you can enjoy open-air baths with stunning views of snow-capped surrounds.
Learn about the history and culture of Aizu-Wakamatsu in Fukushima and visit the Samurai house: Aizu Bukeyashiki before painting some traditional toys to take home with you. The castle town is renowned for its sake and samurai traditions, and a visit to Tsuruga Castle, a modern rebuild of the original destroyed in Boshin War of 1868 is also popular. Foodies won’t want to miss a trip to Kitakata, where the specialty is a type of ramen that comes with a unique crimped-shaped noodle.
Other things to do in Japan in winter with H.I.S.
- Try your hand at arts and crafts in Aomori at Tsugaru-han Neputa Mura where you’ll paint a special souvenir to take home with you and learn the art of traditional taiko drums along with talented musicians.
- Sample a signature gyutan lunch, thinly slice beef tongue cooked over charcoal, in Miyagi before hitting the shops at Sendai Ekinaka Station.
Honeycombers Perk alert!
If you buy a JR East pass with H.I.S. from now until 31 January, 2020, you’ll receive a special Fukubukuro containing an Akabeko key chain, a $50 supermarket voucher, and a special pack of travel inspo guides. Simply email [email protected] to book and mention Honeycombers to redeem the offer.
Find out more about getting your JR East Railway tickets with H.I.S. here
This post is sponsored by H.I.S.