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The magic of Japan's regional winter festivals

by Takehiko 'Riko' Hashimoto, 1 May 2019

One of the most fascinating aspects of Japan’s culture is their festival tradition. Many Japanese winter festivals trace their origins to New Year festivities (formerly in early February) to mark the approaching end of winter, while praying for good health and bountiful harvests in the year ahead. These old traditions have been joined by more modern traditions, with an emphasis on entertainment and spectacle at a cold, dark time of the year. Hundreds of winter festivals are now held in Japan annually. Some, such as the Sapporo Snow Festival, have become internationally famous, attracting large international crowds. However, many smaller festivals in regional Japan remain hardly known to the outside world. 

The snowy areas of northern and central Japan are a treasure-trove of regional winter festivals. Although some draw considerable numbers of visitors, these festivals retain their original purpose of bringing the local communities together—unlike the more recent, tourist-oriented festivals. The whole community gets involved, giving these festivals a warm, down-to-earth feel—and visitors are welcomed to join in. At night, candlelight and fire illuminate the snowscape to create magical scenes that make you forget the freezing cold.


The Akita Winter Festivals tour in February 2020 showcases three of northern Tohoku region’s enchanting winter festivals, each with its distinct character. The tour, however, offers much more than the festivals. You will visit workshops to watch regional craft and food artisans at work, sample some of Tohoku’s diverse food traditions, and explore the fascinating nooks and crannies of historic towns. Your tour leader will guide you as a private group, explaining how the traditions and sights you experience during the tour all fit into the ‘story’ that is the Tohoku region of Japan. Choose from our pre-packaged itineraries of 5 days or 7 days, or we can create a customised itinerary that is spot on for your requirements.


The Tohoku region has been a socio-economic disadvantaged region within Japan throughout history. With your participation in our tour, you will be contributing to Deeply Regional Japan’s ongoing support for Tohoku’s recovery following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. 


Join us for a winter adventure with a difference! For further details on this tour, please visit and,

and for all our other tours, Our tour prices include ALL ground transport, accommodation, main meals, tour guidance, fee and charges—join our tour and we will do the rest, without any hidden additional charges or unexpected outlays (this is not always the case with the mainstream tour packages).


Remember, our winter festival tours only run ONCE A YEAR, so don’t miss out!

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