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5 Snow Day Trips from Osaka

Take a train or two from downtown Osaka to enjoy a white snow day.

By 5 min read 1

Much of Kansai sees little to no snow in the winter. While winter sport lovers know all the best spots to find powder in and around the region, we don’t all have the time (or balance) for weekend snowboarding trips. If you’re just looking to spend a few hours in the snow or simply relive the childhood thrill of a snowball fight, you do have a few options.

From December to early March if you know where to look and keep an eye on your weather apps, you can enjoy a quick visit to a world of white. Here are five snow day trips in and around Osaka that will have you back home in time for dinner.

1. Tsuruga Station

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A quick getaway for train lovers or anyone looking for a low effort scenery change.

The mountains bordering Shiga and Fukui prefectures get a respectable amount of the white stuff in the winter. The mountains are home to Sanmon Suigen No Mori, a forest area that more adventurous hikers snowshoe through in the colder months. For the less adventurous, a well-timed train ride through Shiga affords a flipbook view of snow piling higher and higher at successive countryside station platforms. Eventually leading to the live postcard of Biwa Lake framed by snow-capped mountains and then a white trip through the valley.

To get there, take the Tokaido-Sanyo line special rapid from Osaka station towards Tsuruga station. Hop off at any of the snowy stops and trek around the quiet countryside for a bit, or take the train all the way to Tsuruga station. Head back after a short stop at Tsuruga–or extend the trip by an hour and visit Fukui Station to see their dinosaur statues covered in snow.

Nearest station: Maibara station
1-1-24 Kanawacho, Tsuruga, Fukui - Map
Depends on where you're coming from

2. Mount Rokko

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A fun day out for families or friend groups.

Every winter Mount Rokko adds a snow park to its many leisure facilities. A short train ride and cable car from downtown Kobe City, Rokko snow park offers beginner-level skiing and snowing facilities, as well as a dedicated play slopes. They also rent snow gear, so there’s no need to layer up on the trip there.

As a note, the snow park is synthetic. If you’re looking for the real thing on Mount Rokko, it will take some good timing and a slightly challenging hike to the summit. If you have the gear and motivation to hike up the mountain (and back down to Arima Onsen), you can enjoy the trail’s slow transformation to white as you ascend.

Nearest station: Rokko Sanjo station
Kitarokko-4512-98 Rokkosancho, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo - Map
Admission: Adults ¥2,200 Children ¥1,100

3. Mount Koya

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The perfect outing for temple and history buffs.

The seat of Shingon Buddhism in Japan, Mount Koya is known for its collection of historical temples and the overnight stay experiences they offer. It’s well worth the effort to track the weather on the mountain and make the trip once some snow has fallen. Take the Nankai Rinkan bus from the Koyasan station to the staggering tower gate at the end of the town, then enjoy a calm walk back – stopping to check out the temple compounds blanketed in snow. Be sure to warm up with a hot bowl of soba noodles before making the long ride back.

Take the Nankai line from Namba or Shin-Imamiya station to Gokurakubashi station. Transfer to the cable car. Take the number 31 or 32 bus from the Koyasan bus station to the Daimon Gate stop.

Nearest station: Koyasan station 
Koyasan, Koya, Ito District, Wakayama - Map
Admission: Free

4. Kifune Shrine

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A Kyoto destination for anyone looking to avoid big crowds.

Once it gets cold enough for snow to make an appearance in downtown Kyoto, the tourists – domestic and foreign alike – come in droves. While they all jostle for the perfect picture of the golden pavilion covered in snow, we recommend taking the longer trip to enjoy the sleepy tourist town of Kibune blanketed in snow. The town is known for its floating restaurants in the warmer months, but it transforms into an otherworldly landscape after heavy snowfall. There are few things better than walking up to Kibune shrine accompanied by the sound of the river rushing alongside the street. The lanterns lining the stairway to Kibune Shrine are illuminated until 8:00pm on snowy weekends and holidays in January. The illumination is held depending on the snow conditions, the illumination schedule is updated on Kifune Shrine’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

To get there, take the Keihan Main Line from Kyobashi Station to Demachiyanagi Station. Then take a bus from Demachiyanagi Station to Kibuneguchi Station. Afterwards it’s about a walk 30-minute walk to the shrine.

Nearest station: Kibuneguchi station 
180 Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto - Map
Admission: Free

5. Mount Gozaisho

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An easy one day road trip for drivers.

On the border of Mie and Shiga, Mount Gozaisho is a great snow viewing destination if you’re looking for a quick winter road trip.  From January to March the top of the mountain transforms into a small ski resort. We recommend driving for this one, but the ropeway that goes to the summit of the mountain is also accessible by public transit.

The view from the ropeway cars and deep snow at the summit make it a worthwhile trip, no matter the method. At the top, there are walking paths, a sledding area and a gentle ski slope. There are snowshoe rentals to help with trekking through the deeper snow areas as well. The view of the surrounding mountains from the top of Mount Gozaisho will fill the winter wonderland hole in your heart. On the way back home, be sure to stop at Yunoyama Onsen town to soak in the hot springs.

By train, take the Kintestu Line from Namba to Kintestu Yokkaichi. Transfer to the local line and get off at Kintetsu Yunoyama Onsen. Take the Mie Kotsu Bus from Kintestu Yunoyama Onsen station to Yunoyama Onsen Gozaisho Ropeway Mae. If you go by car, the Gozaisho ropeway is 10 minutes from the New Meishen Expressway Komono Interchange

Nearest station: Yunoyamaonsen station 
Komono, Mie District, Mie - Map
Admission (can be free): Ropeway round trip Adults ¥2,450 Children ¥1,320
Have you been to any of these winter destinations? Let us know in the comments!

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  • David Tang says:

    2 of us planning to visit Osaka for a week , mainly to see snow fall and other
    winter view. Kindly advise what is the best you could offer day trip or 3 days trip ? Thank you

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