Japan’s winter season attracts many travellers in search of white powder snow and exceptional skiing destinations. From winter sports to onsen retreats, the list of things to do in Japan during winter guarantees endless fun. If you are up for a distinctive cold-weather adventure, make sure you include the unique experience of snow sauna in your next Japan holiday!
Sauna Culture in Japan
Saunas in Japan have been around since 1957, but their popularity surged in recent years, notably sparked by Finnish athletes during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today, there is a booming sauna culture warming up the nation, offering a variety of sauna experiences.
According to Sauna Ikitai, a popular sauna-rating online site, there are over 12,000 facilities offering saunas nationwide. You can find sauna-dedicated day spas, sauna rooms in quaint little ryokans, and even portable sauna tents set up beside picturesque lakes.
Winter, in particular, is especially ideal for enjoying sauna experiences in Japan.
Snow Tent Sauna and Outdoor Snow Dive in Rusutsu Village
Head over to Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido’s largest all-season resort, for an unforgettable snow-country winter activity. Located at the base of Mount Yotei, Rusutsu Resort is blessed with fresh powder snow and plenty of sunny days in winter. From skiing to snow rafting and even ice fishing, there are fun winter activities suitable for everyone.
A standout feature is the Snow Tent Sauna and Kamakura outdoor snow dive experience.
The winter months see the resort’s grounds covered in a thick blanket of pristine white snow. Stay toasty amidst the winter cold by indulging in the warmth of a three-layer insulated snow tent sauna that can reach temperatures as high as 120°C. Enhance the therapeutic effect by purchasing scented snowballs to melt over the heated sauna stones, adding an aromatic touch to your experience.
Finnish Sauna and Frozen Lake Dip in Tokachi
For a touch of authentic Finnish sauna culture in Japan, try the adrenaline-pumping Hokkaido Avanto experience held in the small mountain town of Tokachi.
Avanto, which translates to mean “hole in the ice”, is the Finnish tradition of cutting a hole in a frozen lake or river, and going for an icy winter dip. The Finns like to engage in ice swimming after a hot sauna session, and this winter pastime seems to have caught on in Japan as well.