Ideas for Winter Trips in Fukushima

Although I have lived in Fukushima for 1.5 years now, I am constantly finding new places that I want to visit or festivals I want to go to. So I decided to write a bucket list of things to try out in Fukushima during the winter months!

(This list includes a couple of places I have been to, but definitely recommend to those travelling to the area this winter!)


Take in the views of beautiful Okuaizu

I’m yet to travel on the Tadami Line train that connects Aizu-Wakamatsu City with Niigata Prefecture via some of Fukushima’s most beautiful rural towns and villages. The route of this train ride is breath-taking throughout the year, and winter is no exception.

Tadami Line

I especially want to check out the view of Oshi Hamlet (大志集落) in Kaneyama Town, which you can see in the photo below. This view spot is located at Kaneyama Fureai Hiroba (かねやまふれあい広場 – Map), which is a 10-minute walk from Kaneyama Station on the Tadami Line.

Tadami Line 2

Snow Festivals (Aizu, Minamiaizu)

Most of the snow festivals held in Fukushima take place on the same weekend of the year, meaning that it’s pretty difficult to visit more than one per year!

Last year I managed to visit the Ouchi-juku and Tadami Snow Festivals (mentioned below) in the same day, but I would recommend taking your time at each festival instead of rushing between them.

Aizu Painted Candle Festival

Aizu Painted Candle Festival is when the Oyakuen herb gardens really come into their element, as the gardens become 1 of 2 main stages during the 2 day festival period. The other stage is at Tsuruaga-jo Castle.

At Oyakuen there are often live music performances of traditional Japanese music during the evening on the days of the festival. Tens of thousands of candles illuminate the castle and the gardens over the 2 day festival period, creating absolutely stunning scenes as the sun sets.

Aizu Wakamatsu Snow Festivals (4)

This festival is held to celebrate the traditional craft of Aizu’s painted candles, which have been produced in the region for 500 years.

Aizu Wakamatsu Snow Festivals (1)


February 9th – 10th 2018 (17:30 – 21:00)


Tsuruga-jo Castle Venue (Map) & Oyakuen Venue (Map), Aizu-Wakamatsu City


Higashiyama Onsen

Every evening from Christmas until around the end of February (depending on the amount of snow), Higashiyama Onsen town is filled with the lights of candles.

Aizu Wakamatsu Snow Festivals (2)

The lighting of these candles usually occurs between 16:00 to 18:00, so if you are staying in this onsen town during the winter, be sure to check it out.

Aizu Wakamatsu Snow Festivals (3)


Late December – Late February


Higashiyama Onsen, Aizu-Wakamatsu City (Map)


Ouchi-juku Snow Festival

Ouchi-juku’s Snow Festival features traditional Japanese performances, an incredible firework show, and a town that feels like it still exists in the Edo Period, illuminated solely by the light of lanterns made of snow. There are even plenty of onsen ryokans where you can warm up & stay overnight at the end of the evening. Not much beats that for a snow festival, does it?

Oku Aizu Snow Festivals (2)


February 10th to 11th 2018


Ouchi-juku, Shimogo (Map)

More information


Tadami Snow Festival

This snow festival is the largest in Fukushima Prefecture. Often welcoming special guests (such as Kumamon last year!) this snow festival features snow sculptures, igloos, places for kids to play, and lots of traditional crafts and tasty food to check out.

Oku Aizu Snow Festivals (1)

Oh, and also a fantastic fireworks show.

Oku Aizu Snow Festivals (3)


February 10th to 11th 2018

(Light-up from 16:30 to 21:30)


Tadami Eki Mae Hiroba (JR只見駅前広場) (Map)

More information (Japanese language only)


Pick-your-own strawberries in Soma (Soma City)

Soma area is well known for its bright-coloured, juicy strawberries. I’ve been lucky enough to try some in my office when visitors have brought them as gifts for my colleagues, but I really want to go to Soma and pick some strawberries of my own!

Soma Strawberries (1)

Next year’s strawberry season is yet to be announced, but it is likely to start in mid January and continue until the end of May.


Craft Festivals (Shirakawa City, Iwaki City)

Shirakawa Daruma Market

Daruma are good luck charms originating from Buddhism. It is a common new year’s traditional in Japan to buy a daruma soon after the start of the new year.

After purchasing a daruma, you should think carefully and decide on 1 wish or goal that you want to achieve during the year. Then, draw in the daruma’s left eye (or right eye if you are facing it), and then draw in the other eye when your wish or goal is completed.

Daruma Festival (3)

700 stalls selling daruma standing along a 1.5km long street in central Shirakawa City during the festival. There are 18 different varieties of daruma to choose from, all looking for a loving home and an owner to give them a goal or wish to look after!



February 11th 2018 (9:00-19:30)


Shirakawa City. The main street in front of Shirakawa Station that runs parallel to the train line.

More information

Read more about Shirakawa Daruma here!


Iwaki Tsurushi Bina Festival

This festival was started in recent years as a way of celebrating the Nakanosaku district of Iwaki City, and rejuvenating the area. During the festival, hundreds of decorative items hand-made by local people from chirimen fabric – the fabric used to create kimonos – are displayed and sold over a period of 2days.


These Tsurushi Bina decorations are traditionally given to young girls on Girls’ Day, in March. They come in all shapes and sizes, but in Fukushima I have seen lots of decorations shaped like animals and vegetables.


This festival represents a rare opportunity to see so many of these beautiful, painstakingly handmade decorations in one place, so I really want to go check it out next year.

Tsurushi Iwaki (3)


February 3rd – 5th 2018


清航館, Nakanosaku, Iwaki City (Map)

Entrance fee:

100 yen


Hitting the Ski Slopes

This year I really hope I get to try out skiing in Fukushima Prefecture.

Fukushima Skiing Minokura 2

There are so many different ski areas spread all over the huge prefecture, from the relatively temperate slopes in Inawashiro, where skiiers are blessed with a view of Lake Inawashiro as they descend down the slopes, to the deep snow country of Hinoemata.

Fukushima Skiing Takatsue

Aizu Ski Japan is a really good English-language website to use as a resource for getting to grips with the type of ski areas available in the prefecture.

Fukushima Skiing Inawashiro



Wakasagi (Smelt) Fishing

Rent out a tent at the centre of Lake Hibara in Urabandai, make a hole in the ice in front of you, and try out smelt fishing this winter!


There are a number of different companies that take visitors out onto the lake during the winter months, when smelt fishing is allowed to take place, but it may be a little difficult to try this out if you don’t speak Japanese. Rental costs all depend on the individual company or organisation.



Lake Hibara (Map)

More information

Watch the Sun Rise on New Year’s Day

This beautiful spot on the coast of Iwaki City is a very special place for local people, especially fisherman, who visit Hattachi Coast on New Year’s Day to show their faith to the Buddha of Hattachi Yakushi.

The Hattachi Coast is one of many places on the coast of Fukushima that was devastated by the 2011 tsunami, and is therefore a very bittersweet place for many locals. It has not lost its spiritual hold over visitors though, or its breathtaking scenery.


A seriously beautiful spot for those who like photography, and those who would like to make connections with local folk from Iwaki during the early hours of the new year.

Please note that you can’t currently access the island via the bridge, and also you can’t reach the beach due to post-tsunami reconstruction work.


Hattachi Coast, Iwaki City (Map)


So those are my recommendations for winter in Fukushima this year! What do you think? Have I left anywhere off? Please tell me your thoughts!

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13 thoughts on “Ideas for Winter Trips in Fukushima

  1. Great blog, the time it must take to compile it. All the information about the wonderful places, best transport and times to visit.
    Good luck with bucket list, can’t wait to read more of your travels and experiences.
    Well done Zoe 🙂


  2. Hi Zoë,

    Thanks for these ideas! I’m visiting Japan from the 1st Jan and want to ride the Tadami line as I believe the scenery is very beautiful. Do you know if it’s fully operational? I’ll be staying one night in AizuWakamatsu and was wondering where else would be interesting to stay near the other end of the line. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thx 😄



    1. Hi Bluebee!

      The Tadami Line is fully operational, but there is a replacement bus service running between a couple of the stations due to damage to the railway. But the bus service runs at the same times as the trains did, so it’s very easy to understand. For more details, see this blog I wrote on the Tadami Line:

      The timetable for the train has been updated for the period between January and March 2018. You can see it here: it’s all in Japanese but you should be able to Google Translate it. I’ll add it to my Tadami Line article asap.

      Regarding places to stay towards the end of the line, there are onsen and ryokan in towns such as Mishima Town & in Tadami, but no big hotels, and not really any places that have websites easy to book in English, so you would need to search for information online in Japanese and book on their individual websites… Sorry about that!

      Hope this helps


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ok, so questions on the Radiation levels, I assume your outside of the zone of worry. I only have articles I have read as a basis and they seem to say the surround areas are safe, but your there, fill me in. Are you just accepting there is lower levels of exposures, or just not worry about it, or do you have some kind of information that your in safe areas all the time. Also how far away from the Fukushima plant are you?


    1. Hi David and Laura. Thank you for your questions.

      Fukushima Prefecture is extremely big. It’s landmass is greater than the whole of Jamaica. So the areas close to the nuclear power plant where evacuation orders are still in place represent 2.7% of the whole area of the prefecture.

      To answer your questions, I’m not worried about radiation exposure, because there is no need to worry about it unless you are spending an extended period of time in areas with access limitations in place (I.e. the Difficult to Return to Zones and ‘Habitation Restriction Zones).

      There is plenty of information available in
      both Japanese and English about the environmental changes since 2011 and about efforts put in place to ensure the safety of residents and visitors from both an air-dose radiation perspective, and also from a food safety perspective.

      To answer your other question, Fukushima City is between 85 and 100 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Depending on which roads you take).

      Here are a couple of really good resources:
      1) Reconstruction Agency leaflet (good for basic overview):

      2) Ministry of the Environment (very in depth information.):
      If you’d like to read the Ministry of the Environment document in one doc instead of in the format of a website, please see the 2 URLs below.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow this is extremely helpful I am definitely going to go through these articles I searched for information and tried to read up on it and there’s very little available that I’ve been able to find, the only information I have found is in my physics journals that I read and then it’s more based off of the physics of the situation then what exactly is going on. I did read one article that everything is safe but it was sketchy on data so I really wanted more thank you so much I’ll definitely respond after I review this.


      2. Hi David & Laura

        You’re very welcome. I realise it’s quite hard to find English-language information online about this unless you know where to look! Hopefully those websites can help answer some of your questions.


      3. Ok, so I reviewed everything tonite. Very interesting, I would have to measure with my own GM Meter to be sure, because I do have questions on why the exposure rates are lower now than in 2011, I will look into that more. But this is VERY helpful thank you. Next visit to Japan, I will stop in and bring my meter and publish my own data from a visitor perspective! Thanks. I look forward to the rest of what your site offers and I will for sure be checking in on this. Plus I will share this information with everyone back over here.


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