Fire and Ice 2019 | February 5-17, 2019
$825/month • $3,295 total
The best winter festivals in all of Asia, food that will impress and inspire, and legendary hospitality: Fire and Ice truly has it all!
Starting in Sapporo and concluding in Tokyo, you will visit FIVE (yes, FIVE!) of Japan’s biggest winter festivals spread over two magical weeks as we explore the cities, hot springs, and secluded mountain towns that locals and our alumni have raved about! You’ll stand among 6 story tall snow sculptures, travel through neon-lighted ice caves, relax in hot springs on a picturesque lakeside, picnic with the locals inside igloos, wander among candlelit alleys by the ocean, sip fresh Apple wine, eat the freshest seafood in Japan… and maybe even spin a giant fireball over your head! Not enough? We will also explore the star-shaped Goryokaku Fortress, check out Japan’s best evening views from Mt. Hakodate, swing through a restored Beer Factory in Sapporo, and have free time to shop and explore in Tokyo before returning home.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, this is one winter wonderland you’ll be glad you experienced! Sign up today, and we’ll see you in Sapporo!
Baggage: 1 carry-on sized bag
*Due to space constraints on Trains, no large “Check-in” sized bags are allowed – NO EXCEPTIONS.
Single Room: $1,000 additional – NO SINGLE ROOMS AT THE ONSEN
Extend Your Trip: All trips can be extended! Mention your extension request during signup so we can follow up with you!
This is the day you’ll want to leave your home country to make it to Japan. Keep this in mind when booking!
Day 2: Arrival in Tokyo
After a plane change, we’ll arrive in Tokyo and check in at the hotel. In the evening, rest and recover from jet lag or head out to get a late dinner with your fellow travelers!
Day 3: Sapporo Snow Festival!
Today we head north, friends: Sapporo awaits! Upon arrival, we’ll visit the Royce Chocolate Factory inside the airport, where you can check out some of Japan’s most popular confections. After eating lunch, we’ll check in at our Sapporo hotel and head to the center of the festival in Odori Park! Here, you’ll have a chance to get some pictures of the massive snow sculptures, get awesome food, and even check out events for local anime fans on the exclusive Snow Miku stage. In the evening, we head to Susukino to marvel at giant ice sculptures before inhaling some of the city’s best ramen!
Day 4: Slides, Tasty Bites, and Candelight!
Today, our adventure at the Sapporo Snow Festival continues! We’ll spend our morning sliding down the massive snow slides and sampling local goodies in the Tsudome area. You may even get the chance to try your hand at making a snow sculpture of your own, or even carve a shot glass from an ice cube! After we conquer the dome area, we’ll hit the train and ride to the canal city of Otaru. Here you’ll explore bakeries, old trading houses turned into museums, and more. As night falls, we’ll enjoy Otaru’s annual Winter Festival, where candle-lit snow sculptures line the canals and streets!
Day 5: Beer Factories and Big Meals
You’ve heard of Sapporo Beer; now go to where it was born! We’ll make a stop at the Sapporo Beer Factory this morning to check out the history of this famous brew and (if you are of age!) get some samples. In the afternoon, you can choose to check out Maruyama Park and the Hokkaido Shrine, or do some shopping and exploring in Sapporo’s vibrant Susukino area. Save a little stomach room though; we’ll also be visiting Hokkaido’s famous Yukijirushi Ice Cream Parlor to have some very impressive desserts!
Day 6: To the Lakeshore
In the morning, you’re free to do as you wish! Head back into the city for another visit to the festival, or just get some shopping done. In the afternoon, we’ll regroup and head towards Lake Shikotsu, where we’ll check into a luxury hot spring (onsen) resort on the lakeside. Soak in the hot spring waters, fill up at a deluxe buffet dinner, and join us for an evening visit to the neon glow of the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival!
Day 7: Ice is Nice
It’s time for a little relaxation! Today is yours to hike, explore, or just enjoy the onsen. In the afternoon, we’ll head down to the festival grounds to poke around (and through) the ice sculptures. ^_^
Day 8: Red Brick Reverie
After breakfast, we bid adieu to Lake Shikotsu and hop on an express train along the south Hokkaido coast to Hakodate. Our first stop will be waterfront’s Kanemori Warehouse area, where you can sample some of the beloved local goodies such as “Snaffles” (trust us, they’re great!) and Japan’s most legendary Gelato. In the evening, we’ll check in to our Hakodate hotel and head out for a late dinner.
Day 9: Hakodate!
Today is completely dedicated to exploring Hakodate! We begin with the famous Asaichi Morning Market, home to some of Japan’s most famous fish and crab vendors. Then we head into the old western quarter of the city to learn about the city’s history, and maybe grab a little tea at the old English Consulate. After a lunch on the waterfront, it’s off to Fort Goryokaku, a unique star-shaped fort that we’ll view from the ground – and a tower outside the moat. Speaking of views, in the evening we’ll head to one of Japan’s most legendary ones: the city lights from Mt. Hakodate.
Day 10: Fire Flinging Fun!
We depart Hakodate in the morning and travel through the Seikan Undersea Tunnel on Japan’s newest Shinkansen (bullet train). Our first stop will be Aomori, where you’ll learn about the history of the Tsugaru Strait area on the Hakkoda-maru Ferry before we sample fresh Apple Wine and Apple Soda at A-Factory!
Later, we’ll arrive in Kakunodate, an old village in the Akita mountains where a beautifully preserved street of samurai homes await your visit. Feeling cold? No worries – in the evening, we’ll join the locals to swing burning bales of rice (no joke!) at the Hiburi Kamakura Festival!
Day 11: Igloo Insider
Ever wished you could party in an igloo? Here’s your chance! We visit Yokote’s Kamakura Festival today, where the locals will invite you inside giant igloos for snacks, warm drinks, and socializing among snowbanks illuminated with thousands of candles. Along the way, we’ll also visit the village of Omonogawa to sample some local treats and check out some traditional handicrafts.
Day 12: City Crawling
It’s time to hit the big city! We arrive in Tokyo today, and you have the day to do as you wish. Explore hip neighborhoods, shop for fashion in Shinjuku or Anime goods in Akihabara – or just unwind after the trek. As always, your guides will be on hand to help you make a decision on what to do.
Day 13: Returning home
Time to return home and tell your friends about the trip!