Winter in Japan: Enjoy the snow, ice near you
Besides the ski resorts, there are many places in Japan where you, your family and friends can skate, sled or just play in the snow. Since ice skating was the first winter sport introduced to Japan about 145 years ago, today numerous climate-controlled indoor ice rinks are located throughout the nation, including one in the southernmost island of Okinawa. Various outdoor ice rinks are available during wintertime, as well.
You can enjoy ice skating in the center of Tokyo at the beautifully illuminated Tokyo Midtown Outdoor Skate Rink. You may want to take your children to Hakone-en Sledding Square in Kanagawa Prefecture where they can sleigh, make snowmen or toss snowballs at one another.
Winter is here, so get off base and enjoy all the great activities Japan has to offer.
1. Tokyo Midtown Outdoor Skate Rink near Yokota, Yokosuka, Zama, Atsugi
Being one of the largest outdoor ice rinks within Tokyo, the rink can accommodate 210 skaters. You can access the food facilities next to the rink with your skates on. Coin lockers are available and you can rent skates. To prevent accidents, all skaters are required to wear helmets and gloves in the rink. Helmets are provided for free by the rink, but you must bring your gloves. The rink is beautifully lit up from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. every day.
Location: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Period: Jan. 7 - Mar. 1
Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Admission: Mon.-Fri.: Adults; 2,000 yen, Junior high schoolers or younger; 1,500 yen. Sat., Sun. and holidays: Adults; 2,500 yen, Junior high schoolers or younger; 2,000 yen
* Admission includes rental skates and a coffee ticket.
2. Art Rink in Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse near Yokosuka, Yokota, Zama, Atsugi
As the name indicates, this outdoor ice rink is decorated with drawings, illustrations and illuminations by Thai artist, Wisut Ponnimit. Besides the art, you can enjoy beautiful night views and illumination of Yokohama Port and the Red Brick Warehouse while skating.
Location: 1-1-2 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Period: Nov. 30 - Feb. 16
Hours: Mon. - Fri.: 1 p.m. - 9 p.m., Sat., Sun. and holidays: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Admission: Adults: 700 yen, Kindergarteners through High schoolers: 500 yen, Rental skates: 500 yen
3. Hakone-en Sledding Square near Zama, Atsugi and Fuji
This location has the latest model snow machine, which provides quality artificial powder snow. You can sled, make snowman or toss snowballs in the square while enjoying a majestic view of Mount Fuji. Rental wears and shoes are available. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, penguins from the Hakone-en Aquarium visit the square to play with children.
Location: 139 Motohakone, Hakone Town, Kanagawa Prefecture
Period: Dec. 20 - Mar. 1
Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission: 800 yen for 2 hours (including a rental sled)
4. Wonder Rink near Iwakuni
Housed in The Outlets Hiroshima, the largest shopping mall and amusement facility in the region, Wonder Rink offers a magical skating experience under colorful illuminations. The bright modern rink is housed in a sports complex that also includes an indoor field with a large trampoline. The skate rink is divided by various activities, such as bumper-car, curling and ice bike, so both adults and children can enjoy the attractions. One-point skating lesson is available for beginners on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. for a 500 yen fee.
Location: 4-1-1 Ishiuchi Higashi, Saeki-ku, Hirashima City, Hiroshima Prefecture (50-minute drive from MCAS Iwakuni)
Hours: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
5. Papio Ice Arena near Sasebo
Both skilled and beginning skaters can enjoy skating in the large-sized ice skating rink (30-meter by 60-meter) at Papio Ice Arena. It offers various different skating shoes for rental depending on the level of skaters. For beginners, buckle-style (lace-less) shoes are available, so even a small child can get on a pair and participate. If you want to gain skill or progress in skating, why not enroll the skating classes that the ice arena offers throughout the year? You can take classes four times a week for the monthly membership of 5,500 yen.
Location: 15-30 Chiyo Icchome, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture (90-minute drive from Sasebo Naval Base)
Hours: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Admission: Adults: 1,800 yen, High schoolers: 1,450 yen, Elementary schoolers or younger: 1,100 yen
6. Sports World Southern Hill Okinawa
Sports World Southern Hill is the only ice rink located on Okinawa. The rink is open throughout the year. The full-size rink (28 meter by 58 meter) enables you to enjoy any type of skating, from figure skating to ice hockey. Various skating lessons are available. The rink is beautifully lit up during nighttime.
Location: 460-1 Miyadaira, Minamikazehara Town, Okinawa
Hours: Mon. - Fri.: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sat., Sun.: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Holidays: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Admission: Adults: 1,700 yen, High schoolers: 1,500 yen, Elementary schoolers: 1,300 yen, 5 or younger: 1,100 yen
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