A Winter Trip to The Snowy Ginzan Onsen Village: Travel Guide

Ginzan Onsen in winter

Ginzan Onsen is one of the most dazzling places in Tohoku, especially when it’s covered in snow and blazed by traditional gas streetlamps. This small hot spring town, nestled deep in the mountains, features old-style buildings from the Taisho Era along a river. It's a perfect spot for those who love old Japan and is said to have inspired the bathhouse in the movie "Spirited Away" by Studio Ghibli.

If you plan to visit Ginzan Onsen at night during the winter, make sure to dress warmly. The area often experiences heavy snow and temperatures can drop to about 23°F (-4.3°C). Also, leave some extra time in your schedule in case the bus or taxi you're taking moves slowly because of the weather.

Transportation to Ginzan Onsen can be challenging in winter, especially for those who haven’t booked overnight accommodations in the town and evening visit is quite popular. To help the many travelers who include this beautiful destination in their plans, we've provided a list of all the transportation options available during the winter months below.

Get ready to enjoy a breathtaking wonderland at Ginzan Onsen in winter!


Ginzan Onsen


Staying Overnight at Ginzan Onsen

If you're planning to stay at Ginzan Onsen in winter, be prepared for it to be very difficult to find accommodation. During the peak snowy months of December, January, and February, you typically need to book at least a year in advance to secure a room along the main street.

If you can't find a place to stay in Ginzan Onsen, plan a day trip. Many visitors come from nearby Yamagata City or from other local onsens like Kaminoyama and Tendo Onsen. You can use the transport options listed below to visit for the day. 


Ginzan ryokan with private onsen


Public Transportation to Ginzan Onsen

Public transport options to Ginzan Onsen are limited and often affected by weather conditions, which can lead to delays or cancellations. The local bus service, which connects Ginzan Onsen with the nearest train station at Oishida, runs only seven times a day.

This infrequent schedule can make it difficult to spend time enjoying the famous illuminated night view of Ginzan Onsen. Each bus ride costs ¥1000 and is not covered by the JR pass. The journey between Oishida Station and Ginzan Onsen takes about 35 minutes.

Here's the bus schedule:

- Oishida Station to Ginzan Onsen



- Ginzan Onsen to Ōishida Station



Please note:

  • Special express services operate from December 1 to March 31 due to winter conditions.
  • During winter, schedules may be disrupted due to bad weather.
  • There are fare changes effective from April 1, with a standard adult one-way fare of 1,000 yen. Children and persons with disabilities, along with their accompanying person, pay 500 yen.


Oishida Station


Additionally, the increasing number of visitors to Ginzan Onsen each year puts extra pressure on the limited bus service.

During the busy months of January and February, the buses often reach capacity, sometimes leaving 20 to 60 people unable to board. These travelers may have to wait up to two hours for the next bus in the open air at the bus stop.

Private Charter Vehicle to Ginzan Onsen

For a smooth and safe trip to Ginzan Onsen in the winter, we recommend booking a private charter vehicle.

This option ensures that you arrive on time to experience the beautiful twilight glow just after sunset, and it eliminates the worry of missing the last bus and being stranded in Ginzan Onsen. A reserved vehicle provides a reliable and comfortable way to enjoy your visit to this scenic onsen town.

- Day-Trip to Ginzan Onsen with Private Charter Vehicle

Enjoy a convenient day trip to Ginzan Onsen by booking a private charter vehicle. You can choose the pickup time and location, whether it's from your hotel, Yamagata Shonai Airport, or any train station you prefer.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to get a taxi is from Oishida Station. During your visit, you can opt for a complimentary private guided walking tour in English or explore the onsen town at your leisure.

If interested, we can arrange for you to experience a hot springs bath in Ginzan Onsen. After your visit, your driver will ensure your safe return to your hotel, an airport, or a train station.

- Day Trip Itinerary to Ginzan Onsen from Tokyo via Private Charter Vehicle





Ginzan Onsen in winter


Bus Trip from Tendo Onsen to Ginzan Onsen

Tendo Onsen is just a short taxi ride or a leisurely 20-minute walk from Tendo Station, which is itself a simple 40-minute train ride from Yamagata Station. The tree-lined canals and cobblestone paths of Tendo Onsen provide a perfect prelude to the snowy, dazzling scenes of Ginzan Onsen.

We offer a bus service through our partners that allows visitors to explore both onsen towns in a single day. We recommend booking your accommodation at Tendo Onsen and the bus service as a package through us. The bus ride from Tendo Onsen to Ginzan Onsen takes about one hour.

Upon arrival in Ginzan Onsen, you can wander through the town, enjoy the stunning scenery, warm up in a café, use the public footbaths on the streets (don't forget to bring a towel!), and shop for souvenirs. You'll then head back to Tendo Onsen for a relaxing evening meal and a restful night at your pre-booked accommodation.

Since securing a place to stay in Ginzan Onsen in winter months can be almost impossible as December, January, and February are quite busy, we recommend making a day trip and staying at the delightful Tendo Onsen in Yamagata instead.


Tendo Onsen


Book a Private Car with a Driver to Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen's remote location means that public transportation options are limited. Most locals prefer to drive, and we offer car rental services that include a professional driver.

However, we advise against renting a car to drive yourself during the winter months due to the hazardous snowy conditions. Once you arrive in the town, a short 5 to 10-minute shuttle bus ride from the parking lot will take you to the heart of Ginzan Onsen.

Shuttle Bus Operating Hours for Ginzan Onsen