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Five Scenic Spots in Kansai to Visit in the Winter

There are many famous tourist destinations in the Kansai region, starting with Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara. Here are some spots in Kansai with beautiful winter scenery.

2017.01.05

1. Kifune Shrine (Kyoto)

Official Name: Kifune Sohongu Kifune Jinja
Kifune Shrine is located among the hills of northern Kyoto. It is a shrine to the deities of water, and has recently been attracting attention as a power spot. In the winter, the shrine has a light-up event limited to days with snow. The snow-covered landscape that comes to light in these events is magical. Kifune Shrine usually has snow between ten and 15 days a year, so you'll be lucky if it the event happens during your visit! When the event is being held, it is announced on sites such as the shrine's official website and Facebook at 3:00 pm on the day.
*In 2017, it will be held between January 1 and February 28.
*Event's Web site

2. Amanohashidate (Kyoto)

Amanohashidate is considered to be one of Japan's three special places of scenic beauty. It is a major tourist spot in Tango, a region on the Japanese sea in northern Kyoto. It is characterized by a unique landscape with a 20m - 170m wide beach spanning 3.6km on which approximately 8,000 pine trees grow. Amanohashidate means "a bridge to heaven," and was so named because it looks as if it is a bridge to heaven. Being in a snowy area, the landscape turns completely white in the winter, offering a view of a beautiful snowscape. In addition to the scenery, seasonal local food, such as crab, oyster and Japanese amberjack, can be enjoyed in the area in the winter.

3. Himeji Castle (Hyogo)

Himeji Castle, which was the first World Cultural Heritage Site to be registered in Japan, is a castle that was built 400 years ago. With almost all of the castle buildings remaining from the time of construction, it has continued the legacy of the unique Japanese castle structure to the present. A salient characteristic is the white plaster walls. Due to the beauty of the white walls, the castle is also referred to as "castle of chalk" and "White Heron Castle". Even the stone walls and surrounding trees are covered in white on snowy days, creating an even more inspirational scenery.

3. Himeji Castle (Hyogo)

4. Shirahige Shrine (Shiga)

Shirahige Shrine is a shrine with a mystic red torii gate that seems to float on a lake. It is in Takashima on the west shore of Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwa, and is said to be the oldest shrine in Omi (the old name for Shiga). It is known as a shrine to the deity of longevity and as a power spot. The scenery is beautiful during the day, but is especially recommended at sunrise. The gradually changing colors of the sky and sun, together with the shrine, create a magical scenery. This is a place where many people visit to see the first sunrise of the year on January 1, as it is a Japanese tradition handed down from ancient times to pray to the first sunrise of the year.

4. Shirahige Shrine (Shiga)

5. Umikongo (Wakayama)

Umikongo, a powerful location with rough waves breaking onto sharp rock formations, is a spectacular scenic spot in Kii Island in Kushimoto. Here, you can enjoy natural sculptures of sharp cliffs and strange rock formations that were slowly formed by waves over the ages. At Umikongo, you'll see the Pacific Ocean in front of you, and Japan's oldest stone lighthouse, Kashinozaki Lighthouse, to the northeast. With shrubs growing all around the area, it feels like a remote, hidden destination. Once you've enjoyed the spectacular scenery, you'll want to try the traditional Wakayama winter dish, kuenabe (kue hot pot). Kue (tawny grouper), is a luxury fish caught primarily near the Wakayama coast appreciated for its delicate yet deep flavor.

Each location is a bit of a distance from the center of the city, but is definitely worth going! If you can steep yourself in the fabulous scenery, it is sure to become an unforgettable memory from your travels.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: nomura

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