7 Spectacular Winter Views in Japan You Don’t Want To Miss
Japan is blessed with great winter scenery throughout the country. Here are 7 of the most recommended places with spectacular winter views.
1. Shirakawa-go (Gifu)
At Shirakawa-go, Gifu, there are historic villages with houses that have distinctive mountain-shaped roofs. The architectural style of these houses is known as Gassho-zukuri. Traditions and the villagers’ lifestyles have remained the same over the years. It is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site for its highly-valued beautiful view. It is an area with one of the heaviest snowfalls in Japan. From late December to early March, the villages get completely covered with snow. With the help of light-up events, you can see a majestic view at night.
2. Icicles of Misotsuchi (Saitama)
It is an iconic winter feature in Okuchichibu, Saitama. The water trickling from rocks in the mountains freeze due to its brutal cold and become natural icicles. The best time to see them is from mid-January to early February. These icicles start to appear as it gets colder, and at their peak, they grow up to around 30m in width and 8m in height. During the light-up season (January 14 - February 12 in 2017), you can see the mystical beauty of the colorfully lit-up icicles.
3. Terraced Rice Fields in Tokamachi (Niigata)
Terraced rice fields (rice fields on sloped land) can be seen throughout Tokamachi, Niigata. The representative rice field area is Hoshitoge, which has around 200 fields. If you are visiting there during winter, it is recommended to visit when it’s just starting to snow. The snow-covered fields painted with the sunset or dusk look absolutely gorgeous! They won't be removing the snow, so no cars can drive to the town when there’s heavy snow. There is a parking lot and observatory at a great view point.
4. Ginzan Onsen (Yamagata)
Ginzan Onsen is a hot spring village in Obanazawa, Yamagata. One of the charms here is the nostalgic look of a bunch of Western-style wooden hotels standing on both sides of a river. When it's getting dark, the gas lamps on the streets light up to create a romantic atmosphere. It gets even more romantic when snow starts to fall during winter! The hot springs along the river have a milky color and warm you up really well. Other than hotels, you can enjoy the nice and warm hot springs at public baths, as well as footbaths.
5. Kamakura in Yokote (Akita)
Kamakura is a traditional event held during the 15th and 16th of February every year in various places of Akita. Each place has a taste of its own, and the most famous of all is the one in Yokote. Kamakura is a kiln-shaped snow dome that kids often hide out in to have amazake (traditional sweet, low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drink made from fermented rice) or mochi (rice cake). A bunch of Kamakura built in various places will welcome tourists. A lot of mini-Kamakura in Janosaki Gawara and the school yard of Yokote Minami Elementary School are also must-sees! Each of them will be lit up to make a magical atmosphere.
6. Dawn Redwood Avenue in Makino Highland (Shiga)
Dawn Redwood Avenue is a 2.4km-long avenue that acts as the approach to Makino Highland in Shiga. Planted on both sides of the straight road are around 500 dawn redwood trees. The trees are around 35m tall, and their branches have a beautiful, cone-shaped silhouette. During spring and summer, the area has a refreshing atmosphere, but during winter when the trees are covered in snow, they have this calm yet breathtaking beauty. The mountains surrounding the area further add to the astounding view that continues to fascinate those that come here.
7. Frost-covered Trees in Zao (Yamagata)
In the Zao Mountains of Yamagata, you can see the mystical beauty of frost-covered trees. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs when conifer branches catch cloud seeds (tiny ice particles in the atmosphere carried by monsoons) and consequently grow bigger. It is an art of nature created by the unique climate and regional vegetation. Its peak is around February. From the funicular that connects the root of the mountains to highland, you can see spectacular views of the frosted trees!
That's the list! If you find any of the places introduced in this article interesting, go visit the place and enjoy the beautiful winter in Japan!
*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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