Travelling to Japan in winter 冬の日本旅行

With pleasant, dry, sunny weather, snow and low tourist numbers, winter is perhaps one of the best times to visit the Japanese archipelago.

Lake Akan

Located in the center of the island, Lake Akan offers an exceptional natural spectacle: the formation of delicate ice flowers on the surface of the lake. Once completely frozen, you can walk on the lake and even fish. It's also an opportunity to observe the black and white Japanese cranes, symbols of longevity and good fortune, which are only seen during this season.

lac akan

Lake Akan under the snow

Kushiro-lake Akan travel guide

Kitsune from Hokkaidô

Wikipedia

The Bird Emblem of Japan, the Red Crown Crane

Japan's emblem bird, the red-crowned crane

surz

Noboribetsu

Noboribetsu Onsen is a hot spot of volcanic activity, which can be approached to appreciate its full magnificence in the Jigokudani, the valley of the underworld. Its atypical landscape, with its orange hues and escaping vapors, immerses visitors in a unique atmosphere. The natural hot springs of Noboribetsu are the most popular in Hokkaido. Take a stroll through the village in search of the oni, the guardians of the underworld scattered throughout the town, and you're sure to come across a few bubbling geysers!

Demon statue at Noboribetsu Onsen

Lionel Leong, Flickr

Jigoku-dani,Noboribetsu Onsen

MIKI Yoshihito, Flickr

The village of Biei

The village of Biei holds many treasures. In spring and summer, come and enjoy its magnificent fields of flowers, especially lavender. In winter, don't miss the opportunity to visit the blue pond, Aoi ike. The surrounding countryside is cloaked in white, and the unreal blue of the pond creates a unique, magical atmosphere.

 

The blue pond of Biei

Biei Blue Pond, Hokkaido

Youn Kwon on Unsplash

Aoi ike, the blue pond of Biei (Hokkaido)

©Yusuke Miyahara

Shiretoko

At the eastern tip of the island of Hokkaido stretches one of Japan's most beautiful sites, Shiretoko, a fantastic natural conservatory home to brown bears, spotted seals, sperm whales and many species of birds, including eagles. It's the wildest place in Japan! At the height of winter, from late January onwards, a sea of floating ice forms right up to the horizon, which can be crossed by ice-breaking boat, the region's most popular attraction.

Balade sur le lac gelé de Shiretoko

Stroll on one of Shiretoko's frozen lakes

japanExperience

Even before the start of the New Year, the Japanese clean up their homes as well as their minds : tatami mats are shaken out, carpets aired, and it's a good omen to replace broken objects in order to best welcome the New Year's deities. All debts must be paid and all pending business concluded. Houses are decorated with kadomatsu, flower arrangements generally made of bamboo and pine, symbols of health and longevity.

Families savor toso, a spicy sake that guarantees good health, and prepare for prayers. Instead of the twelve strokes of midnight, the Japanese come to listen to the 108 strokes of the temple bell.

Kadomatsu, décoration à l'entrée de la maison en pin et bambou

Kadomatsu, pine and bamboo entrance decoration

Wikimedia Commons

For the celebration of the New Year festivities begin Kobe on the morning of Jan. 31 with Chinese acrobatic show dance.

To celebrate the New Year, Kobe's festivities begin on the morning of January 31 with a Chinese acrobatic dance performance.

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