TOP-4 PLACES WHERE TO GO IN THE WINTER
Four places in Japan that will remind you of winter wonderland!
New Year’s holiday in Japan can be truly fabulous if you decide to visit the picturesque port city of Otaru. During the economic expansion of Hokkaido, in the late XIX and early XX centuries, Otaru flourished, and many Western-style buildings were built in the center of the port city. Many of them were later converted into restaurants, cafes, boutiques and museums. These places, located on Sakaimatsi Street, are very popular among tourists.
The program of most travelers necessarily includes a visit to the Otaru Canal, which was restored in the 1980s, the annual snow festival Snow Light Path Festival, as well as the Museum of Music Boxes, which collected more than 25,000 old and modern music boxes.
When the herring catch declined in the 1950s, local glass makers began to produce high-quality dishes, and today tourists who are interested and fascinated by this craft can try their hand at producing Otaru glassware.
And if you like to taste alcoholic beverages, we recommend visiting the distillery Tanaka Sake, in order not only to see how high-quality sake is made, but also to taste the best samples of 10 brands of this alcoholic beverage. You can also try a sake cake made from rice residues after fermentation or local vegetables marinated in sake.
Sights of Otaru:
Tanaka Sake Factory
A walk through the picturesque streets
Museum of Music Boxes
The small town of Sounkyo is famous for its hot springs on Kurodake Mountain. Located in a narrow gorge at a height of 100 meters, covered with forests, this region is also known as one of the coldest regions of Japan – therefore it is necessary to wear very warm clothes here. And if you purchased a New Year’s tour to Japan for more than a week, we advise you to visit the Ice Festival Sounkyo Ice Festival (mid January – end of March). Here you can admire the incredible landscape of tunnels, caves and stairs, made entirely of ice and illuminated by colored lights.
The festival runs along the Ishikari River. The festival program may vary from year to year, but usually large ice sculptures and snow buildings are represented on it, and they also ride tubas. There is also a snow-covered scene, where various shows and events are held.
If weather conditions allow, you can explore the gorge, which gave its name to the city and stretched for 24 kilometers along the Ishikari River.
At leisure, you can also wander along the coastal paths and admire the frozen waterfalls. If the weather is clear, you can take the cable car to the top of Mount Kurodake. The city also has indoor hot springs, in which it is pleasant to spend time after long walks.
On the way to Lake Akan, tourists usually make a stop at the International Center for the Study of Cranes Akan, which is also a museum, breeding center and nature reserve dedicated to rare Japanese cranes. Next to it is the Tantso Observation Center, which provides birds with food during the winter months when snow covers the ground.
The hunt in the XIX century and the reduction of habitat in the XX century led to the fact that by 1924 less than two dozen cranes living in the nearby Kushiro marshes survived. These birds, which are a symbol of happiness and longevity in Japan, desperately needed protection, and gradually their population began to increase, reaching 1000 individuals by the beginning of the XXI century. There are about 1300 cranes in Japan now.
From the center, tourists go to the picturesque lake in the Akan National Park, where you can walk along forest paths. Along the shores of Lake Akan, there is the small village of Ainu Kotan, home to about 200 Ainu, the indigenous people of these places. Tourists enjoy visiting the Ainu Museum, which houses musical instruments such as mukkuri (such as the labial harp) and citrus-like citrus, as well as traditional instruments and clothing. And there is always a chance to hear the songs and see the dances of the Ainu, glorifying nature.
Tantso Observation Center
International Center for the Study of Cranes Akan
Sapporo is the largest city of Hokkaido. Every February, he is transformed during the one-week snow festival of Yuki Matsuri. The festival was started by high school students who built snow castles here in 1950. Now this grand event attracts over two million visitors from all over the world to rest in Japan in the winter.
As the festival developed, in addition to the creation of snow sculptures, other forms of entertainment were added: concerts, food stalls, art exhibitions and ice skating, “cheesecakes” and snowmobiles.