I haven’t got any trips planned for a while so I’ll fall back on the usual routine of raving about my favourite country I’ve visited to date…Japan. Not strictly a Tokyo based post this week, but I’ll try to justify it by saying that if you are visiting or living in Tokyo over the winter months it really is worth getting out and seeing a bit more of Japan as it has so much to offer over the colder, snowy months…
I’m sure you’ve heard tales of the knee-deep powder skiing in Japan…and all those tales are true. The quality of the snow, on all my trips, really was as good as they say and after skiing in Japan I’m going to find it very hard to return to the European slopes. For those of you who are worried about the language barrier, we found that a lot of the resorts are actually run by Aussies and even if it is a largely Japanese-run resort the language of ski is pretty universal and, as always, the Japanese will go out of their way to be helpful.
The resort boasts great skiing, beautiful views, comfortable modern apartments, some great apres-ski and loads of delicious restaurants (who can resist a steaming bowl of fresh crab noodle soup halfway up a mountain?!)
If you don’t have enough time to head up to Niseko, the resort of Shiga Kogen (where part of the 1998 winter olympics was hosted) also offers great skiing.
2. Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival runs for a week each February and is a must-see if you are in Japan at that time. The parks of Sapporo are filled with incredible ice and snow sculptures.
Some of the sculptures were mind-blowingly intricate…
And some, just downright adorable!
Aside from the festival Sapporo is a great town. We ate in some really tasty sushi restaurants and, given the northern location, you get some really different pieces of fish (more to come soon, but if you’re heading to Sapporo before I post please feel free to drop me a message and I’ll get in touch).
3. Snow monkeys
The famous snow monkeys of Nagano are definitely one of the top things to see if you’re in Japan over the winter (and combine neatly with a skiing trip in Shiga Kogen). The monkeys are completely wild and free to roam, although the hoards of tourists taking photos of the monkeys soaking in the steaming hot springs (yes, I see the hipocrasy here!) do make it feel slightly zoo like at times.
For more details on how to visit the snow monkeys see my previous post here.
4. Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa
Under a few hours’ ride from Tokyo is Kanazawa, famous for its gold leaf, local craftsmanship and Kenrokuen Garden. Kenrokuen is known to be one of the three great garden’s of Japan and it is easy to see why…all the hallmarks of a traditional Japanese garden are immaculately displayed and when covered in snow it looks absolutely stunning.
The city of Nikko is known for it’s temples, shrines and hot springs…a pretty good combination in the winter months! The temples and other cultural attractions (in particular Kanmangafuchi Abyss above) look so beautiful with a smattering of snow
And when you’re feet get too cold you can hop in the car and head to a hot spring resort for some well deserved rest and relaxation.
For more details see here.