JAPAN — THE WINTER WONDERLAND

JAPAN

The Winter Wonderland

In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom, in the summer, lush foliage sparkles, in the fall, the mountains turn crimson, and in the winter, snow falls. The most brutal season is winter in Japan. Every year, unimaginable amounts of snowfall are seen, particularly in the Hokkaido, Tohoku, and Hokuriku regions, which has an impact on local lifestyles and traffic. There are customs for spending the winter, activities to do, celebrations, and fine cuisine that are exclusively found in snow country. They bring happiness to the community and inspire appreciation among visitors from various nations and areas.

HEAVY SNOWFALL REGIONS IN JAPAN
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency’s announcement on “Winter Weather in 2022 and its Factors,” strong cold air flowed close to Japan from December to February of last year, causing above-normal snowfall in areas along the Sea of Japan coastline from northern to western Japan. On February 24, 2022, 419 cm of snow was recorded, particularly at Tsunan, Niigata Prefecture. Many locations in Hokkaido experienced deeper snowfalls than usual. Chitose, Hokkaido, for instance, experienced 77 cm of snow on February 28, 2008, but that amount grew dramatically to 123 cm on February 23, 2022. With this snowfall, a small child’s height would be greatly surpassed.

ENTERTAINMENT IN SNOW COUNTRY

Winter Sports Paradise
The most popular winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Particularly busy have been the prefectures of Hokkaido, Niigata, and Nagano due to the large influx of international tourists looking to experience Japan’s powder snow from abroad. Skiers from Japan and other nations would come in droves after the pandemic.

Breathtaking Scenery
Snow country’s distinctively attractive winter scenery as well as the bright nighttime skies and lovely starry skies are certain to be observed. It may be acceptable to conclude that you have not completed a significant life endeavor if you have never seen a winter wonderland all around you. At this time of year, it’s also advised to observe Orion, the well-known Japanese winter constellation. Snow-covered areas experience drier air in the winter, which lowers water vapor-induced atmospheric turbulence, producing bright nights ideal for stargazing.

Winter Cuisine
Japanese people place a high significance on the season of food. “Shun” is described as the period of the year when fruits, vegetables, and seafood are ready for harvest and are considered to taste their finest. While many fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed all year round, many Japanese people prefer to eat their food at its peak. Midwinter offers a variety of tempting meals to eat. Seafood delicacies are great at this time of year, especially crab and cod.

Animal Life
Snow country is also home to a variety of creatures. They use many forms of wisdom, just like humans, to improve their survival skills and prepare for the winter. Migratory birds fly from Russia to Hokkaido and Niigata. They arrive at different times of the year depending on where they fly in, but what draws people in is the excitement of running into them every year. Tourists can also encounter unique wildlife in Hokkaido, including seals, Steller’s sea eagles, and Red foxes.

Winter Event
The Sapporo Snow Festival is a well-known occasion in the country. For the first time in approximately three years, it will take place for eight days starting on February 4th and running through February 11th, 2023. The Sapporo Snow Festival’s emblem, five enormous snow sculptures, will be on display at the event along with various small and medium-sized snow sculptures, civic snow sculptures, winter attractions, and others. Visiting this event is a must if you’re traveling to Japan at this time of year.
Official Site: https://www.snowfes.com/english/

Many readers find it difficult to fathom how cold the winters are in Japan, so tourists must exercise caution, especially when visiting places that receive a lot of snowfall. For individuals who are not used to snow, slip-and-fall incidents involving vehicles or pedestrians in the snow, or even worse, accidents brought on by avalanches, can seem quite serious. To survive the severe winters, however, a lot of traditional methods of life have been passed down to us. We sincerely hope you would take pleasure in this snowy time of year in Japan.

HOKKAIDO-BASED PHOTOGRAPHER

Mr. MAKOTO ANDO
(Outdoor Master Guide /
Owner at Wilderness Lodge Hickory Wind)

Mr. Makoto Ando who was born in Sapporo in 1964, has been a social studies teacher for 12 years. It has been 24 years since he built Wilderness Lodge Hickory Wind in Tsurui Village. He is both an outdoor guide and a renowned worldwide photographer who has won multiple first-place prizes in prestigious competitions like “Nature’s Best Photography Asia.”

Mr. Ando has lived his life without stepping outside the bounds. He stated in his essay for his elementary school graduation that his ambition was to work in the natural world eventually. He is especially enthralled with bears and red-crowned cranes among all the fauna. In contrast to the brutal perception of bears promoted by the media, he is attempting to express the genuine loving nature of bears. He also has a close bond with the red-crowned crane, a significant emblem for the Hokkaido marshlands, a traditional culture that dates back to the Jomon era, and a representation of love that is tender and protective of its young at the sacrifice of its own life.

A fascinating incident occurred one day when Mr. Ando was passing by and saw what appeared to be an elderly woman lying down by the side of the road. She stretched her huge wings and immediately flew into the air as soon as he stopped his car and came over to assist her. In fact, it was a Steller’s sea eagle with a length of 2.3 m. The beast, taller than a person dozing in the cold, flew dramatically in front of Mr. Ando. The allure of Hokkaido is found in the presence of such unspoiled natural beauty.

One of the few locations in the world where wild nature still exists is Hokkaido. Siberia or Alaska would need a journey of more than 300 km, whereas Akan-Mashu National Park, and Kushiro Shitsugen National Park can all be reached in not much more than 30 minutes away from the Kushiro airport.

Kindness and affection shine through Mr. Ando’s viewfinder. Because of his enduring reputation for toughness and friendliness, Wilderness Lodge Hickory Wind continues to draw tourists from all over the world. With Mr. Ando as your guide, you won’t likely miss any of the rare species found in Hokkaido.
Please check the website for more details: https://hickorywind.jp/top-en.html

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