Happy New Year! (Can I still say it even though it has been 1 month since the new year started? oh well…)
The first month of 2018 was very busy for me, as I had finals and lots of work to do in general. But that didn’t stop me from daydreaming about some places I have visited in the past or wish to visit someday. So I thought I should make a list with dreamy places in Japan, that get even prettier during winter. So here are my top 5 dreamy winter places in Japan! Enjoy!
1. Ginzan Onsen, Yamagata Prefecture
I haven’t been here yet, but it has been on my Japan bucket list since December last year! I wanted to go in January but then thought I should probably leave it for Christmas next year, and make a tradition out of spending Christmas while in Japan at an onsen. This place looks too good to be true, straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. I know the onsen bath in Spirited Away was actually inspired from somewhere else, but Ginzan Onsen could be also considered one of its inspiration sources.
Unfortunately, from what I have read online, access to Ginzan Onsen is a bit complicated (more info here), but I think it is totally worth the hassle when you get there and see this beauty with your own eyes. It is currently known as one of the most beautiful onsen towns in Japan, and you can probably see why from the photos (I doubt photos are misleading in this case and I think it is just as pretty in real life as it is in the photos).
2. Hakodate, Hokkaido
I visited Hakodate during summer and it was one of my favorite cities in Japan. I loved Hakodate’s European atmosphere combined with a retro Japanese atmosphere. Although it was really beautiful during summer, I wish I could see it during winter as well someday. It must be really cold though.
3. Takaragawa Onsen, Gunma Prefecture
Well, another onsen, because what is better during cold winter days if not soaking in an onsen? I think it is one of the best feelings ever, and even better when you have a beautiful landscape surrounding you. Takaragawa is a famous onsen in Gunma prefecture, and I can see why when looking at the almost surreal photos. I chose a less known onsen town when I went to Gunma prefecture, but next time Takaragawa or Kusatsu are must-see for me!
4. Sapporo Snow Festival
Back to Hokkaido because nowhere in Japan is winter more beautiful than in Hokkaido, its northern island. We wanted to go to the Snow Festival two years ago but since November all accommodations were already reserved so if you are planning to go, you should probably reserve one year in advance or so… However, we managed to see beautiful Hokkaido in summer, but Sapporo Snow Festival still remains on my bucket list.
5. Shirakawago, Gifu Prefecture
Finally, one place from this list that I have actually been to! Yay! I went there two years ago and it is one of my favorite trips in Japan. Shirakawago was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and I think it has a special atmosphere in any season, the beautiful, raw green in spring and summer, red and yellows in autumn but I think winter is when it gets the most fairytale-like. And I’m happy I could visit it during winter.
Last week, Tokyo had the first (and probably last) snow of the year! Tokyo usually gets snow once a year but it rarely piles up. However, this year Tokyo had one of the biggest snowfalls in years, snowed all day, from early morning until night so by 7 pm everything turned white. It was so dreamy! Of course, as Tokyo is not used to snow, many inconveniences came up such as great delays for trains. But the child in me was so happy, I had a lot of fun in the snow that day and also took some photos along the way, around Waseda campus.
Have you visited any of these places? Are you planning to? 😀 Let me know if you have any other recommendations for beautiful places during winter in Japan, I might add them to my list.
Thanks for reading!