Breathtaking Winter Landscapes in Japan

Winter in Japan can be as equally exciting as any other time of the year. Each season brings something new and beautiful to the landscape and surroundings that makes your visit fun and memorable.

Winter in different parts of Japan presents varied experiences. It’s such a north-south country, there’s a great difference in climate. Big cities such as Osaka and Tokyo have shorter, temperate winters, while the Northern parts as well as the mountainous regions of Japan experience long winters, extremely cold temperatures, with a lot of snowfall for long months at a time.  The thick snow makes it ideal for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding as well as the much anticipated Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido.

All around Japan there are some amazing places to discover in wintertime. Here are some of the most loved places to visit:

Jigokudani Onsen, Nagano

Jigokudani Monkey Park, a part of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), is located at the northern area of the Yokoyu-River.  Jigokudani, or Hell’s Valley, is aptly named for the boiling water that spumes from the crevices of the frozen ground.

Jigokudani is not only famous for its picturesque winter wonderland but for the many wild Japanese macaques or snow monkeys that inhabit the area during the winter. They climb down from the steep cliffs and forests to enjoy the warm waters of the hot springs (onsen).

Jigokudani Monkey Park. | Douglas Sprott

Snow Monsters in Zao, Miyagi

Mt. Zao is located between the border of Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures.  Winter in Mt. Zao brings winds that blow from Siberia and as they pass through the Sea of Japan, they pick up moisture. After the wind crosses the Asahi Mountain Range to the west of Mt. Zao, the moisture forms clouds of supercooled droplets.  The mountain is surrounded  by coniferous trees such as the Aomori Fir. The trees cover the slopes that are between an altitude of about 4,265 and 5,249 feet. The clouds frost the conifers on the slopes of Mt. Zao over and over until an icy crust forms and the trees are completely covered in ice and form weird kinds of shapes. It makes an eerily majestic sight.

Mt. Zao. | alala_p

Diamond Dust, Hokkaido

Diamond dust is a gound-level cloud that is made up of tiny ice crystals. It is a meteorological phenomenon similar to fog since the cloud is on the surface. However, fog is composed of liquid water while diamond dust forms directly as ice. Diamond dust is formed when the skies are clear, making the effect more dramatic and magical.

Hokkaido is in the northernmost region of Japan and diamond dust forms during midwinter in Nayoro, Asahikawa, Tokachi, and Kawayu Onsen. As diamond dust kisses the area, the sight is just too beautiful for words.

Diamond dust. | halfrain