Natural Wonders in Japan to Visit in Winter

 

With the country’s natural resources and spectacular sceneries, Japan is definitely a winter wonderland! Here are some of the places to visit if you wish to see gorgeous and amazing winter spectacles while you are in the Land of the Rising Sun.

 

1. Lake Akan (Hokkaido) 

 

 

Located in the eastern part of Hokkaido Prefecture, Lake Akan is situated inside Akan-Mashu National Park. It is best known for its locally grown marimo algae, a rare type of algae that turns into green balls. 

 

Lake Akan is a must-visit during wintertime for a couple of reasons. For one, you will get to see “frost flowers,” which is a natural phenomenon where ice crystals form like blooms over the frozen lake. And two, from early February to early March, the place celebrates Lake Akan Ice Festival, during which about 300 fireworks are said to be launched into the clear night sky every evening.

 

Additionally, there are plenty of attractions to check out while in the vicinity of Akan-Mashu National Park. There is a local hot spring resort with several ryokans or traditional Japanese inns, as well as various activities you can try such as riding snowmobiles and fat bikes.

 

2. Zao Snow Monsters (Miyagi)

 

 

If you would like to see some natural snow monsters in winter, then traveling to Mt. Zao, located between the prefectures of Miyagi and Yamagata, should be at the top of your list. 

 

A wonderful sight to behold, the Zao Snow Monsters occur naturally when snow forms unusual shapes as it coats the trees. To see this natural phenomenon, you can take the Zao Ropeway from Zao Onsen Village. The aerial cable cars will take you to see the snow monsters, also called “juhyo.” 

 

Of course, the icy cold months of December to March, most especially February, would be the best time to see these snow monsters. During this period, an event called the “Zao Juhyo Festival” is celebrated at Zao Onsen Ski Resort where various activities take place, such as the illumination of hoar frost and a fireworks display, among others.

 

3. The Misotsuchi Icicles (Saitama) 

 

 

Would you like to see mother nature’s icicles? Then you should head over to the Misotsuchi Icicles located in Saitama Prefecture, which is only two to three hours away from Tokyo.

 

Tourists who have been to the Misotsuchi Icicles describe the place as magical. And how can it not be when it offers a majestic view of natural icicles that have been formed out of the waterfalls? An amazing natural phenomenon, indeed.

 

Likewise, there are artificial icicles that offer a different kind of ice art that should not be missed as well.

 

Should you plan to visit the place, mid-January to mid-February is a highly recommended time to witness the icicles’ winter illumination.

 

4. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle (Okayama) 

 

 

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle offers a magnificent view as it is located at an altitude of 430 meters above sea level. From late October to December, tourists may be able to see the sea of clouds in the morning before 8 AM. The sight truly makes the castle a “Castle in the Sky.”

 

Built in 1240, Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is definitely worth a visit as it is said to be the only mountain castle, as well as the oldest surviving one, in Japan. It can be found in Takahashi City in Okayama Prefecture, situated on top of Gagyusan Mountain. 

 

One of the highlights of the place is the “Bitchu Takahashi Matsuyama Odori Festival,” which takes place every August. Dancing people wearing yukata and kasa (straw lampshade hat) fill the streets during this festive time.

 

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