A relatively small island country in the Pacific ocean, Japan boasts the perfect amalgamation of ancient culture and novel technology. From watching Japanese cartoons to eating sushi at our favourite cafe, we all have a corner for Japan. Little do we know about the enthralling experience a tourist gets when visiting Japan during winters. The country is at its scenic best, smeared in cherry blossoms blooming plushly. Japan is a country which brims with a rich culture along with excellent technological advancements. This year, Japan is set to present its cultural experiences at their finest in the countryside.
The year 2024 should be to ditch the ordinary and explore the offbeat path. If you are planning to take a flight to Japan this winter, here are the experiences that will take you by surprise.
1. Yokote Snow Festival
People from all corners of the country flock to Akita Prefecture to extract everything that the winter wonderland has to offer. The age-old festival was first organised 450 years ago and has fetched much fame since then. The major highlight is the creation of 80 kamakura igloos, along with a plethora of miniature igloos. Each igloo accommodates an altar in order to pay homage to the water gods. Natives pay reverence by making offerings of sake and rice cake. Not only the traditional food and music but also several local traditions throng the place. Tourists should not miss talking to the natives white sitting inside a kamakura drinking amazake.
The igloos light up and exude warmth in the vicinity. The beauty of the igloos brimming with light with the city’s nightscape in the background, looks astounding. Tourists can meander and watch the glowing igloos or navigate their way through them. Once you are in Tokyo, take the JR Akita Shinkansen to the Omagari Station. Doro Koen Park is located in front of the Yokote City Hall, which is a ten-minute walk from the Yokote Station.
Date and Timings : This year the festival is back to mesmerise visitors on the 15th and 16th of February.
2. Shirakawago Winter Light-Up
The valley receives snowfall in colossal amounts, covering the land upto two metres each year during peak winters. This makes an idyllic landscape for tourists to enjoy the white weather. The natives organise events where the entire area is illuminated on Sunday evenings. This is set up during specific dates in the months of January and February. The events with gassho-zukuri farmhouses being lit-up, attracts tourists from all corners of the country.
Date and Timings : The events are organised on every Sunday, starting from 14th of January to the 18th of February. The timing for the illumination is from 17:30 to 19:30.
3. Evening With Gleaming Floats At Inuyama Festival
To soak in the perfect display of the cultural authenticity of Japan, the Inuyama Festival should be on your list. The sight of the floats being carried along the cherry-blossoms hung in the streets is quite extraordinary.
The old Inuyama Castle Town also stands tall in the vicinity which hosts parades for the visitors. Three-tiered floats, along with the traditional Japanese dolls and puppets known as kakari, take part in the parade. A multitude of performances also lure the attention of the public, with flute and taiko being the most loved. There are thirteen floats covered in 365 lanterns and ornaments. They light up the night and offer a serene environment for the tourists to experience a sliver of solace.
Date and Timings : The festival is organised on the first weekend of every April, this year the festival will be held on the 6th and 7th of April.
4. Kobe Luminarie
This is the oldest winter illumination organised in Japan which started in 1995. It holds significance as it is set-up to pay reverence to the victims of the Great Hanshin earthquake. The corridor is around 70 metres long and is all lit up along with Frontone, the entrance. Within the city, the event is scattered at various locations. Visitors can consider exploring them at Kobe East Park and Meriken Park. The best part is that the admission is free of cost, however, there are specified areas which have paid access. Tickets can be booked in advance and cost around 500 yen.
Date and Timings : The festival starts on 19th January and lasts till the 28th of January. The illumination show starts at twilight and the lights are up till 9:30.
This winter book your tickets and fasten your seatbelts as you sit on the flight to Japan. The winter wonderland, set in a multitude of cities, is a visual treat for the visitors. From lip-smacking delicacies, cultural walks, traditional music to tours around snow, and cherry blossoms, Japan has it all.
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