Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Fun

Some may think of winter as a gloomy time of year when it’s time to hunker down and stay indoors. Others embrace winter as a time to enjoy winter sports and activities. Being diverse in landscapes, Japan has plenty of offerings at this time of year.

Naturally, during the winter there’s skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating to be done. Areas like Hokkaido and Nagano are home to some world class ski-fields. Hokkaido in particular receives good amounts of snow as early as October and can keep its fields open well into the spring months. If you’re looking for somewhere closer to Tokyo, Nagano is only a few hours away by bus or train and was of course the site of the 1998 winter Olympics making it rich in winter sports facilities.

After a day on the ski slopes it’s popular to unwind in one of Japan’s many onsens (hot-springs). Popular winter resort areas are famous for their many natural onsens. The resort town of Nozawa in Nagano is famous for its dozens of onsens throughout the village, many of which are free of charge. Relaxing in hot natural spring water is a great way to sooth the aches, pains and injuries of skiing or snowboarding. You may even be lucky enough to enjoy outdoor springs that are a unique experience if there is snow falling.

If you are looking for things to do in the city, cities like Tokyo are remarkably clear during the winter months. The trees may be stripped bare but the air is fresh and crisp and the sun shines mostly every day. Winter is also the best time of year to view Mt.Fuji. The clear winter air makes it easy to spot the great mountain from far and wide. Its snow-capped peak makes for an idyllic scene.

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