Japan in Winter

When travelers think about Japan, they usually have images of cherry blossoms and paper umbrellas. For Patrick Imbardelli, world traveler and hospitality executive, some of the images that he often conjures up are the beautiful winters that he has experienced in Japan.

While the larger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka are not so hard hit by the winters in Japan, trips out to the countryside reveal a winter landscape that changes everything about Japan. The farther away that one wanders from major population areas and up into the mountains of Japan, the more that a new world is opened to the traveler.

For those that love winter sports and activities, escaping to the northern section of Japan will land the tourist right into some of the most wonderful locations and scenes to be found anywhere in the world. Visitors discover that the winters last much longer up in the mountainous areas of northern Japan, which means much more time for enjoying skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, and simply enjoying the amazing pristine nature and sights.

Another world-renowned event is the Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo. This festive one-week event started in 1950 with six local high school students having some fun by building six different ice sculptures. Five years later, the Japan Self-Defense Forces joined in and built some extra-large structures and from this the Sapporo Snow Festival was born. It now attracts more than 1 million people each year who come to admire the snow structures that are built throughout several popular parks in the city. As many as 400 statues will be built in these parks; the fun and effort culminates in an International Snow Sculpture Contest that includes contestants from other parts of the world.

For any person contemplating a visit to Japan, whether it is for the first time or for a return visit, a winter trip may be the best of all vacations to the Land of the Rising Sun.