Thursday, 4 January 2018

The 3 Places To Visit In Japan During Winter

No one expected it, but there it was, swirling in the air and clinging to whatever surface it lands on only to melt away in an instant. December was still a week away but Tokyo just had its first dusting of the season, its first November snow in 54 years. Winter came a bit too early.

I wasn’t really prepared for it. But even when I packed with autumn in mind, I wasn’t concerned that the Japanese capital was less warm than anticipated. I’m no stranger to Tokyo winter. I had spent two Januaries in its cold, cold embrace before and found that it’s not difficult to find warmth if you know your way around.

Places To Visit In Japan During Winter

Tokyo is a year-round destination. You’ll find plenty of incredible things to do and places to visit at any time of the year. Spring tends to be the most popular, as cherry blossoms magically attract tourists from around the world. But winter is not to be overlooked.

My fascination with winter maybe unusual because I spent most of my life in the tropics, but maaannnnn, I love winter. It’s the year when I can finally drop my tees and pick up outerwear without being worried about sweating a lot. Also, I enjoy getting a bit dressy.

But the magic of winter goes beyond my taste in fashion, lol. Like most destinations, flights to and hotels in Tokyo are way cheaper. Travel dates of most Tokyo seat sales fall within December to March! Moreover, most attractions are not as crowded. Okay, it can still get pretty jampacked, but not as crazy as the spring and summer months.

Of course, it has some disadvantages too. One thing that annoys me is that it can get really warm inside the train. When its cold outside, you tend to put on a lot of layers, but you’re gonna have to shed them off inside and put them back on again on your way out of the station.

Also, days are considerable shorter. As someone who likes taking pictures, I always find myself trying to beat the sunset. Daylight is gone as early as 4pm, and some establishments close earlier, too. Finally, I hate snow. Snow is cute only in the first five minutes. But that’s just me.

Anyway, if you’re Tokyo-bound this winter, here are some amazing things you can do!

Places To Visit In Japan During Winter

1. Ski Near Mountain Fuji

This one isn’t really in Tokyo but is easily accessible from the city. Mt. Fuji has only two ski resorts around its base: Fujiten Snow Resort by the northern slope and Snow Town Yeti south of the mountain.

These ski resorts are open from early December to late March. The quality of the powder here doesn’t come close to ski destinations in other parts of Japan (heck, in early December, the snow isn’t even real), but the ambience is wonderful.

I’ve tried Fujiten and I just loved that I was skiing with Mt. Fuji standing so close in the background. No entrance fee was collected from us, but gear rental and lift tickets cost ¥3000 and ¥4500 respectively. And it was also only accessible via taxi, which cost us a fortune.

I haven’t tried Snow Town Yeti, but Klook is offering tours to this ski resort including roundtrip transfers from Tokyo, ski or snowboard rental fee, boots rental, and ski lift access.

2. Shopping

I’m not really a big fan of shopping because I usually don’t have money to shop, but for some reason, I genuinely enjoy it in Tokyo! Its map is shaded with several shopping districts and lined with countless shopping streets, teeming with interesting finds and curious collectibles.

If you’re a shopaholic, try to schedule your visit within the first week of January and experience the NEW YEAR SALE. It’s as though the entire megalopolis is on sale and great deals are everywhere. And we’re not just talking about 10 or 20% discounts. You can walk out of a store with a 100-yen garment.

3. Go To A Ramen Restaurant

The best thing to do when it’s cold? Eat ramen, of course. Tokyo has a gazillion ramen places, ranging from reservation-only Michelin-starred choices to popular ramen chains to wallet-friendly corner ramen bars. If you want to sample the different flavors of ramen as served in different parts of Japan, head to the Ramen Food Court in AquaCity Odaiba.

But if you’re really serious about ramen, hop on a train and visit Yokohama, where you can find the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, where you can also sample various ramens from around Japan, and the Cup Noodles Museum in Minato Mirai, where you can also learn about the history of the beloved instant ramen.