I am thinking of going to Japan on holiday. What's the best time to go?
Is Japan a country for all seasons?
I am thinking of going to Japan on holiday. What's the best time to go? Japan is situated in north-east Asia and is made up of four main islands - Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku - while another 4,000 smaller islands lie off the coast. Unlike some other Asian countries, Japan experiences four distinct seasons. Spring is a popular time to visit as it is the time when cherry blossoms are in full bloom, while autumn is filled with the spectacular colours of changing leaves. Summers can be too humid for some, but if you want to try something different, why not visit Japan in the winter?
If you have already hit the slopes at Ski Dubai and are looking for the real thing, look no further. Adrenalin junkies worldwide head to Japan in search of the best powder, which with its mountainous terrain and freezing winter climate, usually delivers. Snow resorts at Niseko in Hokkaido and Hakuba in Nagano are two favourites, as well as Shiga Kogen in Nagano, which is one of the largest ski resort areas in the world.
To celebrate the winter season there is also the Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan's largest snow festival, which will run from Feb 5 to 11 in 2010. During that time, Odori Park, the grounds at Community Dome Tsudome, and the main street in Susukino will be filled with ice sculptures and snow statues for visitors and locals to marvel at. Prepare to be met by heavy crowds though, as this popular festival attracts an estimated two million people each year.
To keep warm, relax in one of Japan's 3,000 natural hot springs, also known as onsen. The hot springs are a big part of the Japanese culture and are said to be beneficial for your health, too. An old folk song from Kusatu claims the water is able to "cure everything but love sickness". Stay in a traditional Japanese inn, a ryokan, or visit one of the local bathhouses. The spa resorts in Beppu and Kusatsu Onsen are two of the countries most popular.
Don't forget to try the local cuisine. Taraba-gani, or snow crab, is in peak season midwinter, or try a delicious warming Japanese stew such as oden, which is filled with fish dumplings, fried tofu, eggs, and vegetables. Emirates flies from Dubai direct to Tokyo starting at US$1,692 (Dh6,215) return, including tax. To get to Nagano, take the high-speed Asama Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station. Visit www.snowjapan.com or www.japantravelinfo.com for more information.
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