February in Japan

We just came back from a fantastic trip in Japan!

February is still quite cold all over Japan. Unless you go somewhere south like Okinawa, the sakura flowers won’t blossom until late March. But there are still tons of places to visit, with cheaper hotel rates and less crowds.

I will write posts for each places we visited, but first, here is the highlight of our itinerary.

We started our journey in the city of Sapporo (札幌) for their annual Snow FestivalDSC_3514

Then we went to Kushiro (釧路) to see the red-crown cranes in their natural habitatDSC_3618

Then Nagano and Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) to see the snow monkeys in hot springDSC_4110

While there, we made a day trip to Obuse (小布施) and visited the Hokusai (北斎) museum and viewed his famous paintings, such as the Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Then we took the train to the mountain town of Takayama (高山). Visited Takayama Festival Float Museum, toured heritage houses and sake breweries


Many sake tastings later (though one could never get enough of that), we bused to the UNESCO world heritage village of Shirakawa-go, stayed overnight in an old gasshō house, endured the harshness of winter and woke up with an amazing view


Ready to be back to civilization, we came to our last stop Kyoto, where we spend several days seeing the temples and shrines while plum blossom was in season


And made day trip to Nara, seeing more temples and shrines. DSC_5041

Deer, though not usually this peaceful……and more plum blossoms


Everywhere we went, we had great food, great company and the Japanese service that we’ve already missed back in the US. But Japan is such a diverse country and there are still a lot more to see. So we will be back soon!

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