A belated happy new year to you all!
After a roaring Year of the Dragon, we have wriggled into the Year of the Snake and the winter is slipping by. Just in case you really need a reason to travel to Japan, I thought I would list a few very good reasons as to why you should slide off to Japan in 2013.
Ice cold welcome -
Get your (snow) boots on and get out to Japan now for some of the world’s best snow and some great festivals. The winter sees some of the craziest festivals in Japan with the Nozawa Dosojin (fire festival) in January and the Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Man festival) at Sadaiji shrine, Okayama in February.
One of the more mainstream festivals though is the impressive Yuki Matsuri (5-11 Feb) in Sapporo.
Go and enjoy some ‘proper’ snow in Hokkaido with some of the best powder skiing available, but the island’s capital is taken over by huge snow sculptures at the beginning of February. The sculptures range from life-size models of famous landmarks to overgrown Disney figures taking over the city along with a party atmosphere, music, great food and drink – Kanpai! There are also a number of smaller lesser know ‘snow festivals’ that take place in towns across Hokkaido.
Blooming alternatives -
If you want something a bit warmer, then the cherry blossom is a favourite. Late March and early April is the height of the Sakura (cherry blossom) when pink fills the parks and temple gardens. This is a truly beautiful time of year and very sociable with friends and colleagues out eating food and drinking sake under the trees – great fun….but busy! Avoid the crowds of Kyoto in April and catch the late blossom in the far northern Tohoku region and Hokkaido which hits in May. Maybe you cannot wait for the blossom? – If this sounds like you, head to the subtropical islands in the south where the blossom comes out at the end of January! Either way, the blossom is pretty, but the Hanami parties are what makes this time of year such fun – another chance to Kanpaiiii!
Culture vulture -
One of the most exciting festivals to look forward to this year is the Setouchi Triennial Arts Festival which takes place over 14 of the islands on the Seto Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku including the ‘art island’ of Naoshima. Contemporary art combines with traditional rural island life providing some stunning sculptures and spectacles. The great thing about this festival is that it will cover 108days in total during Spring, Summer and Autumn embracing the different seasons. There are extra ferries and a pass that allows you to travel at your leisure between the islands taking in the art, landscapes and traditional festivals that are due to coincide with the event. Can’t wait to get down to the islands at some point in 2013.
Geek fest –
If you are into anime and manga, you just need to go to Japan. There are plenty of events on in 2013 to give you even more reason to go though. The International anime Fair takes place at the end of March (23-24) showcasing the crème de la crème of Japanese anime. The World cosplay takes place in our home town of Naogya (May 31-June 2) home bringing some really interesting people and outfits from across Japan and the world together. The Tokyo Game Show highlights the latest games and developments in the computer world in September (21-22). Head to Odaiba in Tokyo for the huge Gundam statue and the relatively new Gundam Front museum. Or you could save it for the brand new Shonen Jump theme park featuring characters from ‘One Piece’, ‘Dragon Ball Z’ and more which opens this summer at the brilliant Sunshine City Building in Ikubukero.
These are just a few reasons as to why I would go to Japan in 2013. I haven’t even mentioned the huge summer festivals in Tohoku or the splendid autumn leaves…or even Fuji Rock and the other cool music festivals that go on. After the release of Hugh Jackman’s ‘Wolverine’ filmed largely in Toyko and Keanu Reaves’ remake of ’47 Ronin’ you won’t want anything else other than to head to Japan……unless you wanted to go to Vietnam of course.
Loads more to come on all of that so kongoto mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu!
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