News: The Four Seasons in Japan

Published: 13 July 2011

The Four Seasons in Japan

With every season, there is a new reason to visit and discover Japan.
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The four seasons are very distinct in Japan. Two of the most beautiful sights are considered to be the cherry blossoms in spring and the vibrant golden coloured leaves of autum. With every season, there is a new reason to celebrate. There are certain seasonal treats that only Japan can offer, and others that have their own local twist.
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Winter is a good time to go hot-spring hopping, and the snows of winter are eagerly awaited by many skiers and snowboarders. Winter sports have become increasingly popular in recent years and the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano was a huge success. Popular snow resorts are located in the Tohoku and Chubu regions.
The Sapporo Snow Festival (‘Sapporo Yuki Matsuri’) is held annually every February. Beautifully lit ice and snow sculptures fill up Odori Park and attracts thousands of visitors from Japan and abroad.
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During the warm temperatures of Spring, one of the best-loved symbols of Japan make a dramatic appearance. Cherry blossoms (‘Sakura’) bloom across the country, almost like a wave, starting in southern Kyushu around the end of March, working its way up north. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people of all ages celebrate the flowering of cherry blossoms, gathering beneath the delicate pink flowers with their families, friends or colleagues. The typical way to celebrate will be to have a picnic, sing karaoke, dance and drink until early into the morning.
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Summer is the season of Festivals (‘Matsuri’) and Fireworks (‘Hanabi’). The most famous annual fireworks display in Tokyo takes place over the Sumida River. Having begun in 1733, it is also one of the oldest. Watching the burst of colours against the night time sky can make Japan’s hot, humid summer seem more tolerable. Some fireworks are specially designed so that when they burst they take the shape of flowers, animals and waterfalls. A display in the city of Tondabayashi, Osaka Prefecture is famous for the “Niagra”. Rising to a height of 50 metres and stretching across the sky for 1 kilometer, it is known as the biggest “special effects” firework in the world.
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As the weather begins to cool in the Autumn months, leaves begin to change colour and suddenly the landscape is a dramatic palette of red, brown, orange, yellow and green. There are many famous sites for foliage viewing around the country. Some of the most popular places are Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture), Hakone (Kanagawa Prefecture), Takao and Arashiyama (both Kyoto Prefecture).
Besides viewing the autumn colours, people also enjoy going to the countryside to gather matsutake (aromatic mushrooms that grows only in the wild); pick fruits such as grapes, tangerines, and pears; and dig for potatoes, and gather chestnuts.
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