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This website was last updated on2019-09-02

Must Places in Winter

There are many spots to visit in winter in Japan.
When winter comes, trees shed their leaves and people out on more coverings.
But trees and people go back to their origins.
Bathing with the snow all around is a highlight of winter.
Try onsen and you will discover there is no better way to relax and unwind than warming your body in an open-air bath surrounded by nature and time less scenes of old Japan.

World Heritage - Shirakawago Village

In 1924, 300 Gassho style houses existed in the village. Dam construction on the Sho River following WarⅡ forced many communities to be abandoned while others became submerged below the water. A number of Gassho style houses were transferred outside of Gifu Prefecture.
A series of triangular shaped heavy timber frames comprised of the gassho-zai and the usubari(base of the triangle) forms the roof. The lower end of the gassho-zai called the komajiri is shaped and placed into the usubari. Structurally, the roof and the first floor are separate. When a strong wind blows, the komajiri moves and disperses the force. This is one of the strengths of the Gassho style house.


New Year Visit to Ise Jingu Shrine

For anyone living in Japan or interested in Japanese culture, Ise Jingu is a must-visit. It is the most sacred shrine in Japan, with great spiritual and historical significance.
Ise-jingu in Mie prefecture is the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan - so holy in fact that its official name is simply 'Jingu'. In contrast with the gaudy colors and Chinese flavor of Nikko, Ise's complex of more than one hundred shrines presents a plain and solemn face to its six million annual visitors. New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and the days immediately following, peace is not in it, as tens, if not hundreds of thousands of visitors throng the shrine for hatsumode, the first visit to a shrine to give thanks and to pray for luck and health in the coming year.For a visitor or expatriate seeking a real Japan experience, New Year at Ise must come high on the list, or if the mind-boggling crowds are too much, then a visit at some other time is a must.

Address: 1 Ujitachi-cho, Ise , Mie Prefecture


Todaji Temple in Nara Misterious essence of the Shuni-e ceremomy. ( Omizu-tori)

The magnificent scene of the Shuni-e torches being waved on the veranda of the Night Hall around 7PM from March 1 through 14 is deeply moving to all who view it. Those who have sparks fall on them are said to assure of a year free of illness and misfortune. After the worshipers leave, the monks recite the Shuni-e prayers through the night until the break of dawn.
The Shinu-e is also known as the Omizutori, or water-drawing, and this name implies, water is drawn from the Nigatsu-Hall’s well and offered to Kannon-san in the middle of the night on March 12th.The traditional belief in Japan is that the cold water of winter is full of vital energy and will not go stale, and this must have led to its use in the ritual of penitence, where we wash away our defilement.

Address: 406-1 Zoji-chi, Nara-shi, Nara
Hours: Opens 7:30 (8:00 from November through March), closes 17:30 (16:30 from November through February, 17:00 in March and October)

Sanso, Murata in The Yufuin Onsen

Yufuin Onsen is on the East coast of Kyushu, about one hour drive from Oita Airport.
Tucked among the trees at the foot of Mount Yufudake,Yufuin remains a quiet onsen village. Murata is a collection of rugged, century-old farmhouses that have been preserved and relocated from Niigata and from Shiga, near Kyoto. Several of the eight independent cottages, private apartments, are Gassho-zukuri, multi-storied fairytale farmhouses of pampas thatched roofs.Each villa has 3 to 5 rooms, a large living room and a private hot spring Ofuro(Bathtub) of stone.
The bathing area is walled in natural cypress, and there are pictures windows for viewing the changes of the season. There are Le Corbusier sofas,Persian carpets, antiques, Western beds, down comforters, ample reading light, as well as Japanese Tatami rooms for those who prefer a futon.

Address: 1264-2 Kawakami, Yufuin-cho,Oita-gun,Oita Ken, 879-51

Noshiyu in The Kurokawa Onsen

The Kurokawa hot spring, located roughly in the center of Kyushu, is home to a number of highly individual inns, each with its own distinctive character. Noshi-yu, built on a rise overlooking the Chikugo River valley, prides itself on its spaciousness: a mere nine rooms in 3,960 square meters. Rooms incorporate traditional Japanese architectural features such as open fireplaces and sunken kotatsu braziers for worming guests staying in the outer buildings, and served in the dining room for others. The dining room is notable for its bright open kitchen, uncommon in a Japanese onsen ryokan. Surrounded by trees, the spacious open-air bath sends the soul soaring.
Guest rooms feature separate tatami rooms and high-ceilinged lounge space.

Address : Kurokawa Onsen, Minami-oguni-machi, Aso-gun, Kumamoto

Wasurenosato Gajoen, Kagoshima

In building Wassrenosato Gajoen, the proprietor hoped to create a place where people who no longer have a spiritual home town can find peace and comforts. Six formerly private homes were transported here and reconstructed over a span of 20years to house Gajoen’s 10 guestrooms, each giving guests very private farm-style living space. Ceilings are of wood, walls of plaster, a main room floored in fragrant rush tatami. Together they do exude the atmosphere of a country hamlet. A 20 ton rock has been carved out to form the inn’s unique open-air bath. 8 Of 10 rooms have private rotenburo. Delicately flavored meals are prepared using home-grown vegetables, free-range chickens, freshly laid eggs, and locally produced Satsuma pork.
Cuisine prepared from free-range chickens and hand-gathered wild vegetables, seasoned local style, is served in guests’cottages. Sipping shochu (distilled spirits) from green bamboo cups beside the fire of the open hearth is another Gajoen pleasure.

Address : 4230, Shukukubota, Makizono-cho, Aira-gun, Kagoshima

Araya Totoan, Yamashiro, Kaga, Ishikawa

The sparkle of snow on cedar, The chilling thrill of stepping across a footbridge to sip sake in a villa that once served as a weekend retreat for a member of the imperial family.
The spa bathing at Araya Totoan is unforgettable. There are two communal hot spring baths in nature and two communal indoor onsen. All of the 20 rooms at Araya Totoan have private bathrooms and five rooms have delightful private hot spring baths. With its Kaga red walls, so colored to honor the local lord, its Sukiya design using sliding paper doors, cushioned tatami space and silver of alcove for a single blossom, a silk scroll, the Ochin-no-ma room is exemplary of the refined living spaces at Araya Totoan. The novel presentation of delicacies at Araya Totoan is worthy of this gourmet artisan. Wintertime crab is served on leaves of bamboo, and roasted white fish,slightly salted edamame, thin pink ginger roots and pickled radish, on plates of kutani-yaki, or platters of lacquer.

Address; Yamashiro onsen, Kaga-shi, Ishikawa-ken,922-0242

Wanosato Miyamura,Gifu

Wanosato is itself a charming collection of lovely restored 100- 150 year old farmhouses carefully transplanted in 1990 from Kamioka,Gifu. Like fairytale cottages, several buildings have roofs in Japan are at angles of 45 degrees, gassho roofs slope at around 60 rope binds timber and roof braces. Hearth smoke wafts through the lobby of Wanosato’s mail building. From the two grand indoor wooden onsen the pictuire-wingow views are seasonal celebrations of maple and beech. All eight private rooms have private bathrooms. Both indoor hot springs are sourced in the mail building.

Address : 1682, Miyamura, Ohno-gun, Gifu-ken

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