Staying on top of winter in Japan with snowshoes
Japan Times -- Nov 25
Japan appeals to different people for different reasons. Some visit for the history or the food. Many stay for the martial arts, while others keep coming back for a dose of manga, anime and video-game culture. Still others come to enjoy the land — the huge span of scenery from the north of Hokkaido to Okinawa in the southwest, and the sharp changes such places undergo with the revolutions of season.

Outdoor activities such as hiking and cross-country trekking are popular in the summer and autumn, and often go hand-in-hand with landscape photography, as the scenery tends toward breathtaking.

Just over 70 percent of Japan is mountainous, and each of the main islands has at least one range. Most of Japan's mountains are heavily forested, too, which makes for no end of prime hiking trails.

The Hida, Kiso and Akaishi mountain ranges --- also known as the northern, central and southern alps, respectively --- are great examples. Each contains peaks, plains and valleys with something to offer hikers of all levels, complete with a wide spectrum of scenic views across the surrounding prefectures. And then there are the 34 national parks spread across the country, each with their own flora and fauna, again great for hiking and full of photographic potential. Japan certainly isn't short of areas good for strapping on a pair of boots, throwing your camera over your shoulder and heading out for a hike, which many people do from spring through autumn.

But come the winter months, many of these places, especially in the northern part of Honshu and across Hokkaido, become inaccessible to the average hiker due to heavy snowfalls that can last anywhere from two to five months depending on the area.

Many people choose to hang up their boots during these colder months --- assuming their favorite hiking routes are all but inaccessible due to snow and sub-zero temperatures. Imagining themselves cut off from the outdoors, save a few expensive weekends spent at a ski resort, many choose instead to hibernate for the winter in the warmth of their homes, which is a shame, because winter in Japan is full of beautiful landscapes waiting to be rediscovered.

One of the keys to unlocking what this side of Japan has to offer is the increasingly popular activity of snowshoe hiking.

News source: Japan Times
Oct 17
The number of foreign visitors to Japan has dropped for the first time in more than 5 years as natural disasters prompted many tourists to cancel trips in September. (NHK)
Oct 15
The government will introduce an electronic system for tourist visa applications in April 2020 in an effort to help achieve its goal of 60 million foreign visitors a year by 2030, government sources said Sunday. (Japan Times)
Oct 15
The fine balance between lush greenery and vibrant city makes Kushiro a nature lover’s paradise. (soranews24.com)
Oct 11
Japan now has the most powerful passport on the planet, a key to visa-free travel to more destinations than Singapore and Germany, according to the 2018 Henley Passport Index. (usatoday.com)
Oct 11
Tokyo was picked as the most favorite travel destination for the third consecutive year, annual rankings released by U.S. travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler showed on Tuesday. (Jiji)
Oct 08
More tourists in Kyoto and Tokyo are sightseeing early in the morning, although many venues are not yet ready to handle the new trend. (Japan Times)
Oct 07
Typhoon Kong-rey has been downgraded to a low pressure system. But weather officials are still urging people in northern Japan to watch out for strong winds, high waves, mudslides, and floods. (NHK)
Oct 05
Kyoto has topped a ranking of major Japanese cities as measured by criteria such as livability and economy, according to a survey by a think tank affiliated with major real estate developer Mori Building Co. (Japan Times)
Oct 04
Part of a theme park based on the Moomin series of children's books is to open near Tokyo next month. (NHK)
Oct 01
Typhoon Trami continues to wreak havoc across Japan after making landfall on its main island of Honshu on Sunday evening. (NHK)