Monday, February 14, 2011

Only in Japan: Land of Ice Walls and Giant Snow Cones


Japan is surprisingly cold in the winter time.  In fact, it snows quite a lot in some places.  The Minami Alps of Japan is a well- known winter vacation spot.  The hot springs and location makes for a great trip, but the road is what makes the trip a unique experience. 
Photo taken 2011 on the road through the Minami Alps

The snow in that area of Japan can pile up over 4 and even up to 5 meters tall.  And the funny thing is they just let it be and carve the road through making a wall of snow on both sides. 

There could possibly be houses abandoned under all that snow!  In fact, some Japanese people exit from the second story of their houses in those regions because of all snow.  Climb up the stairs and off to school you go Ichiro!  

I`m not a weather expert but apparently the moisture from the sea of Japan gets trapped and held in by the mountain range keeping heavy snow fall from occuring in the Kanto Area.  That would include the metropolitan area of Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures (like where I live, in Chiba.) 


We usually only experience a few days of snow a year while Nagano (famous for the 1998 Winter Olympics) and its surrounding Prefectures receive meters of snowfall every year.


No, this is not ice cream but snow covered Bonsai
 taken from last night`s snowfall
Japan is a country where nature has a strong impact on the way of life.  The four seasons in Japan have led to the development of many Japanese traditions in its various prefectures.  I still have a lot to learn about its ways and people.  There are so many differences from dialects, lifestlyes, manners, food, and cultural events between its people, yet the devotion to the concept of harmony or "WA" 和  keep them together.
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