Winter is the finest season in Japan, but … only for the monkeys! I mean the Jigokudani monkeys, of course, basking in their onsen, But, on an upbeat note, we too can have the pleasure of relaxing in a piping-hot spring, concealed from one another by the swirling flakes of snow and, more to the point, heads turned by sake. But there’s also the famous drifting snow of Hokkaido and dozens more fabulous spots to visit at this time of year, scattered throughout the region.
I’ve already taken you to see the Tottori Dunes under the snow, so now let’s catch the cable car to meet the Zao snow monsters!
It’s not an easy encounter. I’d already visited a few years ago, but a gathering storm made it impossible for me to approach these monsters and stroke their silken fur.
This time a minute was long enough to be outside, buffeted by the icy winds, rallying this frozen battalion … for the winter armistice! Today’s weather isn’t so good either, but we can still explore.
If your imagination is kind of wild, this place is a real delight. You’ll find gathered here all the creatures of your worst nightmares! Isn’t that reason enough to come?
There’s always a good excuse to explore further, higher, above or beyond. The reason is simple: the view is bound to be beautiful. The ascent is not easy, and once up there you can’t see far, but the effect remains. Better than the work of artists who just go through the motions with unlikely montages; here the wind is the improvised sculptor.
I was dreaming of watching the sunset because it must be extraordinary from here. But that’ll have to be for another time.
I head back down, taking no precautions. Jumped and ran and rolled and swam! The drifts are fresh, and it’s a real pleasure dancing and fooling around with this phantasmagorical band of monsters.
My clothes are soaking wet, but the onsen experience will be all the better tonight 😏
On the way back, it seems to me that the monsters are watching us leave, disappointed that we didn’t stay longer to play.
For the old hands (who still know how to use a keyboard), what kind of subjects would you like to see in Offbeat Japan? Original landscapes like these, big cities, ruins, and their backstories, interviews, hotels(!), Onsen? I’ve so much to share, so thanks for your feedback 😊💕