Saturday, 10 December 2016

Winter Scenes

December 9, 2016

Here in Japan, we are heading into winter.  My friends in the far north are already experiencing snow, and here in Yamagata-ken in Tohoku we are just starting our snowy winter.  Our local mountains are covered in the white stuff and we are all looking out our rubber boots and warm woolies. As a person from Edmonton in Canada, I don't find the winter here cold, but I often am surprised by the amount of snow we receive.

In another Blog Linky Party entry, I mentioned Mt. Zao and how it borders two prefectures here in the north.  The Yamagata card featuring Mount Zao shows the "Juhyo" or Ice Monsters.  This website, about halfway down the page, describes how they are made.

This is a postcard of the "real" Ice Monsters on it.  They are rather beautiful aren't they?

Winter Festivals are all over the northern part of Japan.  Probably the most famous one is the Sapporo Snow Festival at the beginning of February, but there is another one in February.  Akita Prefecture has the Yokote Kamakura Festival on February 15 and 16.  Part of the festival involves buildings called kamakura made out of snow, rather like igloos, all over the city. There is usually an altar set up inside the kamakura at which people pray to the god of water.  

Sadly, I don't have any postcard/photographs of the real kamakura in Yokote, but I do have this other artistic card of one.  I am posting it because I think that it is rather beautiful!

The winter here in Northern Japan can be rather fierce and anything that helps people get through it enjoyably is great in my books! 

Please visit the other members of the Blog Linky Party to see what fabulous cards they have posted about winter.  Thanks for visiting me here in cold Northern Japan.  Brrr!


John's Island said...

Hello Helen, Interesting to learn about winter in Japan and see your fine postcards. The Snow Monsters in Zao are really quite amazing, and, yes, they are beautiful too. I did not realize Japan was far enough north to have festivals with buildings made of snow. The international flavor of this link up party is nice! Thanks for sharing!

Helen said...

Thanks John! I think many people forget that Japan is a very long country. Okinawa in the south is warm all year round, while Hokkaido in the North is very cold in winter. Japan has hosted the Winter Olympics twice after all!

I appreciate your kind words. Thank you very much.

Maria said...

Hi Helen, thanks for the Zao onsen link and for sharing these ice "monsters ". They look pretty cool! I'm really missing the cold in Japan but perhaps not the winter cold! I went to Tochigi Prefecture as part of my trip in Nov and man, it was shivering cold for me in the evening! I can imagine fierce winter further up north in your location. Stay warm & dry!

Helen said...

Thank you for your comments Maria. The Ice Monsters are cool. I find winter in Tohoku to be rather odd. The houses here are generally not well insulated so I often feel cold inside, but when I go outside I'm usually fine.

Some years our winters are very cold, others quite mild with very little snow. I first came to Japan in late March and I froze for the first couple of months because I made the mistake of thinking that it would be warmer here than in Canada. Outside it was warmer, inside, with no central heating, it was very, very much colder!!

Thanks for visiting and commenting!

John Edwards said...

Those snow monsters are fascinating - thanks for referring us to the website to see how they are made.

Gerda Theunis said...

Although I'm not a snow lover...I would love to see those "Ice" monsters and the Sea of small kamakura along the River are looking magical!
P.S. I don't know why, but I have always problems when I try to post my comment.(◕‿-)

Helen said...

Thanks for commenting Gerda! I'm sorry that you have problems...could you tell me what kind of problems you have with the comment system? If you write me another comment and put your email in it I can email you off -blog and I won't publish it of course.

It might be a little surprising for me to say this, but I haven't been to either the Yokote Festival or to see the Ice Monsters. I'm just not a winter person!

Thank you for visiting!

Joy said...

What a wonderful celebration of winter. The kamakura look lovely lit up along the river, and very cosy on your postcards.

Helen said...

Thank you! I'm glad you liked the links I posted too, and the cards as well!

Eva A. said...

Me too, I also like the ice monsters, an knowing about the cosy kamakura. Thanks for sharing these traditions. My husband would love to be in those winter festivals, he's a big fan of snow and ice!

Helen said...

It sounds like your husband should schedule a visit to northern Japan soon then Eva!!! I'm glad that you enjoyed the cards and information I posted.

Thanks for visiting :-)