Have you seen my first blog post on Japanese winter festivals? If you haven't got round to it yet, do have a look here - Japan winter festivals - you'll see some photos of incredible ice and snow festivals in Hokkaido!
Now I'm going to show you three more amazing winter festivals we went to where winter is celebrated in different ways. Wherever you go though, it's very cold! Brrrrrrr!
So remember to take your thermals with you if you ever visit these places!
Otaru snow light path festival
First up...the Otaru snow light path festival which is a short train journey from Sapporo in Hokkaido Prefecture. This normally takes place for around a week at the beginning of February. There are two main sites, the Otaru canal and the old Otaru railway line called Temiya. The canal has a lit path and little lights also float on the water which gives it a rather magical feel. The old railway line is around 300m long and has all kinds of lights, lanterns and snow animals and shapes along the way. It's incredibly beautiful in the early evening.
There are ice, snow and wax lanterns which are lit up all along the snowy paths, hence the name 'snow light path'. Imagine a whole path of these...
The attractive lanterns are different shapes and the local people make them with flowers, leaves and other colourful materials which makes each one unique.
So that was Otaru, next we move south to Aomori Prefecture and a town called Hirosaki.
Hirosaki Castle Yuki-Doro Festival (snow lantern festival)
We arrived here on a particularly snowy day and the scenery was stunning, especially with the contrasting pure white snow and colourful lanterns and bridges.
The festival only runs for a few days at the beginning of February so if you intend to visit check online and plan your trip accordingly!
It is centred around Hirosaki castle and park and there are large and small snow lanterns and snow statues which are lit up from the early evening.
There are also lots of small kamakuras which are lit along a path creating an enchanting scene in the darkness of the early evening.
Hirosaki was definitely one of our favourite winter places to visit and if you time it right on one of the nights they have a fireworks display.
Paper Balloon Festival of Kamihinokinai
The final festival was quite possibly the coldest place we went to! This is a one day event which happens around the lunar New Year on February 10th in a small village in the Kamihinokinai area which is in Akita Prefecture, in the north west of the country.
Huge paper balloons, the largest of which were several times the height of the tallest people there (up to 12 metres I was told), are heated like hot air balloons and lift high into the winter sky. These balloons are adorned with pictures and writing where people have put their wishes for a good harvest or health, household prosperity or exam success, amongst other things. If you get there early enough you can even create your own small paper balloon and send it high into the sky.
Lucky number 6?
And prize for the most unexpected paper balloon of the night goes to...
It was a fun afternoon and early evening. There were places you could warm up and lots of fabulous local food for you to try.
So that's all for now, until next time, thank you for reading.
Be lucky :)