All About Japan

Snow-Clad Onsen Has Us Ready to Pack Our Bags

Onsen Snow Yamagata Tohoku

Many onsen aficionados will tell you that midwinter is the best time to visit one of Japan’s hot springs. Not only is a good long soak a great way to warm up, but the streets of many hot spring towns are lined with traditional architecture, with storefronts and inn facades often sticking as close as possible to centuries-old aesthetics.

When night and snow fall at the same time, it sometimes cuts off the remaining reminders in the surrounding scenery that it’s the 21st century, and for a moment, you can feel like you’ve stepped into a bygone era of Japan’s past, which is definitely the effect of these photos from Japanese photographer and Twitter user @naagaoshi.

Yes, the gas lamp-style streetlights mean these images couldn’t have come to us from ancient Japan, but they certainly look a few generations older than their real age of only a few weeks. They almost don’t look like they’re from our world at all, seeming like they could have just as easily sprung out of a picture book, but they were indeed taken at a real-world location, as @naagaoshi traveled to Ginzan Onsen, a hot spring resort in the northeastern Tohoku region’s Yamagata Prefecture, earlier this month.

There’s already an undeniably romantic atmosphere to the snowy scenery bathed in soft light, but the above shot, which the kimono-clad young woman agreed to let @naagaoshi take, is many commentators’ favorite, with her turned back lending an aura of quiet mystery.

If these beautifully icy photos have given you a burning desire to visit Ginzan Onsen when it looks like this, you’ll be happy to know that winters are long in Yamagata, and as of this writing, the seven-day forecast for the town lists snow on no fewer than four days, plus daytime high temperatures rarely reaching zero degrees Celsius, to make those warm baths feel all the more heavenly.

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