Monday, October 18, 2010

Four Seasons in Japan

Japan is a country with abundant natural beauty. The beauty of the country and its nature is said to vary from place to place and season to season. In Japan, there are four seasons and the seasonal changes in natural beauty are amazing. The twelve months of a year are divided into four seasons- Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Spring is the most spectacular season and is synonymous with Blossoms. Cherry Blossoms in Japan is the peak tourism season too. Every place in the country has designated Cherry Blossom viewing spots. Cherry Blossoms are called "Sakura' and Cherry Blossom viewing is called "Hanami". The spring months are March, April and May . But spring is not famous for just Cherry Blossoms, there are Plum, Peach and Apricot blossoms which are equally beautiful. The weather is pleasant and the colourful flowers and blossoms are a spectacular sight. The Girls festival " Hina Matsuri" and Boy's festival - "Tango no Sekku" along with Golden week are other specialities of spring.

Come June and it is summer in Japan and the weather changes from pleasant and cool days to hot and humid days. Summer months are June, July and August. It is hot and humid and the one word which you just cannot miss hearing is " Atsui" and the most common sight is that of people seeking a slight relief from the handfans which come in all colours and shapes and sizes and varieties. The trees are green with the leaves and everywhere around it looks green. If spring has Hanami , summer has Hanabi. "Hanabi " is Japanese for fireworks and almost all big cities and towns in Japan have their own fireworks. It is the time for "Yakiniku" Japanese for Barbecue. Summer is also the season for "Odori" - the ceremonial dancing festivals. "Tanabata" the star festival, "O-bon" the festival for the dead are some other specialities of Summer. The year 2010 was reportedly the hottest summer in 100 years and also one of the longest summers. The summer this year continued till mid September. In Japan where even the nature follows the season cycle systematically, this was definitely uncommon.

Autumn arrives in early September and continues through October and November. The weather is pleasant again and the hot and humid summer days are soon forgotten. Autumn is the season of "Tsukimi"- full moon viewing and many places have their own events scheduled around the full moon days. It is also the season of "Momiji-gari" or Autumn colour viewing. The leaves start to change colour and the colourful trees are quite a sight. Every where the trees and mountain slopes are covered in hues of reds and yellows . This is the season when people travel the most to view the natural beauty. The childrens festival of "Shichi-Go-San" and Labour Thanksgiving Day " Kinro Kansha no Hi" are special festivals in Autumn.

Winter follows autumn with cool winds and snow in many places. The winter months are December, January and February. Skiing is the most popular activity in winter with most mountain resorts having a fair share of snow and ice. The snow capped Mount Fuji is the most popular sight during winter. Like all other seasonal travel destinations, winter has its own share of winter destinations, popular being the ski resorts. New Years Day "Shogatsu"  and Seasonal Division "Setsubun" are the most popular festivals during winter.

It is amazing to see the transformation in the nature, the food pattern, the weather and customs with the seasonal changes. Every place is said to look different in each of these seasons and each place has its speciality during each of these seasons. So much so that most travel spot tourism brochures carry pictures of the sight during the four seasons.

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