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Monthly Wanderlust Destination: Nagano, Japan

02.01.2018

I have been living in Tahoe for the past week and it has been far too green. The snow is particularly late this season and every morning as I watch the sun rise or evening as I curl up next to a fire, I long to see snowflakes drifting by my window. So far, no such luck. Which is why for January's wanderlust destination, I've decided to summon the snow and dream of a winter wonderland on the other side of the world. Where, you ask? Nagano, Japan! 

 

January Wanderlust Destination: Nagano, Japan 

 

Umm. Japan? I know, I know, not what pops to mind when I say "winter wonderland," but bear with me. I did a little research and it turns out Nagano in Japan is actually a winter paradise. I mean, they did host the 1998 Winter Olympics, so they must know something about snow... right? 

Photo by Jun Takeuchi via Flikr 

 

To be honest, the thing that sold me on Nagano was the monkeys. They have these adorable snow monkeys that soak in the hot springs to keep warm through the winter and I desperately want to befriend one. 

 Photo by Steven Diaz via Unsplash 

 

If you are looking for a more traditional winter-y draw, Nagano is famous for its incredible ski resorts. Surrounded by the various peaks that make up the Japanese Alps, this is the perfect destination for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or any of the other traditional snow-themed activities. 

 Photo via Wiki-Commons

 

However, you can find ski resorts anywhere. What really interests me in Nagano as a wintertime destination is the hot springs. This could be because I'm not a huge skier anyway, but I cannot imagine a better way to enjoy a cold winter day than warming up in natural hot springs while a gentle drifting of snow falls all around you. To me, that is a winter wonderland. 

 Photo via Wiki-Commons

 

Between the snow monkeys, ski resorts, and hot springs I think it's safe to say that Nagano is a great winter destination. But there is one more reason I chose Nagano as my monthly wanderlust destination... the food. With the winter winds chilling me to the bone, sipping a warm bowl of soba noodles sounds like absolute heaven. Buckwheat is grown in the highlands of Nagano, which they use alongside the mountain water to make mouth-watering soba noodles that I am now desperately craving. 

 Photo by Yamanaka Tamaki via Flickr

 

So while most winter travelers will be making their way to Germany or Switzerland or Scandinavia, you can find me dreaming of Japan this January. 

 

 Photo via Wiki-Commons

 

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