Japan: Heavy snowfall and exceptional cold snap

Japan: Heavy snowfall and exceptional cold snap

Passers-by and tourists in Japan on Wednesday rejoiced to take photos of shrines and temples under the snow, including serious falls across the country that simultaneously caused major traffic disruptions.

“These temperatures are among the coldest in a decade,” Takafumi Umeda, an official with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), told AFP.

The agency warned of the risk of snowstorms, high waves on the coasts and ice on the roads.

According to government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno, one person died in the country due to the severe cold snap, and authorities were also investigating two other deaths that may be weather-related.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled due to snowstorms, and trains have also been delayed or canceled, including on high-speed routes. There were also numerous traffic jams on the roads.

However, at the Zenkoji Temple in the city of Nagano, in the heart of the Japanese Alps in the center of the country, visitors enjoyed the enchanting spectacle of the places covered in white. Scenes similar to those in Kyoto, the former imperial capital with a rich historical heritage, played out in the west of the country.

“I had come to ski, but the snow was so thick that I changed my program and decided to do some sightseeing in the city instead,” said Akiko Sotobori, a tourist interviewed by AFP in Nagano.

At the ski resort, “the blizzard was such that I couldn’t see anything three meters away,” she said.

However, the capital Tokyo and its large suburbs were spared the snow and suffered from a stronger cold than usual.