Six Cozy Ways to Enjoy Winter in Japan
It may be getting colder in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time. How do Japanese people spend their winters? There’s plenty to do indoors and outdoors, and it’s the perfect season to get cozy with your friends and enjoy the remaining days of the year. Winter in Tokyo calls for traditions, old and new, and a magical time spent with your friends.
Host a Nabe Party
When it’s too cold to go out for a meal, just gather all your friends in one place for a house party with one of the most beloved dishes during the winter—nabe, or Japanese-style hot pot. The nabe party is one of the most popular kinds gatherings in Japan; everyone comes together for casual, communal dining over a delicious hot pot. With everyone working hand in hand to prepare the ingredients and soup stock for the nabe, it becomes extra delicious when they finally get to enjoy it together. The nabe party is a classic tradition among Japanese people, so you can be sure you’re having an authentic feast.
Snuggle at a Kotatsu Cafe
Perhaps you might know about the kotatsu, a classic winter staple that’s guaranteed to keep anyone snug, warm and highly tempted to do nothing all day but stay under this heated table. Basically a small table with heating and a thick quilt, the kotatsu is every cold person’s dream. But what if you don’t have one in your own house? There are cafes in Tokyo that will welcome you and let you enjoy a good meal from the comfort of their. Chat with friends and eat delicious food all while staying nice and toasty in a wonderfully heated table. Café Stay Happy is one such café in Shimokitazawa, where their wooden interior and kotatsu tables invite customers to relax for hours.
Go on a Hot Spring Trip
This is Japanese-style relaxing at its finest. You’ll forget all about the cold once you soak yourself in the steaming hot spring with its natural minerals and fresh spring water. Going with friends for an onsen ryokou (hot spring trip) is bound to be the highlight of your winter. Japanese people often take short vacations to ryokan, Japanese traditional inns, where they can unwind and relax in the baths with their friends. Get pampered with hot baths, exquisite local dishes and the simple beauty of traditional rooms. If you want to step for some nature, take a day trip to popular hot spring towns such as Hakone and Kawaguchiko just outside Tokyo!
Soak at an Ashiyu Cafe
If you’re not keen on getting into a bath, how about just dipping your feet in a hot water bath? At an ashiyu (literally foot bath) café, you can sit with your feet soaked in hot spring water while having a drink. Relieve some fatigue and warm yourself up at one of these comfortable establishments without having to take anything but your shoes off. There are several ashiyu cafes in Tokyo, including Mominoki House in Ikebukuro, Shibuya and Ueno. It’s the perfect place to go with a friend to just forget about stress and have a good, long conversation as you soak in the foot bath.
Talk a Walk Under the Illuminations
If you’re willing to venture out and brave the cold weather, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning sight. Illuminations may be one of the most popular date spots for Japanese couples, but it doesn’t mean everyone else can’t enjoy it. Since they’re so ubiquitous on the streets around this time of the year, illuminations are a great (and free) way to light up a night out with friends. They’re beautiful to look at, and a photogenic opportunity to capture your night. You can catch famous illumination spots such as Ao no Doukutsu Shibuya, or simply wander along the streets and take a walk under the lights.
Feast on Hot Winter Food
You know winter has come when the convenience stores start selling oden—a Japanese winter dish with a variety of ingredients simmered in a hot dashi broth. It’s the ultimate comfort food during the cold season, and easily available for cheap too. Oden is just one of the many delicious kinds of food that Japanese people love eating during the food; there’s an abundance of hot, tasty essentials from steamed buns to mochi to hot red bean soup.
It’s cold outside and the year is coming to an end, so a treat is in order. With so many ways of having fun with friends during this chilly season, you’ll find yourself looking forward to every winter in Japan.
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