Tourists celebrated winter scenery across Japan on Wednesday, as snow enveloped large parts of the country in a cold snap that has killed at least one person and disrupted travel.
“These temperatures are among the coldest we’ve seen in a decade,” Takafumi Umeda, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency, told AFP.
Record lows have been recorded in several locations, including one area in southern Kumamoto, where the mercury reached -9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit), the coldest recorded there since 1977 when this observing site began tracking the track.
Flights have been canceled due to the snow storm
One person died in the cold snap, government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said, while meteorologists warned of blizzards, high waves and traffic clashes due to icy roads.
Matsuno told reporters that the authorities are also investigating whether two other deaths were related to the cold weather in most parts of the archipelago.
Hundreds of flights were canceled due to the blizzard, while delays and cancellations disrupted local trains and long-distance shinkansen services. Local media said vehicles on main roads in several locations were left stranded.
At the 7th-century Zenkoji Temple in the mountainous Nagano region, north of Tokyo, trees, ancient lampposts and the place of worship itself are blanketed in layers of powdery snow.
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Among the visitors were some who were there to ski but were forced away from the slopes due to blizzard conditions.
“I came to ski, but the snow was incredibly heavy, so I cut my plan off, and instead decided to do some sightseeing,” Akiko Sutobori, 30, told AFP.
“The blizzard (at the ski resort) was such that I couldn’t see anything three meters (10 feet) away.”
Tokyo has survived
There were breathtaking views of the former capital, tourist favorite Kyoto, where the shimmering walls of the famous Golden Pavilion contrasted with the ephemeral brilliance of the bright whiteness of its tiered ceilings.
The Sea of Japan coast was hit hard by the overnight blizzard, with Tokyo and surrounding areas spared the snow, but experiencing unusually low temperatures.
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