March 27, 2023

Passers-by and tourists in Japan rejoiced on Wednesday to be able to take pictures of shrines and temples under the snow, including heavy falls across the country causing major transport disruptions at the same time.

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

The agency warned of the risk of blizzards, 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 potentially related to the weather.

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

However, at 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 places covered in white. Similar scenes took place in the West of the country as in Kyoto, the former imperial capital with a rich historical heritage.

“I had come to ski, but the snow was so thick that I changed my program and decided to go do some sightseeing instead” in town, 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.

The capital Tokyo and its large suburbs were however spared by the snow, while suffering from a stronger cold than usual.

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