The cold sets in as December arrives. It is just the perfect season for viewing romantic sceneries like illuminations, under the clear sky. There are also flowers that only bloom during winter, and the scenery of the pure white snow is beautiful. This time I would like to introduce the magnificent scenery spots of December that I highly recommend. Wouldn't it be nice to round off the year with a visit to a wonderful sight? 1. Kyoto/Arashiyama Hanatouro | A fantasy-like scenery of the early winter in Kyoto When someone mentions Kyoto, most people think of the cherry blossoms in the Spring and the red and yellow leaves in the Fall. However, the early winter is also a must-see. During the "Arashiyama Hanatouro" that begins on December 8th, paper lanterns light up the historic streets and cultural heritage sites in the areas of Arashiyama and Saga. At night time you can enjoy a fantasy-like atmosphere of Kyoto. The most popular spot of the Arashiyama Hanatouro is the "Bamboo Grove". During the nighttime, the contrasts between the lights and the shadows make the bamboo forest look even more beautiful. The famous Togetsu-kyo Bridge is also lit up. The scenery of the golden-colored bridge and the mountain lit up in blue and purple, reflected on the Ooi River looks like a painting. During the illumination, the nearby shrines and temples are also lit up. How about touring the winter nights of Kyoto? You will be able to have a completely different experience than if you were to go during the daytime. 【Address】The Sagano Walk in Nishikyoku / Ukyoku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, the Bamboo Grove around the Tenryuji Temple, Around Hourinji Temple to Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Other temples, shrines, and cultural facilities 【Period】December 8th~17th, 2017 【Illumination time】17:00~20:30 【Website】http://www.hanatouro.jp/arashiyama/ 2. Hokkaido/Terrace of Frost Tree | Get captivated by the natural phenomenon of winter The hoarfrost on the trees on the "Terrace of Frost Tree" look just like flowers made of ice. This is a beautiful phenomenon of winter that happens when moisture and mist in the air freeze onto the branches of trees. The place where you can see this beautiful hoarfrost is the "Terrace of Frost Tree", located at an altitude of 1,088 meters. Last year, the percentage that you can see this phenomenon was 60%. But when it happens, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the grand Hidaka Mountains and the hoarfrost, especially when the weather is nice. ▲There is a 13 minute gondola ride to get to the terrace. The view of the hoarfrost shining under the sunlight is a mystical beauty! Also from December 1st to 25th, there is an illumination on the Terrace of Frost Tree. You can certainly appreciate the hoarfrost illuminated by lights, but if you are lucky, you will also be able to see some diamond dust! 【Address】Within Hoshino Resort Tomamu Area, Naka-Tomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu, Hokkaido 【Gondola Price】Adults: 2,200 yen, Elementary Schoolers: 1,300 yen 【Period】December 1st, 2017 ~ April 3rd, 2018 *May close depending on weather 【Time】（Daytime）8:00~15:00, (Nighttime illumination) 16:00~18:30 (only from December 1st to 25th) 【Eligibility】Available for both hotel guests of Hoshino Resort Tomamu and people on a day trip 【Website】https://www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/ski/muhyo/ warm light bulbs The illuination of Nabana no Sato turns 14 years old this year. It is Japan's greatest paradise of lights that is created merely by light bulbs. Out of the various illuminations, the most popular each year is the tunnel of lights called "Hanakairo". The tunnel is warmly illuminated by 200 meters of small light bulbs shaped like flowers. How about spending some time under the clear skies of December while being surrounded the gentle warmth of the lights? The illumination is held from October 14th, 2017 to May 6th, 2018. More information on "Nabana no Sato" 4. Karuizawa/Christmas Candle Night | A clear and warm night illuminated by candle lanterns Karuizawa is well-known as a city for tourism and as a summer resort. It was a Canadian missionary who first provided the city of Karuizawa the opportunity to gain popularity as a summer retreat. The Karuizawa Kogen church, built in 1921, has been a popular Christian church ever since. In 2017, the theme for Christmas was "light". Around Christmas time, the forest in front of the church was illuminated by countless numbers of candle lanterns, and the 6 meter tall fur tree was also decorated with lights. This illumination wrapped up the cold winter nights with gentile warmth. In the center of the forest, there is the "Crossroad of Lights". How about being surrounded by romantic lights under the cold wintry sky? 【Address】Hoshino, Karuizawa, Nagano 【Period】 Every Friday, Saturday Sunday during December 1st~24th, 2017, and December 25th 【Time】(Illumination and Crossroad of Lights) 18:30~21:00, (Lantern walk) 18:30~21:00 【Website】https://www.karuizawachurch.org/ 5. Fukui/Echizen Coast | The magnificent view of the manly rocky cliff and the beautiful daffodils The rocky cliff formed by an upheaval of water is the main feature of the Echizen Coast in Fukui. From December to January, lovely white daffodils bloom along the coastline of the rocky cliff. ▲The cape that was chosen as one of Japan's top 100 sunset spots This scenery was selected as one of Japan's 3 greatest daffodil fields. The collaboration between the carpet of the white flowers that spread across the coast, and the powerful rocky cliff and the Sea of Japan is breathtaking. More information on "Echizen Coast" 6. Hokkaido/Ice Village | The fantasy-like village of ice makes an appearance again this year Every year during the snowy season, the Ice Village makes an appearance in Shimukappu, Yufutsu, Hokkaido. In the village, 12 ice domes and an ice rink are set up over an area of 3.2ha. The village becomes full of people enjoying the experience on ice. The biggest feature of this village is the "Ice Chapel" that is made completely of ice. This Chapel was made from a single piece of ice as a romantic message representing the "an unbreakable love between two pure souls which shall last forever." The Chapel is open to the public from 20:00 to 22:00. ▲After the wedding, fireworks are set off as a celebration for the bride and the groom In the village, there are many more attractions such as the "Bar Icewood" where you can have drinks inside a space of ice, and the "Ice Hotel" where you can enjoy a stay in a room of ice. Be sure to fully enjoy this fantasy-like village of ice. 【Address】Within Hoshino Resort Tomamu Area, Naka-Tomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu, Hokkaido 【Price】Entrance fee: 500 yen (Free for guests staying at the Tomamu Resort Tomamu The Tower and Risonare Tomamu) 【Period】December 10th, 2017 to mid-March, 2018 *Can change depending on weather 【Hours】17:00~22:00(Final entry at 21:30) 【Eligibility】Available for both hotel guests of Hoshino Resort Tomamu and people on a day trip *Times, Prices, and Reservations differ for each content 【Website】https://www.snowtomamu.jp/special/icevillage/ 7. Nagano/Shibu Onsen | Go hot spring hopping in a tasteful town with stone paved streets The Shibu Onsen has many sources of hot spring, and it is said that hot water will come out if you dig the ground even just a little bit. For this reason, there is steam coming out from all over the town, creating the mood of the onsen town. On the stone-paved path, there are wooden buildings lined up from the Taisho and Showa periods. You might feel a little fancy walking through this nostalgic street in a yukata. In Shibu Onsen there are communal baths used by the local people everyday. These baths are also open for guests staying over night. Each of these baths has different hot spring sources, and you can go on a tour to collect stamps from each onsen. The tour of the 9 baths is only open for the local people and hotel guests. Have a leisurely stay and get hooked up on the fascinations of Shibu Onsen. More information on "Shibu Onsen" So these are the 7 highly recommended magnificent places to visit in December. How about greeting the New Year by rounding off the year and charging your energy from these wonderful sceneries?