When I first visited Japan, everybody seemed to wonder about the weather over there. I would invariably answer, "It's just like here. We're both in the Northern Hemisphere." That being said, I have spent the winter in Southern California clad largely in shorts and t-shirts. (The state is experiencing a severe drought.) When I read about all the snowfall in Japan, I was quite curious and wanted to see it. "To the Internet!" I proclaimed loudly, to whoever would join my call.
Searching for something that would let me see the snow, I looked at my old favorite, the web cams of Japan. I tried to find live cams. After sifting through an eclectic assortment, I settled on four that pleased me greatly.
This is a web cam broadcast from Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture at www.meiji-yakata.com/nikkoclub.shtml I have observed the leaves changing colors and falling from the trees, and I have watched the branches swaying in the wind. Then one day I saw snow! The thermometer read 2 degrees C., and even I, a Fahrenheit-educated woman, could understand that it was COLD!
Next I came upon Takachiho in Miyazaki Prefecture at www.town-takachiho.jp/culture/livecam/takachihokyo.html I observed large groups of tourists walking the pathways and some people rowing boats on the water. "This must be a good place to visit," I surmised. The area was beautiful and I thought it looked like fun to take a boat ride. The visitors lessened as time passed, and one day snow lay in patches on the ground. It had melted by the following morning.
At the Uesugi Shrine in Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture are massive snowdrifts. loveyone2.dip.jp:8080/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=1 It is fascinating to me - but I know I wouldn't last a day in that kind of cold. Note to self: Visit in late Spring, early Autumn.
Then I found Maniwa in Okayama Prefecture at www.city.maniwa.lg.jp/webapps/www/live-cam/location/kannba.jsp I looked, saw something moving, and wondered, "Are those squirrels?" No, they were MONKEYS, snow monkeys. My attention had been captured. The scene shows a section of a pathway that leads to Kamba Falls, and you can see the water rushing down in the distance. One day a man appeared on the path and he methodically tossed food back and forth as he walked in the direction of the falls. He didn't even glance at the monkeys as they darted out and began foraging. On another day I was delighted to see two dark forms partly obscuring the camera view. I supposed the monkeys were checking out this odd piece of equipment and deciding if it could be of any use to them!
I thought maybe I should go visit these monkeys of Maniwa. Would they behave like the deer of Nara? And then - just a day ago, when I connected to the cam I saw that the grounds were covered with a light dusting of white. I watched the snow falling and a lone monkey sat, unmoving, in the quiet, picturesque countryside.
Webcams in Japan
Books on Tokyo Japan