Sensoji Temple, the Ghibli Museum, and Tokyo Disneyland are always worth a visit, but especially on snowy days like this.


I’m always baffled when I’m flipping through an English-language travel guide and come across a passage that refers to Tokyo as “ugly.” To me, Japan’s capital is one of the most visually compelling cities on the planet, thanks to how deeply traditional and fancifully modern architecture are often both pressed into the same sight lines.

And while I’d call Tokyo a beautiful city on any day, it takes on a special ethereal character when the snow piles up, as it did this Monday thanks to the area’s heaviest snowfall in years.

As we’ve seen before, a blanket of snow can give a setting a timeless quality. With the surrounding contemporary skyline obscured by the foggy night, the Asakusa neighborhood’s Sensoji Temple looks much like it must have to pilgrims and visitors generations ago.

Elsewhere, Kanda Shrine’s orange paint provided a dazzling contrast with the white snow, as did the neon signage of the bustling Shibuya and Shinjuku skyscrapers.

While it may have lost its status as Tokyo’s tallest structure to the Skytree, 332.9-meter (1,092-foot) Tokyo Tower remains a beacon that’s visible from many parts of the city, and its glow tinged the icy mist on Monday night.

A few years ago, Tokyo Station was renovated, winding back the clock on its appearance to more closely match its original, 1914 design. Much like with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, the snow heightened the retro atmosphere.

Tokyo tends to go all out with its Christmas light displays, with neighborhoods seemingly trying to one-up each other. Most of them come down shortly after Christmas Eve, but a few places are proud enough to leave them up all winter long, as seen in these shots from Toyosu, on the east edge of downtown.

Meanwhile, the Ghibli Museum (soon to screen the latest anime from famed director Hayao Miyazaki), looked frostily festive even in the afternoon.

▼ Are you cold, rooftop Laputa robot?

Going from one mecca for animation lovers to another, Tokyo Disneyland may not actually be over the border in Chiba Prefecture, but with weather patterns pretty much identical to Tokyo, it was also transformed into a winter wonderland, even if Alice doesn’t make an appearance in these photos.

▼ It’s too bad that rumored Frozen expansion isn’t finished yet.

Things were equally snowy out in the suburbs, and even non-shutterbugs found themselves enjoying the snow, like these two brothers from Tokyo’s residential Setagaya Ward who saved themselves a trip to the ski slopes by snowboarding on a regular sloping street near their home.

And if you’re the sort of person who thinks all this looks beautiful, but hates being out in the cold, just remember…

…if that adorable little kitty can handle the weather, you can too.

Featured image: Twitter/@onotch_x

Follow Casey on Twitter, where the first time he experienced snowfall in person, his honest reaction was “Wait…snow is ice?!?”