By Brittany Lauro

The stillness of snow peeking through the window on an early Monday morning. A small glimpse of sunrise behind the thick musky clouds, no birds to make a peep. The warmth of a cup of coffee while bundled in layers of clothing to keep our feet in heat. The savory aroma of a steamy ramen dish or a hot cup of tea to warm your stiff bones after a cold day outdoors. Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire. It is the time for home and gathering. Winter months bring not only a change of season, but a change of heart. In the long stagnant days of winter our bodies are constantly learning to adapt to our environment around us. Nature becomes a part of our lives and defines how we dress, what activities we participate in and what holidays we have to look forward to. 

In northern Japan winters are quite exceptional. 

Places in Aomori Prefecture can receive over 300 inches of snow during the winter season. What better place to indulge in all winter things than one of the snowiest places in the world? Luckily, there are many destinations nearby to accompany these wishes. Lots of folks enjoy spending long weekends participating in the many outdoor activities such as, skiing, snowboarding or even snowshoeing. For those who would rather skip the outdoor activities there is something for you as well. Most ski resorts include steaming indoor or outdoor baths known as onsens where you can relax and experience the beauty of the snow without shivering in the cold. 

After 13 weeks of frigid cold and prolonged darkness, the snow begins to melt revealing plant life and a multitude of animals emerge from hibernation. As the temperature begins to change, we can sense the knock of spring at our front door steps, itching in excitement for what the new season has to bring. 

When we begin to toss our worn out winter boots, mittens and scarves into the back of our closets we start to appreciate the freshness and beauty that comes with a new season. 

A new season always resembles a renewal in my eyes. 

It is like waking up from a long night of rest, ready to take on a new day while leaving the past behind and embracing the time ahead. There is so much beauty in four seasons that it always leaves us excited for the next adventure. Whether it is shopping for a new wardrobe or creating a list of future sites to visit, it is all very new and refreshing. We are setting aside the hot ramen and dining in at the nearest conveyer belt sushi establishment following an afternoon walk in the park. If you’re looking for something to do but need help finding amazing places to visit, you can take a trip with Misawa ITT this season. Signing up for trips is easy and Misawa ITT is conveniently located inside the Misawa Club. Explore somewhere like Matsushima Bay which is a popular site in Japan located down south near Sendai. You can relax on a ferry boat and adventure around as you explore over 260 pine-clad islands. Another popular place to visit is Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture where you can cruise down Geibikei Gorge, an amazing site that has been carved out by the Satetsu River, with cliffs towering overhead at heights of 50-100 meters.

March is right around the corner from cherry blossom season. This is when spring fully shapes all it has to offer. In Japan, cherry blossoms are called sakura, a special flower for the people and the country. 

These blossoms are symbolic of spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. 

“Hanami” is a tradition that can be traced back at least a thousand years and literally means “watching blossoms.” Don’t miss out on the chance to see the breath-taking blossoms all around Hirosaki Castle right here in Aomori Prefecture! Misawa ITT offers an exclusive trip to the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival including transportation and entrance to the park. The cherry blossoms located at Hirosaki Park are famed as one of the best cherry blossom sights in Japan. Aside from what you will see on these incredible trips, cherry blossoms bloom all over Misawa Air Base and locally in Misawa City. Now let’s put on our light weight coats and tennis shoes so we can embrace all the serenity and breathtaking outdoor sites Japan has to offer during spring.