Kiruna & Otaru

Everything you see is white as it is covered in snow. White is so close to nothing, it spits the color of the sky at the horizon. The severely cold weather of the winter is always accompanied by your desperate longing for warmth. That is probably why the endless field of snow looks as cozy as a comforter. Kiruna is the world’s third largest city in the northernmost point of Sweden. It is 145 km farther north from the North Pole, so there are white nights from May to July, and polar nights from December to January. So if you stay in Kiruna at this time of the year, you would be exposed to a bizarre experience of endless days and nights. Known for its iron ores and a view of the aura, it attracts many travelers. Especially, Jukkasjarvi, a small town near Kiruna, is a unique hotel. It is an ice hotel. Literally built with ice and snow. Inside the ‘Ice Room’ is –5 ℃, so it is not so warm or cozy, but it will certainly leaves you with an unforgettable memory. You can ride on a dog sleigh to travel from Kiruna to see the aura, or to stay at the ice hotel. You run across the white field in a sleigh pulled by Siberian Huskies. If you are lucky, there may be the colorful bands of aura over your head.
Known for the film, <Love Letter>, Otaru is a secluded port city in Hokkaido, Japan. The 1,140 m-long Otaru Canal that runs across Otaru is a major tourist attraction in Hokkaido.

This was the gateway to the north of Japan from the Meiji Era (1868~1912) through the Daisho Era (1912~1926), and it was flourished with many large ships. After World War II, the port was shut down, and remained as a tourist attraction. The old brick-wall warehouses along the Canal still remind us of the old movies. The cityscape beautifully cherishes the old times, and it looks even more beautiful at night. At 4 PM, the sun goes down to pave the way for the gas lamps to light up the dark along the Canal. The waves that reflect the shadows and the snow that can be seen everywhere creating a picture-perfect view. It would be the best place to spend a romantic evening with your loved one. The Otaru Music Box Museum at Marchen Intersection is a must-visit destination for all Otaru travelers. Used as a warehouse during the Meiji Era, this three-story stone building houses antique wooden interiors. This is Japan’s largest music box museum, where you can view and purchase hundreds of music boxes from around the world. The Asarigawa Hot Spring Village near Otaru is close to the downtown area, and it has many Japanese-style accommodations with hot spring baths in the forests, so you can enjoy bathing outdoors even in the middle of winter. This is a small yet rewarding city that you must not miss when traveling to Hokkaido.