The Japanese Alps in winter offer snow, sake … and monkeys in hot springs; George Hobica; Star Advertiser

Japan – Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

It was coming on winter in Los Angeles, and I was missing snow. Boston-born, I missed snow’s ozone aroma (snow does have a smell, you know). I missed its soft crunch under my feet. And coincidentally, I was also missing Japan, a land that has fascinated me ever since third grade when, for a show-and-tell project, at the suggestion of Mrs. Reggolino, who also had a Japan thing going on, I built a traditional Japanese home out of balsa wood and paper, complete with shoji screens (yes, I was a precocious child). Some places I visit only once and see no need to return. Others, such as Japan, I have visited multiple times. I love the food and culture but mostly I love the people and the respect they show each another and to visitors.

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