Over the past few days Japan has been battered by nonstop snowstorms. Parts of Niigata have gotten over two meters (6.5ft) of snowfall, with surrounding prefectures getting nearly just as much, extending as far north as Hokkaido and south as Kyoto. This has unfortunately already resulted in eleven deaths and hundreds of canceled flights, and even more snow is expected over the next several days.
But always one to look on the bright side, Japan has recently been reveling in just how darn pretty the famous Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto looks with freshly fallen snow.
For the uninitiated, Kinkakuji (literally “golden pavilion temple”) is the name of a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto that’s been around since the 14th century (give or take burning down a couple times). It gets its name from the gold leaf covering the top two stories, which create a dazzling reflection in the “mirror pond” surrounding it. Not only is Kinkakuji a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s one of the most popular buildings in all of Japan, bringing in six million visitors each year – beating out both the Sistine Chapel and Mecca. Impressive.
This marks the first snowfall at Kinkakuji this year, so it was bound to become big news. What’s more, the snow is such a blanketing, pure white that Japanese people refer to it as yukigeshou, or “snow makeup,” as if the temple woke up this morning and thought “yeah, I think some snow would really bring out the gold in my eyes today.”
As silly as it sounds, some of the pictures make it seem like that’s exactly what happened.
Of course with such a picturesque scene ripe for photographing, fans of Kinkakuji, snow makeup, and pretty scenes in general turned out in droves to record the spectacle on their favorite image-capturing devices. This caused massive lines, and some patrons had to wait fifteen minutes or more to get inside the temple grounds – quite a long time considering you can usually just buy your ticket and waltz right in.
While we hope that everyone stays safe during this crazy weather, getting amazing pictures like these is one perk of Mother Nature getting a little too excited over the Christmas season.