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.
▼ Well neither of those places look nearly as good after Mother Nature craps all over them, so it makes sense.
たかはし@梅茶漬け (@umechaduke0903) December 18, 2014
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.
▼ “Hey, uh, can we borrow some of that snow makeup of yours, Kinkakuji? We’re feeling a little naked.”
“Shut up trees! Can’t you see I’m posing for pictures here?”
飛行船「スヌーピーＪ号」 (@Airship_SnoopyJ) December 19, 2014
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.
▼ Is there a Fastpass dispenser somewhere?
2014-1/19 金閣寺開門15分前 http://t.co/JrK0nwmcyf—
あんどぅー @チェリーピッカー (@Kaz_0609) December 18, 2014
Still, the wait was worth it for the fabulous pictures it resulted in. Here’s a sampling of some of the more interesting ones on Twitter:
▼ This one reminds me of Spirited Away, when the bathhouse comes to life at night and the lights turn on.
今日の金閣寺は滅多に撮影出来ない雪の降る1枚になりました。 α7Rとカールツァイスレンズの性能の高さを思い知った1枚です。 #金閣寺 http://t.co/a3O2LaObNc—
情報局局長 (@conacona8492) December 18, 2014
▼ If this one isn’t already the background to a fighting game, it needs to be. Immediately.
タクの運ちゃんに 雪の日は金閣寺ってことで。 はい。 http://t.co/KmGVwhHkZk—
Honoka. (@hnk1xx) December 18, 2014
▼ Snow-laden Kinkakuji is also a great place to bring a date. Even if he/she is made of plastic.
(@elquetv) December 18, 2014
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.