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Sapporo, Japan Prepare to be amazed by snow sculptures, skiing, traditional Japanese architecture, and hot springs. The painstaking attention to detail for which the Japanese are known makes for glorious, unbelievable snow carvings as intricate as finely trimmed bonsai trees. About a four-hour flight from Tokyo, this vacation spot is for those who want to go slightly off the beaten path.
The town of Harbin in northeast China has created an entire city carved out of ice and snow. The 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which opens on January 5, features work by some of the best ice sculptors and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world. The town, located near the border with Russia, experiences dry but freezing winters and has an abundance of ice on tap from the nearby Songhau River.