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Japanese women in kimonos walk to attend ceremony celebrating Coming of Age Day in heavy snowfall at Toshimaen amusement park in TokyoReuters
Tourists brave snow flurries at the Acropolis in AthensReuters
A worshipper makes the treacherous trek up to Wendelstein church, Germany's highest churchReuters
A seagull, with the Suleymaniye mosque in the background, stands in the snow by the Golden Horn in IstanbulReuters
Afghan women walk along a street covered with snow on the outskirts of KabulReuters
Children play in the snow in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old CityReuters
Members of local winter swimming club try to warm up on the bank of Yenisei River ahead of their weekly bathing session in Divnogorsk, Siberia. Air temperatures stood at minus 17 degrees Celsius,Reuters
Residents play with snow at the ruins of the Roman Temple of Bacchus in the historic town of BaalbekReuters
Snow falls over damaged buildings at Jouret al Shayah area in HomsReuters
A woman walks in a snow covered park after snowfall in KievReuters

Heavy snow has blanketed huge swathes of northern Europe, Japan and even California as winter returns with a vengeance.

About 10cm (3in) of snow disrupted Japan's famed bullet train and brought traffic in Tokyo to a standstill.

"It's the worst snow in my 51 years of experience," Katsutoshi Nokimura, a 74-year-old taxi driver, said. "Some people abandoned their cars after getting stuck. It's chaos."

Japan's central regions of Kanto and Koshina were bracing for an expected 50cm of snow. A large number of domestic flights have been cancelled.

California had the unusual experience of snowstorms and freezing temperatures, which led to a 60km (40 mile) stretch of Interstate 5 highway being closed.

Snow also fell across Russia, the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, Sweden, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, southern Germany and Switzerland. 

Southern Europe and parts of the Middle East were hit recently with heavy snowfall covering parts of Greece including Athens. The Middle East was hit by its worst winter storm in a decade and snow settled on cities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel and Palestine.