Here in Snow Country every winter brings snow, and around 3 meters can settle on the ground. A visiting foreign reporter once stated ‘there are certainly places with heavier snowfall, but not in a place with this many people living there!’
And furthermore, snowcountry has over 8000 years of history. Since the distant Jomon period, a long time ago, our ancestors came to live in this pure white world. Even now the wisdom raised back then lives on to this day.
Just a short 70 minute trip from Tokyo. Coming to Snow Country is very different from your own life and culture in many aspects. Perhaps here you will experience a completely different way of living.
|Train||JR Tokyo Station - Echigo Yuzawa Station Approx||1hr 10m (Joetsu Shinkansen)|
|Car||Tokyo - Tsukiyono Approx||1hr 25m|
|Tokyo - Yuzawa (167 km) Approx||1hr 50m|
|Train||JR Niigata Station - Echigo Yuzawa Station Approx||50m (Joetsu Shinkansen)|
|Car||Niigata - Yuzawa (131 km) Approx||1hr 30mins|
|Train||JR Kanazawa Station - Echigo Yuzawa Station Approx||2hrs 30mins (Hokuhoku Line)|
|Car||Kanazawa - Yuzawa (339 km) Approx||4hrs|
|Plane||Itami airport - Niigata airport Approx||145 mins|
The Snow Country Tourism Area is located 37° north. This is the same as San Francisco, Athens and Lisbon. Despite being on the same latitude as these relatively warm cities, here in Yuzawa, there is an unparalleled amount of snow piled up from December to April.
The secret lies in warm currents in the Sea of Japan. The moist warm air hits the first high mountains, such as Naeba Mountain and Tanigawa Dake, the air quickly cools and causes snow to fall. Because of this the snow here has high moisture and stickiness. This is what creates the characteristic densely packed snowscape.
The source of Snow Country culture is wisdom. Wisdom unique to Snow Country. Here the winter shuts out almost half the year, the wisdom to overcome this still lives on. This wisdom can most prominently be seen in Snow Country food. From early spring to late autumn mountain vegetables are harvested, pickled in salt or dried. The fermented foodstuffs and storage food culture here is world renowned. This aspect of Snow Country food culture you can have personal experiences in, Snow Country gastronomy tourism.
Furthermore textile culture is prominent in Snow Country. Textile work is well suited for the cold winters, and the humidity characteristic of Snow Country conveniently means the thread doesn’t break so easily. Textile culture started with the Jomon, with the cloth ‘Angin’ and this has been passed down via UNESCO Cultural Heritage ‘Echigo Jofu’ (high quality cloth). Snow workers using snow bleach is another example of Snow Country wisdom.
Even before the worlds 4 great civilizations, here on the shores of the Shinano river, on an inland basin, rich from the fallen leaves of broadleaf trees, the Jomon culture prospered. In that plentiful forest for 10,000 years this hunter gatherer community continued to live here. Because of this, much earthenware and clay figures were made by the Jomon people, some of which have survived to this day. Some of the flame formed earthenware are rich in form and exceptionally unique. A high concentration of important Jomon artifacts have been excavated from the shores of the Shinano river between Tsunan and Nagaoka.
The flamed earthenware culturally shows the kind of lives our ancestors lived in this deep snow. So how did they think, and how did they live? Sadly we can only imagine but, our ancestors wisdom, the preservation of food, hunting, gathering, and textile culture, from Angin to Echigo Jofu lives on to this very day.
Surrounded by mountains over 2000m, Japan’s largest river, Shinano river and also Tone and Uono rivers flow through here. Thanks to the snow, this area is abundant with water. There are many beech trees here. Various hot spring sources of differing quality has lead to there being many onsens here.
Snow Country is dotted with enjoyable scenery and famous outside onsen baths well noted by literary masters. Resting here for a while is well recommended, in much loved lodges with healing onsens, and secret onsens deep in the valleys. There are various onsen sources of differing qualities, onsens with water which came from the sea 800-1200 years ago, pure onsens with no added water, miraculous 43℃ onsen sources and secret iron rich red water onsens are all within easy reach.View the Snow Country onsens
Surrounded by 3 meters of snow, here over a meter of snow can fall in one night but, in recent years snow clearing has been carried out thoroughly and as such life can carry out pretty much as normal. The snow clearing system supports lives and is an example of modern day Snow Country wisdom.
In January and February the snow is heaviest and agricultural produce cannot be harvested, so locals stockpile vegetables in snow cellars. Snow cellars are a great way to naturally store and are used in the manufacture of sake and vegetable products. In Akiyamago, on the border of Tsunan and Sakae you can see a very special type of snow cellar knitted from straw and a daikon radish, ‘Daikon Tsugura’. Fermented pickled greens and carefully boiled vegetables are the soul food of Snow Country.
In the past, regardless of the snow, locals had to do as much as they could in winter so craft work and textiles became important work.
Late Winter In march there’s still a lot of snow on the ground but it gets easier to walk around. Walking around on snowshoes in this totally white world is a great feeling. Also vegetables put to bed under the snow can start to be harvested from March through April now the sugar content and taste has increased.
Spring Spring in Snow Country is exceptional. Mountain vegetables and fresh green leaves are out in full vigor. We’d love for you to come taste the real thing, right here in Snow Country. By the middle of May every house have royal ferns hanging in their gardens. They are dried so they can be preserved. Regardless that the winter just finished it’s time to start working towards the next winter, that’s Snow Country life. From May the planting of seedlings in the rice paddies starts. It's the busiest time of the year.
Summer The mountains are a deep green and the rice plants are growing big, lush and green. Taking advantage of the varying altitude lots of different vegetables can be grown here. In the garden of every house and alongside the road flowers of every color are blossoming. All around, it’s as if the short summer is singing.
Autumn Harvest season. The rice must be cropped and you can see it being dried in the open air. The seeds need to be saved for Spring. The materials to make Daikon Tsugura (a small snow cellar made from straw and a daikon radish) are also being collected. It’s so difficult to finish harvesting before the impending winter.
As the Autumn colors being to fade it’s time to prepare for winter. In November it can actually snow. The harvested Autumn vegetables are dried or pickled in salt and then stockpiled. In many gardens pickles (Nozawa pickles) are made, but in every house the taste is slightly different (and as you expect everyone claims there’s is the best!).
In all the houses people put slats on the windows and bamboo cones around the trees to protect from the snow. here and there you can see garden trees hidden with bamboo cones, it’s Snow Country scenery.
It’s time to make the Daikon Tsugura. Preparations for winter in late autumn requires a lot of Snow Country wisdom.
Depending on your wishes, from hotel to what experiences you would like, we can make arrangements for your stay.
now Country Tourism 9:00-18:00 (every day)