The Snow Country Region attracts thousands of skiers and snowboarders each winter who come to enjoy the great snow in the many ski resorts around the area. There are an increasing amount of visitors who are not coming for the winter sports but to experience winter and the deep Japanese snow. Sledging and snowshoeing have been popular attractions but this area has so much more to offer in terms of culture, history, food, and traditions. There is now a new site that has compile
Someone once told me that the best festivals in Japan are the ones that are on a fixed date every year. These are the ones with long histories that are still going in the present day, as opposed to a weekend event for the tourists. January 15th each year is the Matsunoyama Mukonage, or Bridegroom Throwing. It has over 300 years of history, and is a small local festival full of charm. Newly wed grooms are paraded through the streets on the shoulders of their companions, carrie
We’ve spent the last couple of days on the fascinating Snow Country Culture Workshop Autumn Edition, during which time we have learned how to use rice straw to make various rope and storage, harvested daikon radishes, and made mochi in a traditional autumn festival. The tour started in Yukiguni Ryokan in Tsunan. Tsunan sits on the 37 degree parallel north latitude, which is the same as Athens, Sicily, and San Francisco. You don’t associate those places with the 3+ meters of s
Just off Bokushi Dori in Shiozawa, behind a park which is a big hit with the little ones, is the Suzuki Bokushi Memorial Museum. The museum is a beautiful, spacious building with high wooden beams (with amazing joints) that was built in 1989. It celebrates the life and times of the writer Suzuki Bokushi who was born in Shiozawa in January 1770. His writings such as Hokkuetsu Seppu and Akiyama Kiko did much to spread knowledge of this area to other parts of Japan. They are wel
Made in Japan is an absolutely amazing website which aims to be “a showcase of Japanese crafts and traditions and the untold stories behind them.” Dive into any single one of these crafts from all over Japan and prepare to be fascinated by the skill and hard work that have gone into them throughout the ages. Snow Country is represented by Echigo Jofu. “Summer kimono born in the snow.” The explanation behind this material and the work that goes into it is incredibly detailed.
Meguro-tei is an impressive residence dating back to 1797, that is located right beside the more modern Suhara Ski Area. It is believed that the Meguro family came from a long line of samurai but after being on the losing side of battle they retired to this area to farm, and by 1610 the head of the family was a village leader in the area. The members of the family maintained a similar role throughout the years and even ended up having members being elected to the House of Rep
The artist Tsuyoshi Hayatsu was born in Muikamachi in 1938. For the past 40 years he has been painting traditional houses in Snow Country, and across the whole of Japan. These traditional buildings, often with thatched roofs have been disappearing from the countryside but still live on thanks to the hundreds of canvases Mr. Hayatsu has painted. Since 1987 he has been displaying his works in the Hayatsu Gallery in Koide. The main room has a series of rotating images selected b
What does a five thousand year old intricately decorated pot have to do with life today? Surprisingly, a great deal. This, and many other things, we learned this weekend on the Jomon Era & Snow Country Culture Tour. The tour started in Niigata City where Japan’s longest river, the Shinano, flows into the Sea of Japan. It then followed the course of this river all the way through the prefecture to the very border of Nagano where the Shinano become the Chikuma River. Along the