The Shinetsu Shizenkyo area experiences amongst the heaviest snowfall in Japan, and in winter, this silvery world spreads out as far as one can see. Enjoying this winter wonderland is not limited to skiing and snowboarding ‒ other physical activities include snowshoe walking, while for those who prefer their adventures to be gastronomical, try having a traditional hotpot dish inside a "Kamakura" Japanese igloo. The following are some ideas to enjoy the snow country 120%!
This is the only place in the world where macaques bathe in hot springs! Jigokudani Yaen - Koen is where you can see these delightfully animated creatures relax in natural onsen baths. Tourists ‒ local and international alike, travel from afar to see the macaques for themselves and take photographs. Winter is the highly recommended season ‒ snow contrasts beautifully with the warmth of the onsen, which the macaques so evidently enjoy.
Access: from Nagano station, 50 min by Nagano Dendetsu Express to Yudanaka station, from there 15 minutes by bus to Kanbayashi Onsen, and 30 mins on foot to Jigokudani Yaen-Koen
For more details, visit the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen website:
Each year in Shinanodaira, Iiyama City, over twenty Kamakura, or Japanese style igloos are built. During the month of February, "Restaurant Kamakura-mura" is open, where you can enjoy the local specialty "Noroshi-nabe", a hotpot dish including the local brand Miyuki pork, mushrooms and vegetables. The Kamakura Festival held mid-February provides opportunities such as visitations to the Kamakura Shrine and participation in "Mochi" rice cake pounding events, etc. For those with endurance, you could even join a Kamakura-building observation tour.
The Kita-Shiga Highlands (Yamanouchi City) also hosts the "Kita-Shiga Kogen Kamakura Festival" in mid-February. Dine in a Kamakura and participate in festivities in any of the 4 ski sites - Ryuuo Ski Park, X-JAM Takai Fuji, Komaruyama Ski Site, and Yomase Onsen Ski Site.
For more details, visit the Shinanodaira Kamakura website:
Deep snow? No problem! Walking through deep snow is possible if you wear "snowshoes". A completely different way to enjoy snow to skiing, this unique hobby means you can explore places and experience a sense of tranquility you normally cannot otherwise. Make your way at your own pace through ethereal forests and across the pristine surface of a lake. On a clear night, you can even join the "Night Hiking" guide tour, walking on the snow under the brilliant stars. Snowshoes are available for rental on their own; and guided tours are available in Madarao Kogen, Shiga Kogen, Kitashiga Kogen, and Nabekura Kogen.
Iiyama Snow Adventure