There is more to winter in Japan than just skiing and snowboarding. Playing around in deep snow, natural volcanic hot spring onsen, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, amazing food, and of course, festivals. A promotional video from the Tokamachi City Tourist Association popped into our Facebook feed the other day, concentrating on all the festivals they have over there each winter. It's definitely worth a watch, and the festivals are worth checking out if you have the opportunity.
Tokamachi is over the hill from Yuzawa and takes about 30 minutes by car, or you can take a train from Echigo-Yuzawa Station.
The Tokamachi Snow Festival isn't as famous as the Sapporo Snow Festival but is an amazing weekend, and probably the biggest snow festival on the main island of Japan. This winter it is 19 -21 February 2016.
The Nakasato Setsugen Carnival is a whole day of snow-themed activities to celebrate the arrival of spring. The highlight is perhaps the snowfield covered with thousands of candles.
Bridgegroom throwing at Matsunoyama, and an on-snow obstacle race in Matsudai are other Tokamachi festivals which make an appearance during the video.
If you are looking for a uniquely Japanese experience this winter then get yourself along to one of the many mountain festivals in the region.