It's almost March already, and even though we have had a few days of spring-like temperatures there is snow and cold temperatures on the way.
Spring skiing in the Yuzawa area is great. There is usually snow in March, and even when spring arrives and the cherry blossoms come out, there is such a deep snow base that we can keep skiing and snowboarding for a long time. Skiing and snowboarding in a T-shirt, and BBQs on the deck at Kagura are just around the corner....
The higher resorts like GALA Yuzawa and Tashiro will be open for the Golden Week holiday at the beginning of May, and the last resort to close in the Snow Country Tourism Zone is Kagura Ski Area which stops late May (though has gone into June before....) Their summer ski run sees the lift move at other times of year too.
Back to the present.... March is one of our favourite months to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in Japan, and here in Snow Country there are a few things that you should not miss.
Urasa Naked Man Festival is on March 3rd every year, and sees men in loin cloths cleanse themselves in a pool of mountain spring water then head into the stunning Bishamondo Temple to try to squeeze their way into the inner sanctum to earn a blessing. It is a short walk from Urasa Station, and the road to the temple is lined with festival food stalls. This is one of our favourite festivals of the winter in Snow Country; it still retains a very local feel, and is definitely worth a visit if you are in the region. Details here.
As part of the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale, you know that this is going to be visually stunning. Fireworks above the snow with thousands of LED's buried underfoot. [The amazing local ladies who do the food at another of the works of art, Ubusuna House, will have a stall in the food area selling a local stew full of local, seasonal ingredients. Their cooking alone is worth the trip over from Yuzawa in our opinion!]
The Tsunan Snow Festival boast the sky lanterns that float up over the snow and light the night sky.It is a beautiful sight and lots of fun. Definitely get your own lantern and set it off with the hundreds of others. The Tsunan Snow Festival is March 11 this year and as you can expect from one of the places with the heaviest snowfall in Japan, they do snow festivals well.
This is is a great backcountry experience from the team at Matsunoyama Onsen Ski Resort. Head up over the pass and ski down to Tsunan Station in the next valley. It is an awesome day out, and only runs from March 1 to April 2. It is great fun to do, but the route you take is how the villagers used to get out of town in winter if they needed to leave the region. Matsunoyama Onsen used to be completely cut off in winter, and getting over the pass was the only way in and out! If you are going, let us know. We'll come too!
Ski and snowboard lessons in all resorts in Yuzawa and the Snow Country Region are our forte here at Snow Country Instructors, but if you are here in this unique area, there is plenty more to check out.