Feb 10, 2018
Snow houses "Kamakura" festival in Yunishigawa
For most people winter is the perfect season to go to warm places for their vacation. Also, the snowy mountains of the Alps are very popular too. In Japan you can find both; the warm islands in the south and the north with tons of snow.
Even though the winter season in Japan is not so popular for traveling around, you can find some very nice places and festivals, which you can enjoy only during that season.
Besides the very popular snow festival in Sapporo (Hokkaido) there is another great festival, the Kamakura festival in Yunishigawa, with tons of snow.
In the north of Nikko, deep in the mountains, is the small town of Yunishigawa, which is very popular for its many hot onsen (hot springs).
Unfortunately, this place is very difficult to reach by public transport. The normal route would take you from Nikko by train to Kinugawa Onsen, where World Square Park and Edo Wonderland are. From there you need another one-hour local bus ride to Yunishigawa. However, this bus departs only very rarely and is very busy, especially in the winter season.
Even Nikko itself has no snow, Yunishigawa for sure always has tons of snow.
The Kamakura festival is more than 100 years old in that area. Kamakura are small snow houses that are lit with candles in the evening. These snow houses can be found in all sizes throughout the city.
There are two main spots for seeing those snow houses. The big light up will be in the evening (till 21 h) by the riverside, but also the open air museum nearby has many beautiful snow houses and illuminations.
The open air museum has many small snow houses, but also larger ones where you can enjoy a barbecue or a nabe pot (hot soup with vegetable and meat). The bigger snow houses are very warm and totally quiet. You hardly hear anything from outside. The museum also offers other attractions like several old farmhouses which show the life of the farmers from old times. By the way, there were also straw ropes for your shoes, so you do not slip on the completely frozen snow. This method also dates from time long ago and is still a good way to walk in the snow.
A 10-minute walk from the museum is the main event of the Kamakura festival, which takes place every year from the end of January to the beginning of March. At the Yunishigawa River are 100 small snow houses right on the riverbed that look like little snowy mountains during the day. Next to the river children can also borrow plastic sledges to slide down little hills. Unfortunately, it was not for adults.
In the evening, the snow houses on the river look absolutely gorgeous. The different light ups are so beautiful and somehow it seemed as if little Smurfs are living in the houses. It is sooo romantic!
Since the festival is not so well known, it is not crowded.
You can also find throughout the whole town some snow illuminations and really great snowmen. Just take a look around and enjoy the beautiful snow world.
I recommend staying in the town for one day, to fully enjoy the festival.
I´m a german girl living in the center of Tokyo. I love traveling (especially hiking), taking photos and handcraft.