Niigata and specifically Yuzawa’s winters came into the spotlight when “Snow Country” by Yasunari Kawabata was written. Winter photography tours in Yuzawa and Uonuma are a delight for anyone who enjoys stepping off the beaten path. The opening lines of the novel talk about coming out of the tunnel northbound into Niigata Prefecture and being overcome by the sheer vastness of the white blanketed land he saw. You too can enjoy the same phenomenon as you ride the bullet train from Tokyo and join Japan Dreamscapes (JDS) on a photo tour adventure.
Yuzawa is well-known for snowboarding and skiing, but it also has breathtaking winter landscapes. Naturally surrounding by peaks of all different sizes, there are many paths around the ski slopes that hold pristine nature and alpine photo taking experiences for you to enjoy. Bring your camera and let your JDS do the rest by getting you to the locations best suited for spectacular photography.
Just a short ride away is Uonuma which holds its own winter festivals. During the festivals you will be able to view kamakuras, or small igloos and take away photographic evidence of seeing them as part of your snow country photo tour, and we at JDS understand that amazing photography is the most important aspect of a winter photo tour, but we also know that replenishing your body between photo sessions is also of paramount importance. ‘Jizaikan’ is a little gem of a hot spring nestled away in a tucked away part of the snow country, but once you’re ready to set your camera down for the day, please indulge in the warm and refreshing onsen baths there. The water is claimed to have healing powers, and after taking a rejuvenating bath, there are some regional and seasonal delicacies such as grilled trout waiting for you at the nearby inn.
One of the most memorable events is the Yunosato Snow Festival which hosts the ‘108 Lights’. Once every year, 108 bundles of straw are set ablaze on a local mountain top. The experience is one you will never forget. The controlled fires illuminate the night sky and create a radiant back light to the snow covered mountain peaks. You may appreciate the view and also take numerous pictures to remember this event forever. Participating in the festival also comes with the warmth of the local residents attached. Once you have concluded taking your photos with JDS, you can enjoy pounded sticky rice, mochi, and enjoy entertainment and other rare cultural experiences only available in snow country.