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Tour details - Snow Country Life & Traditions


  • Discover the unique culture and landscapes of the ‘Snow Country’ in the heart of central Japan—one of the snowiest areas of the world—and understand how they relate to the region’s extreme climate

  • Learn about the region’s great fermented food tradition—including premium-quality sake, naturally fermented soy sauce and miso, and health-giving natto and doburoku (farmer’s cloudy sake)—by visiting artisan workshops, local food experts, and the renowned Yoshinogawa Sake Brewery

  • Stay in community-run accommodation in traditional (renovated for modern comforts) thatched farmhouses in picturesque country villages—these are NOT tourist villages that you find on most tour itineraries

  • Visit a traditional handmade paper workshop in a country village—one of the last remaining in the region—to watch the artisans skilfully crafting beautifully textured paper, try your own hand at papermaking, and learn how paper mulberry bushes are grown, harvested and processed to make the paper

  • Experience everyday life in a hill village, take a country walk through the photogenic terraced fields, and spectate a village bull-wrestling tournament—an ancient tradition celebrating the god-like status of cattle in the local culture, involving a fight between two trained bulls strictly controlled by attendants to avoid injuries to the bulls

  • Explore the world-renowned knifemaking and metalworking traditions of Sanjo, visit blacksmithing workshops, hunt for souvenir items at showrooms, and trying your hand at handcrafting a traditional Japanese paperknife or learning how to sharpen a Japanese handcrafted kitchen knife

  • Absorb the spiritual atmosphere at Snow Country’s Buddhist temples—among the most elaborate in Japan—including a small chapel renowned for the wood carvings by Uncho Ishikawa, the 19th-century ‘Michelangelo of Japan’

  • Stay in a classic 19th-century Snow Country farmhouse restored to its original glory at a private, community-run accommodation (with modern comforts), and marvel at its architectural detail close up

  • Discover the Snow Country’s renowned textile traditions, watch weavers in action at a Tsumugi textile workshop and admire exquisite Kimono textiles at a local showroom

  • Contemplate a serene landscaped moss and woodland garden at an 18th-century country estate, rated among the best moss gardens in Japan

  • Enjoy a variety of dining experiences including the freshest Sea of Japan seafood, soba noodles, and sansai (Japanese ‘bushfoods’)—plus an Italian-style lunch at a winery using snow for low-temperature maturation of its unique wines

  • Learn about the region’s history, natural environment, traditional life and contemporary art at local museums and galleries—including a collection of astoundingly elaborate Jomon-period ceramics over 5000 years old

A comprehensive and varied itinerary that showcases the distinct culture of the ‘Snow Country’ region on the Sea of Japan coast of central Japan. The wide range of experiences cover themes including food, traditional crafts, spirituality, village life, history and prehistory, which will all ‘fit together’ as you gain, through the course of the tour, an understanding of the region’s unique natural environment—particularly its extreme snowfalls—and its effects on everyday life. Activities include easy-grade walking in villages, towns and the countryside, visiting food and craft artisans’ workshops and small regional museums, ‘hands on’ experiences such as traditional bull-wresting spectating, paper making and metalcraft. The tour exclusively features traditional-style accommodation for an authentic experience, with an emphasis on private and community-run accommodation in traditional ‘Snow Country’ houses, in addition to family-run ryokans. With most of your time during the tour based in non-tourist village and country town environments, you will have ample opportunity for genuine interactions with locals in their everyday lives. Through your participation in this tour, you will be directly supporting community-based initiatives aimed at revitalising declining regional areas and preserving architectural heritage, artisans dedicated to preserving craft traditions into the future, farmers supporting sustainable agriculture and continuing farming traditions into the future, and environmentally and health-conscious family-run businesses that uphold regional food traditions.

MAIN DESTINATIONS COVERED: Sanjo, Uonuma and Kubiki regions (Niigata Prefecture), Nagaoka, Tokamachi


TOUR LENGTH: 10 days (9 nights)







BOOKINGS CLOSE: 120 days before agreed departure date


START LOCATION: JR Shinjuku Station, Tokyo [MAP]


END LOCATION: JR Tokyo Station [MAP]




CULTURAL TOLERANCE: high (must be able to sleep on traditional futon bedding every night of the tour; must be able to tolerate traditional country-style food frequently; those with particular views on animal welfare may find the village bull-wrestling tournament concerning)


COST: from AUD $3600/person (6 persons) to $5700/person (2 persons), including ALL ground transport, accommodation, meals, tour guiding, fees and charges

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