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Tour details - Snow Country Winter Village Stay


  • Experience ‘Snow Country’ in the heart of central Japan—one of the snowiest areas of the world—at its winter best, and understand how the region’s unique culture and landscapes relate to the extreme climate

  • Stay 4 nights in private, community-run accommodation in two traditional 19th-century farmhouses restored to their original glory (renovated for modern comforts) in non-tourist villages and towns

  • Experience everyday life in a hill village—take a walk along country roads for views of photogenic terraced fields and forests under the thick winter blanket, harvest ‘snow cabbages’ and learn why these vegetables develop exceptional sweetness, and learn rustic country recipes and/or traditional cloth sandal making from the villagers

  • Enjoy a day of snowshoeing through the starkly beautiful winter landscapes of the Snow Country, and unwind in a comfortable, modern wood cabin looking out into the forests

  • 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’

  • Discover the Snow Country’s craft traditions, including metalwork, handmade paper and textiles, and (optionally) try your hand crafting your own metal jewellery or textured paper

  • Enjoy a variety of dining experiences including 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

  • Visit the world-famous Matsumoto Castle at the foot of the Japan Alps with its imposing 16th-century original structure

A winter only version of the ‘Snow Country Village Stay’ itinerary that focuses on staying in non-tourist village, country town and rural settings, and providing you with a winter experience in one of the snowiest regions of the world. During the tour, you will be based at 3 different locations, allowing you ample opportunity for an authentic experience of contemporary everyday rural life in the ‘Snow Country’ and genuine interactions with locals. Accommodation on 4 nights are in traditional farmhouses (with modern comforts) that will allow you to feel the old life in the ‘Snow Country’. You will also enjoy 2 nights in comfortable wood cabins in the forests. The itinerary introduces you to a variety of aspects of the distinct culture of the ‘Snow Country’, and includes experiences that cannot be enjoyed at other times of the year. The tour covers 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 and snowshoeing in villages, towns and the countryside, visiting craft artisans’ workshops and small regional museums, ‘hands on’ experiences such as traditional metalcraft, paper and cloth sandal making, and cooking demonstrations. The tour will conclude with a quick visit to the famous tourist attraction of Matsumoto Castle. 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: Nagaoka, Tokamachi, Uonuma region (Niigata Prefecture), Otari and Iiyama regions (Nagano Prefecture)


TOUR LENGTH: 7 days (6 nights)




SEASON: mid-January–late March


BOOKINGS CLOSE: 120 days before agreed departure date


START LOCATION: JR Shinjuku Station, Tokyo [MAP]


END LOCATION: JR Shinjuku Station, Tokyo [MAP]




CULTURAL TOLERANCE: moderate (must be able to sleep on traditional futon bedding on 4 nights)


COST: from AUD $3200/person (6 persons) to $4900/person (2 persons), including ALL ground transport, accommodation, meals, tour guiding, fees and charges

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