This year marks the 20 year anniversary of Yunishigawa Onsen holding an event around the copious amounts of snow in Tochigi Prefecture’s Nikko area. The Kamakura Matsuri is renowned for its night scenery. The countless candles dancing in the miniature Kamakura snow huts is a mythical night scene.
A profound beauty that makes you shiver
Yunishigawa Onsen is said to have been a refuge for the remnants of the Taira Clan. Each candle is carefully lit when the night comes, while snow falls gracefully.
The area becomes utterly quiet as the snow absorbs the static noise. The endless candlelights flickering in the quiet is somehow ephemeral and strangely elegant at the same time.
“The sound of the bell of Gion-shoja, rings with the transience of all things, the color of the flowers of paired sal trees, shows the truth that all glories must fade”
Viewing this scene reminds me of the opening lines from the Heike Monogatari.
The small snow huts are hand built by locals
This chest high mini snow huts are built by hand one by one by the local children and volunteers. There are about 1000 little mini huts!! In each one is a candle that is lit at dusk by visitors. This festival is held between the end of January to the middle of March.
There are two places where the mini snow hut candles are lit, Sawaguchi Riverbed and Heike Shuraku. Either or both will be lit during the festival. Please check the link for schedules at the tourist association websites. We recommend the main venue, Sawaguchi Riverbed.
I want to say the scenery is so beautiful that you forget the cold but that would be a lie, it is COLD!! Of course since the venue is all snow. Please come in the type of clothes you would go skiing in. There are many inns that provide transportation to the venues so please use them.
Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Matsuri 1-26-2013 to 3-14-13 Light up 5:30pm to 9pm
Play in the snow to your hearts delight in the day time
Yunishigawa Onsen is about 40 minutes away from Kidokawa Onsen. Travelling in the snow, its best to get to the inn early.
At night you get to experience a mystical nightscape at the Kamakura Matsuri, but night isn’t all that’s on offer. In the day time you can do some sledding, or have a BBQ in the snow, or have a snow fight at the many day time events. New powder snow is so soft and fluffy. After you have gotten cold from playing in the snow, how about a warm dip in a hot spring bath to warm you right back up?
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