Things to do Architectural Gems Other Activities Japan > tochigi > yunishikawa

Yunishigawa Onsen's Kamakura Festival where lights dance in silver snow

Updated Jun 12, 2017

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in yunishikawa and also compare the prices with airbnbs in yunishikawa

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in yunishikawa and also compare the prices with airbnbs in yunishikawa

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in yunishikawa and also compare the prices with airbnbs in yunishikawa


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?

This article was originally published on Sep 23, 2015

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Top 3 activities to book in yunishikawa

Have a question? Ask fellow travellers and travel experts here.
Explore yunishikawa
Good things are meant to be shared!