Snow-Country & Monkeys Day Tour
Take a break from the slopes to explore some of Japan's best coutryside. Just a few minutes drive from international ski-resort Nozawa Onsen will find you in the heart of rural Japan's snow-country.
We offer native-english speaking guides for full and half-day trips allowing you to get the most out of northern Nagano.Japanese kanjiki (snow-shoes) and bamboo skis are an excellent way to travel in Sakae village. Sakae is an ideal area for those who want to get a taste of rural winter life in Japan, but don't want to leave behind the comforts of a hot-bath and fresh food in order to venture out into the more extreme back-country.
The Yukon (snow country) is famous in Japan for its unique traditions, lifestyle, and hardships. Our base is situated in Sakae Village - the snowiest of Japan's snow-country, where fire hydrants are 3 meters high and houses have a front door on the second floor!
Our winter snow-country experience trips will have you making your own bamboo kanjiki snow-shoes with the help of the locals, and then using them to trek through small villages and forests on relatively even ground. Your day will end at a traditional Japanese inn or, for the more adventurous, we will teach you how to build your own snow-cave or kamakura igloo which will be your home for the night... of course, you will still be within walking distance of a hot-spring bath and a cozy Japanese pub/restaurant.
Other highlights of our longer Japan Snow Country Experiences include a trip into the foreboding Akiyamago Valley - famous throughout Japan for its remoteness and harsh winters. In fact, entire villages have been known to vanish over a single winter.
If the weather agrees, you will have an opportunity to participate in one of the most time-honored traditions of Northern Nagano - yuki-oroshi (shoveling snow from the roofs). This is also a very much needed public service. There is so much snow here that unless we shovel it from our roof regularly, the house is in danger of collapsing. This is increasingly becoming a problem as the population ages and young people are forced to move to larger cities for work. Someone needs to shovel the rooves.
Of course, helping the locals is one of the best ways to get to meet them. We will be there to help facilitate conversation and work our mojo which has been known to get our guests invited for dinner and lots of hot sake around the irori (traditional fire-pit found in many old-style Japanese homes).
The majority of our planned and private country bike tours are centered around small villages where having large groups is just impractical. Our official limit is 8 people per trip, with a usual minimum of 2, but sometimes even 1 for custom trips. For longer, more educational or volunteer programs we can accept more participants or school groups up to 30 students. If you have special needs for a private group, please contact us.
Our trips focus on rural areas of Japan. Most of them are centered in Sakae Mura, in northern Nagano. While it is just 3 hours from Tokyo it feels like a lifetime away from city life. We offer some trips that start closer to Tokyo, and can organize custom trips to other areas of Japan, however, most of our local connections, that will help you to see and interact with rural Japan lifestyle, are around the farming villages where we are based.
We sometimes run custom trips in other rural areas in Japan. If you have a specific area you would like to see by bike, please contact us for a quote.
Accommodations are simple, and in keeping with the atmosphere of rural Japan, and we focus on local, traditional, seasonal foods, providing organic & home-grown, and locally raised or hunted wherever possible. Whenever possible we try to show you the face of the people who produced and prepared your foods.
There are no five-star western style hotels, family run minshuku and sleeping on the tatami floor in futons is the norm. Depending on the trip, you may have the opportunity to stay in centuries old farm houses, mountain huts, a bear-hunter's lodge, or even a local's home in a small village where there are no other accommodation options.