A magical display of light and snow
The Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival is a mesmerizing event that takes place every year from late January to early March in Yunishigawa, a small town in Tochigi Prefecture, japan. This festival is a celebration of winter and showcases the beauty of snow through the illumination of hundreds of miniature kamakura, or snow houses.
The main venue for the festival is “Heike no Sato,” a picturesque area where the kamakura are displayed. These snow houses are meticulously crafted by local artisans and come in various sizes and designs. Each kamakura is made from compacted snow and has a small entrance where visitors can enter and experience the cozy interior.
What makes the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival truly magical is the lighting that adorns the kamakura. As night falls, the snow houses are lit up with colorful lights, creating a fairyland-like atmosphere. The combination of the soft glow from the lights and the pure white snow creates a dreamlike ambiance that is truly enchanting.
One of the highlights of the festival is the illumination along the Sawaguchi riverbed, which has been declared a Japan Night View Heritage Site. Locals line the river bed with hundreds of small kamakura huts, each lit up with candles. Taking a stroll along the candlelit river is a mesmerizing experience, as the flickering lights reflect off the glistening snow, creating a breathtaking view.
To fully immerse yourself in the festival, it is recommended to visit one of Yunishigawa’s local onsens. These hot springs are a perfect way to relax and warm up after a day of exploring the festival. The natural hot spring water is believed to have healing properties and is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. Soaking in the warm waters while surrounded by snow-covered mountains is a truly rejuvenating experience.
Another unique experience at the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival is dining inside one of the larger kamakura huts. These snow houses are available for rental and come equipped with a BBQ grill. It is a local tradition to enjoy a hot meal inside a kamakura, surrounded by the snow walls. The larger huts can accommodate groups of people, making it a perfect opportunity to gather with friends and family for a cozy and memorable dining experience.
For those interested in history, a visit to the Heike-no-Sato open-air museum is a must. This museum showcases the life and culture of the Heike clan, a powerful samurai family that once ruled this region. The museum features reconstructed traditional buildings, artifacts, and exhibitions that provide insights into the Heike clan’s history and way of life. Walking through the museum feels like stepping back in time and offers a deeper understanding of the local culture.
Now, let’s discuss how to get to Yunishigawa Onsen. The town can be reached by direct buses from either Kinugawa Onsen Station or Yunishigawa Onsen Station. The bus from Kinugawa Onsen Station takes about one hour, while the bus from Yunishigawa Onsen Station takes about half an hour. Both stations are accessible by JR and Tobu Railway.
If you prefer train travel, there is a direct limited express train that runs from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Kinugawa Onsen Station. The journey takes about two hours, and from Kinugawa Onsen Station, you can take a bus to Yunishigawa Onsen.
It is important to note that the festival dates and details may be subject to change due to COVID-19. Therefore, it is recommended to check the official festival website or contact the local tourism office for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit.
In conclusion, the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival is a magical event that showcases the beauty of winter and the artistry of the local community. The illuminated kamakura, the warm onsens, and the rich cultural experience make this festival a must-visit for anyone seeking a unique and enchanting winter experience. So grab your camera, bundle up, and immerse yourself in the winter wonderland of Yunishigawa.
Address And Maps Location:
Nishikawa, Nikko-shi, Tochigi-ken