Destinations

ECHIGO-YUZAWA

Echigo Yuzawa Onsen is famous as the area in which the plot of "Snow Country," by Kawabata Yasunari is based.

As the town has many public baths and private facilities as well as hotels and onsen ryokan, and isn't that far from Tokyo, it does tend to become somewhat crowded with skiers and the like during wintertime. Gala Yuzawa is a ski area connected directly to Gala Yuzawa Station on the JR Joetsu Bullet Train Line and is just an hour and a half from Tokyo. The ski season ends in May.

"Snow Country" was published in 1937 and has been translated into many languages as a typical piece of modern Japanese literature. "Kasumi-no-ma," the room in which the author wrote the novel is still preserved in Takahan Hotel, and viewing is permitted. A first edition issue of the book can be seen in an exhibition room nearby.

Ponshu-kan, a sake museum in Echigo, displays many kinds of local sake and sweets made from sake as well as cups for holding the usually clear liquor. From October to February, freshly made sake is sold and visiting at this time is particularly advised.

Alpine Flower Park is an alpine garden open between May and November each year. Accessed via a huge aerial cableway, one of the largest in the world, and the Panorama Station on the top of the mountain, a 7 minute walk brings you to the most dramatic rock garden in Japan - home to one thousand alpine flowers growing wild. Several trekking courses are on offer and can be selected depending on the season and physical condition.

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