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Travel / Exploring Echigo-Tsumari

Return to Echcigo-Tsumari this winter. Check out “SNOWART” which highlights the charms of a snow country through art

Echigo-Tsumari in winter is covered entirely with snow. There are special exhibitions and snow activities to enjoy the region in this particular time of the year. Echigo-Tsumari Art Field Winter 2020 SNOWART is an event which attempt to reveal attractiveness of the heavy snow country through art. Check out “Echigo-Tsumari Snow Fireworks” to see fireworks over the snow field and “Yukimigozen” to enjoy omotenashi (hospitality) of the local people.

Text & Edit by NISHIKAWA Mayu (ASOVIEW Inc.) / Translated by Miwa Worrall

30 November 2019

Play in winter of Echigo-Tsumari through “Echigo-Tsumari Snow Fireworks”

photo Ayumi Yanagi

The flowers of light over the snow field and fireworks lighting up the dark sky are the winter features in Echigo-Tsumari. “Echigo-Tsumari Snow Fireworks / Gift for Frozen Village 2020” bring an early spring to the region.

The event is held at Atema Kogen Resort Belnatio. As the access by car will be blocked on the date of the event, one can take a free shuttle bus leaving from a few stops across the city including Tokamachi station. Join one of the official guided tours should you wish to see other artworks on your visit.

Echigo-Tsumari is one of the heaviest snow-fall regions in Japan. Best to wear a pair of snow boots as you will have to walk up the hill to reach an entrance gate to the venue of the Snow Fireworks. Bring layers to be prepared for cool change in the evening.

Walking through stalls before the Fireworks begins is one of the highlights of the day. 

Options include local bounties such as a bowl of soup with lots of mountain vegetables, Koshihikari rice onigiri and Tsumari pork skewers. Various sake from Niigata are also available for tasting. 

You will receive “seed of light” at the entrance gate. Plant the seed in the snow filed and you will be contributing to create the artwork.

photo Tsutomu Yamagda

The snow field is lit up with colourful lights which looks like a flower filed from distance.

photo Ayumi Yanagi

The firework begins as the sun sets completely. Music goes well with the fireworks and large fireworks bloom over the flower field of light. The event comes to the climax as the fireworks of Sanjaku-dama (600m-650m in diameter) lights up the winter sky. 

Fireworks in cold clear air are so beautiful and you will well remember them for long time.

Taste “Yukimigozen”, an exclusive offer for the official guided tour participants

photo Ayumi Yanagi

Echigo-Tsumari consists of approximately 200 villages and each has its own wisdoms to spend the long winter. “Yukimigozen” launced in 2014 offers an opportunity to experience these distinctive culture which celebrates 7th anniversary.

Venue could be an old minak house but varies depending on a visit you will be taken to and you will be warmly welcomed by locals with home-cooked meal.

photo Ayumi Yanagi

photo Ayumi Yanagi

Dishes including the well-known Niigata food “noppe”, salad dressed with tofu, sesame and miso, pickled vegetables and simmered dishes are served on the traditional set of crockery on a tray for celebration. People living in the heavy snow fall region have developed the means to preserve local produces harvested in the summer to be eaten during the long winter. Meals with lots of sansai (mountain vegetables) may taste somewhat familiar. 

What you will remember most, though, would be hospitality of the local people. You will surely enjoy the meal as you engage with conversations.

photo Ayumi Yanagi

 You feel very much content with food and hospitality. One of the locals told us as follows:

“We are genuinely pleased to receive visitors to this place – that is so far away (from the centre). That is why we can’t help entertaining them. Everything from rice to sansai is truly delicious and we would love them to eat as much as they can while they are here. We work here to share what we love about this place with visitors.”

Try “yukimigozen”, that is filled with winter delicacies prepared by locals.

Official guided bus tour – taking you to enjoy winter of Echigo-Tsumari

Photo Osamu Nakamura

The official guided bus tour include “Snow Fireworks” with lunch stop for enjoying “yukimigozen” as well as a visit to artworks including “The Last Class” exclusively opens for the tour participants. 

Visit Echigo-Tsumari this winter and experience “Echigo-Tsumari Art Field 2020 Winter SNOWART” which highlights the charm of the snow country through art.

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