Home Tips & Trends A Festival of Light and Snow in Nikko, Japan
Home Tips & Trends A Festival of Light and Snow in Nikko, Japan

A Festival of Light and Snow in Nikko, Japan


December to February are typically the winter months in Japan. As the snow rages and blankets the streets all over the country as it has been for over a month now, the quaint onsen town of Yunishigawa slowly gears up for its biggest winter festival yet.

Starting from late January to early March, Yunishigawa hosts the Yunishigawa Kamakura Festival, an annual winter festival that takes place in the onsen town of the Tochigi prefecture.

At the core of the festival is the winter tradition of northern Japan, featuring “kamakura”. Kamakura are snow houses (almost igloo-like) that are traditionally made in the Tohoku region and the northern area of the Kanto region.

Exploring Yunishigawa during the festival season will undoubtedly lead you to find small and large kamakura houses all over the town. The main area of the event is at Heike no Sato, where you’ll find hotpot meals or BBQ in such snow houses, a great way to warm your entire body up (aside from the onsen).

While the kamakura houses are surely the main attraction, there’s a host of activities which you can do from snow sliding and snowshoeing, to your very own kamakura making experience. The day will whizz by before you know it.

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That’s not necessarily a bad thing either as the true magic of the festival comes alive at night. If you think seeing the kamakura houses in the day was amazing, at night, about 800 small and large kamakura huts are lit up by way of candles, a beautiful sight as Yunishigawa morphs into a mesmerising winter wonderland.

Yunishigawa is a beautiful and culturally rich onsen town, one that is something of a hidden gem, despite its 400 over years of history. Even if it’s not for the kamakura, dipping in a hot spring in the heart of winter is one of the best experiences ever, and bonus points considering that Yunishigawa isn’t as inundated with people as the other onsen towns can be.

If you’re thinking of taking an early holiday in the new year, spending two days in Yunishigawa isn’t a bad idea at all.

When: 1st February 2020 – 1st March 2020

Hours: 9AM – 9PM

Admission Fee: 500 Yen (300 Yen for entries after 5PM)


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