White Christmas: Komagane, Kouzenji, Senjojiki cirque, Onsen and Whisky Distillery (Nagano)
Tour Code: OK1225
Tour Fee: 12600 Discount Price: 9450
Date: Christmas Day, December 25th
Christmas in Japan is a little different to what many students and visitors coming to Japan have experienced before. Unless it is a Sunday, the 25th is not a holiday, and many of the Christmas decorations have already been taken down after the “deep fried chicken festa/frenzy” of the previous day.
This trip allows you to see some beautiful places, enjoy a good snowfight, make your yuki-daruma, enjoy a picnic in the snow, soak in a natural onsen and relax. The scenery is spectacular. The altitude means that deep snow cover is guaranteed.
We head to Komagane in the southern alps of Nagano prefecture. We first make a visit to historic Kozen-ji, a beautiful Tendai sect temple established in the year 860 and set inside a forest of ancient trees. Designated an important cultural asset by the Japanese government, this ancient temple is associated with the legend of Hayataro (almost all Japanese children learn the story about the dog that bravely defended a village from a mythological creature). There is a natural spring that you can drink from. The water is believed to bring long life and good health.
Water in Komagane comes straight from the high country of the Japan’s Central Alps. Noted for it’s purity, it has led to the development of several high tech firms establishing electronics manufacturing plants, and a whisky distillery. The factories are interesting, but we will be visiting the distillery instead. You can enjoy a sample for free.
Next is a bit of Christmas cheer with a drink and lunch at the local craft beer brewery (Minami Shinshu Beer). Good food, great craft beer. Please note that your lunch and beers are not included in the tour fee. Lunch menu averages 900-2000 yen depending on what you select.
Next we will take a bus (private vehicles are banned) and ropeway (a cable car) deep into the National Park. The cable car is Japan’s longest, and the 2nd longest in the world. It will take us from 1662 meters above sea level to 2612 meters (5450 to 8568 feet) on Mount Komagatake, where we enter the pristine environment of the Senjojiki cirque, a glacial caldera high in the alps. There will be a lot of snow, usually at least 2 meters depth, often much more. It is very cold (minus 5 to 10 degrees Celsius), so please wear warm clothing and bring gloves. We will have the chance to walk on deep snowdrifts wearing snowshoes (included in the tour fee). If the weather is clear, you can see the cone of Mount Fuji poking above the ridges of the alps on the other side of this valley.
Descending from the caldera, you can enjoy a nice soak in a natural onsen, before our return to Okazaki.
Note: This trip is good value. The cheapest return train tickets between Aichi & Komagane cost 7140 yen, the ropeway costs a further 3800 yen. This tour includes additional destinations, plus all transport & admissions, & snowshoes.
Departs: East Exit, JR Okazaki Station, Saturday, 8:30am. Returns: 8:30pm (approx)
Mode of transport: Minivan or Microbus
Deadline for Discount Price: 14 days prior
Tour Code: OK1225 (needed for application form below)