“Snow Country” by Yasunari Kawabata (available at Amazon.com Price: $9.35 ISBN: 0679761047), one of the most internationally well-known of Japanese works is Kawabata’s tragic tale of the love affair between a wealthy dilettante and a mountain geisha, earned Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature. The novel is famous also for the snow setting in the mountains of Niigata prefecture.
The Japanese know their “Yukiguni”(snow country) well and will flock by the droves to the snow/ski resorts of Niigata and the adjacent Yamagata-ken. I found a lovely cosy mountain spot in Echigo Yuzawa that your family might like withdraw to for a short break. Famed for the snow, but covered in alpine glory in the spring, summer and autumn as well.
Where to Stay: Asahikan is a traditional minshuku (family-owned inn, a timbered building ) with a thirty year tradition in taking care of its guests. Lovely and friendly hostess Koshigoe Kazu-san speaks very good English and will make the foreigner feel totally at home. Her husband and their children are ski instructors (champion trophies are on display). Food is excellent and substantial by a Japanese chef from New Zealand who makes a mean thin crust pizza! 6000-7000 yen per night stay including breakfast. Minshuku is 1 minute walk from Yuzawa Park Ski Slope (less crowded than other bigger resorts). Fringed by woods, a river, the area is excellent all the year around, we are planning to return in spring and/or summer for the hiking trail. Raccoons can be seen right outside the minshuku. The now snow-covered meadow will be covered with a profusion of alpine flowers in the spring. You can be bused to a lovely rotenburo (outdoor hotspring) twice in the evening if you like for 300 yen. Virtually stress-free getaway with pick-up available to and from Echigo Yuzawa Station and an easy one hour trip from Tokyo Station by shinkansen. Warning … it is traditionally Japanese-style though, you must be prepared for Japanese styled bathrooms (separate for men and women) and toilets. 14 rooms with heating and kotatsus, VERY spacious, some with a beautiful view of snow and woods. Nearby carpark available if coming by car. Phone:0257-87-3205/Fax:0257-87-6410 For a picture of facilities, go to http://www.skijapanguide.com/ click on accommodation and scroll down to Echigo Yuzawa and Asahikan
Alternatively, visit Yuzawa which has 5 1/2 km of ropeway linking two ski slopes and the largest gondola in the world, carrying 166 people. Yuzawa offers 2,500 rooms; it’s a huge resort facility with enormous potential. Being so close to Kanto, even day trips are perfectly possible!” WeLoveSnow.com, with a comprehensive Web site in English and Japanese that makes booking a weekend away
Japan Worldwide KK, Shougetsu Bldg., 2F, 2448 Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, Niigata-ken, Japan 949-3107. Telephone (025) 784-3117, fax (025) 784-3107, mobile (090) 5799-7188, e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, Web page address www.welovesnow.com