Just a couple of hours outside of Tokyo, a village rich in snow, beautiful scenery and traditional culture awaits you. This village is known as Katashina Village and it’s located in Gunma Prefecture. It’s hard to believe that though it’s just outside of the ‘big city’, Katashina Village still remains fairly unknown by foreign travellers as there is so much on offer. The village has been quietly thriving for hundreds of years, enjoying its heavy snowfall, mountainous landscapes and delicious fresh local produce.
Katashina Village is a mountainous region, located high above sea level. It is the home of three of Japan’s top 100 great mountains: Mt. Hotaka, Mt. Nikko Shrine and Mt. Shibutsu. During the warmer seasons, the mountains are perfect for hiking, tree climbing and exploring the local flora and fauna. In winter, the combination of the location and mountainous landscape turns the village into every skier and snowboarder’s dream location.
Unlike most places in the Kanto region, Katashina Village experiences heavy snowfall in the winter. Dry, powdery snow the comes from the Echigo Mountains will have any powder hound coming back to more. There are five ski resorts in the area, including the Oze-Iwakura Ski Resort and Marunuma-Kogen Ski Resort.
The mountainous landscape doesn’t just provide perfect conditions for the snow, but it is also the reason why Katashina Village boasts such high quality spring water and an abundance of fresh, local produce. This can be enjoyed at any of the village’s local eateries and even better, your feast can be topped off with a nice, relaxing dip in the many natural hot springs in the village.
To get to Katashina Village, you can either take an express bus from Shinjuku to One or take the bullet train into Jomo-Kogen station and then take a local bus into the village. But the best way to get to and explore Katashina Village is by car. Driving takes about an hour and a half from Tokyo city. This way you have the freedom to visit the five different ski resorts, the nine hot springs and the many other things on offer at the village. Read on to find out how best to enjoy the beautiful Katashina Village.