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Yuzawa Town, Niigata, is one of Japan's snowiest places, hosting countless popular ski resorts. While it's famous as a hot spring center, it also features plenty of great sightseeing spots that are not well known due to limited transport in winter. We offer a tour where a local taxi driver can take you to some special places according to the day's weather and conditions.

The driver knows local attractions inside out and how to safely drive on snowy roads!

This tour will start from the Snow Country Tourism Information Center at the west exit of Echigo Yuzawa Station (you can also be picked up at any member hotel of Echigo-Yuzawa Onsen Tourism Association). You will be touring in a taxi driven by a local taxi driver who will also serve as your guide. Knowing how to drive safely on snowy roads, and being familiar every corner of Yuzawa Town from years of experience, your driver will take you to some unique locations according to the day's weather and atmosphere. Your destinations will essentially be up to the driver, but through conversations with you and reactions to places you've already visited on the tour, your driver might consider other places to take you.
When we got into the car, the driver told us about how the town looks now and gave us a brief rundown on its history, and headed to Tsuchidaru. The first spot he took us to was Kedosawa Kyoryo Bridge, a railway bridge on the JR Joetsu line.
Built in 1931, the brick bridge attracts many tourists and railway fans in summer, but in winter, it is a place that is hard to reach, blocked by so much snow. We did have to walk a little after getting out of the taxi, but it was so amazing to see this wonderful view in winter. We were hoping to see a train cross the bridge, but with the Joetsu Line running so few trains every hour, we gave up and moved to the next spot.
The taxi carried on, along a tapering road, and we ended up at a spot where we could see the exit of a Joetsu Line tunnel. "This is the tunnel in Yasunari Kawabata's novel 'Snow Country,'" explained the driver.
There was a wonderful snowscape intact around the tunnel, looking almost like a beautiful ink-wash painting.
We thought that Kawabata probably penned his masterpiece because he was so touched by this view.
Enjoying the snowscape from the taxi window we moved on, stopping at Zuishoan Temple with its statue of Buddhist guardian Nio by the "Japanese Michelangelo" and master woodcarver from the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868), Uncho Ishikawa. With a little time left, the taxi driver took us to Iwappara Ski Resort, saying "Let's go somewhere with a great view.
Standing in the parking lot, we were awestruck by Yuzawa's snowscape that spread below us, with the S-shaped Kanetsu Expressway and Echigo Yuzawa Station that we had never really looked at closely before, seen from another angle.
The time we spent feels so meaningful. As well as enjoying skiing and hot springs, the tour allowed us to embrace Yuzawa's charm in the winter and its wonderful snowscapes to the full.
As we waited at a railroad crossing for a train to pass, a snowplough train approached. We were lucky to see the train by chance, ploughing the snow off to the side of the rails.
As well as such surprises, the tour will offer opportunities to visit spots whose impression will vary depending on time and weather.
With this tour you never know where you'll be going. Part of the fun is looking forward to the mystery of what you will be seeing and be shown. Join the tour and expect the unexpected!

Embrace the snowscape! Open-plan taxi tour

・Date: weekdays until and including March 31, 2018
・Number of participants: 8 maximum (2 minimum)
・Tour fee: 3,000 yen per person (2,000 yen for children) if 3 or more, 3,500 yen (3,500 yen for a child) per person if 2
*Extension fee: 3,200 yen (per taxi, for every 30 minutes)
・Time required: 1 hour 30 minutes between 9:00-15:00 (accepted anytime when possible)
・Meeting point: Snow Country Tourism Information Center (west exit, Echigo Yuzawa Station), or any member hotel of the Echigo-Yuzawa Onsen Tourism Association
*The tour will end at the same place as where it begins. Mid-tour drop-offs not permitted
・Guide: Your taxi driver will serve as your guide


Snow Country Tourism Information Center
Hours: 9:00-18:00
Phone: +81-25-785-5353

This itinerary may be subject to change or even cancellation, for reasons such as natural disasters that are beyond the control of Snow Country Tourism Information Center and the taxi company. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, please understand that the tour may include driving along mountain roads.

Photo & text : Tomohiro Watanabe

Facility Information

Snow Country Tourism Information Center

2431-1 Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, Niigata 949-6101
Access: At the west exit, Echigo Yuzawa station, Joetsu Shinkansen


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