The Snow Show continues in Nozawa Onsen!
At around midnight last night we could see the stars in the sky so were thinking that we might be in for a bluebird morning this morning.... wrong!
The snow was falling pretty heavy in town early this morning and has continued.
The forecast is for light snow so will be interesting to see if it eases through the day.
Yesterday was an amazing powder day on the mountain with some big smiles and sore legs coming down in the afternoon. Crowds also started to thin out and today should see a lot less people around with the long weekend over and it being a normal weekeday.
We can now enjoy a few quieter days and great snow as with the famous Fire Festival is coming up on the 15th things are set to get pretty busy on the slopes and in town.
Preparations begin on the 13th with the villagers dragging the trees down the slopes past Hikage to begin construction of the shrine.
The sake will be flowing like the water through the streets and well worth checking out.
Anyway that is in a few days - see below for more info on the festival. For now, it is all about the snow and lots of it so enjoy some powder time.
All except the following
Uenotaira Half Pipe
Karasawa Wave Park
All lifts are open
Here's a bit more info on the 'Dosojin Matsuri' (Fire Festival) in Nozawa Onsen.
"This festival is one of the three most famous fire festivals in Japan. It is held on January 15th every year to pray for a plentiful harvest, health and good fortune in the coming year. The festival dates back to 1863 and though the location has changed, the festivities remain the same. During this festival the twenty-five and forty-two year old men from the village play a very important role. An old belief in Japan dictates that, for men, these years are unlucky ages. The twenty-five and the forty-two year old men in their unlucky ages construct the shaden (shrine) from beech wood that reaches a height of 18 meters. Every year it takes 100 villagers to build the shrine. The trees are cut down in October and brought down from the mountain, through the village, on January 13th. After the shaden has been constructed, the priest from Kosuge shrine performs a ceremony to endow it with a God. Along with the shaden there are an average of five tôrô (dedicatory lantern poles) erected every year. These poles are made by a family in the village to celebrate the birth of the first son. The tôrô are offered to the Gods in a prayer for health and good fortune. The festivities begin with the lighting of the fire by the twenty-five and fourty-two year old men. A small group of men carry a torch, which is lit by striking two stones together, from the Kôno residence to the festival grounds. The torch is used to start a bonfire from which the handmade torches, used to attack the shrine, are lit. The festival centers around the shaden, where the fourty-two year olds sit on top and the twenty-five year olds stand guard at the base. Those who are 41 and 43 years old stand around the perimeter to protect the spectators. Torch bearing villagers of all ages attempt to break through the guards and light the shaden on fire. A dangerous and lively battle ensues. The defenders try to put out the fire by striking it with pine branches. The attack lasts for about one hour, after which the 42 year olds call an end to the ceremony and the shaden together with the tôrô are set on fire in an offering to the Gods. The entire festival can take up to four hours from the beginning to the end, but the main attraction is the battle between the guards and the torch bearing villagers."