Tokamachi Snow Festival – 十日町雪祭り

Tokamachi (十日町) is a small city in Niigata Prefecture (新潟県), 232km away from Tokyo. Tokamachi is known for its beautiful designs of Kimono. But they’re also known for their Snow Festivals. We got info that the 2018 snow festival is on Feb 16 to 18. Since we are flying home on the 18th and we wanted to meet our friends in Tokyo on the 17th, we opted to go to Tokamachi on the 16th. Hoping that we catch the opening event.

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Shinkansen E2 Series – 新幹線E2系電車

So started our journey by taking the Shinkansen Toki service on the Joetsu Shinkansen line from Tokyo and alighted at our first stop at Echigo Yuzawa Station (越後湯沢駅). Our first leg of the trip took 79 minutes. From Echigo Yuzawa, there were two options, either taking Hokuhoku line’s snow rabbit train or taking the JR Joetsu Line to Muikamachi (六日町) before taking the Hokuhoku line to Tokamachi. The next snow rabbit was still 30 minutes away so we took the Joetsu Line instead

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Joetsu Line E129系. Credits to https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Toshinori_baba

The view was breathtaking, especially for us tropical creatures

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We transferred to the Hokuhoku line in Muikamachi to a small one man train all the way to Tokamachi. We were travelling with our JR pass, however since the Hokuhoku line is not a JR line, we paid an extra ¥300.

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We arrived in Tokamachi and the town was quiet. No signs of festivals or anything. We were told that the town will have snow sculptures here and there. After walking for a few minutes, we did find some

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We walked further in town and found some more being built

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Then we saw the banner. The festival does start at the 16th, but at 18:30 in the evening. And it was only 13:30. Tired and hungry we stopped by at a small restaurant for lunch before continuing our trek around town.

After having lunch we decided that we’d find a cafe and stay there while waiting for the festival opening ceremony. By luck, the cafe was right in front of the school grounds where the largest hiroba (festival sites) is. The food stalls were still being set up.

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So we sat down in the cafe (it was a nice one. I’ll post a review of the cafe) up until 17:30. This time the grounds are alive with food stalls and people around town

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We also saw some performers on stage running their sound test.

Unfortunately, the combination of being very tired and the cold wore us down and we walked back to the station, missing the opening ceremony. We promise to come back again someday.

Website: http://snowfes.jp/?lang=en
Time: Third Weekend of Feb – 16 to 18 Feb 2018
Travel Time: 120 – 140 minutes depending on train schedule
How to Get there from Tokyo Station:

Take the Joetsu Shinkansen line to Echigo Yuzawa (¥ 6,470 for a reserved seat). From here, there are two options:

  1. Take the JR Joetsu Line to to Muikamachi station (¥ 320) and continue on the Hokuhoku line (¥ 300) to Tokamachi station.
  2. Take the snow rabbit all the way to Tokamachi station (¥ 620)

Note: JR Pass does not cover the Hokuhoku line, so you’ll need to pay an extra ¥ 300 on the local Hokuhoku line or the snow rabbit. However, JR east pass covers the whole route.

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