Did you know that Japan is one of the world’s snowiest countries? Regions covered by 50m or more of snow during the course of an average year are defined as heavy snowfall areas and 50% of the territory of Japan or, in other words, an area of 190,000km2 around the same size as West Malaysia, comprises of such areas. There are many high mountains in Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku and the Koshin’etsu region which result in the sea breeze becoming an ascending air current, causing snow.
I apologize for speaking about snow as we start to welcome the spring in April, but I would like to introduce a wall of snow that you can enjoy especially in spring. More than 20m (the height of a 7-story building!) of snow remains in Toyama Prefecture’s Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, located in the corner of Hokuriku, until around June. Walking tours along this wall of snow are popular from April to June. You can see the snow being removed from the roads as well as enjoy sledding without skiwear in April and May, when the snowfall stops.
There is no need to lament missing the winter season and not seeing any snow; the snow remains in Hokuriku until June! At present, you can get there in 3-4 hours from Tokyo and Osaka, but the planned opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in the spring of 2015 will see travel times shortened to 2 hours and 10 minutes from Tokyo to Toyama and 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Hokuriku, an area that only 5% of foreign tourists to Japan have visited, is sure to be popular next year.