Why not try hiking in snowshoes though the ethereal and silvery Bijinbayashi forest?

Snowshoe hike through the silvery Bijinbayashi Forest

Hiking through the quiet Bijinbayashi forest in winter, one can almost feel the pulse of the forest's creatures. There are guided tours available, run by Matsunoyama locals. These guides will be able to tell you about the charm of the winter in Matsunoyama, and their traditional winter lifestyle. After trekking, visitors can warm themselves at the sunken hearth inside the nearby Echigo-Matsunoyama Museum of Natural Science, Kyororo. Warming your hands by the charcoal fire while drinking the museum's homemade amazake is a great way to experience life in the mountains.

Matsunoyama Onsen: Ryokan Chitose

Many people say that Tokamachi and the Snow Country are sites of the traditional rural Japanese landscape, where people live in harmony with their natural surroundings. Tokamachi City is home to "Hina no Yado Chitose", an inn found in Matsunoyama, a region known for its particularly heavy snowfall. "Chitose" has an open-air hot spring bath which takes its water from the free-flowing natural springs of Matsunoyama Onsen, one of Japan's Top 3 Medicinal Onsen. The snow meltwater in the area also helps to grow delicious vegetables which are used to prepare delicious local cuisine.

Matsunoyama Onsen and Ryokan

A local legend says that around 700 years ago a woodcutter noticed that a single falcon came down to the same spot on the mountain every year. Intrigued, he dug at this spot and discovered the wealth of flowing hot spring waters that is today known as Matsunoyama Onsen. Another legend says that the Uesugi clan, the Echigo Province military lords during the Muromachi period, had kept these baths, which were rumored to have special healing properties, a secret for years. The water has a high salt content, so high that at one point after the war they became a source for salt extraction. This high salt content helps to keep the bathers body warmer for longer after they have exited the bath. Matsunoyama Onsen is considered one of the three top onsen in Echigo, and thanks to its health benefits, one of Japan's Top 3 Medicinal Onsen.

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