Gastronomy Tours in Japan’s YUKIGUNI

The gastronomy of the snow country reflects the climate and the wisdom of the people who live there. Let's embark on an intellectual adventure of gastronomy.

We will take you on a journey of the senses to experience the wisdom of YUKIGUNI.

A gastronomy tour is a way of discovering the culture through food. You will be able to experience the culture of YUKIGUNI with delicious seasonal meals. Interacting with the locals and meeting the unique culture will be an experience full of valuable learning opportunities.

YUKIGUNI’s culture is based on wisdom: In a country where it snows for almost half the year, the wisdom of how to live in the snow is alive and is expressed in the food we eat. Interacting with the locals is a great way to learn about this wisdom.

You can read more about the gastronomy of the Snow Country in the following articles.

Why does the culture differ so much from the city? Because people have always lived here, despite it being one of the heaviest snowfall zones in the world. Being snowbound for almost six months of every year (between December and April) has given rise to practical wisdom that has endured — particularly with respect to food — and become part of today’s culture.

Deeply rooted gastronomy in the cold regions Snow country gastronomy tourism (JNTO)


Price: JP¥ 11,000 (Charges will vary depending on the transportation and number of people)

Best Time of YearAll Year
Ideal no. of People2~
Booking DeadlineAt least 10 days before
Mode of TransportJR, Bus
Cancellation Charge3 days prior 30%
day before 40%
day of 50%
no contact 100%


In YUKIGUNI, where the four seasons are clearly defined, each season offers a different way of enjoying gastronomy tours. Here are just a few examples.

1. Mountain Scenery and Onsen Cooking (About 5 hours)

  • Transfer from Echigo Yuzawa Station to Matsunoyama Onsen (approx. 1 hour)
  • Matsunoyama Onsen is a hot spring resort located in the mountains and is one of the snowiest areas in the country. Its springs are known as one of the three most medicinal hot springs in Japan.
  • You will be guided by an experienced guide to collect wild vegetables and mushrooms in the satoyama near the hot spring resort. The mushrooms include natural nameko mushrooms, hiratake mushrooms and mukitake mushrooms that grow on standing and fallen trees. Participants tell us that they will never forget the excitement that wells up when they discover a natural nameko tree.
  • After cooking the freshly picked wild vegetables and mushrooms in the traditional house “Jiro”, we will have lunch around the hearth. The natural mushrooms are a true taste of the forest. The participants say that eating the freshly picked wild vegetables gives their body a lot of energy.

Please note: we ask that you bring your own warm clothing and gloves according to the season. Trekking shoes or rain boots are essential (boots can be hired). Please be aware that we will be collecting natural resources and that we may not be able to collect them depending on the conditions at the time.

2. Doma Cooking

  • Transfer from Echigo Yuzawa Station to ryugon in Muikamachi (approx. 30 mins)
  • ryugon is a design conscious inn, combining traditional architecture with modern design.
  • A popular programme is the Doma Cooking course, where you will learn from a local mother how to make local dishes.
  • The conversation will give you a glimpse into the lifestyle and wisdom of YUKIGUNI.

3. Cultural experience in Akiyamago (2 days)

  • Transfer from Echigo Yuzawa Station to Akiyamago (approx. 1.5 hours)
  • Akiyamago is one of the most secluded and deepest areas in YUKIGUNI. The tour takes place from the end of March to the beginning of April, when the snow is tighter and it is easier to walk on the snow.
  • On the first day, you will enjoy a gibier dinner at a guest house owned by an Matagi (traditional winter hunter). After dinner, the owner will tell us about the unique culture of the Matagi and you will have the chance to see the real tools of the trade.
  • On the second day, you will go snowshoeing in the snowy mountains with an experienced matagi who will explain about the mountains and hunting. There will be no hunting.

4. Savoring local cuisine and Japanese sake in YUKIGUNI (About 5 hours 30 minutes)

  • Transfer from Echigo Yuzawa Station to Uonuma (1hr 20min)
  • In Uonuma, you will take a local train, Tadami Line, and visit the “Meguro Residence” and a sake brewery.
  • After a lunch of local cuisine at a guest house, we will visit the “Meguro Residence”. Afterwards we will visit the sake brewery and enjoy a sake tasting.

70 minutes from Tokyo

TrainJR Tokyo Station – Echigo Yuzawa Station1hr 10m (Joetsu Shinkansen)
CarTokyo – Tsukiyono
Tokyo – Yuzawa (167 km)
1hr 25m
1hr 50m


1. Mountain Scenery and Onsen Cooking

pick wild vegetables in spring and mushrooms in autumn. You will be accompanied by an experienced guide who will teach you how to collect them. In the mountains, you will find yourself so absorbed in gathering mountain produce that your daily worries will disappear. You may be tempted to pick them all, but try to pick only enough to eat. That’s the rule at YUKIGUNI.

After relaxing in the mountains, you will cook and eat lunch in a traditional hut with a hearth. You will be amazed by the taste of fresh mountain produce that you have picked yourself. You will be amazed by the taste of fresh mountain produce that you have picked yourself, and the seasonal produce will revitalise your body. Come and join us for a healthy lunch around the hearth and meet the local guides.

2. Doma cooking

The Manor House Hotel “ryugon” is a 200 years old building, which has been renovated to create a design-conscious hotel, combining Japanese tradition with modern design. One of the traditional features of the hotel is the “Doma”. The Doma is a traditional Japanese kitchen. There is also a traditional Japanese kamado, where rice is cooked with the help of the locals.

Not many Japanese people nowadays have experience of cooking rice in a kamado, which is why the Doma Cooking programme is so popular with Japanese people. In addition to rice, you can also enjoy the slow food of the snow country.

Talking and cooking with local mothers is a great opportunity to learn about their culture through food. The warm-hearted interaction with the locals will surely enrich your trip.

Experience of Japanese local cuisine cooking

3. Cultural experience in Akiyamago (2 days)

There are many unexplored villages in Japan, but what really separates Akiyamago from them is the amount of snowfall.

Because it is one of the snowiest areas in the YUKIGUNI, Akiyama-go has retained some of its old customs. Matagi (traditional winter hunter) is one of them. Matagi spend many days sleeping and hunting in the snowy mountains. They are mountain experts in the truest sense of the word.

They know everything about the mountains: the terrain, the exposure to the sun, the watering holes that the animals prefer. It’s as if they have a 3D map of the mountain installed in their heads.

Walking in the snow with him is a unique and special experience. The only problem is that it is a hidden village that few foreigners have ever visited. If you are an adventurous traveller looking for a hidden hamlet that not everyone has visited, then Akiyamago is the place for you.

This video will give you a feel for the atmosphere of this tour. Please take a look if you are interested.

If you are interested in the food culture of the snow country, you may also like to read the following articles

Japanese food culture is not just about sushi, kaiseki and ramen. Japan has a diverse range of climates and climates, and a unique food culture to match. Here we introduce you to the unique culinary culture of YUKIGUNI, a country where snowfall is rare in the world.

Sushi And Ramen? That’s Not All Japanese Food Culture Has To Offer!

Back in the day YUKIGUNI was buried even deeper in the white stuff than today. The houses, rice fields, vegetable patches, and mountains where completely covered in the white of the deep snow, so what food did the people living there have, and what were they eating?
This can be answered by “preserved food” which is still very much in evidence in modern day YUKIGUNI. For these early residents of the region obtaining this knowledge and techniques was a lengthy process of years and years with plenty of failure and frustration along the way.

Exploring the roots of gastronomy in the snow country.

If you want to know more about Japanese undiscovered food culture, read the story about the Zenmai (royal fern): the people of YUKIGUNI love wild vegetables, and the royal fern is the most precious and special of them all. This is a story about a little-known Japanese food culture.

Zenmai, The Secret Of Japan’s Undiscovered Food Culture