From Eco Lodge to Eco Lodge. A Long Trail Journey

This tour will cover a section of the 307km long Snow Country Trail, with stays in environmentally sustainable eco lodges. It is easy even for trekking beginners, as it is not just a walking tour, but also involves travel by e-bikes and local trains.
snow country trail

Travel the long trail from eco lodge to eco lodge. This tour combines walking, e-bike riding, and rail travel. The tour is guide accompanied, making it suitable even for beginners.

  1. Travel from eco lodge to eco lodge by hiking and biking
  2. The course is designed to suit even those without experience. As it is guide accompanied, even beginners can safely take part in this tour.
  3. A portion of the tour fee is used to help maintain the trail.

Snow Country Trail(SCT)

The SCT is a 307km long trail that connects seven cities, towns, and villages in the three prefectures of the Snow Country Tourism Region. It is a richly varied trail, traversing old roads, mountain passes, and mountain paths. The route has been planned to take travelers from one local community to another, visiting local hot spring resorts, allowing them to rest and relax in hot spring baths before continuing on to the next resort. There is a lot to see along the route: shrines, temples, terraced rice paddies, and even modern art!

Ecolodges Japan in YUKIGUNI

Yukiguni (snow country) has a unique natural environment, and a variety of eco lodges are nestled deep in this area.
Eco lodges are conceptualized in a way to bring benefits to the local community, preserve nature and pass on the local culture to the next generation.

Lives shaped by snow

YUKIGUNI is located at a latitude of 37 degrees north, the same latitude as San Francisco, Sicily, and Lisbon. Unlike these areas, however, from January to April the area experiences extremely heavy snowfall. Although it is only 70 minutes travelling time away from Tokyo, the lifestyle and culture of the area offer a completely different experience to that of Tokyo and Kyoto.

snow country map


Connecting community to community, person to person, forging a future together.

It is a journey along the Snow Country Trail in the rich, water-abundant environment of Yukiguni.

This tour will cover a section of the 307km long Snow Country Trail, with stays in environmentally sustainable eco lodges. It is easy even for trekking beginners, as it is not just a walking tour, but also involves travel by e-bikes and local trains.

The tour begins in the Minakami area in Gunma, which has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Minakami Eco-Park). It crosses the Joetsu border to the Uonuma area in Niigata. This is the largest rice-producing region in Japan. A guide will accompany the tour, and introduce the history and culture of the rich environment of the water-abundant Yukiguni area.
A portion of the tour fee will be used for the maintenance and preservation of the trail. Therefore, participation in the tour will not only be a learning experience for the participants, but also contribute directly to the local community.
You will be provided with a water bottle so you can collect spring water along the route, to enjoy as drinking water during the tour.



Minakami Town is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Eco Park). The rich environment created by the abundance of water in Minakami, is the aspect of the area that was most highly evaluated by UNESCO. The water that passes through the strata of Mt. Tanigawa not only supplies the people living at the foot of the mountain, but also converges to form the headwaters of the Tone River, which carries the waters to the 30 million people in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

On the first day of the tour, you will ride e-bikes along this river and around the foothills of Mt. Tanigawa. After heading to the towering mountain cliffs at Ichinokurasawa, and experiencing the snowmelt water flowing from the snowy valley, the tour takes you to the Tanigawa Onsen (hot spring) resort. Legend has it that an incarnation of the goddess of Mt. Fuji (Konohana-Sakuyahime) descended here and caused the hot spring water to gush forth. Accommodation for the night will be at Ryokan Tanigawa, an eco lodge located in the hot spring resort. Time to rest and recover from the fatigue of the day.

Eco lodge:Ryokan Tanigawa (Minakami)

A peaceful hot spring ryokan with views of Mt. Tanigawa

Located at the foot of Mt. Tanigawa, all the guest rooms here have views of this famous mountain. The ryokan uses environmentally friendly methods for waste reduction and water purification. In the lobby there is an open hearth that is traditional to the region, and along with the local dishes, there are many elements of Yukiguni hospitality to be found here.


Since ancient times, the Joetsu border route from Minakami Town in Gunma to Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma in Niigata was an important commercial and military transportation route, although a difficult one, as the 1,448-meter-high Shimizu Pass could only be crossed on foot. With the opening of the Joetsu Line in 1931, crossing the Joetsu border became much easier. The opening sentence of “Yukiguni” (Snow Country) by Yasunari Kawabata, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, goes: “The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country”. This line has become world famous as a description of the crossing of the Joetsu border through the Shimizu Tunnel on the Joetsu Line.

On the second day of the tour, you will cross over the Joetsu border on the JR Joetsu Line, a route with echoes of the mountain passes of old. From Yuzawa Town, you will ride an e-bike over the pass to Muikamachi in Minamiuonuma City, stopping at local temples and shrines. This is where ryugon, the next eco lodge, is located.

Eco lodge : ryugon (Minami uonuma)

A manor house hotel infused with the influences of Yukiguni

This ryokan has been recently renovated with an eye to sustainability but there is no mistaking its roots as a sturdy, old farmhouse. A cooling system that uses well water has been installed, and the insulation has been increased to improve the energy efficiency of the heating and cooling. There are a wide range of culture and nature-themed activities so it is possible to choose your favorites depending on the season and your mood.


On the third day, you will tour Uonuma, Japan’s number one rice-producing region. The delicious flavor of the rice grown here is attributed to the high-quality, abundant snowmelt and spring water, as well as to the large temperature difference between day and night in this area of heavy snow. This region receives falls of more than 2 meters in winter. In the early morning on the third day, you will climb Mt. Sakado, near the ryugon eco lodge, to view the unkai, the sea-like cloud formation caused by the fog settling on the mountain. This phenomenon happens because of the presence of moist air owing to the abundance of water in the area. (depending on weather conditions, the unkai phenomenon may not appear)

You will then return to the ryugon eco lodge for a relaxing hot-spring bath and breakfast, before embarking on an e-bike tour of the local temples and shrines. The Uonuma region is home to many historic shrines and temples, and a number of valuable cultural assets. The tour will take you to the Ryukokuji Temple, the Anaji Juni Shrine, and the Saifukuji Temple. These sacred structures are home to the dynamic sculptures created by Ishikawa Uncho, known as the “Michelangelo of Japan”. The power and beauty of these sculptural masterpieces is greatly admired.

Efforts to promote sustainability.

A portion of the tour fee goes toward the management and maintenance of the trail.


150,000 YEN per person (minimum number of participants: 4 people)