“The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country. The earth lay white under the night sky.”

Kawabata, transl. Seidensticker


A nice and sunny day in Kanto. Typical late autumn weather. I was on my way to Joetsu by car on the Kanetsu Expressway. Beautiful colours of the changing leaves in the mountains. The 11km long Kan-etsu tunnel follows the Minakami / Tanigawadake exit. Just before the end a flashing sign,  warning for snow at the exit of the tunnel. Welcome to snow country.

Kawabata’s long tunnel is no longer in use. The Hokuriku and Joetsu shinkansen and the Kan-etsu and Joshin-etsu express ways provide a fast connection between Kanto and the prefectures along Nihonkai, the Sea of Japan, somewhat derogatorily sometimes referred to as Ura Nihon, literally “the other side” of Japan.

The prefectures along the Sea of Japan coast are better known as “snow country”. Weather patterns along the Sea of Japan differ from those in prefectures bordering the Pacific Ocean. Quick changes in the weather, depressions blowing in from the Sea of Japan. Lots of rain, lots of wind. In winter vast quantities of snow, making the mountains facing the Sea of Japan a skiers’ paradise.

Intending to spend more time on personal interests, I decided in 2019 to move to Joetsu (Niigata prefecture). Surrounded by mountains, located in a plain that produces significant quantities of the prefecture’s famous Koshihikari rice. In addition, beautiful beaches, lots of greenery for most of the year and great fish. But most of all, very clean air, lots of space and nice people.



『雪国』著: 川端康成

関東では例年通りの、気持ち良い晩秋の日。私は関越自動車道を車で上越方面に向かっていました。紅葉に美しく色づく山々。全長11kmの関越トンネルは、群馬県と新潟県の県境である みなかみ町・谷川岳の出口に続き、トンネルの出口には雪注意の看板が点滅していました。ようこそ雪国へ。




Takada’s gangi-dori

In this blog I will try and give an impression of the atmosphere and character of this side of the mountains. I will focus on Niigata (formerly Echigo) and Nagano (formerly Shinano) prefectures, including Sado Island, together historically known as the Shin-etsu region. I will cover places of interest, some of the history and  interesting people whom I meet. I hope it will stir your interest and encourage you to visit the region. 

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