Winter is here. Nothing better than the view of freshly snowcapped mountains with the backdrop of pale sunset hues of pinks and blues, or relaxing in the outdoor hot springs as the crisp air turns the water droplets on your hair to ice, or, lounging around all day watching the TV from the warmth of a “Kotatsu” (table with a heat source). This winter is a cold one, but last winter was unusually warm and the snow that usually piles up, had a hard time sticking. Having taken for granted the snow of the previous years, I wanted to make the most of what I could. Here is a bit of an addition to the recent article “Three things to look forward to in the cold Iwate mountains” by the Morioka Regional Development Bureau.

Wakasagi fishing on an ice lake

When to go: ~ early January to mid-March

Welcome to Lake Gandoko, the coldest place on Japan’s main island, Honshu. Many families and groups of friends brave the icy conditions and pitch bright colored tents on the frozen lake to try their hand at ice-fishing. A small hole is drilled in the ice to access the water which is brimming with small fish called “wakasagi” or Japanese smelt.

The Gandoko Rest House will be your first stop. Here, you can purchase a fishing ticket, rent fishing gear and be instructed on how to go about the activity. As I got there pretty late and was a first timer, I chose to try fishing from the “dome-sen” which is like an insulated greenhouse over the water. I was happy with the decision; I can say that I have been ice-fishing which sounds like a freezing affair, but in actual fact, I was absolutely toasty! Fellow K-times writer Olivia on the other hand, did try the ice-fishing (on the actual ice). I have included a few pictures of her experience.

Make sure to come early (between 6-9am or even earlier, tickets are sold from 5am) to improve your chances of catching fish. I got there around 1pm which was far too late. When I peered into the buckets of the children who were there from the morning, they had over 50 fishes between them! If you do end up catching lots of fish and don’t know what to do with them, you can take them to the rest house and have the staff cook them up as tempura. (Their homepage (JPN):

Tip: I suggest watching their YouTube videos beforehand, they have English subtitles.

*This season they aren’t conducting the “dome-sen” fishing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, currently tickets go on sale at 5am.


Snow hike to a frozen waterfall

When to go: End of January – February (this year, it froze early!)

As someone who isn’t accustomed to being in the snow all that much, hiking around Mt. Iwate in the winter sounded like an unmanageable task, but the idea of seeing a frozen waterfall was far too exciting to pass up. The guide took us hiking for about an hour along a trail through the snow-blanketed forest starting from Hachimantai Mountain Hotel. Awaiting us was the breathtaking 25m waterfall, Nanataki. Our timing was a little early, so there was still some water flowing, but I actually loved the fact that it still functioned as a waterfall while also having developed beautiful icicle accents. My friend who went recently saw it completely frozen over.

Although the hike is possible for beginners like me, if you are not familiar with the snow or the course, I highly suggest going on a tour with someone who knows the area.

Nanataki Falls Frozen Waterfall Snowshoeing Tour via Ski Lift:(

Photo credit: @alice_hikes

Traditional Japanese snow shoeing – Kanjiki

When to go: Whenever it snows! Mid-Jan/Late Feb

There are quite a few places in Iwate to experience snowshoeing, but this time I attempted traditional Japanese snowshoes called “Kanjiki” which consist of a wooden frame and rope. They work nicely, as long as you tie the ropes as tightly as you can around your feet and legs. We walked around Matsurube, Ichinoseki and saw some spectacular bodies of water following a course of an old, unused bus route. Tours here are limited, so if you are interested, please get in contact with the Ichinoseki/Hiraizumi DMO who can let you know of any tours that are available (

Snowshoe tours are also available at major snow resorts such as at Iwate’s Appi. (







冬ですね。 ピンクとブルーの淡い夕日の色合いを背景に、雪をかぶったばかりの山々の景色を眺めたり、露天風呂に入りながら冷たい空気と触れ、髪の水滴が氷に変わる現象を体験したり、こたつで一日中くつろぎ、テレビを見る、そんな冬の良さに勝るものはありません。 今シーズンの冬は例年より寒く雪も多く降っていますが、昨シーズンの冬は異常に暖かく、積もる雪の量が少なかったです。雪が当たり前のように降る時期もありますので、できる限り楽しめることをご紹介したいと思い、県内で体験できる面白いアクティビティを見つけてきました!先日ご紹介した記事にいくつかのハイライトがあります。 盛岡広域振興局の記事「寒い寒い冬の山のお楽しみ」に合わせ、少し遊びを付け加えました。

【氷湖でのワカサギ釣り】 時期:1月下旬~3月中旬
日本の本州で最も寒い場所である岩洞湖へようこそ。 友人や家族連れの多くのグループは、凍った湖に張られた明るい色のテントで寒さに向き合いながら、穴釣りに挑戦します。 氷に小さな穴を開けて、「ワカサギ」と呼ばれる小魚に仕掛けを垂らします。
岩洞湖レストハウスが最初の目的地となります。 ここでは、釣りのチケットを購入したり、釣り道具をレンタルしたり、アクティビティの進め方の説明を受けたりすることができます。

【凍った滝への雪のハイキング】 時期:1月末~2月上旬 (今年はより早め)
あまり雪に慣れていない者として、冬の岩手山の周辺をハイキングするのは大変な話だと感じていましたが、凍った滝を見るという発想は刺激的すぎて見逃せませんでした。 八幡平マウンテンホテルから七滝に向かい、雪に覆われた森の中の小道を歩きました。 1時間のハイキングの後、息を呑むような25mの滝を見ることができました。 時期が少し早かったので、滝は凍っておらず水が流れていましたが、美しい氷柱のアクセントをつけながら滝として息づいていたのが実は気に入りました。 私の友人は2月の第2週にそれが完全に凍っているところを見に行きました。

【日本の伝統的なスノーシュー 「かんじき」】 時期: 雪が降るときはいつでも! 1月中旬/ 2月下旬
それをはいて一関市祭畤を歩き回ると、廃止されたバス路線をたどって、神秘的な川が見えてきました。 こちらのツアーは数に限りがありますので、ご興味のある方は一関・平泉DMOまでご連絡ください。 ツアーの内容をお知らせします(。 スノーシューツアーは、岩手県の安比などの主要なスノーリゾートでも利用できます。