Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Yukiguni,  one of Japan's most famous novels, was written by Yasunari Kawabata in the part of Niigata that I was travelling through.  It is not hard to see where he got his inspiration.  There is a dividing range down the centre of Honshu island,  separating the the main island into two distinct climate zones - Japan Sea side from the Pacific side.  On the Japan Sea side winters are cold and wet -  grey overcast skies, snow, snow and more snow again.  By the time the Siberian winds reach the Pacific side the moisture has been deposited as snow, leaving Tokyo and the rest of the Pacific side with cold dry weather and clear blue skies. 

This year Niigata has had the most snow for 20 years.  To my eyes it looked like the middle of winter, not the beginning of spring.

In addition to the snow, a highlight of this part of the trip was finding that just out of Minakami two stations that were built in a tunnel.  Presumably they are well known as several people jumped off the train to quickly take photos while the train was stopped at the station.

                          A station in a tunnel - Doai - two stops towards Niigata from Minakami

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