Morimiyanohara Station is a quaint little JR station in Sakae Village, Nagano. It is very different from the hustle and bustle of a town station and is more like a rustic farmhouse than a station.
There is a lovely little cafe inside the station building that makes a wonderful coffee. There is also a little shop inside selling local handmade crafts such as cat baskets woven out of straw.
The real claim to fame and the reason we were here was for its record breaking snowfall. Close to the tracks is a really big pole that is almost 8 meters tall. On a signboard outside the station building is an explanation:
In 1945, the year the Pacific War ended, 7.85m of snowfall was recorded here. It is said to have been Japan’s largest snowfall of the time, with snow reportedly piling up as high as the roofs of two-story houses and allowing people to walk over power lines. Okushinetsu Valley experienced heavy snowfall, and still sees snowfall up to over 4m today.
This region experiences heavier snowfalls than other areas due to winter winds that cross the Sea of Japan from Siberia, gathering large amounts of moisture from the area before hitting the Mikunisan Mountain Range.
It is hard to imagine that much snow piled up but impressive nonetheless. Sakae Club Ski Area is just up the road from here if you find yourself around in the snowy winter. Also Rest Stop Shin-Etsu Sakae is close by which has lots of local produce for sale.