A collection of events taking place in January from the Snow Country Freak site. By no means an exhaustive list as there are many more events all over the region, but these will all be worth checking out if you are close by.
The 37th Tokamachi Snow Marathon takes place on January 2nd, starting and finishing at the Tokamachi Middle School. Runners are guaranteed some pretty spectacular winter scenery as they make their way around the course.
Son-in-law carrying. Minami Uonuma. As part of the spring festivities at the Yasaka Shrine in Muikamachi, new husbands that were married in the previous year are subjected to being hoisted onto the shoulders of their elders.
Chinkoro Market. This folk art market takes place in Tokamachi on 10, 15, 20 and 25 January every year. Little figures of rice flour are sold in this street market, though you have to get there early as they sell out in the morning. This art has been passed down from generation to generation in the region. Traditionally these little treat were eaten, but now they are prized as decorations.
Ooshirakura Baitou. Tokamachi. A baitou is a traditional shelter about 10 meters tall made of branches and then thatched. This is carefully constructed and then people gather inside to talk and drink sake out of the winter cold. In the evening the baitou is emptied and set on fire. This all takes place in front of Ooshirakura Community Hall on January 14th with the big fire around 2030.
Bridegroom Tossing and Charcoal Face-painting. Matsunoyama Onsen, Tokamachi. One of the famous bizarre festivals in the region. This New Year event on January 15th sees grooms from the previous year being thrown down a snow bank. There is also a big fire and the resulting ash is mixed to a paste and smeared on everyone’s faces.