Yukigakoi (雪囲い） is snow protection. The weight of the winter snow can push in windows, break shrubs, or snap branches of trees. As winter approaches each year the locals start the job of covering their lovingly tended gardens to make sure they are still there in spring.
It is just another one of the facts of life of living in Snow Country. When you see data for the snow depth, this is usually the amount of snow that has fallen and then become compacted. So for a 3 meter pile of snow (which is not uncommon around here) many more meters will have fallen. All this snow has to be cleared away from car parks and off the roof of your house. In a heavy snow year it is a daily chore. The locals are very adept of clearing away their snow and you will often see old people shovelling away for hour at a time, making the heavy work look relatively easy.
Untended building lose the edges of their roof first and then can collapse under the weight of the snow. Cars left for the winter are likely to be crushed to some extent and have their tyres blown.
The snow has started to fall already this year and the first resorts are open for business. While the holiday makers are looking forward to exhilarating runs down the mountainsides of the region, the locals are waxing their shovels and getting ready for a winter of hard work. Many of them wouldn’t have it any other way!