Minami Uonuma, in the heart of Niigata's snow country, is often simply seen as a winter sports destination. However there's plenty to do in the region outside the colder months. If you're a nature lover you'll appreciate the wide open spaces, towering mountains, crystal clear rivers and delightfully fresh air.
Alongside the area's claim to fame as one of the planet's heaviest snowfall regions, they're also known for the quality of their rice. Visit during the summer months, and you'll see fields upon fields of koshihikari planted. This rice is often touted as some of Japan's best, and you'll find bags of it available to purchase at farmer's markets and grocery stores in the area.
To get to Minamiuonuma from Tokyo, hop on the Joetsu Shinkansen bound for Niigata City, and get off at Urasa, which is approximately a 90 minute journey. Many of the pictures in this piece were taken around local cultural and sightseeing spots including the Ikeda Memorial Museum, the Sarukurayama Brewery, and the Tomioka White Museum.
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I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've visited 44 of 47 prefectures - with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, and tea houses, and have a real interest in Japan's growing vegan scene.