A canoeing acquaintance (Takahashi-san from Hokkaicamp.com) posted on Facebook that they’d taken a trip to Kamifurano on the (now doomed) national GoToTravel Campaign. “We paid about 15,000yen for accommodation, and received about 16,000yen in vouchers to spend in the town,” he wrote. “We were essentially paid to stay there,” he gushed.
This seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up, so Haidee booked us into a heavily discounted entire house accommodation in Kamifurano for three nights. The damage? We paid 17,000yen for three nights, and received 17,400yen in vouchers.
*The GoToTravel campaign was later cancelled due to rapidly rising COVID-19 infections…go figure.
As our trip dates approached, I kept an eye on the weather. Generally, it was looking like a huge amount of snowfall, but along with it quite a bit of wind. I started looking on Yamareco.com to see if there were any lower-altitude options for skiing around Kamifurano. A high concentration of heatmap activity centered around Naei-yama, a mountain with no summer trail. So we decided to check it out.
When we arrived at the trailhead at 8am, it was cold. Well below freezing. But the day looked like it was going to be a clear one, despite strong forecasted westerlies. But we were sheltered from the winds on this easterly approach to the summit.
The first few kilometers were an easy meander along a broad, gentle ridge, through a mix of plantation and natural forest. It was cold, but all quite picturesque. Navigation was a breeze, as we followed the border with Biei Town, sporadic border markings along the way.
Soon we began climbing more in earnest. We reflected that this was the first time this season we’d done any kick-turns. Why do these early winter months always feel so long as we wait for the winter to really kick in?
After about 90 minutes, we hit the large clearing before the final slog up to the summit. A light snow started to fall, as if on cue. The forecast had predicted worsening weather as the day went on. Sure enough, by the time we arrived at the summit, the snow was coming down with more enthusiasm. On the summit itself, we got a taste for the strong westerly from which the north-south summit ridge was protecting us from.
By the time we’d got back to the car (with some Facetime with family on the skin back down), the car had a decent layer of snow on it. This season’s snow just doesn’t seem to be willing to let up this year!