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[Experience Report] Snowshoeing in a Shirogane Forest (White Birch & Blue River Course)

Have your fill of the winter forest…
Let’s stroll through a natural “Christmas Tree” forest!

A Biei forest, covered in white snow…
Usually, forests are overgrown with bamboo grass so you cannot easily walk through them. But in winter, the forest is buried in snow and it’s possible to wander as you like!

In today’s report, we will introduce the particularly popular “White Birch and Blue River Course” Shirogane Snowshoe Experience!

【Important】 Depending on the weather and snow conditions on the day, the course may be subject to changes.
On such occasions, it may not be possible to head down to the Blue River’s banks. We ask for your understanding in this regard.

Pure white snow, contrasting with the beautiful Blue River.


Before we enter the forest, just what are “snowshoes”, anyway?
Snowshoes are tools that, when worn, allow you to walk over the fluffy snow without sinking.

If you wear waterproof shoes such as snow boots, you can walk without the worry of your feet getting cold. If you only have ankle-length snow boots, we can loan you “overshoes” (a type of large waterproof sock that you wear over your shoes) free of charge.

This is what your feet look like in snowshoes!

After we listen to the guide’s explanations, it’s time to set off.
Once you’ve got your snowshoes on, the only way is forwards! If you try to back up, your snowshoes will sink in the snow under your own weight. You’ll probably lose your balance and fall over backwards!
Let’s go one step at a time!

Explore the forest in the safe hands of your guide.

You’ll make all sorts of discoveries in the forest, where it’s difficult to explore alone. Sometimes, the snow piles up in interesting ways! It’s like modern art!

You’ll find yourself wanting to take pictures before you know it!

You’ll also find all sorts of natural phenomena only spotted in midwinter, and you’ll find plenty of hints to the lives of animals in the forest.

We found “frost flowers”! It’s like ice art!
These lichens give the tree a kind of trendy pattern!
Holes opened in the trunk of a tree by the forest carpenter, the woodpecker.

A Japanese Angelica Tree, after deer have munched on it!
It’s spikey and looks painful to eat, but it doesn’t have a bitter taste.


Let’s press on as we listen to the guide’s explanations.

An extraordinary time in the forest, a place you can’t usually enter.

You can also see the tracks of animals. This is a sight unique to winter.

Will you be able to tell which animal’s footprints these are straight away?

A fox’s pawprints are in a clean, straight line! They walk one foot in front of the other, like supermodels.
These tracks were made by the long, skinny legs of a deer.
If you look closely, you can also see their cloven hoofprints.
These are the prints of the small and adorable Japanese red-backed vole. You can also see a trail left by its tail.

Rabbit tracks have four round holes. They’re very distinctive and easy-to-spot footprints.

As we make our discoveries, let’s head for our destination– the Blue River.

Is this the most challenging part? It’s a bit of a steep slope… but if you descend slowly, it’s no problem~♪

Make your way slowly and cautiously down the slope… but even if you fall, the snow is very soft so it’s perfectly fine!

Between gaps in the trees, the Blue River comes into view.

Oh, I can hear the sound of a flowing river…! Not long now before we reach our goal.

In midwinter, the blue colour pops all the more.

A bright blue river, and white snow… This is beauty that we could stare at all day long.

The main stream of the almost-transparent Biei River, and two tributaries– the blue-looking Iosawa River and the Shirinizawa River– mix together near Shirogane Onsen’s Shirahige Falls and form a single river with a beautiful blue colour. Hence the local name, the “Blue River!

The Blue Pond is frozen over and covered in snows in winter, but here we can enjoy the beautiful blue colour that is the origin of the Blue Pond.

Snowflakes dancing around the Blue River…

For more information about Biei’s magical blue colour and related viewpoints, please check this article all about Biei Blue!


A mysterious Blue River potion?!

Let’s take a teeny little break here~♪
How about we enjoy a cup of pretty blue herb tea, the same colour as the Blue River flowing before our eyes? Look forward to the flavour of the day when you try it!


The Blue River, and snow stacked up like pancakes!

So, how about it? Unlike skiing, snowshoeing doesn’t require any experience or special skills. It’s a winter activity that anybody can easily enjoy!

A silent forest covered in pure white snow, and a blue river… Enjoy all the winter charms that can only be experienced here in Biei!

Snowshoeing in a Shirogane Forest

From Mid-December~Mid-April
※This may change depending on snow conditions.
10:00~12:00/13:00~15:00 (2 hrs)
Adults & Children (6 years and above) : 5,000円
※Single participant fee applies (Adult 6,000)

【Important】Depending on the weather and snow conditions on the day, the course may be subject to changes.
On such occasions, it may not be possible to head down to the Blue River’s banks. We ask for your understanding in this regard.