Nozawa’s nature and wildlife
Today the mountain webcams have been in complete whiteout all day…
By the end of the day, about 20cm of fresh snow should have fallen down to 900m. Although we’ve only seen rain (and a few rainbows) in Nozawa Onsen Village itself. There was a distinct white line for the snowline just above the village this morning.
The weekend forecast is still looking strong. Hopefully, Sunday will bring more than 40cm of snow, including at least 15cm down in the village.
All we can do is cross our fingers and be patient.
It’s been beautiful seeing the mist wrap around the forests above Nozawa Onsen today.
Mount Kenashi and Torogi Toge in the ski resort are covered in Japanese beech, or buna.
There are 300-year-old trees in the buna forest of Uenotaira. Trees, which you will soon be able to ski amongst.
As the April spring sun melts the 4-5 metres of season snowfall, the overflowing water is absorbed into the ground beneath the buna forests.
This water then forms mountain streams, waterfalls and fresh, drinkable spring water. Our village water is extremely delicious to drink.
Some of the water is also heated by magma underneath the ground, which then rises back to the earth’s surface as Onsen water.
Buna even produce fruit. However, this only occurs once every few years.
In the 1920s, Nozawa Onsen villages would hike into the forests, harvesting buna fruit, which they would then cook up during winter. Still today many locals forage in the Forest for Mushrooms, Bamboo, Mountain Vegetables and more which they use in cooking local delicacies.
Lucky for us in the 21st century, we now have an array of tasty treats served by the local restaurants to nourish our bellies after big days skiing.
Living amongst the buna forests are rabbits, foxes, Tanuki and kamoshika (Japanese serow). Keep an eye out for these creatures when you’re riding the chairlifts.
Osutakayama and the surrounding mountains are also home to falcon.
In ancient times, hunting with falcons, known as “takagari” was popular at the Imperial Court.
Because of this, entry into the forests above Nozawa Onsen was restricted as falcon nested there. Nine nest-keepers aka. sumori from Nozawa Onsen managed the falcon nests.
In May, they would take falcon nestlings and transport them, to Edo as an offering to the shogun!
Since arriving in Nozawa Onsen a week ago, I’ve had 15 sightings of falcon soaring high above the village. A gorgeous sight to see.