April School Holidays.

22nd April, 2014

I have just returned from what was one of my favourite holidays in Japan.  In April the sun is shining yet there is still enough snow to ski and have fun…..similar to most mid season Australian conditions!  The kids also had a ball.  We visited the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route which opened whilst we were there and it was an unexpected marvel.  When spring comes, the Alpine Route is literally ‘carved through’ the snow. There are no other sites that can give this experience.  Many people from all over the world come to see the approximately 18 meter high snow wall.  Blue skies can be seen above and the white snowcapped peaks are visible between the walls of snow.   To get there you go via the Kurobe Dam which is the tallest dam in Japan at 186m.  In the sudden economic boom following WW2, Japan faced a severe energy shortage. To generate additional electricity the government invested in hydroelectric power.  10 million people worked on the dam during it’s construction, and 171 lost their lives in the process. To see it you wonder how there weren’t more lives lost.  The hardest part was digging the tunnel that the Kanden Tunnel Trolley bus now runs through. Following construction a movie entitled “Sun over Kurobe” was released and the dam acquired a near legendary status similar to the Hoover Dam in the USA.  The dam was frozen when we visited and it was a site to be seen.  Photos simply don’t capture its awe.

Another highlight was the cherry blossums.  We ventured to Takada Park which has 4000 trees planted around Takada Castle and the surrounding gardens.  Known as one of the three great locations for night time cherry blossom viewing, Takada Castle's Cherry Blossom Road will captivate you with its incredible rows of cherry blossom trees illuminated at night.  When the wind blew it was like it was snowing with the petals falling gracefully to the ground.

These two amazing side trips couldn’t have happened at any other time of the year and were great rest days to the main reason why you go to Japan:  to ski!

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