Winter Fun!! …photos from February in Nagano

Iiyama snow festival (Feb 8-9)…

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Sledding (always!)…


Igloo festival (late January through end of Feb)




(did you notice her outfits change?? We went twice! We had to go back to see the completed shinkansen igloo!)

And finally the storms! (Feb 8-9 and Feb 14-17)




Crawfish Madarao guestrooms – Room 201 renovations in pictures

This was the least demanding room. He already was spacious including a unit bath (bathtub and sink in a room designed to be cleaned easily) and a balcony. The room itself is on the highest Southeast corner of the house so it has breathtaking views year-round. All the room have great views, but in summer peak when the foliage is thick, this is the best!



And now for the room transition…

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What a difference. I am amazed at everything that Jake can do, even on the “easy” rooms.

Crawfish Madarao guestroom – room 202 renovation in pictures

So proud of my husband for all the hard work he’s put in. This is one of the biggest changes as Jake had to re-set all the flooring as well as the “typical” stuff like installing toilet, shower, jacuzzi and knocking down walls. One of my favorites, room 203…

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…and looking at the other corner…

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Now accepting reservations for all rooms at Crawfish Madarao.

We hope to see you soon!

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Madarao Moutain Resort open!

…and Crawfish Madarao Lodge, too!!


How beautiful is this place?! Today Jake and I took a break to check out the activities and check with the main hotel and ski resort about discounts and other information for our guests. It was a beautiful day with lots of fresh snow and about half of the lifts running.

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It was my first time to really see the mountain and understand the design. I think it is an excellent set-up for families and groups with all ski levels. At the main hotel (Madarao Kogen Hotel), there is childcare available and a free kids park which includes a gentle slope for sledding/tubing and a guard watching so that too many people don’t go at once. There is also an area that’s flatter for making snowmen and probably forts when there is more snow. From there, “big kids” can also ski/board down to the first lift. If you are a beginner like me, you will only use this lift and go up and down the modest hill all day (the hill is behind Jake and Fio in the photo above). The serious stuff starts from the bottom of that bunny hill (where Jake is gazing!). Today the higher lifts weren’t open, but apparently you can see the ocean from the peak!! There is also a tree course and a few other ungroomed courses for powder junkies. There is a half pipe for boarders that should be open this weekend as well. There are 25 courses in all and 17 lifts. An all day lift pass is only 4200 and kids under 11 can ride all the lifts for FREE! We asked about discounts and found that you can buy a meal and lift pass in advance by registering online. This is 4300 and includes 1000 yen cert for the restaurant (good soba! and beer is also available), so it’s like 900 yen off. You’ll have to “sign up” at the Madarao ski website by clicking the pink button on this page and sending an empty email (Japanese only). If you stay with us at Crawfish, we’ll help you sign up! 🙂

We are CRAZY busy putting on the final touches to be ready for open tomorrow. Everything is 90% for three rooms, but those last details seem like so much. All the big stuff is done though: heat and hot water, beds, toilets, jacuzzis, carpets and drapes. I am cleaning and doing laundry all day with the babe on my back, but it was nice to take a break at the mountain and see other people enjoying the beautiful surroundings today. We just put up the Crawfish sign out front and still have a lot of shoveling to do (the snow got too high for the snow blower, so we need to shovel once before we can really use it!).

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We have rooms open from this weekend onward. Only one Jacuzzi room left on the 2nd and 3rd! If you are free at the beginning of the year and want a last-minute getaway, try Crawfish Madarao! You will NOT be disappointed!

For reservations email myself or my husband. or

And check out the Crawfish Madarao English website for some more detail on pricing and services.

Also on FACEBOOK! 

The view

The view

This is the 2nd floor balcony from a guest room (and my first time getting the panorama setting right) …the satellite is just for show now.

First Snow in Madarao, part 2


Well it didn’t stop at lunch, or dinner, or overnight. It is still snowing in fact, but only sprinkles now. We guess it is around 15 inches and after posting this, I will search for the best snow report online for Madarao (so far I like Tokyo Snow Club, but looks like forecast only and I need someone to tell me how much we have now).

Before and After

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I am told that this is early for heavy snowfall and usually the first signs of snow are in mid to late November. That’s why our natural ski hill doesn’t open until the 2nd or 3rd week of December and I am hoping that Crawfish Madarao Lodge will be ready to open then, too!

My husband is running around with his head spinning about all the preparations he did not do, emotionally and physically. The most notable being snow tires and moving the woodpile to the shed (oops!), but there is so much more than that. He keeps repeating, “This is it. Snow until April – just snow!” The words are the same over and over but the tone shifts from despair to enthusiasm.

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As a Minnesotan who longs for the winters of my childhood, this early blast gives me energy and calm at the same time. As we explore our new winter wonderland, I explode with all the things I have been telling me husband about snowy climates that make them better than his native Tokyo – “See, it is warmer than freezing rain in Tokyo! Snow is simply warmer!”

Don’t misunderstand though, I am not the reason that we are taking on this mountain endeavor. I thought our getaway should be near the ocean: somewhere near Izu perhaps. He felt the same, but much like how my husband picked the location for his music livehouse in Tokyo, he was spending time with my international friends: foreigners who have made Japan their home, when he switched from summer to winter. It was a cool breeze on a sunny day with warm reflections off the snow. Our dog pranced and leaped through snow powder and the wood stove warmed the kitchen already filling with the smells of a slow roast. He’d been to this beat up home that we all called Serenity several times in summer and winter. I can’t be sure his exact thought process, but I can guess that he realized that mountains have appeal year-round and the rugged winter life was a challenge more appealing to him as well well. From then on, his fantasy property shopping shifted from Izu to Nagano and a year and a baby later, we are here!

So, it’s snowing and he is seeing a whole foot in one day for the first time in his life. As he shoveled around the car, I had to laugh, “First time?”

“no, no, I’ve shoveled snow before in Tokyo.”

“really? like this?”


I LOVE IT! Thank you, snow!

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First snow in Madarao

As my husband and I ate our early lunch, we gazed out the dining hall window at yet another rainy, dreary day. My husband is frustrated that he can’t get a clear day to finish work on the outside of our business: a small rustic luxury hotel in Madarao, Nagano.

I mused, “at least all that rain will turn to lots of snow for ski season… actually that rain almost looks like snow, what’s the temperature?”. 5 minutes later, it looked like this!