Snow-locked Mada-pow: Winter Wonderland for locals only…

This weekend was set to be our biggest weekend since opening Crawfish Madarao. We had 6 reservations over the faux four-day weekend (Monday is an unofficial holiday or “sick day”- don’t tell your boss!) 

Jake and I began the weekend pumped for new visitors and a full-house in our humble mountain getaway. The forecast looked great for winter fun, the snow festival is on, and our pipes and water all running fine. THEN… The biggest snow storm in 45 years dumped on central and northern Honshu from East to West. Having lived in snow country for most of this season, we thought nothing of it, but our guests have to get out of the cities where snow is a rare occurrence. Some people got out, but no one got here. Alas our 6 reservations dropped to 1 and we’re in the red again. 

We knew it was a risk to open a B&B where more than half the year is “off-season” and the summer season requires a lot of advertising, but we didn’t consider that PERFECT winter weather, PERFECT MADA-POW is also disastrous weather. 

The snow festival is very local but super fun, I hope we can share with more people next year. 

The Igloo fest is ongoing for the rest of February.

Looking for the silver lining, without guests, we can go enjoy the festivals again today and report back to you for next year or later this month. With an extra 50cm on the ground at the bottom of the mountain and a little sunshine today, I am sure the sculptures will look amazing this afternoon. Off to see the life-size shinkansen at the Igloo festival and get Fio in the sled again.

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More photos to follow!!

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!