Resorts in northern Japan have found a stylish way to incorporate traditional Japanese kamakura into their winter events. Not to be confused with the Kamakura festival which takes place in the town with the same name, in this context, kamakura refers to an igloo-like snow formation which plays a central role in the Yokote Snow Festival in Akita.

The kamakuras are made all around the town, some big enough for a group of people to sit inside and enjoy rice cakes and amazake. Others are tiny lantern-sized igloos which house candles, creating a beautiful winter nighttime scene.

Hoshino Resorts, a chain of holiday resorts throughout Japan, are bringing a taste of this tradition to their northern Japan locations.

In their Tsugaru onsen resort in Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of Japan’s mainland, you can warm up with a cup of hot brandy in a kamakura bar. The apple brandy was made in the area and matured for a long time, resulting in its delicious fragrance. The snowy path to the bar is lit with traditional Tsugaru lanterns.

The Nagano Hoshino resort will be of interest to any skiing fans as it is located in the Japanese Alps. You can also get the kamakura experience there while drinking local sake which has been chilled in 'yuki muro' (snow rooms), which are used like a natural refrigerator.

A bit closer to the capital, the resort in Tochigi prefecture (home of Nikko, a popular excursion from Tokyo) is having a festival with a host of glimmering kamakura lanterns.

You don't have to be staying at the resort to enjoy these events, but take note that most don't start until January and onwards. Check out the press release (Japanese only) for dates and prices for each activity.

By - Jess.