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Okura Snow Story, Yamagata

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Okura Snow Story, Yamagata


Meet the giant Okura-kun snowman at this unique winter festival

Okura Village Tourism Association



Okura Village in Yamagata Prefecture, Tohoku is renowned for receiving some of the heaviest snowfalls in all of Japan. Its annual winter snowfall typically exceeds three meters, with the heaviest annual snowfall recorded in 2018 at 445cm.
It’s no wonder then that Okura residents know how to make the most of the snow. In the secluded hamlet of Hijiori Onsen—in addition to a celebrated snow-shoveling contest—one of the highlights of the seasonal calendar is the winter firework festival, Okura Snow Story (known locally as Okura Yuki Monogatari).
Okura Snow Story features a jumbo snow slide, sledding, and other winter attractions, but the star of the event, which attracts many domestic and international visitors, is the giant festival snowman, known as Okura-kun. And by giant, we mean giant: the 1995 Okura-kun was a super-sized 29 meters tall, earning it a Guinness World Record. Every year, Okura-kun’s height is hotly anticipated, and the most recent (29th) Okura-kun measured 10.8 meters high—with villagers hoping to top that at the next festival.
As well as marveling at the giant snowman, festivalgoers can browse traditional yatai stalls selling hot snacks and drinks. The close of the festival is marked with a spectacular fireworks display in the crisp, clear skies above the village, with colors and lights illuminating the glistening snow and smiling Okura-kun. Okura Snow Story is held annually in mid-to-late March, at the end of Yamagata’s famed snow festival season, making it the last one before spring.


How to get there

From Tokyo Station, take the Shinkansen bullet train to JR Shinjo Station (3 hours 30 minutes). Okura is 1 hour by bus from JR Shinjo Station, or 1 hour 15 minutes by car from Yamagata Airport.


Hijiorionsen, Ohkura, Mogami-gun, Yamagata-ken


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