Nara Miuneyama Ice Festival: Japan’s Spectacular Winter Event Will Have You Booking Your Trip Now!

Nara Miuneyama Ice Festival: Japan’s Spectacular Winter Event Will Have You Booking Your Trip Now!

Miuneyama, located in the southeastern part of Nara Prefecture’s Mitsuemura, is home to spectacular “muhyo” – ice created by airborne water that freezes on the branches of trees near the mountain’s summit. Rime ice is simply the general term for liquid droplets that have frozen onto a surface.

Along with the rime ice itself, another highlight of the season is the Miuneyama Muhyo Matsuri (Rime Ice Festival) organized by the Mitsue Tourism Association to host winter mountain climbers. Taking place at the Mitsue Youth Travel Village, the event includes interesting demonstrations and good food. After enjoying this cool event, you can warm up at a nearby hot spring!

Natural Ice Formations

Miuneyama is located in Muro Akame Aoyama National Park and has a height of 1,235 meters. One of the top 300 mountains in Japan, it offers spectacular views in all seasons, from white azaleas in early summer and beautiful autumn leaves to the winter rime ice. That particular phenomenon occurs during severe winter weather from January to March, and creates an other-worldly atmosphere when water droplets in fog and clouds freeze on trees.

Perfect for Winter Mountain Climbing

Mt. Fuji seen from Mt. Miune

Mt. Fuji seen from Mt. Miune

Miuneyama is perfect for climbing with family and friends, and is easily accessible from the Kinki area. Due to the ease of its trails, the mountain has been called the “Debut Winter Mountain.” During the rime season, about 10,000 climbers of all ages and skill levels come to hike and take photos.

This unique crystalline world offers a number of wonderful sights like the shining white ice and the bright blue sky, or walking through a tunnel of rime-covered tree branches. The open view of gentle the mountain pass and Hatchodaira from the Mie Prefecture side of the summit is truly superb. If weather conditions permit, Mt. Fuji can even be seen from the observation point near the summit, which has increased Miuneyama’s popularity in recent years.

A Variety of Events and Hospitality for Climbers

The hike to the top of Miuneyama takes four to five hours, and is a round trip of approximately 11km. For winter climbing, cold weather gear and crampons are essential. The journey begins and ends at Mitsue Youth Travel Village. The Travel Village is also the main venue for the Miuneyama Rime Ice Festival. Organized by the Mitsue Village Tourism Association, the next installment of the festival will take place on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from January 11th to March 1st, 2020.

This is Mitsue’s own cute character, “Tsuemi-chan”!

This is Mitsue’s own cute character, “Tsuemi-chan”!

Mochi making

Mochi making

Kinako mochi

Kinako mochi

In 2019, the festivities opened with zoni (ceremonial soup) service, and ended with a clean-up event and coffee. Some days included servings of sweet sake or mochi following a mochi making competition.

Local pickles for sale

Local pickles for sale

In addition, other special products are sold and prizes like badges signifying a hiker’s number of climbs are presented.

Warm Your Cold Body in a Hot Spring

“Muhyogo” bus

“Muhyogo” bus

Mitsue’s “Himeishi no Yu” hot spring

Mitsue’s “Himeishi no Yu” hot spring

Nara Kotsu Bus Lines operates a temporary “Muhyogo” bus that runs from Kintetsu Osaka Line Haibara Station to Mitsue Youth Travel Village on festival days, making winter access very convenient.

In addition to being offered a discount ticket for bathing at Himeishi no Yu onsen at Ise Honkaido Mitsue rest area, climbers who use the Himeishi no Yu shuttle also receive a free towel. (These promotions were available during the 2019 season and are subject to change.)

A rare and spectacular view, warm hospitality, and a natural hot spring are sure to relax the body and mind. Why not come to the Miuneyama Rime Ice Festival and experience it for yourself!

Mitsue Youth Travel Village
1790 Kōzue, Mitsue, Uda-gun, Nara 633-1301
Phone: 0745-95-2070 (Mitsue Village Tourism Association)
Hours: 13:00 - 17:00, Saturdays, Sunday sand public holidays (19 times) from Saturday, January 11 to Sunday, March 1, 2020
Admission: Free

Text by:WESTPLAN