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Tourists warm to snow hut restaurant in Nagano Pref. offering hot pot dining

Snow huts at the "Restaurant Kamakura Village," where visitors can enjoy hot pot dining, are seen in the city of Iiyama, Nagano Prefecture, on Feb. 10, 2019. (Mainichi/Taisuke Shimabukuro)

IIYAMA, Nagano -- A restaurant that serves hot pot food in traditional igloo-like snow huts is attracting tourists including foreigners here in central Japan, where there is abundant snowfall in the winter.

The "Restaurant Kamakura Village" opens only in the middle of every winter and has 22 shelters made from natural snow set up in a postharvest rice field. There are three kinds of snow huts ranging in size from 1.8 to 3 meters in diameter and 2.5 to 3 meters in height that accommodate up to10 people.

The restaurant offers the local specialty "Noroshi Nabe," a hot pot made with miso fermented soybean paste, pork and locally grown vegetables. The hot pot is prepared in the kitchen so as not to melt the snow hut and is served on portable stoves to keep the food hot. The snow huts are lit up at night for visitors to enjoy the unique landscape and experience.

Nika Sakabe, 6, who was visiting from Tokyo's Minato Ward with her family and friends, said, "It's the first time for me to enter snow huts. The mashed potato balls are delicious."

The cost of hot pot dining in a snow hut for adults is 3,200 yen for lunch and 3,700 yen for dinner per person. For elementary school pupils and younger, the cost is 1,900 yen for lunch and 2,300 yen for dinner. Reservations are required. To make a booking, please call the Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau on 0269-62-3133 (in Japanese.)

The restaurant will open until Feb. 28. Reservations for weekends are already nearly full, according to the bureau.

(Japanese original by Taisuke Shimabukuro, Nagano Bureau)

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