Tsugaru snow tours mark 25th year

Kyodo

Aomori’s popular “jifubuki” (drifting snow) tours began Saturday in the city of Goshogawara, marking 25 years since a local group began taking advantage of the natural phenomenon to draw tourists to the Tsugaru region.

Jifubuki refers to the hazy scenic effect created when fresh snow is blown upward by strong winds. Those who take the tour don baggy “monpe” (work pants), “kanjiki” (snow shoes) and “kakumaki,” a type of cloak made out of blankets traditionally used by Tsugaru residents, as they trek through the snow with local guides.

In recent years, the tour has been attracting foreign tourists. Organizers are hoping those affected by the March 11 disasters will also be drawn to the various nature sites around Tsugaru. The tours will last until Feb. 26.

The opening day of Saturday’s tour drew 10 exchange students from China, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan. The wind wasn’t strong enough to blow the fresh snow off the ground, but the students still enjoyed lying in it and having snowball fights.

“The snow is so soft and feels nice. I would like to encourage my friends in Vietnam to come experience this because it does not snow there,” said a 24-year-old Vietnamese student who is studying at a university in Aomori Prefecture.