Mesmerising Myoko: The beauty of the four seasons(By Sai Shidhaye)2023.02.21
The famous ‘Sakura’, the beautiful cherry blossom, symbolizes Japan. Thousands of tourists rush to visit in spring. Along with Spring, the ‘Golden season’ of Japan is also breathtakingly beautiful! When the leaves start to turn shades of red, yellow, and orange, it is the best season to gear up, and hike in the mountains to enjoy the view.
Our small hike in the Myoko area was one such beautiful experience. We hiked a part of the Shin-etsu trail which runs along the border between Niigata and Nagano Prefectures. Modelled after America’s Appalachian Trail, the trail passes through forests, across wetlands and up and down mountains. The walk through beautiful nature and mountain landscapes was the ultimate refreshing experience. We hiked through magnificent Beech tree forests and encountered the beautiful Nozomi lake surrounded by heavenly Autumnal scenery.
Shin-etsu trail is special for three things.
1. First trail of its kind of Japan!
It is the first long trail developed in Japan. Noriyoshi Kato was involved in the Shin-etsu Trail project from its initial stages, contributing to the Trail concept and the maintenance and operating systems.
The philosophy and methods Kato-san used have become the model for the creation of subsequent trails in Japan, and the foundation for a unique long trail culture.
2. Joint efforts of two prefectures -unique in Japan
Another interesting fact about Shin-etsu trail is that it is managed and maintained by two prefectural governments, namely Niigata prefectural government and Nagano prefectural government on a co-operative basis. This type of inter-prefectural co-operative project is very rare in Japan.
Since the trail goes along the border between the two prefectures, hikers cross from one prefecture to the other many times.
It was such an amazing moment when we realized looking at a map that we had crossed the border and entered our neighbouring Nagano prefecture, if only for a brief amount of time!
Another interesting thing we realized was that the beautiful Nozomi lake is actually not entirely in Niigata prefecture. Half of the lake is located in Nagano since the border passes through the lake!
3. Voluntary activities and nature conservation efforts!
The most unique aspect of Shin-etsu trail is the nature conservation philosophy that lies at its foundation. The trail is cared for and managed by volunteers who work together to maintain it. These volunteers come from all over the country to help develop and support the Shinetsu Trail and the surrounding region. They take pride in the bio-diversity conservation efforts being taken during the maintenance and ensure that the trail does not cause negative impact on the natural world.
Also, the entire trail is based on the ‘Satoyama’ system. Essentially ‘Satoyama’ areas are countryside communities where locals have lived for centuries farming, managing, and caring for the land and the mountains. It’s a quaint, rural side of Japan and an example of sustainable living.
These features make this trail a very special one! The management body of Shin-etsu trail has received a national award for its collaborative management system from the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Apart from the trail, there are a bunch of cool places to visit in Myoko throughout year!
Another attraction of this area is the forest green tree frog, a species that is endemic to Japan, and a variety of flora, such as Mizuchidori, a member of the butterfly orchid family that flowers from late June to early July.
The volume of water is at its greatest in spring while the waterfall is a refreshing retreat among the verdant greens of summer before the surrounding hills are filled with autumnal foliage later in the year.
Playing golf in Myoko is a truly unique experience, since you are surrounded 360° by nature as you play.
Myoko is surely one of the best places to visit around Niigata if you are a nature-lover! Be it Spring, Summer, or Autumn, it will never fail to mesmerize you with its scenic beauty!
1.‘An Insider’s Guide to the Shin-etsu Trail’, https://www.japan.travel/en/au/story/insiders-guide-shinetsu-trail/#:~:text=Sitting%20on%20the%20border%20of,southern%20end%20of%20the%20trail.
2.‘Shinetsu Trail Stories’ https://www.s-trail.net/english/stories/
3.‘Jappalachia: Connections Between the Appalachian Trail and Japan’s Shinetsu Trail’
4.‘Hiking the Shin-etsu Trail’ https://www.s-trail.net/english/walking/
6.‘Myoko Golf Courses’ http://myoko-nagano.com/golf/
7.‘Naena Waterfall’ https://www.tohokukanko.jp/en/attractions/detail_1695.html
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sai Shidhaye is from India! She has been living in Niigata for around 2 years. Recently she graduated an MBA course and is working in a Japanese company. She is always excited to try new things. Perhaps one day, she bump into you on the track.