I will now unveil a secret to you, a secret which you must promise to keep. Otsu city is not often thought of as a snowy wonderland, but deep in the mountain in the north-western part of Otsu, there is just that. Kutsuki-Katsuragawa Prefectural Nature Park (朽木・葛川県立自然公園) is located in a gorge between 2 mountains- Mount Shirotaki (白滝山) in Otsu and Mount Kamakura (鎌倉山) in Kyoto. Less than an hour by car from Smith’s School of English Otsu (スミス英会話大津校), but a whole world apart. There are a few houses, restaurants and inns tucked along the road which follows the Katsura river (葛川) as it winds its way down through the mountains and eventually out into the Japan sea (日本海) to the north of Shiga prefecture (滋賀県).
In this quiet little corner of Otsu there are few people, but lots of snow. A popular spot for school excursions, camping and hiking, in the winter this area is even quieter and for those of us living in Otsu, Kyoto or Takashima City, this is a great spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the city and enjoy a day of snowy countryside (or mountainside in this case, literally!). There is usually enough snow December through March for snowball fights, sledding, building igloos or just enjoying the beauty of a snowy landscape.
To get there unfortunately requires a car, but is under an hour on route 367 from Kyoto or route 477 from Otsu (also know as Rainbow Road), straight up from Biwako bridge in Katata. Once there, you can find many parking areas along the road where you can pull over, throw some snowballs, snaps some pictures of the mountains or river, have a bite to eat or go for a short hike. If you are a skier, another 20 minutes and you will be at Kutsuki Ski Lodge, in Takashima City! Quiet countryside, beautiful mountains, clear rivers. I love life in Shiga!