As mentioned throughout the Hike and Bike Japan site, our HQ - the village of Otari - is located right smack in the middle of Japanese snow country. As such, over the centuries locals have developed numerous items and techniques to adapt to the harsh conditions that winter typically brings, and one obvious and particularly important problem that needed solving was how to get around in all this snow. Much like most similarly snow-blessed points across the globe, simple handcrafted snowshoes became the default solution - though the materials, design and construction of those snowshoes vary greatly from country to country, village to village and person to person. Even within Otari, multiple varieties of snowshoes were crafted and used for differing purposes (hunting, logging, etc...) and snow conditions (powder, hard pack, etc...). Among the various types, one of the most elegant and useful iterations is known as "tsume kanjiki".
About "Tsume Kanjiki"
In general, this type of snowshoe was used by workers conducting various types of manual labor or other tasks in heavy-snow. They are made from the branches of small, shrub-like trees. The outer frames are oblong in shape, and are made to be just slightly wider than your shoes, both on the sides and at the toes and heel. Your shoes rest on two parallel strands of woven cord just under your arch, while two wooden crampon-like "teeth" extend roughly 5cm into the snow on either side. Unlike standard "kanjiki", "tsume kanjiki" are designed such that your toes and heel can be dug into the snow to create additional traction. This design is most appropriate in spring or hard pack snow conditions, as well as climbing, descending and traversing snow-covered mountain slopes.
Recently, these traditional snowshoes, which are perfectly suited for the type of terrain and snow encountered here in Japan, have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity amongst winter mountaineers, backcountry skiers and snowboarders, fisherman, photographers and other outdoor enthusiasts because of their high functionality, light weight, use of renewable materials, traditional craftsmanship, uniqueness and more. Specifically, international visitors to Japan and younger individuals seem to particularly favor them for personal use.
Local resident and Hike and Bike Japan co-founder Paul, a member of the Otari Village Association for the Promotion of Tsume-Kanjiki, will be your teacher for this workshop. Paul has worked closely with the association over the last several years, learning the traditional process from start to finish. In fact, all of the raw materials provided at the workshop and all of the pre-work (boiling the branches, removing the bark, bending the branches into the right shape, etc...) were collected/done by Paul himself.
You will not only get to enjoy the process of making your own snowshoes, but the finished product is yours to keep; a unique, meaningful, fashionable and functional souvenir!
IMAGE GALLERY (Winter 2019)
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF WITHIN OTARI VILLAGE
We can pick you up and drop you off from any location within the village of Otari, such as your place of lodging, one of the three ski resorts located within the village (Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba Norikura & Hakuba Cortina) or Otari's main train station - Minami Otari (on the JR Oito Line).
All ground transportation (whether by private car, taxi, train and/or bus) during the hours of the tour is included in the price.
WORKSHOP / INSTRUCTION / MATERIALS FEES
The fee to participate in the workshop, all materials necessary to create your own set of snowshoes and personalized instruction and help when necessary, is included in the price.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
We will be happy to get some nice photos and videos of you at work, both with our camera and yours, and of course everything we take on our camera we will share with you immediately after the tour.
COFFEE, TEA, SNACKS & LUNCH
We will have some simple Japanese snacks and drinks on hand for while you are at work on your snowshoes, and we will also be sure to take a break for lunch to share a filling home-cooked vegetable hot pot meal around the "kotatsu".
YOUR COMPLETED SNOWSHOES
Not only will you go through the process of making traditional snowshoes, the finished pair is yours to keep and take back home with you for your use and memories.
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF OUTSIDE OF OTARI VILLAGE
*If necessary or requested, it is possible to arrange pick-up and/or drop-off from several major hubs outside of Otari, specifically: Hakuba, Itoigawa, Omachi, Nagano & Matsumoto. However, please be aware that this will require extra time and incur additional fees. Please see our downloadable 'Extended Area Pick-Up & Drop-Off Policy' (PDF) for more details.
*This is a one-day tour, so lodging is typically not required or included. However, should you like to spend a night in Otari before or after your tour, we can help you arrange a stay at a local lodge or guesthouse.
*It is recommended that you eat breakfast prior to the start of the tour because of the timing of the workshop.
For this tour to operate at the listed price, we require a minimum of 2 persons.
Group size will be limited to a maximum of 3 persons.
If you are interested in booking as a private tour for one person, please contact us for a price quote.
WHAT TO BRING
WARM CLOTHING: The workshop will be held in an old, traditional home that may be a bit chilly
For your convenience and ours, bookings are made through our online booking platform by clicking on the 'BOOK' button below and following the steps presented: (1) Choose a start time/date (2) Fill out the required information (3) Enter a coupon code (if applicable) (4) Complete your booking by clicking on the 'Book It' button.
Upon confirmation of your booking, we will generate and send (an) online invoice(s) to you through PayPal, in accordance with the terms of our Deposit & Payment Policy for this tour type [1 & 1/2 Day Fixed & Flex-Departure Tours]. For more detailed information, head to our 'BOOKING' page and view/download our full Booking Policy.
Make Your Own Traditional Wooden Snowshoes
January - April
¥8,800 per person
If you would like to contact us to ask questions, receive more information, or inquire about booking this trip, please either connect with us directly using the chat feature located on the bottom right of your screen, or submit an inquiry through the contact form below. We are looking forward to hearing from you!