Dondendaira Snow Park

Winter fun in Iide Town

By Alena Eckelmann    - 4 min read

A new snow park is hidden away in isolated Iide Town in the south of Yamagata Prefecture. Opened in 2012 on the Dondendaira mountain plain, it is still an insider tip amongst snow enthusiasts who have already seen all of Japan's snow parks elsewhere.

There are five exciting activities to choose from:

  1. Riding a snow mobile. You receive a short introduction about how to drive, then a helmet is put on your head, and off you go. The instructor is racing ahead to show off his skills and to encourage you to accelerate too. According to him, the best drivers - and also the most fearless - are those who have some experience driving a motorbike.
  2. Riding a banana boat. Up to two people can sit on a plastic banana which is dragged across the snow at high speed by an instructor on a snow mobile. The banana boat idea is borrowed from some water parks, where you can ride a banana boat on water. Here it is snow but it is just as much fun. This is the most popular activity for families with children.
  3. Snow slider. This is good old fun in the snow. Get a large tire, sit yourself on it and slide down a 10 meters high and 80 meters long slope.
  4. Snowshoe trekking. This is a free walk on the Dondendaira mountain plain.
  5. "Snow ball strike". This activity is great for children too.It reminded me of some strike games with balls at fun fairs. There is a wall with brightly colored numbers from one to nine and you are supposed to form a snowball and throw it to hit the numbers. The winner would have managed to strike all nine numbers.

The fee for enjoying these activities for an hour and a half is yen 1,050 per person. However, there is also a "free pass" which allows you to enjoy all these activities for a whole day. The snow park is open from 10 am to 16 pm.

For an additional free of yen 3,000 you can book a private tour with a snow mobile and instructor. This tour is available for up to four people and I was told that this is quite popular with Japanese couples.

From 2013, Dondendaira Snow Park also offers:

  1. Orienteering, ie walking in the snow with a compass and map.
  2. "Yuki-kon" match-making events for singles on Saturdays based on the snow park's activities. The idea is to get girls and boys together and let them enjoy the various snow park activities and also a scavenger hunt, followed by a relaxing dinner at a farmer's restaurant. So, all single guys and gals out there: make a mental note of this and join the fun during next season.

The season at this snow park is short though. They are open for business in January and February only. Although there is still much snow around in March and April, the snow park closes towards the end of February to prepare for their "summer business" which lies buried under the snow. This snow park is also a flower park!

In June and July this very mountain plain becomes the Dondendaira Yuri Park. Yuri are lilies and there are large fields of them. The flower fields are being prepared in March so that they are ready for blooming in early summer.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher. Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative. My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines. I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy). As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail. Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village. Take care, keep well, stay safe!

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