Winter turns the Kiso Valley into a silvery world; one only ambiguously defined through dim rays of sunlight. The cold, dry air is difficult to be in; driving is treacherous; and the days are short. However, it is this season, more than any other, that brings a true sense of appreciation to those who are patient enough to seek it out.
Shizen-ko, a lake that sits about 10 kilometers beyond the central part of Otaki Village, is, even in summer, a surreal landscape. In winter the frozen lake takes on ephemeral qualities–one may feel they simply dreamed the place. (Read more about Shizen-ko here).
Ice fishing is popular on Shizen-ko both among locals and outsiders, and wakasagi (the small smelt of a Japanese variety) is the main catch. Batter and fry these little suckers (on the spot if you’d like) and you’re in for a culinary treat. Of course, ice fishing can be dangerous, so please use the proper caution and find a knowledgeable person to tag along with.
Long live winter.