Niigata Prefecture has a long, vertical topography. In particular, the Joetsu region, which borders Toyama and Nagano prefectures, is known as a heavy snowfall area where heavy snow falls not only in the mountains but also in the plains. Life in this snowy region is protected by snow removal techniques and wisdom that have been cultivated over a long history. Please take a look at the real life of snow country in Joetsu, Niigata, and see how they deal with the many meters of snow that fall.
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In some areas of Takada, Joetsu City, where there is heavy snowfall, snow ditches have been installed to push away the snow using large amounts of water. In densely populated areas, a major problem is how to dispose of the snow that has fallen. These snow ditches are the solution to this problem. The operation of the snow ditches is left up to the locals, and the hours of operation are assigned to odd days, even days, mornings, and afternoons. When the time comes to clear the snow, a call is sent out and all the people come together to shovel. The residents are not exaggerating when they praise the effect of the snow removal.
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In areas with heavy snowfall, when the snow accumulation exceeds a certain level, snow plows are dispatched early in the morning before dawn to remove the snow from the prefectural and city roads and pile it up on the sides of the roads. As this process continues day after day, walls of accumulated snow form on both sides of the road, gradually narrowing the road width. Naturally, the visibility becomes worse. When the weather is clear, the road is widened and cleared by shoveling away the wall of snow. The large rotary snowplows and dump trucks work very efficiently.
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In January 2021, Joetsu City in Niigata Prefecture was hit by a record-breaking snowfall. In the city center of Joetsu, where there are rows of machiya houses, there are only a few places to remove snow from the roofs. Last year was the first time in nine years that this was done in Takada. The snow from the roofs is removed simultaneously from the roads, which are closed to traffic, and the snow is removed with snowplows and dump trucks. This is the fate of a snowy country, but we work in unison to prepare for the coming spring.
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Do you know where the snow that is removed is finally taken to? It goes to the snow dumping sites set up by the government (such as riverbeds). Every day, dump trucks bring large amounts of snow to the dumping ground. However, if you just leave it there, the snow will not disappear. This is where “snow splitting” comes in to speed up the snow melting process. Please fast forward to watch the steady work of digging a large trench with a hydraulic shovel.
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Sasagamine Plateau, located at an altitude of 1,300 meters in Myoko City, Niigata Prefecture, is closed to snow during the winter. The snow removal work begins in April, after the ski slopes at the foot of the plateau are closed for business, and takes about two weeks to clear a 12km-long path. I took pictures of the work with a drone. Please take a look.