To someone raised in an area that receives little to no snow in the wintertime, living in a snowy region might seem like a lot of fun, what with all the sledding, snowball fights, and easy access to ski resorts. But it’s not all fun and games when you need to shovel through feet of snow just to leave your house or to get your car out of your driveway.
But maybe to someone who hasn’t grown up having to shovel heaps of snow each winter, snow-shoveling could be a fun experience too. At least, that’s what the Akiota-cho Sightseeing Association in Hiroshima Prefecture seems to be hoping as they try to lure city-dwellers to their 4th annual “Heavy Snow Region Experience Tour“. However, this tour has some net-users questioning why anyone would want to pay 5,000 yen to shovel snow for someone else.
“Why don’t you sign up for the Snow Shoveling Party?” their English ad cheerfully asks. True, it might seem a little backwards for someone to pay to do manual labor instead of being paid for it, but it’s not likely that the town of Akiota is just trying to swindle people of their money and get free labor on top of that. Is it?
Located in the mountainous region of western Hiroshima, Akiota is the least-populated city in the prefecture with fewer than 7,000 citizens, 47% of whom are seniors. Add to that the fact that they receive such heavy snowfall each year, shoveling has supposedly become a bit of a problem for the area, hence the start of the snow-shoveling tour.
The 5,000 yen fee pays for your bus, lunch, insurance, shoveling gear, and, mercifully, entrance into a local onsen (Japanese hot spring) to relax and warm up after all your hard work.
Some Japanese still aren’t convinced, though, as posted online. “I can understand paying for the insurance and bus fare, but they can at least provide the shoveling gear for free…” says one commenter. Yet another states, “I don’t like that they’ve got this sort of thing set up even though they’re getting help from taxes."
Is this a worthwhile volunteer experience? Or just a scam in disguise?
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