Town in Hiroshima Pref offering snow-shovelling tours

By Meg Murphy

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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I understand how they feel. I grew up in an area where it snowed A LOT each winter. I miss the snow. So, when there's a big snow in the Tokyo area, I volunteer to shovel around our mansion. It helps prevent injuries to others, makes it easier for people to walk, and I find it enjoyable.

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Dude with a shovel is fit and a professional shoveler. The women I am less sure about. Enough people here to build a serious snow fort though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They should come to Tohoku, we could do with a few extra hands clearing the snow. Maybe one million would do the job.

Akiota is the least-populated city in the prefecture with fewer than 7,000 citizens

Well then it is a village, not a city!

Talk about an inability to face reality!

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With all the taxes paid to the city and local govt, THEY should be doing this, keep the street safe.

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Sorry, but this makes zero sense. Recruiting volunteers or asking locals or others to help shovel, with transportation and gear covered by local or prefectural taxes, I can see, but having them PAY to go and shovel is ludicrous, even with the onsen 'free' access at the end. Anyone who signs up for this is a fool. Take a shovel and go do it for free if you live not too far off (or will the local yaks charge you money or threaten you if you try to 'steal' from the racket?). Or hell, just donate money as a kind of charity so that others can do it for free if you are unable.

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Hopefully these idiots know how to handle heart attack victims.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It would be better to package it as a volunteer experience, with a small(er) amount of money being paid out to cover expenses. Calling it a "Heavy Snow Region Experience Tour" seems pretty sly to me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They could come and shovel my driveway for free. Over the years, I appreciate a few of the power equipment, snpw thrower (2 stage), chain saw and log splitter.

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