Mt. Norikuradake lies 200 kilometers west of Tokyo, straddling the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures. Of all Japan's 3, 000-meter-plus mountains, it is one of the easiest to reach. And its relatively gentle slope makes it a popular destination for alpinists of all levels. A ski lift takes you up to the trailhead, and there is a mountain lodge at 2,400 meters which operates during the winter, so it is an ideal climb, even for first-timers. However, the final ascent from the lodge to the peak is a sever climb, just as it is on other 3,000-meter-plus peaks, and should only be attempted by experienced alpinists. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Liivi Selde discovers the pleasure of snowshoe trekking from Norikura Kogen, at the foot of the mountain. She stays at a secluded hot spring resort, Shirahone Onsen, and relaxes in an open-air bath with views of the snow and enjoys the local cuisine. The next day Liivi meets her mountain guide and starts her climb. The lodge where she stays is the only one in the area that is open during the snow season. On the slopes above the lodge, she finds amazing patterns formed in the snow by the powerful winds. After reaching the peak, she is rewarded by a panoramic view stretching to the horizon.