Early on Sunday morning, before dawn, Yosano’s ALTs set off on a winter adventure: a snowshoe hike up Oeyama. Oeyama (Mt. Oe) is the mountain looming large over Yosano, and hiking up its steep slopes is a seasonal ritual. In winter, higher elevations are always covered in heavy snow, and as fortune would have it, the day before the hike, a cold weather system brought knee-deep fresh powder. Though winters on the Sea of Japan coast can be tough – a combination of cloudy skies, frequent precipitation and low temperatures do somewhat dampen the spirits – there is still a certain childlike joy to be had in leaping head-first into a fluffy bed of soft snowflakes. And, after a day’s fill of fresh mountain air, nothing beats stepping into an onsen (hot spring) to sooth weary muscles and warm slightly frostbitten toes. Winter at its finest.