KITA-AKITA, Akita Prefecture--Bear hot pot, coupled with views of scintillating ice deposits under starry skies, is the bait being used to lure tourists to Mount Moriyoshizan.
Guests can feast on the local specialty and other dishes at a "matagi goya," or a mountain hut used by "matagi" hunters.
A task force established to promote the benefits of inland areas, whose members include officials from the prefectural and city governments, is offering the package tour on a trial basis between Feb. 9 and March 4.
Matagi hunters have used the matagi goya as a base camp since olden times to store food and firewood while out hunting.
The task force followed instructions from matagi and set up a hut near the Ani Ski Resort using Japanese cedar wood and other materials. It can house about eight people, who can warm themselves at a wood stove.
Guests will stay at Hotel Fusch or Ani no Mori Buna Hotel, with the former serving "kiritanpo nabe" rice stick hot pot and the latter bear hot pot for a group of at least five people.
A separate tour can take visitors to see trees covered with rime at night on a snow groomer. Mount Moriyoshizan is famed for the winter spectacle.
The officials are promoting the tours to travel companies in Taiwan and the Tokyo metropolitan area, as well as other organizations.
The task force conducted a test in 2016 at the request of a Taiwanese travel company to see if it would be possible to operate a "kamakura" restaurant, where food is cooked and served inside a kamakura snow dome. But it couldn't be put to commercial use because the snow was melted by the interior heat.
The task force came up with the new project as they wanted guests to experience the traditional hunting culture in a casual manner.
"If we feel confident about the matagi goya being marketable after market research, we want to encourage other lodging facilities to set up the hut from the next fiscal year," an official said.