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Restaurant Kamakura Village
Photograph: Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau

This magical igloo restaurant in Japan is like something from a fairy tale

Crowd around steaming hotpots in these cosy-looking pods in Nagano prefecture

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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It isn’t often that igloos look cosy. Cold and harsh? Certainly. But never cosy or warm – despite that being, y'know, their purpose. Yet these igloos in Japan look very inviting indeed. Just look at those charming, quaint little warm lights. In the chilly winter nights of the Japanese Alps, each one looks like a refuge of warmth and cosiness. 

Every year, the Restaurant Kamakura Village in the small city of Iiyama, Nagano prefecture (just over an hour’s bullet train northwest of Tokyo), sets up in tables in more than 20 pop-up igloos. Each one seats up to four people, who typically crowd around a serving of the local delicacy, noroshi nabe – a kind of hotpot with miso, miyuki pork and locally sourced veg.

But igloos and speciality food aren’t the only things available at Restaurant Kamakura Village. Tucked behind a bright red tori gate, one of the igloos (not one you eat in, obviously) doubles up as a Shinto shrine. The area around Iiyama – as well as Nagano more widely – is also renowned for its world-class ski resorts and sledding.

Restaurant Kamakura Village
Photograph: Shinshu-Iiyama Tourism Bureau

Lunches at Kamakura Village cost 3,700 yen (£23.60, $32) per person and dinners cost 4,200 yen (£26.80, $36.40), covering a private igloo, hotpot and rice balls. The restaurant is open from now until February 27, when we imagine those igloos start to get a little… drippy.

All that being said, Japan is currently pretty off-limits to international travellers. But if you happen to already be in Japan and fancy sharing a delish hotpot in a cosy igloo, you’re in luck. You can reserve an igloo at Restaurant Kamakura Village here.

Did you see that you can sleep under the Northern Lights at these wholesome ‘warm igloos’ in Alaska?

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