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Sunday, February 5, 2012


omiwatari in Lake Suwa, 2003
photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Omiwatari(御神渡り, The God's Crossing) is a natural phenomenon found in Lake Suwa, Nagano Prefecture.

After the whole lake becomes frozen, the ice on the lake cracks during nighttime because ice shrinks when cooling. Water seeps through a crack and it turns to a thin layer of ice. The expansion of the ice during daytime brakes the layer, and the broken ice heaves. Repeating the cycle of ice expansion and contraction due to daily temperature variations makes omiwatari.

The phenomenon occurs in a severe cold winter. Omiwatari appeared for the first time in four years. White lines are clearly visible this year. Shinto priests will judge a fortune about a good or bad harvest for the year by the traces of omiwatari.

According to a legend, omiwatari was the route that a male god took to visit a female god.
Yaegaki-hime(八重垣姫) in the bunraku play "Honcho Nijyushi Ko (本朝廿四孝)" crosses over the frozen Lake Suwa with the help of a samurai warrior helmet and foxes for her fiance. Omiwatari gave the author of this play ideas for this scene.
(Refer to previous post for more information about Yaegaki-hime.)


  1. This is a great article. I lived in Matsumoto city for several years, but never witnessed this phenomenon. Thank you for sharing!
    cutenekko on Twitter.

    1. I'm glad you like it!
      Omiwatari appears only in the killer winter. Matsumoto is cold in the winter but a good town. Climbers wish to live there.