Winter Season 2017/18 in Yuzawa

The summer heat and humidity seems to have passed for another year and autumn is setting in.  Long sleeves are coming out and the thicker blankets are back on the bed again. The rice harvest is underway and there are whole bunch of harvest festivals coming up. Winter is still a way off but definitely getting closer.

Snow Country Yuzawa.jpg

As we hit September a bunch of resorts start their pre-season sales of discount lift tickets. Gala Yuzawa, Iwappara, and Kandatsu have all got offers running at the moment. 

Kagura/Mitsumata will be the first resort opening in this area on Thursday 23rd November, which just happens to be a National Holiday. We'll update on other resort opening dates in this region. So far we have Tashiro on December 9th, and GALA Yuzawa on December 16th. Our ski and snowboard lessons will be available every day of the winter at all resorts in the region from when Kagura opens at the end of November until it closes at the end of May.

Booking are starting to come in, and as usual it looks like Christmas/New Year, and Chinese New Year are going to be very busy. If you are coming at these times and are going to be having ski or snowboard lessons, it would be a good idea to get your bookings in early.

If you are heading to different areas other than Yuzawa, do let us know. We often hit the road to help clients who are keen to keep consistency with instructors. Last winter we could be found at Karuizawa, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, as well as resorts in Myoko and Hakuba. We even did a trip to Niseko, Furano, and Rusutsu. We are also very excited for the reopening of Arai, or as it is now known Lotte Arai Resort.

We have a great team of experienced instructors coming out this winter.  The quality of our team is what sets us apart. We go to great lengths to find ski and snowboard coaches with exceptional people skills and a love of teaching. They've been in the industry for a long time, and have top level qualifications. They are dedicated to making sure you have very best time possible while in Yuzawa or on your ski holiday in Japan.

Finally, we are keeping our prices the same as the previous two seasons so lessons with Snow Country Instructors will still be the same great value.

We look forward to seeing you on the snow this winter.

Coming to Yuzawa? Some suggestions....

So of all the great places to visit the snow in Japan this winter, you have opted for Yuzawa. Good choice. We have a few suggestions of what to check out to make the most of your trip!


The 'yu' in Yuzawa stands for hot water, and the town itself grew up around the discovery of a hot spring source in the mountains where a traveller was looking for ingredients for medicine. (That hot spring is still gushing out hot water and feeds the onsen at Takahan Hotel and Yama-no-yu.) A soak in an onsen is an absolute must while you are in Yuzawa. If you have been out in the snow all day you will feel yourself heated up and refreshed in no time. There are lots of different types of onsen (including one with sake in it inside Echigo-Yuzawa Station!) so if you get a taste for this very Japanese way of bathing you have lots of exploring to do.

If you are unsure what you are supposed to be doing, check out this explanation from The Japanese Ryokan Association, who have a whole bunch on useful information if you are looking at staying at a ryokan.


Japanese food is amazing wherever you go in the country. Yuzawa is no exception with an abundance of great restaurants and a food culture that has been influenced by long winters buried under the snow. Pickles and preserved foods are a speciality, as is the hearty, warming Kenchin soup. The area is famous for rice, growing some of the most well known Koshihikari rice in the whole of Japan. As a result the sake produced here is also highly regarded. There are lots of restaurants in the town serving many different styles of cuisine (though they can get busy on the weekends and Japanese holidays) so plenty of choice. Indulge, and burn it off on the slopes!

Yuzawa Restaurant Food.jpg

Try a different resort

We often get emails asking us about the same two or three well-known resorts in the Yuzawa area. They are certainly great places to spend a day but be aware that there are plenty of different resorts here and some that may suit your needs better. Exploring new resorts is always fun, and you may well find a new favourite, as well as skip the crowds at a more well-known neighbouring ski area. Travel a little bit further up the valley or over the hill and there are even more places to discover. Be adventurous! Have a look on the Snow Japan Yuzawa Resort page, as well as the Minamiuonuma Resort page for a full list of the options.

Experience the local culture

Yuzawa has a little culture museum (Yukiguni-kan [Japanese]) in the main street that has a traditional room from a house in the area from days gone by. There is also a collection of memorabilia from life throughout the four seasons. It is an interesting look at the history of the town and how people used to cope with the snow. Another section of the museum deals with the novel Snow Country whose author, Yasunari Kawabata, stayed in the town and drew inspiration from the area. If you are interested in the book there is also a walk around Yuzawa that calls in at areas that feature in the book, and there is the room where the author stayed as well as another small museum at Takahan.


If you are lucky, or plan it right, your trip to Yuzawa this winter could coincide with one of the festivals, either in the town, or close by. The Yuzawa Winter Festival sees a torchlight parade down a local mountain, a portable shrine carried around the town, and impressive fireworks. Other festivals in the region see semi-naked men jostle to gain entrance to a temple (Urasa Naked Man Festival), or recently married men thrown off a snowbank (Matsunoyama Onsen Bridegroom Tossing [which happens to be on the same day as the Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Fire Festival]). There is also an awesome firework and light snow which is an art project linked to the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field.

Yuzawa Festival Firework.jpg

Take a day trip

If you fancy a day off the slopes while you are staying in Yuzawa there are lots of other things to do. Niigata City is within easy reach by bullet train, and Sado Island is a popular draw off the coast - check out the introduction to Niigata and Sado on Undiscovered Japan.

Closer to home the Snow Country Tourist Office offer a whole range of tours throughout the region. Yuzawa is part of the Snow Country Region which is made up of several different towns which have all been influenced by the heavy snow. There is an abundance of history and culture around the region and a day tour is a great way to check some of it out. Snowshoeing through hidden valleys, touring works of art at the Echigo Tsumari Art Field, visiting Akiyamago - a remote area deep in the mountains that experiences a different kind of winter to the resort towns, or riding along in one of the giant snowclearing machines that keep the roads passable. There is lots on offer and sure to be something to interest most people. These tours have been specially designed to highlight the best of the region.

Get a lesson

If you are looking to make the most of your time on the snow then a ski lesson or snowboard lesson is the perfect solution. No matter what level you are at with your skiing or snowboarding there is plenty of fun to be had and progress to be made. If you are just starting out, some work on your technique is going to boost your technique and enjoyment. If you are getting more comfortable it could be time to challenge yourself on some different kinds of terrain - steeper slopes, deeper snow, bumpier pitches, or even some basic park skills. Or how about trying a different discipline? Skiing, snowboarding, or telemarking. If you are accompanying people of a different ability level, trying a new sport is a great way to keep things interesting, and also a great reminder of how steep everything can look when you are just beginning with snowsports.

What ever you do, have fun!




7 个理由告诉您为什么说汤沢是您日本滑雪之旅的首选目的地。

来日本滑雪,有许多的目的地可以选择,但是为什么我们向您大力推荐位于南鱼沼市的汤 沢町呢,下面就为您解释一下。


坐高铁抵达汤沢只需要 80 分钟从东京火车站到上野火车站的车程。大宫站也是上越新干 线上的一站。当您抵达后,越后汤沢站就位于汤沢町的中心,Gala 汤沢站(ガーラ湯沢駅) 就位于 Gala 度假村的下面。因为如此方便的交通,与其他滑雪目的地相比,会帮您省下更多 在路上的时间,更好地享受滑雪带来的快乐。如果您计划的旅行时间比较紧凑,那么您可以从 东京早上过来晚上回去,非常方便。如果您手中持有日本铁路东京地区通票,那么这张通票的 旅行范围是包括越后汤沢站和 Gala 汤沢站(ガーラ湯沢駅)的。如果您打算坐飞机落地后直 接过来,那么您可以选择乘坐出租车。


无论您此次行程的预算是高或是低,在这里都能找到满足您情况的产品。在汤沢这个度假 小镇有着各类绝佳的住宿场所。在当年东京/关东地区到谷川岳的隧道修建之后,许多旅馆酒 店也随之应运而生。经典的日式旅馆、大型西式酒店、自助式公寓、温馨式家庭旅馆、爱彼迎 (AirBnb)式的民宅出租,甚至这里还能找到传统与现代混合风格的度假酒店。


在忙碌游转了一天后,最美不过享受一下在温泉浴中浸泡所带来的舒适和快感了。汤沢町 建立在温泉泉眼之上,而这些温泉早在 900 多年前被人们意外的发现。即使是在今天,町上 和周边地区的各类温泉仍然是吸引游客们光临的一大亮点。坐在天然的温泉水中,雪花就落在 你的周围,体验这神奇的感觉。

Takahan 露天女士温泉(女汤)更多信息,访问 -


美味的日本料理一直都是日本旅游中最受期待也是最必不可少的环节之一,甚至很多游客 只因为日本的美食而来。这里有着独特的气候和季节,也有着丰富的美食文化遗产。当地产的 大米被评为全日本最佳大米,用大米酿成的清酒和这里的清泉水也广受好评。汤沢町里餐厅数 量众多,有着多种口味和风格供您选择。如果时间允许,您可以在这里住上几个星期,体验不 同的餐厅,因为在日本,一切都非常美味。

汤沢町 Kikushin 餐厅的蘑菇天妇罗搭配米饭


汤沢町每年冬季全町都会被白雪覆盖。町内及周边有许多滑雪胜地,在一小时内时车程外 甚至还有更多滑雪场可供选择。滑雪场内设施功能齐全,从初学者需要使用的缓坡雪道,到专 业滑雪所需的高级滑道,给不会滑雪的游客准备的玩雪区域,再到各种极限挑战设施,一应俱 全、应有尽有。让各种不论是专业还是业余的游客都能享受在这里的欢乐时光。


这里的冬天会被大雪所改变。食物天然保鲜、独特的节日和传统、应对恶劣天气的各项措 施——这是一个迷人的地方,您对这里的文化和历史越理解,您就越不想离开这个度假天堂。 参观庄重的寺庙、游览有趣的画廊或是博物馆,或者就是简单地尝试一下当地的街头美食。这 趟冰雪之旅绝对可以向您充分地展示冬季日本与众不同的一面。


如果您来日本的目的是学会或者提高您的滑雪水平,那么找到一名拥有丰富经验的教练就 是您此行的关键。我们来自世界各地的教练都有着专业的滑雪能力,因为滑雪也是他们生活中 最大的乐趣。他们可以为您传授他们对运动和日本这个国家的热情。我们的团队有着多年的丰 富经验积累,能够为您提高滑雪水平带来积极有效的帮助。无论您是先报名初级滑雪教程、家 庭式滑雪教程、公园课程、儿童课程亦或是仅仅一天的简单辅导,我们都有着相应的专业方案 来帮助到您。这些来自雪国的教练也对自身的价值而感到自豪。我们尽力保证学费价格与日本 当地的滑雪学校学费一致,让您用自己熟悉的语言学会滑雪。

我们在这里的全部滑雪场都可以为您提供教学服务,并且我们十分乐意帮助您解决途中所 遇到的任何问题或是难处。我们的公司就位于汤沢町中,所以如果您需要任何信息或者想提出 意见,我们随时欢迎您的到来。如果您需要任何信息,欢迎随时联系我们。我们我期盼着在 17-18 年的冬天能够在汤沢町见到您。

Snow in Yuzawa December 2017...?

Bookings are coming in for our winter season 2017/2018. One of the common questions at this time of year is "What will the snow be like in Japan in early December?" Unfortunately we don't have the answer to that question, but if you are debating an early December trip to Yuzawa for skiing or snowboarding here are a few thoughts.

The first resort in this area to open is Kagura which usually aims to be open to some extent by late November. This could mean with natural snow, man-made snow, snow mat, or a combination of all three. It really varies from year to year. For a look at snow data from previous years SnowJapan's Yuzawa Now page has plenty of statistics from previous winters (at the very bottom.)

Some other resorts aim to open as early in December as the snow allows - (Iwappara and Joetsu Kokusai both posted very early opening dates for last season), though these resorts rely on early natural snowfall to open so may miss their planned openings. These tend to be better choices for first timers and beginners if they are open. If they are not available, our experienced team of instructors will do their very best with you on the terrain that is available at Kagura or other resorts.

If you are unsure about where to stay this early in the winter season in Yuzawa we would suggest that the center of town is probably the best bet. You are then free to pick the resort with the best snow conditions on that day, whether it be Kagura or a different resort that has managed to open. There are rental shops that will drive you around between accommodation and resort so transportation is not too much of an issue.

If you are not sure that you want to book here in Yuzawa then it is possible to stay in Tokyo, Takasaki, Niigata or anywhere else close to a Joetsu Line Bullet Train Station and come up to Yuzawa on a day trip. That way you can lock in your hotel reservations, and should it be a mild winter with not much snow, you can spend the day elsewhere. (There are also some great side trips from Yuzawa if you decide you don't want to ski while you are here.) We expect that Echigo-Yuzawa Station will be on the Tokyo Wide Rail Pass again this year so if you are staying in Tokyo or Takasaki the train trip will be good value too. Echigo-Yuzawa Station is only about 80 minutes from Tokyo or Ueno Stations by bullet train so it is easy to do as a day return trip.

Other options around Japan could be Karuizawa, the top of Nozawa Onsen, or the resorts up in Hokkaido. The weather is very hard to pick at that time of year so it is fingers crossed and hope for the best. As we get into autumn and the start of winter gets closer we can certainly tell you how things are looking up here in the mountains. 

2016/2017 Ski Season Finished

With Kagura closing on Sunday our winter season here in Snow Country has officially come to an end. It has been 6 months of good snow, lots of ski and snowboard lessons, and masses of fun. A big thank you to all our customers, crew, and all those who have helped us over the winter!

It is now time to pack the ski gear away until the end of November when Kagura should open up again for the start of Winter 2017/2018. We have a summer of hiking the peaks of Snow Country,  summer skiing on the snow mat at Kagura, mountain biking, and bicycle touring around the Echigo Tsumari Art exhibitions in front of us, and not to forget the Fuji Rock Festival 2017.

If you are getting a head start on planning your winter trip for winter 2017/18 we are always here to answer any questions that you may have, and also have lots of information on our blog. We will be up and running with our ski and snowboard lessons as soon as the first resort opens and are already recruiting really experienced instructors from around the world to complement our team. We are also looking forward to checking out Lotte Arai Ski Resort when it opens again this winter.

Thanks for a great season and we look forward to seeing you on the ski resorts of Yuzawa, Minami Uonuma, and the whole of Snow Country next winter.

20 Days Left!

Golden Week has been and gone for 2017 with 5 days off for most people, and 4 of those were sunny in Yuzawa. The end of Golden Week on Sunday also saw the end of Tashiro, GALA Yuzawa, and Kandatsu. We are now in the final straight for the season with only Kagura hanging on in there until Sunday 28th May. Conditions are still good though, so if you fancy a last slide for Winter 2016/17 there are 20 days to go.

Check out the Kagura website to find out exactly what is open and when.

Cherry Blossoms in Yuzawa

Spring is well and truly here in Yuzawa. We've had some temperatures up to 23 degrees, and the cherry blossoms are now in full bloom here in the valley. It is a rare chance to combine skiing and cherry blossom viewing. Luckily there are a few resorts still open. Kandatsu, GALA Yuzawa, Tashiro, and Kagura are still going strong and skiing well. They all plan to be open until the end of Golden Week, and Kagura until almost the end of May.

If you happen to be in Yuzawa this weekend there is also the Yuzawa Flower Festival on Saturday in Chuo Park by the Culture Centre, which also happens to be one of the best cherry blossom viewing areas in town. There'll be local food, a few different performances, and a really laid back atmosphere. It should run from about 1030 -1500, so get some skiing in at one of the Yuzawa resorts and then come for a delicious late lunch and some cherry blossoms.

Spring Skiing in Yuzawa

It was glorious out there in the Snow Country Ski Resorts today. Blue skies, great views, good snow - everything that we love about skiing in the spring in Japan. Cherry blossom viewing season is just starting in Tokyo and this often means a mental shift from winter to spring. Don't write the snow season off yet though. The higher resorts still have over a month to go of their white season.

GALA Yuzawa is planning to be open until Sunday May 7th 2017. Tashiro also has the same closing date as GALA Yuzawa.  

Kagura Ski Area is looking to remain open until Sunday 28th May 2017.

All of the above three resorts will be open during the Golden Week Holidays if you are looking for ideas for something to do with all those days off. You might get lucky and be able to ski and do some Snow Country Cherry Blossom Viewing too.

It has been a good winter for snowfall this year so there is plenty of snow base at most resorts. If you are unsure about the conditions, drop us a line and we can tell you how things are up here.

Remember Echigo-Yuzawa Station is about 80 minutes from Tokyo so is really easy to access. Jump on the bullet train at Tokyo Station, Ueno Station, or Omiya Station and you will be here in no time. The great value Tokyo Wide Pass is still valid for Echigo-Yuzawa and Gala Yuzawa until May 7th too.

Spring skiing is great fun. Sun, fresh air, mountain scenery, soft snow, long lunches, cruising runs. It is a great time to learn as well, so if you are looking for ski or snowboard lessons in the Yuzawa area, we will have instructors available until the last resort in the region closes. Hopefully see you soon!

Recruiting Instructors for Japan Winter 17/18

Spring is here in Snow Country, though we've had a bit of fresh snow in the last few days to keep the slopes topped up and in good condition. We've still got almost 2 months until the last resort is scheduled to close (Kagura on May 28th) but we are already thinking ahead to Winter 2017/2018, and putting together an amazing team of ski and snowboard instructors with that special blend of skills and experience that set Snow Country Instructors apart from other international ski schools in Japan. If you are interested in joining us for a winter season of instructing in the Japanese snow have a read of the below.

Snow Country Instructors are a team of experienced instructors and coaches teaching all levels of skiing and snowboarding in the Snow Country Region of Japan. We're based in Yuzawa, one of the most easily accessible ski destinations in Japan. Yuzawa is surrounded by ski resorts and we offer lessons in all of them. The area is often known as Snow Country, and it gets masses of snow every winter. Our instructors have skied across the globe and have never seen snow like this.

As a team, we are trying to make sure our customers have the very best snow experience possible, whether they are new to the snow, or they are all-mountain experts.
We value experience, great customer service, a sense of playfulness, and the ability to connect with the people you meet. There are bigger schools around in the area. We like to compete with them on quality and flexibility. 
We aren't based in one place. There are about 15 resorts in and around Yuzawa/Minami Uonuma. We work wherever our customers need us. The local resorts we work in are Ishiuchi Maruyama, NASPA, Maiko, Iwappara, GALA Yuzawa, Naeba, Kagura, Joetsu Kokusai. Yuzawa Kogen, Kandatsu, Hakkaisan and Nakazato. Sometimes you will see us giving ski lessons in resorts further afield, such as Tenjindaira, Karuizawa, Nozawa Onsen, Hakuba, Myoko, Shiga Kogen, and multiple resorts in Hokkaido. We head out to work if we have bookings. If not we are free to explore, ski, board, train, or relax.
We believe that learning is most effective when you get direct and personalised feedback. This is why we mainly teach private lessons or small groups of a maximum of six people. Our customers pay a fixed price per instructor. As soon as we get a booking in, the instructor receives the contact details of the customer. From this moment you take responsibility for this customer for the rest of their stay - arranging future lessons, advising on pickups, or helping with proper resort selection.
We expect you to work hard during busy periods and play hard during quiet times. Our busy periods are Christmas and New Year, Chinese New Year, the midterm break of the international schools in Tokyo, and almost every weekend of the Japanese winter. 

The perfect description of one of our Snow Country Instructors is:
- An independent person who is willing and capable to take care of the customer from the moment they get in contact with us. 
- Eligible to work in Japan. This means either being able to get a working holiday visa or have 36 months of experience in the snow industry so we can get you a skilled worker visa.
- Level 2 certified in your main discipline. 
- Dual certified, and if this is not the case willing to do a level 1 of the other discipline during the start of the season, held in our region.
- Eligible to drive in Japan. This means you will need to get an International Driving License before you come (and check that the one from your country is valid for use in Japan).
- Older than 26 (due to the insurance on the rental cars that is valid for 26 and over), and being multi-lingual is always a plus.

Pay: Due to our structure as a small, independent ski school in Japan we don't have big overhead costs like normal ski schools do. This is why we can pay our instructors 50% of the lesson fee. Additionally, we pay a bonus fee for generating business by lesson extensions and requests. This results in a minimum hourly wage of 4.000 Yen (approx. 35 US Dollar or 33 Euro). 
Accommodation: We rent shared accommodation locally for instructors. Every instructor has their own room. Instructors pay for their own bills and rent. If you prefer to live on your own we can find single bed apartments but they cost a little more. Rent and bills vary but we aim to keep them around the equivalent of 2 full days of work per month.
Transportation: Although all ski resorts can be accessed by shuttle buses we provide a few company cars for getting around. We use the cars to get to ski & snowboard lessons,  but also to get around to do many of the fun things that are all over the mountain areas of Japan.
Experience Japan: We want you to have a winter experience in Japan during the quiet times. That means festivals, skiing other areas, visiting different regions, trying fantastic cuisine, relaxing in an onsen as the snow falls around you, more snow than you've dreamed of, and meeting incredible people from all over the world.

The ski season usually runs from late November until late-May at the very highest resort. Lessons usually run from mid-December until early April, with spikes in business levels due to different holidays. We like everyone to be here by early-December for orientation and training. Finish dates are more flexible and can be anytime from mid-March by arrangement. If you can't commit for the whole season, we might be open for a part-time position during the busy periods. 
Instructors are expected to make their own way here. Once you get to Tokyo, spend a couple of days to take in this amazing city. Check out the street of ski shops. Then head up to your new home. Yuzawa is about 80 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train.  
Several of our instructors are over here as part of a working holiday program. The other alternative is to come over on a sponsored instructor visa. This currently requires the applicant to document 36 months of relevant experience. (There is talk this may change.) Then the sponsoring company applies on their behalf. We are happy to discuss this option in more detail.
Yes, if you are looking for an experience that feels like Japan; if you genuinely care about the experience that your customers have; if you are independent enough to work in 7 resorts in 7 days and don't need the comfort of a home resort; and if you can keep smiling no matter what.
Do you fancy to work in a young company, that is still growing and improving every year? Then we hope to welcome you as a valued part of our team for the Japan winter '17-'18!
For further questions feel free to contact us, and there is also a wealth of information on our blog.

Please send your application before the 15th of July to

Kagura Heli Ski 2017

Looking for a bit of spring adventure in the Japanese snow? Bookings are now open for the 2017 Kagura heliski / heliboarding days which will take place on April 8th & 9th. Details in Japanese can be found here, courtesy of the Kagura/Mitsumata Tourist Association. There are also the details of ski touring days that they are running in April on the same flyer.

Basic details are:

Bookings open from March 1st. There is a cap of 100 people per day. The heli-skiing or heli-boarding is 18,000 yen per person (which doesn't include a lift ticket for riding in Kagura after the heli-ski), or you can get heli-skiing, 1 night of accommodation with 2 meals, and a lift ticket starting from 23,000 yen per person - conditions apply.

Meeting time is from 7-9am at the bottom of the Mitsumata Ropeway. Flights start from around 9am. You'll need to provide your own ski or boarding gear. Skiers should be intermediate or above, and boarders those with higher level skills. The flight is about 10 minutes and then the way down (with a bit of skating, and a short ascent) will take around 1.5 hours, finishing at the bottom of the Kagura Gondola.

There is an application form on the flyer or questions should be directed to the Kagura/Mitsumata Tourist Association.

From the Kagura/Mitsumata Tourist Association website

From the Kagura/Mitsumata Tourist Association website

A few of our favorite things

It's almost March already, and even though we have had a few days of spring-like temperatures there is snow and cold temperatures on the way.

Spring skiing in the Yuzawa area is great. There is usually snow in March, and even when spring arrives and the cherry blossoms come out, there is such a deep snow base that we can keep skiing and snowboarding for a long time. Skiing and snowboarding in a T-shirt, and BBQs on the deck at Kagura are just around the corner....

The higher resorts like GALA Yuzawa and Tashiro will be open for the Golden Week holiday at the beginning of May, and the last resort to close in the Snow Country Tourism Zone is Kagura Ski Area which stops late May (though has gone into June before....) Their summer ski run sees the lift move at other times of year too.

Back to the present.... March is one of our favourite months to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in Japan, and here in Snow Country there are a few things that you should not miss.

Urasa Naked Man Festival is on March 3rd every year, and sees men in loin cloths cleanse themselves in a pool of mountain spring water then head into the stunning Bishamondo Temple to try to squeeze their way into the inner sanctum to earn a blessing. It is a short walk from Urasa Station, and the road to the temple is lined with festival food stalls. This is one of our favourite festivals of the winter in Snow Country; it still retains a very local feel, and is definitely worth a visit if you are in the region. Details here.

Echigo Tsumari Snow Fireworks 2017

As part of the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale, you know that this is going to be visually stunning. Fireworks above the snow with thousands of LED's buried underfoot. [The amazing local ladies who do the food at another of the works of art, Ubusuna House, will have a stall in the food area selling a local stew full of local, seasonal ingredients. Their cooking alone is worth the trip over from Yuzawa in our opinion!]

The Tsunan Snow Festival boast the sky lanterns that float up over the snow and light the night sky.It is a beautiful sight and lots of fun. Definitely get your own lantern and set it off with the hundreds of others. The Tsunan Snow Festival is March 11 this year and as you can expect from one of the places with the heaviest snowfall in Japan, they do snow festivals well.

Matsunoyama Royal Snow Touring 2017

Kick back and relax at the pass on the Matsunoyama Royal Snow Touring. All downhill from here.

Kick back and relax at the pass on the Matsunoyama Royal Snow Touring. All downhill from here.

This is is a great backcountry experience from the team at Matsunoyama Onsen Ski Resort. Head up over the pass and ski down to Tsunan Station in the next valley. It is an awesome day out, and only runs from March 1 to April 2. It is great fun to do, but the route you take is how the villagers used to get out of town in winter if they needed to leave the region. Matsunoyama Onsen used to be completely cut off in winter, and getting over the pass was the only way in and out! If you are going, let us know. We'll come too!

Ski and snowboard lessons in all resorts in Yuzawa and the Snow Country Region are our forte here at Snow Country Instructors, but if you are here in this unique area, there is plenty more to check out.

Yuzawa 3 Mountain Ticket

When people think of big ski areas in Yuzawa they often mention the Mitsumata, Kagura, Tashiro and Naeba areas that are all linked together. Not as well known, but equally worth an explore if you are in Yuzawa and looking for some good terrain, is the Yuzawa 3 Mountain area which is Yuzawa Kogen, GALA Yuzawa, and Ishiuchi Maruyama, all combined on one ticket.

A ticket sets you back 5,100 yen for an adult day pass (though if you visit some places you can get a discount one for about 4,200 yen), and that gives you access to about 48 courses.

The links between the resorts linking the 3 Mountain ski areas operate (weather permitting) from January 14th - March 20th 2017.

It is a pretty good area no matter where you start. One of the joys of a bigger area like this is that you feel that you are travelling rather than just lapping a resort. There are some pretty long runs in there too with both Yuzawa Kogen and GALA Yuzawa having downhill courses, and the run from the top of Ishiuchi all the way down to the bottom of the valley.

Need a guide to make sure you find the best bits, steepest bits, or easiest bits of the Yuzawa 3 Mountains? Our team at Snow Country Instructors have you covered. Not only do we know the resorts of Yuzawa and the courses really well, we can find the tastiest lunches, best cakes, and strongest coffee on the mountain!

Heading from Ishiuchi Maruyama to GALA Yuzawa and only have a normal one day pass? You can buy an upgrade Ticet here.

Heading from Ishiuchi Maruyama to GALA Yuzawa and only have a normal one day pass? You can buy an upgrade Ticet here.

Tokamachi Snow Festival 2017

Somehow it is the middle of February already! We've lost track of time as we've been teaching ski and snowboard lessons all over resorts in Yuzawa and Snow Country, and when not doing that, enjoying the masses of snow that has fallen this year.

Anyway, mid-February means that it is time for the Tokamachi Snow Festival this weekend (17-19 Feb 2017) - one of the highlights of the winter festival scene in Snow Country. With all the snow this year it promises to be quite a spectacle and Tokamachi is buzzing right now with preparations for this weekend.

The Tokamachi Tourist Association have been hard at work putting loads of good information into English, so if you are going, you can find that all here. We'd recommend grabbing a map and having a wander around. There is plenty to see and do within walking distance of the station. Head over to the Festival ground for some tasty food and local sake, and if you are there on Saturday night the Snow Carnival is not to be missed. The fireworks over the main stage built of snow were some of the best we have ever seen.

Prepare to be amazed.

Bumper Winter

It is still hammering down with snow! After a less than stellar performance in the snow department last year, Japan is back to its fluffy white best again in 2017.

Have a look at the Snow Japan Snowfall Analysis statistics for Yuzawa to see how much has fallen around here this year. There were only 10 days in the whole of January without snow, and February has been much of the same.

Our team of instructors have been really busy this year giving ski and snowboard lessons in English (and several other languages) in all resorts in the Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma region. We have had a few requests for other areas that have taken us on the road too. Do give us a bit of notice if you are coming as we can fill up on some dates - especially weekends or during holiday periods.

It is winter festival season coming up too with lots of weird and wonderful events that make a trip to the Japanese snow even more memorable. This weekend see the Sechu Hanamizu Iwai festival in Horinouchi on Saturday, which sees newly wed grooms getting doused in holy water. The Minami Uonuma City Snow Festival is also on Saturday and Sunday up in Muikamachi.

Enjoy the snow this weekend!

Snowmobiling in Yuzawa

If you are having a day off from ski lessons or snowboard lessons in Yuzawa and are looking for a bit of excitement you could do a lot worse than gunning around on a snowmobile.

Just at the base of Iwappara Ski Resort, at what is the Aurora Waterslide Park and Pool in summer, is Yuzawa's Snowmobile Land. They have several areas where you can have a go on these powerful machines. There are a couple of different options from the quick experience course which lasts for about 30 minutes, to learning how to ride one on your own for 2 -4 hours. You take a license course and then spend some time messing around in their free-ride area. There are banked traverses, and some steep slopes to negotiate, as well as plenty of space to open up the throttle. These are serious powerful snowmobiles, and will have your stomach doing somersaults like a rollercoaster. Serious exhilaration!



Family Ski Packages in Yuzawa, Japan

It has been a busy season so far. We've been giving lots of lessons, skiing, snowshoeing, travelling, snow shovelling, and doing more snow shovelling. 6 days of non-stop snow was great to ski in, but not quite as much fun to keep moving out of the car park and off the roof! 

We have had a lot of families come through our ski and snowboard lessons this year and several have mentioned that they wish they had found out a bit more information about this area before they had come. This is a great place for your first snow experience, but many people spend lots of time and effort narrowing down this area from some of the other options available across Japan. Hakuba, Niseko, Nozawa Onsen, Shiga Kogen, Myoko, Karuizawa are all place that people consider.

We are happy to point you in the right direction if you are looking to book a trip to the snow to introduce your family to the fun of snowsports, or just messing around in the white stuff. Yuzawa and the surrounding region has some good value accommodation packages, incredibly easy access from Tokyo, great value equipment rental, and of course some awesome  multi-lingual ski and snowboard coaches.

Questions about what to wear, what to bring, what to buy, where to ski, where to stay, where to buy lift passes, etc are all common, and we can help you answer all of those so that you have the best and simplest experience possible. Our core business is teaching people how to ski and snowboard in Japan, so the information we are giving out on resorts and accommodation is our honest opinion of what is best. It is often backed up by what our customers tell us too.

If you are looking for fun in the snow this winter, friendly locals, and great food, without having to travel long distances, or break the bank, Yuzawa has you covered.

Skiing Across Japan

Our instructors are accustomed to working in different resorts. There are over 10 resorts in the Yuzawa / Minami Uonuma region, and many more in the rest of Snow Country. Not content with all that skiing and snowboarding, our instructors are always keen to hit the road and explore other areas. This week alone we have had a small pod of snowsports instructors working in Karuizawa, Nozawa Onsen, X-Jam Takaifuji, and Shiga Kogen.

Japan has a huge number of resorts and we want our instructors to experience as much of the country as possible. If you are looking for instructors in different ski areas of Japan for ski or snowboard lessons, give us a shout. The instructors usually get there early, have a blast, teach a lesson, and then have a few runs at the end of the day. They may take a few days off and have a couple of days exploring the new area too. Now if we could just get a company camping car.....

Telemark Skiing in Snow Country

Free the heel!

We have been having some good snow recently, and there are lots of holiday makers enjoying the winter conditions in the many resorts around Yuzawa. Skiing lessons and snowboarding lessons are in high demand, but we are also out teaching powder techniques, park clinics and, one of personal favorites, telemark lessons.

The New Year is just around the corner and if you are looking for a new challenge, how about a crack at telemarking? You can rent the gear in Kagura Powder Station (also a good place to go if you are looking for powder skis or backcountry gear), and we will ensure that you have a great day out as you enjoy this fun form of skiing.

'Tis The Season.... be jolly! That's because several ski resorts in the Yuzawa / Minami Uonuma area are opening up in the next couple of days.

Early to mid-December in Snow Country is a bit of a mixed bag with great years, good years, so-so years, and last year, all mixed up together. This year is looking good so far. It was slow-ish to start with, but a couple of big storms have come through and dropped lots of snow. [We have shovelling blisters to prove it!]

A decent base has formed on most resorts so opening days are coming.

Maiko Snow Resort opens tomorrow (Friday 16th) and has a special 500 yen food/drink ticket present for all comers.

Iwappara opens on Saturday 17th December.

Both of those resorts are great for ski and snowboard lessons and are worth checking out. (If only someone would join the two of them up, as their top lifts are so close....)

GALA Yuzawa also opens on Saturday. Naeba Ski Resort is open now and will start running more lifts on Saturday. Kagura and Tashiro are also open and conditions are good. 

It is a great time to come to the mountains and we have an awesome team of seasoned professional coaches ready to help you enjoy your time on the Japanese snow.

What are the odds of a White Christmas this year...?

Kagura full opening on Dec 10 2016

Kagura/Mitsumata missed their planned opening date this year but have been open since the end of November. After the last snowfall yesterday, and more white stuff on the way (if the forecast is to be believed), it looks like the rest of the resort will open this weekend. We've been up there for lessons already this season and will be happy to have more slopes open.

With some colder temperatures and a bit more snow hopefully a few more resorts in the Yuzawa region will open up shortly.

We have both ski and snowboard coaches on standby if you are looking for lessons in the Yuzawa area.