It is already July and the cicadas are buzzing outside our window here in Yuzawa. Winter is less than 6 months away and we are sure lots of you are already busy planning your winter trip to Japan. There is a huge choice of destinations so here are a few reasons we think the Yuzawa/Minami Uonuma region deserves consideration, especially if it is your first snow trip to Japan.
Yuzawa is about 80 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station. Omiya Station is also a stop on the Joetsu Shinkasen Line. When you arrive here, Echigo-Yuzawa Station is right in the center of Yuzawa town, and GALA Yuzawa Station is right at the bottom of GALA Resort. If you go to other areas you may find yourself spending much more time travelling, which means less time for enjoying yourself. It is so easy to get here that you can come on a day trip from Tokyo if you are short on time. Echigo-Yuzawa Station and GALA Yuzawa Station are also two of the stations that can be accessed with the great value JR Tokyo Wide Pass so you can get up here on the cheap too. If you are coming straight from the airport there are taxis that will bring you all the way to Yuzawa.
Wide Range of Accommodation
No matter what your budget or requirements there should be something in the area to fit the bill. Yuzawa is a resort town and full of great places to stay. Many of them were established when the tunnel under the mountain improved the access from the Tokyo/Kanto area to the snowy side of the Tanigawa mountain range. Classic Japanese style ryokan, or a more modern twist on the traditional theme at a boutique ryokan, large Western style hotels, self-catering apartments, small, homely family-run ski lodges, AirBnb-style rentals, or even just a super-cheap spot in a dorm room at the resort. There is something for everyone.
Soaking in a hot spring bath after a busy day is pure bliss. The town of Yuzawa was gradually built up around a hot spring source that was discovered by accident in a mountain valley over 900 years ago. Today the great onsen of the town and area are still a big draw. Sitting in natural hot spring water as huge snowflakes fall around you is magical.
The rotenburo in the female baths at Takahan – http://www.takahan.co.jp/english.html
Japanese cuisine is always listed as one of the most anticipated factors in a trip to Japan, and even as a reason for a visit to the country. This area, with its unique climate and seasons has a rich culinary heritage. The rice produced around here is some of the best in the country, and the sake made from that rice and the pure spring water is also highly regarded. Yuzawa town boasts a wide range of restaurants catering to all tastes and styles. You could stay a couple of weeks and eat at a different place every night, and being Japan, everything is delicious.
Mushroom tempura selection on rice at Kikushin restaurant in Yuzawa
Choice of Ski Resorts
Yuzawa gets blanketed in snow every winter. There are plenty of ski resorts in and around the town and many more within an hours’ drive. Again there is something for everyone, from beginner-friendly gentle slopes, snow play areas for non-skiers, challenging runs for the advanced, or backcountry powder playgrounds. There is plenty to keep people of all levels interested for a longer stay.
Snow Country Culture
This area has been shaped by the heavy snows in winter. Food preservation, unique festivals and traditions, ways of coping with harsh conditions – it is a fascinating area, and the more you get to know about the history and culture of the region, the more interesting a stay here is. There are some amazing temples and shrines about, some interesting museums and galleries, and you can also try your hand at making some of the traditional foods at local workshops. Snowshoe tours show you a side of winter Japan that you may not otherwise have a chance to experience.
International Ski & Snowboard School
If you are coming to the Japanese snow to ski or snowboard then great instruction from experienced coaches is key. Our team of instructors from around the world have spent years honing their skills and doing what they love. They pass on this passion for snowsports and for Japan in their lessons. Our team have been selected for their many years of experience in the industry, their ability to build a rapport with their customers, and their high level qualifications. Whether you are looking for beginner ski lessons, family snowboard lessons, powder lessons, park lessons, lessons for young kids, or just a resort guide for the day, we have someone that will make sure you get the most from your time on the snow. Snow Country Instructors also pride themselves on being great value and we try to keep our prices in line with the Japanese ski and snowboard schools so that you do not have to pay over the odds for great lessons from a multi-lingual team.
We teach in all resorts in the area and are happy to provide information on any aspect of your trip. We are based in Yuzawa year round so are perfectly placed to find out any information that you require or give you an honest opinion. We are like your ski concierge in Japan. Do drop us a line if you need anything. We hope to meet you in Yuzawa this Winter 16/17.