Some people think that there is no apres-ski/party scene in Japanese ski resorts. Japanese skiers and boarders love a drink as much as their international counterparts after (or even before, or during!) a day on the slopes. Don’t expect dancing on the tables in your ski boots (those get removed at the door), but there is plenty going on if you know where to look. Of course, you might prefer to go for a night-ski lesson, or get an early night so you can be enjoying the powder first thing the next day.
IZAKAYAS – An izakaya is a small drinking restaurant, a bit like a tapas bar. Head to one of these for a dinner of lots of small, tasty dishes washed down with your choice of draft beer, local sake, shochu cocktails, or plum wine. Expect to be toasting with the next table of snow lovers before the end of the evening as your Japanese and their English improve the more you drink. There are lots of good izakayas in Yuzawa but some we like are Ajidouraku, Nagumo, Maruchin, & Kaze-no-tani.
BARS – Bars aren’t always guaranteed to be busy like in some overseas ski resorts but they can be worth a look, and are often the source of fun nights out. They might have events on, which are usually when they are at their busiest, though door charges are not uncommon for these. Don’t be surprised if friendly locals are keen to practice their English with you. Swing Bar in the main onsen street, and Bad Best down by the main Route 17 are worth checking out.
KARAOKE BARS – We’ve witnessed many folk who “don’t do” karaoke, blasting out the hits of their youth (often terribly) in the early hours of the morning during the Japanese winter. Always fun with friends, but you might want to make sure all video cameras are left in the hotel, so you can deny everything the next day!
CONVENIENCE STORES – Though not a true apres-ski option in itself, lots of domestic visitors to Yuzawa like to kick back and relax in their hotel rooms for a few drinks. The convenience stores and bottle shops have the very Japanese sight of hotel guests in dressing gown-type apparel and sandals buying bags of drinks and snacks. Some hotels have in-house karaoke bars if the drinks in your room get you in the mood. The convenience store is open 24 hours so a good place to drop in on the way home. They also sell anti-hangover pre-drinking potions, post-drinking potions, and morning after energy drinks to help you out if you have had one too many.
RAMEN SHOPS – Late night ramen is the Japanese equivalent of going for a kebab after a night of drinking. When in Rome …
There is great food, and there are lots of fun places to hang out all around Yuzawa, so go for an explore and you are sure to make new friends. And remember that no matter how bad you feel in the morning it is always worth getting up and heading out to one of the many resorts. You’ll be glad you did when you are at the slopes, even though you cosy, warm futon might be hard to drag yourself away from first thing!
If you’ve got any questions on nights out, or night skiing lessons, drop us a line.