We are enjoying warmer temperatures in Yuzawa at the moment, though Kagura is still going strong for another week or so.
Bookings are starting to come in for Winter Season 2019/2020 as some people get an early start on their snow holiday planning.
Not everyone has the luxury of avoiding peak periods over winter but if your dates are flexible you can find cheaper stays and fewer people on the slopes if you avoid the holidays. One of the great things about Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma is that they are easily reached from Tokyo. The downside to this, is that lots of people make that journey to enjoy the snow, and things can get busier and pricier on weekends and holidays (though still at levels that are not worth worrying about.)
Busy Periods for Ski School
Here at Snow Country Instructors, as an international ski school based in Yuzawa, we tend to by busy through Christmas and New Year, on weekends, school holidays, lunar New Year, and other dates when overseas visitors are travelling. It is always a good idea to contact us in advance rather than leaving it until you arrive in Yuzawa.
Busy Periods for Accommodations
Accommodations over here are many and varied though it can be hard to find accommodation during busy periods, especially when the Japanese are travelling. Some of the more popular dates this coming Winter 2019/2020 are likely to be around New Year until 5th January 2020, and the long weekend of 11th – 13th January. February 8th – 11th is also likely to be busy as the Tuesday is a public holiday so people may take the Monday off and make a 4 day weekend. February 22nd – 24th is also a long weekend.
If your dates are fixed and happen to fall in what is likely to be a busier period, don’t panic. Try booking as early as possible (though this often isn’t always easy as some hotels and ryokan in Japan don’t release their winter availability until later in the year.)
Or consider other forms of accommodation – there are lots of choices in this area with apartments and properties on home-sharing/minpaku sites like Airbnb becoming more popular. We have a list of accommodations that we can introduce if all the usual favourites are full.
You could also consider an area slightly off the beaten track. The centre of Yuzawa fills up fast on busy dates, also areas around popular resorts like GALA Yuzawa, Naeba and Kagura can get fully booked. There are lots of other resorts to explore and you might find a hidden gem. A short transfer from Yuzawa and you could be in a completely different area with great hospitality and its own fun resort that isn’t on most people’s radars. Explore!
Or take advantage of Japan’s great transport network and stay nearby. With the convenience of the bullet train you can stay in Tokyo, or even close to one of the stations on the way up to Yuzawa or Urasa from Tokyo, and get the shinkansen here every day. Local rental shops provide free shuttle services to get you to the resorts with the minimum of hassle. With the great value Tokyo Wide Pass which is valid to Echigo-Yuzawa Station it can be a good value option.
On a final note, if you are here during a busy period and planning on eating out at night it might be wise to book your restaurants. Things seem to be getting busier as more people discover Yuzawa, and queuing for a meal in the falling snow, though a fun winter experience, soon loses its attraction!
Coming to ski and snowboard in Yuzawa or anywhere in Snow Country is still a pleasure though, no matter what the date. See you soon!