20 Apr Planning your Japan Ski Trip 2018 / 2019
We’re always slightly amazed that bookings for next winter start coming in before this winter is finished. For those of you already planning your trip to the Japanese snow and thinking of coming to Yuzawa here are a few of our local travel tips.
Yuzawa has really easy access from Tokyo. The bullet train comes to Echigo-Yuzawa Station and GALA Yuzawa Station. If you are here for a short stay or a day trip you can use the great value Tokyo Wide Pass. If you are on a budget you can also get here via Highway Bus or local line trains, which are both cheaper but slower than the shinkansen.
If your dates are flexible, weekends and Japanese school or public holidays are worth avoiding. Come on the weekdays and you’ll find that the slopes are empty and the lift lines non-existent. Busy periods can be really busy for accommodations, restaurants, and ski schools. For Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year advanced bookings are highly recommended.
Yuzawa is yet to get a multi-resort ski pass. If you are looking for discounts on ski passes check online ticket sites, your accommodation, or local rental shops. There are discounts and vouchers around. Pre-season ticket sales in autumn can also be great value if you have your plans set. Multi-day tickets are available at some resorts but usually only 2 or 3 days at a time.
Don’t worry about the weather
It is what it is on any particular day and it is up to us to make the most of it. Most conditions are fine for skiing, boarding, and learning. The only weather that can cause problems is strong winds which means some of the lifts can’t operate.
Most rental equipment is fine
The amount of equipment available can be baffling but most rental shops will give you exactly what you need. Go for comfortable boots. More important than the gear, is the person on top of it! Local rental shops in Yuzawa tend to be cheaper than in the resorts (though their equipment might be slightly older) but most of them include a free shuttle to and from the resort each day.
Yuzawa is apparently the busiest ski town in Asia by the numbers and has a huge amount of beds for all budgets and tastes. During the really busy periods though it can seem as if there is not a single available hotel in town. Doing day trips from Tokyo or close to one of the bullet train stops just before Echigo-Yuzawa are also options. Some places don’t open their bookings until a few months before the season so if you are trying to book early and can’t find availability this too could be the reason. The local tourist office do a lift ticket/accommodation package in autumn each year which tends to be good value. Wherever you end up staying you have amazing Japanese hospitality to look forward to during your trip.
Choice of resorts
The number of resorts in and around Yuzawa can be baffling. Most resorts have something for everybody so both beginners and advanced can find something suitable for a day. Some are better than others for certain things. Yuzawa isn’t that big so it is usually very easy to get around to try different resorts, and almost all resorts are worth a day of your time, so explore.
There are lots of things to think about when planning a winter trip to the snow, especially if it is your first time. Once you get here things are usually very easy. We are always happy to answer questions on anything, whether which resort is best for beginners, which slopes are most convenient for a certain hotel, or where can you eat shabu-shabu. We also have lots of useful information on our blog.
If you are taking a ski lesson or snowboard lesson with one of our experienced instructors they will also be able to give you their rundown on the best restaurants and resorts in the Yuzawa area.