Many people seem to be starting to plan their winter ski vacation to Japan. Yuzawa is an excellent choice with great access from Tokyo suitable for day trip ski/snowboard breaks or much longer stays, and also has many resorts to explore. If you haven’t been to this area before you probably have some questions. Here are some that we have received several times recently.
There is a wealth of information on our blog so feel free to browse there too.
What is the best way to reach Yuzawa?
Quickest is bullet train from either Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Echigo-Yuzawa Station (in the middle of town) or GALA Yuzawa Station (at GALA Yuzawa ski area which is about 5 minutes drive from Echigo-Yuzawa Station.) You could also come by local line train to Echigo-Yuzawa Station, highway bus, or drive/use long distance taxi.
What’s the difference between Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma?
Technically we are two separate districts but are right next to each other. If you look at a map the resorts from GALA to Naeba and all in between are Yuzawa. From Ishiuchi up the valley is all Minami Uonuma. For further details and maps you can get a good idea by checking the Snow Japan pages on Minami Uonuma area and Yuzawa area.
Where should I stay in Yuzawa?
There is a large range of accommodation in and around Yuzawa. Classic or modern ryokans, hotels, family run lodges and minshukus, or Airbnb style rental apartments and houses. Some resorts have ski-in ski-out accommodation, or you can stay away from the resorts and use the shuttle services provided by the ski areas or rental shops. If you are having trouble finding accommodation we might be able to introduce to some other options.
Which resort should I ski at/snowboard at?
This can often depend on where you are staying or what level you are at, though most resorts have something for everyone. There are good choices at all levels. Some of the lesson well-known resorts can be great options, especially during busy periods. If you are taking lessons we are more than happy to recommend a few ski resorts. We love doing beginner lessons at Iwappara, Yuzawa Nakazato, Maiko, and Yuzawa Park. Bigger areas to explore are the ones with several resorts linked together such as Kagura/Tashiro/Naeba and GALA Yuzawa/Yuzawa Kogen/Ishiuchi. If you have questions on specific resorts, please let us know. We also offer resort guiding if you want someone to show around some of the bigger areas.
Where should I get my rental equipment in Yuzawa?
There are several options for rental including all resorts, some accommodations, and independent rental shops. Where you rent depends on your own situation but we often recommend the independent rental shops as they provide a return shuttle service to most local resorts and are great value. Daishin Sports, Chenda Rental and Yuzawa Ski House/Boo Sports are all in the centre of Yuzawa and easy to deal with. If you have bigger sized feet most rental shops will carry boots up to 30cm or 31cm. Bigger than that and you might want to enquire in advance.
Is there a multi-resort pass for Yuzawa?
Not at the moment. Usually people buy their lift tickets each day. Accommodations sometimes have discount tickets for different resorts, or you can find some discount coupons around town if you look. The other option is to check the internet for pre-season discount sales though these are often only in Japanese. Some convenience stores also have lift ticket discount packages.
That covers the main questions we have been answering recently. We are happy to help with local knowledge about Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma if you do have any questions on anything. If it is your first time skiing in Japan, Yuzawa is a great place to start. Things might seem daunting when you are planning but you should find everything is very easy when you are here.
If you need to book ski lessons or snowboard lesson in Yuzawa or Minami Uonuma resorts you can find our rates here. We have an awesome team of instructors who have been selected for their experience and love of teaching.
We will hopefully see you in Yuzawa when the snow comes!