So we are out of lockdown, mostly through rainy season, and (touch wood) people are starting to move around the country again. Lots of people will be staying in Japan over summer due to various travel restrictions (including many of our instructors) so it is a great chance to check out what Yuzawa and Snow Country have to offer over the warmer months. Our team, who have only ever seen it covered in snow, are amazed by the region covered in its summer greenery!
We’ve already been doing a variety of summer camps and activities for families who are on summer holiday and keen to stretch their legs after months in lockdown. We offer tailor-made programmes that take into account personal requirements, ages, abilities, and the ever changing weather. It is very similar to our winter ski and snowboard lessons – safety, fun, and learning. We are happy to take kids off on their own if parents are working from home. We also enjoy guiding a family trip if parents have the time to accompany. Or we can also provide information if you fancy heading out on your own to explore and get the best of the area.
What we’ve been up to.
Biking. There are bikes to rent and some great rides around. The bottom of the valley is flat with a great cycle way along the river. There are also lots of hidden shrines and temples to discover, and amazingly lush scenery all around.
A special day trip was taking the ropeway up to the top of Yuzawa Kogen and enjoy some of the activities up there before a delicious pizza lunch. Then a short hike up to the top of the mountain to where the bikes have been dropped and then a great 17km descent back to Ishiuchi (with a short stop to enjoy an ice cream and a foot onsen!)
Hiking. This area abounds in some really scenic hiking suitable for all level. If you have the energy it is possible to get to some panoramic peaks that will take your breath away (in more ways than one!) Or if you prefer things a little flatter there are some easier routes following rivers into the valleys, or around lakes. For some hikes it is possible to use a ropeway and then walk at the top of the mountain.
Sports. Tennis has been a popular way of burning off some energy so far and there are lots of courts all over the area. It is not uncommon to be the only players at an 18 court facility – much to the amazement of some Tokyo-based tennis players.
Soccer – both outdoor and indoor.
For rainy days there is a sports hall with badminton, basketball, trampolining, and a climbing wall.
Frisbee golf is always a popular activity. It is a fun game that anyone can play that involves throwing you frisbee at baskets set up on the slopes of Maiko Snow Resort.
Golf – there are full courses in the region but we have also had lots of fun on the driving range, or on the short pitch & putt par 3 course at Yuzawa Nakazato.
Team building – we have been doing other activities that are fun but also work on communication and cooperation skills.
There are also various summer activities at many of the larger hotels and ski resorts (e.g. quad bikes at Naspa, BBQ tents, the Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway with its luge, a Forest Adventure high ropes course at Yuzawa Nakazato, the Summer Park at Naeba, summer skiing and hiking at GALA, frisbee golf and BBQ at Maiko, etc)
Enjoying the water. There are several place to do stand up paddle boarding (SUP) or kayaking around Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma. Or just hanging out at the river is lots of fun – there are swimming holes in certain areas but even a shallow area with rocks and wildlife provides hours of fun. There is also the Aurora Leisure Pool in Yuzawa with indoor and outdoor pools and 2 waterslides.
Vegetable picking and BBQ – With the help of a local farmer we have been able to spend an afternoon learning about the agriculture in the area, picking the vegetables in season, and taking them home. The kids have then taken responsibility for planning and preparing the BBQ for the evening. Delicious results and a real sense of achievement (as well as a chance for parents to sit back and watch their off-spring work!)
Yuzawa is part of the Snow Country Tourism Zone and in under an hour by car you can be in a new area with a new set of attractions.
Minakami – We’ve taken trips under the mountain from Yuzawa to enjoy the outdoor activities in Minakami (rafting, canyoning, paragliding, bungy jumping, downhill mountain biking, canoeing) as well as touring the craft village down there and the fruit picking. All very enjoyable days out.
Tokamachi/Tsunan – Just over the hill and home to the Echigo Tsumari Art Field. This is a huge outdoor art exhibition with installations all over the area. We’ve done day hikes that take in some of the artworks, some of which are interactive, or checked out some of the events that are running over summer.
The Beach – The Sea of Japan coast is a 90 minute scenic drive from Yuzawa. One of our most popular trips so far has been out to the ocean where a whole day of fun awaits. Surf lessons, snorkelling, exploring the rugged coastline, beach games, scavenger hunts, amazing seafood, beach-combing, SUP, aquariums, etc. It is a perfect family day out!
This area has a great blend of activities to offer whether you are looking for fun, challenge, sports, learning new skills, or relaxation. We are more than happy to help with guiding or simply information. There are plenty of accommodation options in the area that cater to all levels, or it is even possible to make a day trip out here.
Let us know if we can help you out for summer.
Some feedback from our summer camps so far.
“First of all, we had a great time. The weather didn’t cooperate but the kids still squeezed in so much. So that’s a testament to the availability of options in the area and your hard work. Thank you! What I liked the most about it was the flexibility – the fact that we could just wake up and figure out what to do based on the weather and the mood.”
“The boys loved all the activities they had for the past weeks. Both your indoor & outdoor activities are well designed with fun and challenges. They are also well balanced with nature, culture and fitness. As a parent, these are the valuable goals I wish my kids can pursue and enjoy. My boys not only enjoyed all the activities but also wanted to come back and do them again.”
“The kids had a blast! Hiking in the woods, biking along the rice fields, tennis and golfing, standup paddle–boarding, and we were lucky to even get a round of surfing lesson from Mike in the Sea of Japan. My son told me that he likes the fresh smell in the woods, walking on the little hanging bridge and learning from Patrick how to skim stones on water, and he loved being able to ride on surfing board and got tossed away by waves!”