Lots of people have heard of Echigo-Yuzawa, or Gala Yuzawa, and we’re constantly reminding people about the easy access from Tokyo for a Yuzawa day trip, as well as the many winter attractions (including the awesome ski and snowboard instructors!) It is often overlooked that Yuzawa is just the tip of the iceberg for the whole of Niigata Prefecture.
As you come through the long tunnel from Minakami to Yuzawa you cross the border from Gunma Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture. Niigata is often thought to be a miniature Japan – beautiful coastline, tall mountains, onsen, great rice and sake, unique gastronomy, and amazing culture and history all around. Lots of people come to Yuzawa but venture no further which is a shame as there is so much to see and do. Even a small side trip from Yuzawa will yield some great discoveries in any of the four seasons. If your budget and schedule allow explore further into the prefecture and you will find wonderful parts of Japan that are well off the usual tourist itinerary.
Definitely visit Yuzawa (and come for a ski or snowboard with us in one of the many fun resorts) but them hopefully use this as your gateway to the rest of Niigata.