Located to the northwest of Tokyo, Niigata Prefecture is easily accessible by Shinkansen and boasts many gems yet to be discovered. Join WAttention as we uncover a different side of Japan and embark on an all-immersive journey through nature and culture!
As described by Nobel Prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata in his novel “Snow Country”, Echigo Yuzawa is home to more than 10 ski resorts, and a paradise for skiers of all levels. From absolute beginners to experts, everyone can find something suited to his or her needs. The area is also famous for hot springs that are especially soothing after being out and about in the snow doing all sorts of winter activities.
Powder snow paradise
Naeba Ski Resort 苗場スキー場
50 minutes by bus from Echigo Yuzawa Station, Naeba is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan and attracts numerous visitors from abroad as well. Everything from accommodations and hot springs to various dining options and fun family activities are all available directly in front of the slopes! While families and kids can enjoy various snow activities in the snow land play area, those who would like to learn skiing or snowboarding can take lessons provided by English speaking instructors.
Breeze through snow trails スノーモービル
If skiing or snowboarding is not your thing, why not try riding a snow mobile? The staff will give you a basic tutorial and guide you through the snow trails.
Fun fact: Did you know that the Niigata mascot “Lerch-san” was inspired by Mr. Theodor Edler von Lerch, who first introduced skiing to the region in 100 years ago?
Summer is also cool
Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort 湯沢高原
At a mere 8-minute walk from Echigo Yuzawa Station, Yuzawa Kogen is not only a winter wonderland but also offers various summer attractions and activities including hiking and zip-line adventures.
Superb aerial view of autumn leaves 秋のロープウェイ
Catch a ride on Dragondola, the longest (5,481m) gondola lift line in Japan, and glide through the air over the splendour of seasons. The gondola takes you from Naeba to Tashiro, from where you can hop on another ropeway for a different view.
More to discover
Kaisanto Saifukuji Temple 西福寺開山堂
Hiding behind an unassuming facade is the breathtakingly beautiful and exquisite ceiling carving created by Uncho Ishikawa. Drop by and take a look, you will surely be convinced as to why Uncho is known as the Michelangelo of Echigo.
Hakkaisan Yukimuro 八海山雪室
Yukimuro, literally a snow room, is a product of the local people’s wisdom of co-existing with nature by storing snow inside a cellar for various usages. Hakkaisan Yukimuro is a modern snow room that uses the cool air to store sake and food. It is a great place to learn and experience living in a snowy country.
(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Mar/Apr 2016 Vol. 31, in collaboration with Japan National Tourism Organisation)