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ITINERARIES A Winter Weekend in Niigata Escape to Niigata for a winter getaway complete with hot springs dips and local food

A short shinkansen ride away from Tokyo, Niigata's snow-capped mountains are some of the best in Honshu.

Enjoy Niigata's snow like a local. Hit the slopes for hours of skiing or snowboarding. Relax sore muscles in local hot spring baths, and travel back in time to the Edo Period.

Highlights

    Taking a dip in a traditional Japanese hot spring
    Skiing Japanese powder on Mt. Hakkai
    Learning about traditional Shiozawa fabrics

How To Get There

From Tokyo: + 1 hour 45 minutes

Take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Echigo Yuzawa. Trains run hourly. Transfer to the local JR Joetsu Line to Muikamachi Station, two stops from Echigo Yuzawa. Getting around the area is easiest by rental car or by taxi.

Day 1
Muikamachi A haven of winter activities

Muikamachi is a hub for winter activities in Niigata. Here, you have a variety of choices to enjoy the winter weather.

Stop by Muikamachi Hakkaisan Ski Resort for hours of fun. With great views of Minami-Uonuma City, this family-friendly spot is perfect for beginner and advanced skiers and boarders.

If you want to relax, take some time to explore Muikamachi Onsen. These natural hot springs will soothe even the most fatigued travelers. Look for outdoor baths, or rotenburo, to take in the beautiful snowscape while you relax.

For local bites and friendly company, check out the Minami-Uonuma City Igloo Festival. From January to March each year, you can enter igloos to drink amazake and try local koshihikari rice treats.

20 minutes

From Muikamachi Station, Hakkaisan Ski Resort is a 20-minute drive or taxi ride. There are also infrequent buses from Muikamachi Station.

Hakkaisan Ski Resort Skiing, snowboarding, and award-winning sake

The trip to the area wouldn't be complete without a visit to its biggest landmark, Mt. Hakkai. Mt. Hakkai is known for its award-winning sake, Hakkaisan, as well as its powder.

On the mountain, Hakkaisan Ski Resort is a great spot for powder hounds. The 16-course resort has options for all levels, but its strength lies in its off-piste and side-country terrain. English-language lessons are available.

If you aren't much of a skier, you can still enjoy Mt. Hakkai's views. Take the Hakkaisan Ropeway to the top to access an observatory with 360-degree panoramic views.

45 minutes or 45 minutes

Oritate Onsen Hot springs and a 400-year-old festival

At Oritate Onsen, you can visit natural hot springs after an evening of festivities. Hyakku Hattou, or the Festival of 108 Lanterns, is hundreds of years old. Held on the first Sunday of March, you can celebrate with the locals and usher in good harvests and health.

If you're in the area during festival time, consider visiting Oritate Onsen.

Day 2

30 minutes or 35 minutes

If you stayed overnight near Hakkaisan Ski Resort, drive or take a taxi to Shiozawa. By public transportation, take the Minami Echigo Bus to Muikamachi Station. Shiozawa Station is a 3-minute ride away on the JR Joetsu Line.

Shiozawa Explore the craftsmanship of days past

This area of Niigata is known for its fabrics. In the town of Shiozawa, you can discover the 1,200-year-old craft of making plain-woven hemp textiles. Woven cloth laid out on the snow is a common sight in winter in the Shiozawa area.

At the Shiozawa Tsumugi Pavilion in town, learn about local fabric-making. Here, you can discover the history and culture of Shiozawa fabrics, and pick up or make your own.

For more traditional Japan, visit Bokushi Street. This street looks like it's from the Edo period and has countless shops to explore.

More to Explore
Echigo-Yuzawa Explore nearby slopes

For more Niigata snow, head to Echigo-Yuzawa . This area is connected to Tokyo by the Joetsu Shinkansen, making it one of the most popular ski spots in the Kanto region. The town has plenty of ski resorts , so you can find one to suit your level. Foreign language assistance and lessons are offered at many of the resorts here.

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