Traversing the terrain of northwestern Japan
This area is famous around the globe for its winter sports pedigree. The 1998 Nagano Olympics put the ski resorts of the Japan Alps on the world stage, while the 2020 Alpine Ski World Cup in Niigata will highlight the prefecture's perfect snow conditions that result from facing the Sea of Japan.
How to get there
There are multiple ways you can travel to this powder-snow paradise. Kanazawa is just two and a half hours Tokyo by Hokuriku Shinkansen, and about the same distance from Nagoya and Osaka by limited express trains. From the culturally vibrant city, you can access nearby ski areas by bus or a short drive. Many Toyama resorts are nestled a 90-minute drive southwest from Toyama Station, also on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.
By Joetsu Shinkansen
The Joetsu Shinkansen links Tokyo with Niigata City on the Sea of Japan coast in just two hours. It takes only 80 minutes to reach Echigo-Yuzawa Station, a gateway to the many Yuzawa-area resorts.
By Hokuriku Shinkansen
The Hokuriku Shinkansen connects Tokyo with Kanazawa, with many stops near ski resorts along the way. Ski lifts are just steps from Karuizawa Station, a 70-minute ride away. It takes 80 minutes to reach Nagano Station, or 90 minutes to Iiyama Station, from where shuttle buses depart for many famous resorts.
Stress-free snow daytrips
Hokuriku Shinetsu has extremely accessible ski resorts for a low-stress snow getaway. Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort stands out as the only ski area in the world with its own high-speed rail station. Ride the Joetsu Shinkansen just 70 minutes from Tokyo Station and alight straight into the resort's base lodge. Change into your snow gear, get rental equipment and a lift pass, and hop on the gondola without stepping outdoors. Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort is nearly as convenient and caters especially to beginners and intermediates. It is just a short walk from Karuizawa Station, just over an hour from Tokyo on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.
Shred the famous Japow
Japan's ski resorts have become famous worldwide for their volume of powder snow, widely varied terrain and long ski season. Many of the country's most well-regarded ski areas are in the Kanto-Koshinestu region. These include Mt. Naeba in Niigata, a massive resort with a wide range of ski courses and non-ski activities as well. Dragondola, Japan's longest gondola, connects it to neighboring Kagura Ski Resort. Shiga Kogen is Japan's largest resort, containing 18 ski areas and lots of powder. The ski areas of Hakuba Valley are the jewel of the Japan Alps, with high alpine terrain, even higher-quality snow, and panoramic views. Also in Nagano, Nozawa Onsen has trails as long as 3,500 meters, fluffy powder, and scenery of the surrounding Joshinetsu Kogen National Park.