TOP RECOMMENDATIONS Mt. Naeba
A large snow resort for all ages
Mt. Naeba consists of two resorts — Naeba Ski Resort and Kagura Ski Resort. These two resorts are connected by the Dragondola, Japan’s longest gondola at 5.5 kilometers long. The highest point of the Mt Naeba Ski resort is 1,789-meter Mt. Takenoko and there are 13 lifts and 21 courses — the longest ski run is 4,000-meters long.
Kagura Ski Resort has 21 lifts and 13 courses and the longest run stretches to 6,000 meters. The two ski resorts combined make up one of Japan’s leading resorts for snow travel. At the base of Naeba Ski Resort is the Naeba Prince Hotel. The slopes spread out in front of the hotel offering snow travelers the highly sought after ski-in ski-out environment. The resort was incredibly popular during the 1980s — Japan’s ski boom period — and is still a very popular snow destination. Kagura Ski Resort is made up of three areas: Kagura, Tashiro and Mitsumata. The resort is set in a beautiful area and has a more laidback atmosphere compared to Naeba Ski Resort.
How to get there
From Tokyo Station, take the Joestu Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa Station. For guests staying at the Naeba Prince Hotel, take the shuttle bus to arrive at the hotel in around 40 minutes. There are express buses from the station to Kagura and Naeba taking around 45 minutes and local buses to the same destinations that take around 50 minutes.
Take the Kanestu Expressway to the Tsukiyono Interchange and then travel 33 km along National Road 17, arriving in the area in around 50 minutes.
There are highway buses to Naeba Prince Hotel from various locations in the Kanto region including Odawara, Yokohama, Shinagawa and Ikebukuro.
Naeba Prince Hotel — the height of convenience
The Naeba Prince Hotel stands prominently at Naeba Ski Resort and was constructed on the side of the mountain slope to maximize its guests’ snow experience. There are about 1,200 guest rooms, varying from traditional twin rooms and family rooms to highly individualistic creations. The Danran Room Hammock in Building no. 2 comes fitted with a mountain hut style hammock, while the Yu Room Wall in Building no. 6 has a blackboard wall — a fun addition if you are traveling with children. For fantastic views of the ski run, book into the Yu Room Panorama in Building no. 6 with its distinctive large windows. The resort has a wide variety of restaurants offering Japanese cuisine, Chinese cuisine, sushi, teppanyaki, and steak, among others. The French restaurant, Main Dining Room Beaux Sejours, tops the list of eateries for its use of local produce. Facilities in the other buildings include ski and snowboard rentals, sports goods shops, convenience stores, souvenir shops, and hot springs. The hotel offers all its guests the ultimate in convenience.
Plenty of snow fun for families
If you are traveling with children, consider booking them a skiing or snowboarding lesson at Naeba Pandaruman Kids Ski School — a specialist school for kids. The lessons stand out from others by using original equipment and an indoor ski slope in the hotel, and the focus is on fun. Waku-Waku Family Snow Land is a snow-play facility where parents and kids can play in the snow on snow tubes and sleds (among other equipment). Kappa Snowmobile Land is aimed at slightly older guests where you can ride snowmobiles and try out snow rafting. A feature of the Naeba winter is the Ski Slope Fireworks— a popular nighttime attraction. The event is held more than 20 times during the season, and guests can enjoy watching fireworks, which add some vibrant color to the night sky.
Come prepared for backcountry adventure
The area around Kaguragamine, on the border of Nagano and Akita, is a popular backcountry spot. The area’s altitude reaches 2,030 meters, and is outside the Kagura resort boundary. Find the gateway to the backcountry powder by taking Kagura Pair Lift No. 5. Upon arrival, staff will check you are suitably prepared for running the backcountry course. You have to submit a climbing plan and be equipped with food, beacons, and other backcountry equipment. For all the latest avalanche and snow condition reports, head to Kagura Powder Station, located in the Mitsumata Station at the base of the Mitsumata area. At the facility, you can rent fat skis for on powder snow, beacons, skins, snowshoes and more. They also provide backcountry tours and classes.
Be on the first track to virgin snow
Right below the Kagura Gondola Summit Station is Wada Goya — a mountain hut run by the ski resort and located right in the middle of the ski resort at an altitude of 1,380 meters. Staying at the lodge gives you immediate access to the first tracks before other skiers and snowboarders have reached the area. For the chance to wake up and be straight out amongst the virgin powder, consider a stay at Wada Goya. Be aware that there are no private rooms — personal spaces are separated by curtains.