TOP RECOMMENDATIONS Seki Onsen
The insider's choice for powder snow and hot springs
Seki Onsen Ski Resort might only consist of two small lifts and one restaurant, but insiders choose the ski resort because of its plentiful powder snow. The onsen at the foot of the mountain is also a draw as the natural hot spring water flows into the baths directly from the source. The reddish-brown mineral-rich water is a great way to rejuvenate yourself after a day of skiing.
How to get there
Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Station (90 minutes). Change to the JR Shinetsu Main Line and get off at Sekiyama Station (50 minutes). Seki Onsen is 15 minutes by bus or 10 minutes by taxi from Sekiyama Station.
Take the Kanetsu Expressway from Tokyo and enter the Joshinetsu Expressway from Fujioka ICT. Get off the highway at Myoko Kogen IC. From there, it’s about 15 km (20 minutes) via the National Road 18.
Mt. Myoko’s hallowed powder
Seki Onsen is located in an area known for heavy snowfall. The plentiful snowfall is due to dry winds from Siberia that pick up moisture from the Sea of Japan before blowing directly into the mountains of Myoko. Snow clouds tend to build up around the 2,454-meter high Mt. Myoko, resulting in huge snowfalls. Seki Onsen sits at the northernmost part of the Myoko area at an altitude of 1,000 meters, where the conditions are perfect for powder snow.
Hit the slopes or explore the backcountry
The Ginsen Course at the top of the resort is the place to head on powder days. With a maximum gradient of 45 degrees, this is a thrilling course even for experts. To find powder stashes beyond the trails, try the ungroomed Backcountry Powder Guide Course that runs through the trees (unpatrolled). To savor even more of Seki Onsen’s powder, consider joining an organized backcountry tour.
Take a dip in an all-natural hot spring
This historic hot spring dates back 1,000 years, with stories from 400 years ago of samurai warriors injured at war coming here to heal their wounds. Some legends even claim that Shinto and Buddhist deities frequented the onsen. There are 12 lodgings at the base of the ski resort where you can enjoy completely natural hot spring water flowing directly from the source. The hot spring is rich in iron, giving it a reddish-brown color. It warms up the body fast and has high heat-retention properties. The baths are not artificially heated, no circulation technology is used, and no chlorine is added.