Winter Wonderland

Yuzawa is a small town located in the mountainous prefecture of Niigita, Japan and it is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year.  Our first trip to Yuzawa was at the beginning of spring however, snow was still falling and the “Japanese Alps” (as they are known) were covered with deep, powdery snow – perfect for a 5 days skiing trip.

Whilst the township of Yuzawa is quite small and nondescript, it is nestled at the base of some spectacular mountains and home to four ski resorts.  The mountains in Niigita are not as high as the European Alps or the Canadian Rockies but what they lack in height the make up for in snow.  Japan is known for its high annual snowfalls and the “powder hound” runs.

Getting to Yuzawa from Tokyo is easy.  The Max Tanigawa bullet train leaves Tokyo station every 30 minutes and, after a comfortable 90 minute ride, it stops right under the Gala resort (the largest ski resort in the area) – incredible service.  This is one of the reasons why the area is so popular with Tokyo’ites.  Leave Tokyo around 0700, have breakfast on the train, arrive at the ski hill as it opens (0830) and be skiing by 0900.  After a day of skiing you can be back in Tokyo for dinner and a baseball game!  Perfect.

Given that we planned to ski for three of our five days, we opted to book into a hotel in the township.  This allowed us to be on the ski hills when the opened.  Our choice of lodging was the New NASPA Otani hotel.  Otani is located right at the base of Mount NASPA and you can literally walk from your room to the ski locker and then step outside to the ski lift.  After a long day of skiing you can relax in the hot spring fed baths that are a part of the complex.  The Japanese know how to live!

The following blogs capture some of our experiences in Yuzawa.  To see some what we experienced on the ski hills you can take a look at this video we made.  Enjoy

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