High-Quality Snow and Plenty to Do! Recommended Ski Resorts in the Snow Paradise That Is Niigata Prefecture


Niigata is known for having some of the heaviest snowfalls in all of Japan. It’s home to many ski resorts where you can enjoy large quantities of fine, unspoiled powder snow. In this article, we’ll introduce popular Niigata resorts for advanced skiers, beginners, and families. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, we’ll highlight resorts where you can enjoy a variety of other activities such as sledding, snow biking, winter camping, and even nearby hot springs!

A Winter Sport Mecca! What You’ll Find Around Myoko, Yuzawa, and Uonuma

Located in southwestern Niigata Prefecture, the Myoko area is home to nine ski resorts of various sizes as well as numerous hot springs, including Akakura Onsen, which has been in business for more than 200 years and is perfect for relaxing in after a day out on the snow. Then there is the Yuzawa-Uonuma area located in south-central Niigata with many ski resorts that are easily accessible from Tokyo. The area also has many hot spring resorts, including the popular Echigo-Yuzawa Onsen, the most accessible onsen facility from Tokyo in the prefecture, which attracts many tourists throughout the winter season.

In this article, we’ll introduce recommended ski resorts and their respective attractions from two of Niigata's winter sport meccas!

Enjoy Both Skiing and Hot Springs at the Akakan Ski Area!

The Akakura Kanko Resort (often just called Akakan) is a ski area that spreads out at the base of Mt. Myoko. After reaching the 1,500-meter-high summit via gondola lift and chairlift, you can race down the mountainside on a 4.5-kilometer ski run, enjoying the majestic mountain views as you whizz on by!

The biggest highlight of this ski resort is its location next to the Akakura Kanko Hotel, first established more than 80 years ago. If you stay the night, you’ll be able to rest and relax in its natural hot springs, which flow directly from the source. At an altitude of 1,000 meters, the hotel’s open-air bathtubs offer unparalleled views and moments of utter bliss!

This is a place all snow lovers should visit at least once.

Fun Outdoor Activities Await You Among the Snowy Mountains of the Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort’s Snow Garden!

Midwinter outdoor activities are often thought of as wild, difficult, and a little dangerous. However, at the Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort’s Snow Garden located in Minamiuonuma, anyone can enjoy beautiful snowy mountain scenery with ease!

The garden’s transparent dome tents allow you to feel one with nature while enjoying modern comforts, creating a brand-new way to experience the great outdoors.

The garden cafe, which doubles as reception, is another inviting space where you can relax next to the flickering flames of a warm fireplace. We recommend ordering the Snowy Mountain Pancakes, which come with powdered sugar to represent piles of snow.

You can also enjoy fun activities in the area, such as sledding and snow biking to get your fill of Niigata’s wonderful winter wonderland.

A 166-Seat Ropeway Takes You 1,000 Meters Up to the Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort!

One of the world's largest ropeways that fits 166 people will take you to the Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort, located 1,000 meters up a snowy mountain, where you’ll be greeted by magnificent views and high-quality powder snow.

There is a wide variety of courses to satisfy everyone from beginners to advanced skiers, and there are even family courses available. For those making their snowy mountain debut, we recommend the Yuzawa Onsen Snow Play Park where children and adults alike can enjoy snow tubing, sledding, and other winter sports thanks to one of Japan's largest covered snow escalators at 100 meters long.

The Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort is located in the Echigo-Yuzawa hot spring resort area and is only a 10-minute walk from Echigo-Yuzawa Station.

Put on Your Boots and Camp on the Snow at the Matsunoyama Onsen Ski Resort!

The ski resort offers a full range of snow activities for the whole family, from skiing to snowboarding, airboarding, and snow biking, for which all you need is a pair of boots. Another highlight of the resort is its camping area where you can snow camp and gaze at beautiful mountain views on clear days. A set-up-and-take-down package that includes a tarp, table, chairs, and stove is available for rent, making it easy for beginners to enjoy winter camping while staying warm and cozy.

Matsunoyama Onsen hot springs, located in one of the heaviest snowfall areas in Niigata Prefecture, is only a 5-minute drive from the ski resort. After a lot of fun in the snow, why not spend a relaxing time in Matsunoyama Onsen with its beautiful snowscapes?

Naeba Ski Resort’s Big Slopes Are Conveniently Directly Connected to the Hotel!

This popular ski resort boasts 24 diverse courses, two snow parks, and three gondola lifts amidst 134 hectares of snow-filled slopes. The Wakuwaku Family Snow Land offers snow trains and other fun activities such as snowmobile experiences for parents and children, making it great for a family getaway. The view from the Dragondola, the longest gondola in Japan measuring 5.5 kilometers and connecting the Naeba and Kagura ski resorts, is also a must-see! The spectacular snow-white view offered by the ride is like something from another world.

Located about 30 minutes by car from Echigo-Yuzawa Station, the Naeba slopes are directly connected to the Naeba Prince Hotel, giving visitors a luxurious place to rest after a day of snow activities.

Ski Resorts and Access by Area

In addition to the aforementioned ski resorts, there are many other winter sport areas in Niigata Prefecture that are worth a visit! Here’s where you can find them, sorted by area:
Myoko Area Ski Resorts:
• Alpen Blick Ikenotaira Onsen Ski Resort
Website: https://www.alpenblick-resort.com/en/snowresort23-24
• Myoko Suginohara Ski Resort
Website: https://www.princehotels.com//en/ski/myoko_kogen/index.html
• Lotte Arai Resort
Website: https://www.lottehotel.com/arai-resort/en/ski-webzine.html
• Akakura Onsen Ski Area
Website: https://akakura-ski.com/english/

Myoko Area Access:
• From Tokyo: 110-minute Hokuriku Shinkansen ride from Tokyo Station to Joetsumyoko Station.
• From Niigata Airport: 2 hours and 30 minutes by car to each ski resort.
*Shuttle buses are available with advance reservations. Please check the official website for more details. (https://www.myokoshuttle.com/niigata-service/)

Yuzawa Area Ski Resorts:
• Yuzawa Nakazato Snow Resort
Website: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/niigata/yuzawa/yuzawa-nakazato-snow-resort
• Kagura Ski Resort
Website: https://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/kagura/index.html
• GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort
Website: https://enjoyniigata.com/en/spot/44410
• Kandatsu Snow Resort
Website: https://www.kandatsu.com/en/

Yuzawa Area Access:
• From Tokyo: 70-minute Joetsu Shinkansen ride from Tokyo Station to Echigo-Yuzawa Station.
• From Niigata Airport: 25-minute limousine bus ride to Niigata Station. From there, it’s a 50-minute Joetsu Shinkansen train ride to Echigo-Yuzawa Station.