town in Minamiuonuma district, Niigata prefecture, Japan
Asia > East Asia > Japan > Chubu > Niigata (prefecture) > Yuzawa (Niigata)

Yuzawa (湯沢) is a town in Niigata prefecture and the most convenient ski resort in Japan. Often called Echigo-Yuzawa (越後湯沢, capped with old province name) to avoid confusion.

Naspa Ski Area
Not to be confused with Yuzawa City, Akita, famous for hot springs.

Understand

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The canonical backwoods hot spring and skiing resort, Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata's classic novel Snow Country (雪国 Yukiguni, see box) takes place in Yuzawa. Or so the Yuzawans claim; to be quite strict, the novel never mentions the name of its setting, but Kawabata wrote the novel while staying in Yuzawa so perhaps it's not too big a leap to make.

Tourist information site

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The local tourist association has a multilingual guide site.

Snow Country

国境の長いトンネルを抜けると雪国であった。Kokkyō no nagai tonneru wo nukeru to yukiguni de atta. The sentence loses more than a little in the translation, but "the train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country" is among the best-known opening lines in Japan. Written in Yuzawa, which has one of the highest snowfall rates in the world — up to 5 meters per year — and was all but cut off from the rest of the country in winter, the novel tells the sad story of a hopeless love between a rich Tokyo playboy and a poor hot-spring geisha, a species quite apart from those in Kyoto and essentially a euphemism for prostitute.

Get in

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By Plane

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Niigata Airport - the closest airport to Yuzawa - is served by domestic flights and a small number of flights from China, South Korea and Taiwan. Shuttle buses run from the airport to JR Niigata station every 20–30 minutes (25 minutes, ¥410). From there, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzawa (50 minutes, ¥5380).

By train

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Yuzawa is easily reached via the Echigo-Yuzawa (越後湯沢) station of the Joetsu Shinkansen line. Trains run 2-4 times per hour from Tokyo station, taking 75–90 minutes at a cost of ¥6670. The fare is covered by the national Japan Rail Pass, as well as several regional rail passes offered by JR East. Among the better deals for tourists traveling from Tokyo to Yuzawa is the ¥10000 JR Tokyo Wide Pass.

Toki trains generally make fewer stops and continue on to Niigata, while Tanigawa trains terminate at Echigo-Yuzawa after stopping at all stations on the route. In the wintertime, most Tanigawa trains continue on to the Gala Yuzawa ski resort (see Do).

Get around

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Iwappara Ski area

Ski and Snowboard

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  • Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort (ガーラ湯沢) (GALA Yuzawa has its own bullet train station), +81 25-785-6543. Gala Yuwaza is a ski resort with 15 runs and nine lifts.Gala Yuwaza has a respectable dining area and a spa (Onsen & unisex swimming pool, so take your bathing suit) for soaking after skiing. One-day lift ticket, ¥4300 adults/¥2100 children; one-day rental of skis, poles and boots, ¥4800 adults/¥1500 children.
    • JR East actively promotes Gala Yuzawa: The Gala One-Day Ticket includes a round-trip on the bullet train between Tokyo and Gala Yuzawa, round-trip lift ticket and a 20% discount off of ski equipment rentals. This ticket permits departure from/return to any JR station within the 23 wards of Tokyo, connecting to the bullet train enroute. Adults ¥11900/Child ¥6500 for ordinary class travel on weekdays; the price is higher on weekends and during the New Year's Holiday, and lower during the off-peak. Foreigners who purchase this ticket will receive gifts at the Gala Yuzawa resort as part of a tourism promotion campaign. Holders of the JR East Rail Pass can purchase a special Snow Play Set Ticket for ¥1000, which includes a round-trip lift ticket, and rental of a cap, gloves, boots and a sled for one day. The trip on the bullet train is, of course, fully covered by the rail pass.
  • Ipponsugi (一本杉スキー場), 2511-1 Yuzawa Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun Niigata-ken.
  • Iwa-ppara Ski Resort (岩原スキー場), 731-79 Tsuchitaru Yuzawa-machi Minamiuonuma-gun Niigata (Shuttle services are available for transportation from Echigo-Yuzawa Station.). One-day lift ticket:¥4000 Adults (over 12)/¥3000 Senior (over 55)/¥2500 Junior/¥1000 Child.
  • Kagura Ski Resort (かぐらスキー場).
  • Kandatsu Kogen Ski Resorts (神立高原スキー場), 4121-1 Kandatsu Yuzawa-machi Minamiuonuma-gun (Free shuttle services are available from Echigo-Yuzawa Station), . One-day lift ticket:¥4200 Adults (over 12)/¥3500 Senior (over 55)/¥3200 Junior.
  • Naeba Ski Resort (苗場スキー場), Mikuni Yuzawa-machi Minamiuonuma-gun Niigata (50 minutes by bus from Echigo Yuzawa Station), +81 25-789-2211.
  • NASPA Ski Garden (ナスパスキーガーデン), Yuzawa 2117-9 Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun Niigata-ken (Regular shuttle buses run from Echigo Yuzawa Station). The resorts courses range from very easy gentle slopes - suitable for small children and beginners - to the very steep and difficult, complete with three steep mogul courses. One-day lift ticket and lunch, ¥4300 Adults (over 12)/¥3300 children/¥14400 Family (2 Adults and 2 Children).
  • Yuzawa Nakazato Ski Resort (湯沢中里スキー場), Tsuchitaru Yuzawa-machi Minamiuonuma-gun Niigata.
  • Yuzawa Kogen (湯沢高原スキー場).
  • Yuzawa Park Ski Resort (湯沢パークスキー場).
  • Ishiuchi is a ski resort area adjacent to Echigo-Yuzawa, easily accessible by Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Tokyo.

Events

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  • Fuji Rock Festival: Last weekend of July. Since 1999, Japan's largest outdoor music festival is held during the summertime at Naeba. The genre of music on show is diverse, ranging from classic rock to hip-hop, R?&D and electronic.

Golf

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  • Sake Museum Ponshu-kan (ぽんしゅ館) (Inside Echigo-Yuzawa station). Ponshu-kan, enjoy different varieties of sake tasting. In the storeroom more than 100 varieties of sake are on display at a temperature of 15 degrees. You can also take a dip in a sake-flavored bath next-door. Has branches at Niigata and Nagaoka stations.
  • There is a great food court at the base station of the central ski resort. Lunch at Yuzawa Gogen is one of the good choice. Taking the Ropeway at Yen 1200.

Drink

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Sleep

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Japan's only fully foreign owned and operated Austrian-style ski lodge, STI Ski Lodge in Isiuchi

Cope

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Information

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Go next

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Routes through Yuzawa
NiigataUrasa  N   S  Jomo-KogenTokyo
NagaokaMuikamachi  N   S  MinakamiMaebashi



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