World Nomads Travel Insurance
Akakura Onsen: a well known Niigata ski village
Akakura Onsen: a well known Niigata ski village
Yuzawa Niigata: snow country
Yuzawa Niigata: snow country
Gala Yuzawa is close to the town of Yuzawa
Gala Yuzawa is close to the town of Yuzawa
Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort Niigata is close to Yuzawa
Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort Niigata is close to Yuzawa
Niigata snow - it snows a lot
Niigata snow - it snows a lot
The Niigata snow is known to fall in huge volumes
The Niigata snow is known to fall in huge volumes
Akakura Kanko Ski Resort Niigata
Akakura Kanko Ski Resort Niigata
Myoko Akakura: a high profile Niigata ski resort
Myoko Akakura: a high profile Niigata ski resort
Gala Yuzawa has its own Shinkansen station
Gala Yuzawa has its own Shinkansen station
Lotte Arai Resort Niigata
Lotte Arai Resort Niigata
Niigata Ski Resort Arai
Niigata Ski Resort Arai
Charmant Hiuchi
Charmant Hiuchi
Seki Onsen
Seki Onsen
Naeba Ski Resort Niigata
Naeba Ski Resort Niigata
Seki Onsen village is very small
Seki Onsen village is very small
Snow Country Niigata
Snow Country Niigata
Niigata snowboarding: Gala Yuzawa
Niigata snowboarding: Gala Yuzawa

Niigata

Ski Niigata Prefecture

Skiing in Japan started in the Niigata Prefecture back in the early 1910s. Niigata skiing is still a mainstay of the region, with about 55 Niigata ski resorts still operating.

The Niigata Prefecture is located northwest of Tokyo on Honshu, the main island of Japan. Niigata stretches for about 240km along the coast of the Sea of Japan and features many big mountains. Close to the coast in the southern part of the prefecture there are many high profile Niigata ski resorts (e.g. the Myoko ski areas), with another concentration of ski areas further inland in the Chūetsu/centre (but still southern) part of the prefecture (e.g. Yuzawa ski areas).

Between the two zones, the prefecture border semi-encircles the northern tip of the Nagano Prefecture and there are various Nagano ski resorts very close to the border such as Madarao Kogen, Tangram, and Togari Onsen, and Nozawa Onsen is not far away. This whole region is a power house of ski resorts.

And just to the south of Yuzawa in Niigata, over the border in the Gunma Prefecture is Tenjindaira and other Minakami ski resorts. Sounds like a road trip (or a train trip) is in order!

Best Known Niigata Ski Resorts

Myoko Kogen is a group of ski resorts located only 34km north of the city of Nagano. Some of the Myoko ski areas include Myoko Akakura (Onsen and Kanko), Seki Onsen, Ikenotaira and Suginohara and the zone is well known for very abundant snowfalls. Myoko makes a good base for powder hounds wanting to explore multiple ski areas considering its proximity to many Niigata ski areas and Nagano ski resorts.

Yuzawa is also home to some of the best known Niigata ski areas. The town of Yuzawa is only 70-90 minutes from Tokyo via bullet train. Nicknamed “snow country”, Yuzawa has about a dozen resorts including big names such as Naeba, Kagura, and Gala Yuzawa, which has its own shinkansen (bullet train) station so it’s really quick to get there from Tokyo (as little as 75 minutes).

Just a few kilometres to the north of Yuzawa is Minamiuonuma where there’s another half a dozen resorts including Joetsu Kokusai and the famed Hakkaisan.

Other Niigata Skiing

Lesser known Niigata skiing spots that are well worth heading to include Charmant Hiuchi and Lotte Arai Resort; both resorts are in the vicinity between Myoko Kogen and the coast. Or just near the northern tip of the Nagano Prefecture is Cupid Valley (Yukidaruma).

Niigata Snow

Niigata isn’t just well known for its sake! The Niigata snow is also highly renowned and resorts near the coast are celebrated for very large volumes of snow. The Charmant Hiuchi ski area generally gets huge snowfalls and snow bases in excess of 5 metres! Arai scores 15 plus metres of snow on average per season, whilst Seki Onsen scores somewhere in the realm of 14.5 to 16 metres on average per season! 

Further inland, the Yuzawa area is known as “snow country” for good reason because it’s said to snow about 11.8 metres on average per year, and the quality of the snow is drier than that found near the sea.