Suginohara Ski Resort Myoko
Myoko Suginohara is possibly our favourite of the Myoko ski resorts, with super long cruisy groomers, some nice tree skiing and fun sidecountry. Often called “Sugi” for short, Suginohara Ski Resort is proud to have the longest run in Japan at 8.5km. The only problem with their claim is that Zao Onsen actually has a longer run (10km), although the Zao run is more of an annoying traverse than a thigh burning fall line cruiser!
Suginohara Myoko Kogen is a Prince Resort but it doesn’t quite fit the mould. Firstly there are no ski patrollers chasing you when you head off-piste, and there’s no imposing Prince Hotel at the base area as with Naeba
, and Yakebitaiyama at Shiga Kogen
. The little village at the base of the Suginohara Ski Resort is called Suginosawa Onsen, and there are no towering hotels and it’s retained its Japanese flavour. English isn’t widely spoken, although this is changing with the ever increasing popularity of Myoko Kogen
Suginohara Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Suginohara is medium sized for a Japanese ski resort, and it’s long and skinny with a big vertical drop of 1,124 metres (731-1,855m). Suginohara only has 5 primary lifts, but the lift infrastructure is pretty good - it includes a modern gondola and two hooded fast quad chairs for protection from the elements.
The ski area is below the treeline and the trail stats (40% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 20% black) largely reflect the piste terrain, which is mostly mellow beginner and intermediate groomed runs. Apparently the steepest on-piste gradient is 38 degrees on the Super Giant Trail, but I must have blinked and missed that because the black trails are not steep (and the Super Giant Trail has an average slope of 16 degrees).
The Sugi terrain park and skier cross course are decent and are making the resort increasingly popular with freestylers.
Suginohara has some enjoyable off-piste skiing and riding in the trees, particularly off the top lift. It’s not steep but the variety of tree spacing keeps it fun. Suginohara has some amazing lift-accessed side-country that includes cliff drops, steep trees, and open mellow trees. It’s rather avalanche prone so only head in there with the appropriate avalanche safety gear
, a buddy or three, and backcountry know-how.
If you’re willing to earn your turns, Suginohara offers access above the resort to some phenomenal Mt Myoko backcountry terrain. You’ll absolutely want to keep an eye on the avalanche forecasts and potentially want a guide.
Suginohara scores lots of goodness from the Yuki gods with somewhere in the realm of 13 metres of snowfall on average per season. The top of the resort typically has great snow quality during winter thanks to its high elevation. Sugi is the real “highlands” of Myoko Kogen (ie Myoko Highlands), being about 350 metres higher than Akakura Kanko’s top elevation and more than 600 metres higher than Akakura Onsen and Seki Onsen
The Suginohara snow quality in the lower elevations can diminish somewhat because many of the Sugi slopes have a southerly aspect, and this results in the season being a little shorter than the other main Myoko ski resorts.
Where is Myoko Suginohara?
is located one hour north of the city of Nagano in the Niigata Prefecture – see the travel to Myoko Kogen
page for information on getting there. Suginohara is located on the southeast flank of Mt Myoko and the furthest south of the main Myoko ski areas. The ski resort and the associated village of Suginosawa Onsen are 6km southwest of the Myokokogen town and train station, 5.7km south of Akakura Onsen (the main ski village of Myoko Kogen), and Ikenotaira
is adjacent to Suginohara and 4km away by road.
For those staying overnight in Suginosawa accommodation
, some of the lodges provide free shuttle services between Myokokogen train station and Suginohara, or it’s easy enough to catch a taxi (about a 20 minute drive).
For day trippers from Akakura Onsen, there are hourly free shuttle buses to Suginohara that depart from near the post office. Your accommodation should be able to provide you with a timetable. The buses seem to do a bit of traipsing around the Myoko area rather than taking a direct route, so they can take a while.
If you’re on a Myoko Powder Package
, private transfers from Akakura Onsen to Suginohara for day trips are included.
Suginosawa Onsen Accommodation
The Suginosawa Onsen village at the base of the Suginohara ski resort is very quiet and more of a collection of pensions and lodges than a village per se. The village hasn’t been westernised, there is only one restaurant, and most people stay at their accommodation for dinner. Much of the Suginohara accommodation is inexpensive, ski-in ski-out or close to the slopes, includes half board, and some lodges have on-site onsens.
Soratobu Usagi Myoko
(meaning rabbit flying in the sky!) is smack bang in the middle of the ski area. This little ski in ski out lodge has Japanese rooms for various budgets with shared bathroom.
is a 1 minute walk to the ski area and offers inexpensive Japanese style accommodation (sleeping on tatami) with shared bathroom.
also has simple Japanese style rooms with shared bathroom.
Suginohara Accommodation Listings
For ski and snowboard rentals, there is the Okamoto Sports shop as well as various other rental outlets. The base area also has a retail shop selling lots of snacks, beverages, sundries and basic ski accessories. The official ski school is only for those fluent in Japanese.
There are various restaurants and cute little eateries spread across the mountain. The resort also has a tobogganing area.
Summary of Pros and Cons of Myoko Suginohara
- Long groomed runs and ideal for intermediates.
- The lift infrastructure is good.
- Like the other main Myoko ski areas, it generally receives abundant snow.
- Suginohara has fantastic sidecountry and also provides some fun tree skiing inside the resort boundaries.
- Kids under 13 years of age ski free and ski rentals are free on weekdays (except holidays).
- On clear days, the ski area affords lovely views of the lakes and the valley.
- It’s generally quiet midweek and easy enough to find freshies, although the popularity of Myoko Kogen is increasing.
- There aren’t on-site facilities for English speaking kids such as ski school or child care.
- Like a lots of Japanese ski resorts, the ski area isn’t big enough to provide adequate variety for a long holiday. It’s best combined with other Myoko and/or Niigata and Nagano ski resorts.
- Also typical of many Japan ski resorts, there’s very little advanced piste terrain and the black runs are not particularly challenging.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- Overnighters will need to BYO party. Staying at Suginohara provides an inexpensive and very quiet alternative to staying at the quasi-westernised parts of Myoko Kogen.
- There’s not much to do at Suginosawa other than ski or snowboard and soak in an onsen.
Tours that may include Suginohara