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Madarao Activities & Tours

Madarao activities are largely centred round the skiing and snowboarding, with just a few non-skiing things to do. Or you can head down to Iiyama to look at the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and the specialty shops.

Madarao Backcountry Ski Tours

Madarao has a little sidecountry and backcountry on offer and you have the option of heading there with a guide for the day or as part of a multi-day tour.

Day Trips To Other Ski Areas

Madarao is centrally located to a host of other ski areas with 30 mins to 1 hour's drive including Shiga Kogen (18 ski areas), Nozawa Onsen, Myoko Kogen (4 ski areas), Kijimadaira, Ryuoo Ski Park, Kurohime and more. So Madarao can be a great place to call base and head out on day trips to some of the other nearby ski areas. You can get to some of these by local/resort buses, self-drive or there are some operators in Madarao who provide private transport with a guide to show you around those ski areas.

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Family and Adventure Activities

There is a kids’ park below the Madarao Kogen Hotel that has magic carpet serviced tubing and sledding. Snowball fights seem to be a major feature of this area too! The kids will also love the games arcade at the Madarao Kogen Hotel.

Leisure Activities

One leisurely activity is a visit to the Japanese snow monkeys at the Jigokudani hot springs which are approximately 45 mins drive away. You could get a taxi or take a private group tour and incorporate some sake tasting and temples as part of the day.


Madarao feels a bit “resorty” so the proximity to the town of Iiyama (ee-arma) is a plus for the resort. This is a great spot to head for the afternoon or evening and enjoy a taste of Japan. Wandering along the streets is enjoyable and the town can look particularly pretty when there’s so much snow that it “grows” up either side of the covered walkway. “Buddhist Altar Street” has steps up to various little Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines which are fascinating. Some people call Iiyama little Kyoto but that’s probably overstating it remarkably!

A few of the Iiyama shops are incredibly interesting. There is an old paper shop with a long history of making Japanese washi (paper). They sell little pictures, postcards, and origami type paper souvenirs, and the owner might even make you a cup of tea. Apparently Iiyama is famous for making Buddhist altars, so you might want to check out the super shiny shop to admire the superior craftsmanship. I imagine that you’re highly unlikely to buy one as a souvenir and take it home in your ski or snowboard bag!.

There is also a small doll museum in Iiyama. Now a doll museum sounds pretty boring, particularly to blokey blokes, but it is more interesting than a “doll museum” sounds and worth a half hour visit. The museum has a few rooms of old people cartoon dolls that provide a nice insight into Japanese history.

Otherwise you might want to head into Iiyama town to go out to dinner. There are various izakayas and other cute restaurants. A trip to Iiyama is also good if you need groceries or an ATM visit.

Madarao Onsen

Having a soak in an onsen after a hard day on the slopes is very enjoyable, and a great way to partake in a popular Japanese pastime.

The Madarao Kogen Hotel also has an onsen with both indoor baths and a picturesque and relaxing outdoor area (rotenburo). This onsen is open to hotel guests, or non-guests can use the facilities for a small fee (which includes use of a towel).

Other Madarao onsen are at a few hotels but are only open for guests. This includes Hotel Monaile, Silk Inn Madarao, and over at Tangram at Hotel Harvest Tangram.

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