Ski Near Tokyo: How to Get Ski Resorts by Train

Skiing in Japan is gaining in popularity. In this guide, we’ll show you easy ski areas to get to from Tokyo, ranging from quick day trips to one-night getaways where you can relax in the hot springs. And the more spontaneous travelers can join in on the fun, too. We’ve collected the best areas where reservations are unnecessary, and access is made easy by bullet trains and the Zairai line or shuttle buses.

  • 01

    ― Day-Trip Friendly Niigata: Ski Areas Accessible by JR Joetsu Shinkansen

    Joetsu Shinkansen Toki

    Joetsu Shinkansen Toki

    You can get to Niigata in around an hour on the Joetsu Shinkansen (bullet train), making it perfect for day trips. Once you arrive in Niigata, you can transfer to local trains or shuttle buses that will take you straight to the slopes of a lot of ski areas. Echigo-Yuzawa Station is the jumping-off point for your Niigata ski adventures. It takes around 80 minutes to get there from Tokyo on the shinkansen.

    A one-way unreserved seat costs 6,260 yen, and the Max Toki, Toki, and Tanigawa are the Joetsu Shinkansen train services you’re looking for.

    Skiers will love that Niigata is close enough to Tokyo for both day trips and night skiing.

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa

  • 02

    ・Directly Connected to the Station! GALA Yuzawa

    GALA Yuzawa

    GALA Yuzawa

    GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort lets you make the best use of your time if you’re planning a ski day trip. The resort is directly connected to GALA Yuzawa Station, and you can ride the gondola all the way to the slopes straight from the station. You’ll find rentals, hot springs, and other facilities in the station, making it perfect for day trips. You won’t waste any travel time you could spend skiing.

    GALA Yuzawa Station

    GALA Yuzawa Station

    The super convenient GALA Yuzawa Station is only open during the winter, though. Trains stop here according to GALA’s opening schedule around mid-December every year, so you’ll need to check if the stop is available before you get on the train. If it doesn’t stop in GALA Yuzawa, then you can take the shuttle bus from Echigo-Yuzawa Station.

    GALA Yuzawa Spa

    GALA Yuzawa Spa

    The 3 Mountain Pass lets you take the Lando ropeway to Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort, and you can access Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort from the Roman Holiday Course in the northern area.

    URL: https://gala.co.jp/winter/english/

    GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort
    place
    Nigata Pref. Minamiuonumagunyuzawamachi Yuzawa Chihira 1039-2
    phone
    0257856543
  • 03

    ・Shuttle Buses from Echigo-Yuzawa Station

    Echigo-Yuzawa Station

    Echigo-Yuzawa Station

    Free shuttle buses leaving from Echigo-Yuzawa station take the hassle out of transportation.

    Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort: 2-minute shuttle bus
    Yuzawa Park Resort: 10-minute shuttle bus
    Iwappara Ski Resort: 10-minute shuttle bus
    Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort: 30-minute shuttle bus
    Kandatsu Kogen Ski Resort: 30-minute shuttle bus

  • 04

    ・Directly Connected to a Local Line Station! Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort

    Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort

    Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort

    At Echigo-Yuzawa Station, transfer to the JR Joetsu Line and get off at Joetsu International Skiing Ground Station. The ski area is directly connected to the station, so there’ll be a ski house right in front of you. They also have plenty of lodging at the huge Hotel Green Plaza Joetsu, so it’s great for a longer stay, as well.

    URL: https://www.jkokusai.co.jp/english

    Joetsu Kokusai Ski Area
    rating

    3.5

    รีวิว 159
    place
    Nigata Pref. Minamiuonumashi Kabanosawa 112-1
    phone
    0257821028
  • 05

    ― Ski Areas along JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line Great for Staying the Night

    There are plenty of ski areas in Niigata and Gunma accessible from Echigo-Yuzawa Station and Jomo-Kogen Station. For ski areas farther than 30 minutes away from the station, it’s probably easier to stay the night.

  • 06

    ・The Expansive Mt. Naeba Ski Resort

    Mt. Naeba Ski Resort

    Mt. Naeba Ski Resort

    This massive ski resort is a 50-minute transit bus ride from Echigo-Yuzawa Station on the JR Jōetsu Shinkansen line. The resort contains the Naeba Prince Hotel, which boasts 1,300 rooms, as well as rows of smaller lodgings like bed-and-breakfasts. It’s made for longer ski trips.

    Naeba Prince Hotel

    Naeba Prince Hotel

    The resort is also home to the Dragondola, which is the longest gondola in Japan at 5,481 meters. You’ll have access to the Kagura and Mitsumata ski areas, as well, so there’s plenty of skiing to be done with the extra time spent at the resort.

    Dragondola

    Dragondola

    URL: https://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/naeba/index.html

    Naeba Ski Resort
    rating

    4.0

    รีวิว 267
    place
    Nigata Pref. Minamiuonumagunyuzawamachi Mikuni 202
    phone
    0257894117
  • 07

    ― Heading to Yamagata via the JR Yamagata Shinkansen

    Yamagata Shinkansen

    Yamagata Shinkansen

    It’s about a 3-hour trip to Yamagata Station on the Yamagata Shinkansen. An unreserved seat for a one-way ticket will run you 10,640 yen.

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Yamagata

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Yamagata

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Yamagata

  • 08

    ・Watch Out for Ice Monsters! Zao Onsen Ski Resort

    Ice monsters

    Ice monsters

    A 40-minute transit bus ride (1,000 yen) from Yamagata Station will take you to Zao Onsen Ski Resort– known for its powdery snow. It’s a popular location for those looking to get in some skiing time, as well as those who just want to see the “ice monsters” (snow- and ice-covered trees) and then destress in the onsen after sightseeing.

    Zao Onsen Ski Resort

    Zao Onsen Ski Resort

    However, if you’re planning on going to this area of Yamagata or Fukushima, it’s recommended that you stay 2-3 days to make the most of your trip, since travel time is high.

    URL: http://www.zao-ski.or.jp/

    Zao Onsen Ski Resort
    place
    Yamagata Pref. Yamagatashi Zaouonsen 708-1
    phone
    0236949328
  • 09

    ― Heading to Nagano/Yamagata via JR Hokuriku Shinkansen

    JR Hokuriku Shinkansen

    JR Hokuriku Shinkansen

    These are also areas where you should plan to stay a few days for a ski trip. The main transit stations are Iiyama Station and Nagano Station on the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen line.

    It’s about 2 hours to Iiyama Station, with a one-way unreserved seat ticket costing 8,250 yen. For Nagano it’s around an hour and a half, and a one-way unreserved seat is 7,810 yen. The JR Hokuriku Shinkansen also has trains that only have reserved seats, like the Kagayaki, so be careful which one you ride.

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Iiyama

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Iiyama

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Iiyama

  • 10

    ・Popular with International Visitors, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

    Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

    Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

    Australians in particular are wild about Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort. It’s about 30 minutes by bus from Iiyama Station. There’s a moving walkway from the edge of the onsen village to the slopes for easy access. Snowfall is high, and there are public bathhouses all over the village, so it’s very popular as a stay-over resort.

    URL: http://www.nozawaski.com/en/

    Nozawa Onsen

    Nozawa Onsen

    Read more:
    A Day of Skiing in Nozawa Onsen
    A Guide to the Public Onsen Experience in Nozawa Onsen
    A Night Out in Nozawa Onsen: Recommended Spots

    Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort
    rating

    4.5

    รีวิว 713
    place
    Nagano Pref. Shimotakaigunnozawaonsenmura Toyosato 7653
    phone
    0269853166
  • 11

    ・Internationally-Renown Hakuba Ski Resort

    Hakuba Ski Resort

    Hakuba Ski Resort

    A 30-minute bus ride from Iiyama Station is Hakuba Happo-one Snow Resort, home of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Regarded as a skiers paradise, it boasts some of the best powder snow in Japan. The famous Hakuba Valley has several ski resorts/areas, and they’re connected via the shuttle bus.

    This area is perfect for those looking for a longer trip with access to a variety of slopes, as well as those searching for a resort catering to international guests.

    URL: https://www.hakubavalley.com/en/

    Echoland

    Echoland

    Read more:
    Echoland Après-ski: A Night out in Hakuba
    Resort Town Cafe Culture: Five of the Best Cafes in Hakuba

    Hakuba Happo-one Winter Resort
    place
    Hakkan Village Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano Prefecture
    phone
    0261723066
  • 12

    ・Take the Local Trains from Nagano Station to Akakura Onsen Ski Resort

    Akakura Onsen Ski Resort

    Akakura Onsen Ski Resort

    Situated at the foot of Mount Myoko, Akakura Onsen Ski Resort in Niigata isn’t quite well-known yet, but it has some of the highest snowfall in Japan. From Nagano Station, take the Shinano Railway 40 minutes to Myoko-Kogen Station, which is the closest one to the resort. Akakura Onsen Ski Resort is a charming accommodation area with an onsen village in addition to its slopes.

    URL: https://akakura-ski.com/english/

    Akakura Onsen Ski Resort

    Akakura Onsen Ski Resort

    Read more:
    Skiing in Akakura Onsen
    Where to Eat in Akakura Onsen

    Akakura Onsen Ski Area
    rating

    4.0

    รีวิว 171
    place
    Nigata Pref. Myoukoushi Akakura Hot spring
    phone
    0255872125
  • 13

    ・Hidden Day-Trip Ski Area, Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort

    Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort

    Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort

    Many people head to Karuizawa for the outlets and the Prince Shopping Plaza, but it gets enough snowfall in the winter to have skiing, too. It’s only about an hour on the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, with an unreserved seat for a one-way ticket running 5,490 yen. You get some serious bang for your buck here.

    The Prince Hotel Ski Resort is connected to Karuizawa Station, so you can get off the shinkansen and be on the slopes in minutes. Access is super simple, but since there’s so much sightseeing to do in Karuizawa, you may want to extend your trip a few days.

    URL: https://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/karuizawa/index.html

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Karuizawa

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Karuizawa

    Shinkansen Timetable and Price : Tokyo to Karuizawa

    Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort 
    place
    Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa
    phone
    0267425588

    Read more:2020 Snow Resort Guide in Japan: Asia’s Winter Wonderland

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