If you’re visiting in Japan on winter or early spring and want to experience snow in Japan, no need to go as far as Hokkaido, you can visit Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort which is near to its bustling capital city of Tokyo.
Gala Yuzawa is a ski resort located in Nigata Prefecture which is just 75 minutes away from Tokyo via Shinkansen. If you have a valid JR Pass you can easily go to Gala Yuzawa from Tokyo Main Station, you just need to board the train and walk out of the station.
If you have JR Pass, you can board a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Main Station that will take you directly to Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort. As soon as you leave the ticket gates of the Gala Yuzawa train station, you’re already at GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort! It is the one and only Ski Resort in Japan which is located in the same building as a Shinkansen station. You can buy cheaper and reliable JR Pass here.
JR East Pass is a cheaper option or you can buy a JR Tokyo Wide Pass which is a lot cheaper than a JR Pass. The JR TOKYO Wide Pass is a discounted pass for unlimited rides in Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto area. Valid for three days, the pass is good for unlimited rides using reserved seats on ordinary cars on Shinkansen, limited express and other trains in the valid use area. The JR Tokyo Wide Pass makes it easy to visit popular tourist destinations such as Mt. Fuji, Izu and Karuizawa, GALA Yuzawa.
Gondola Ride and Sledding – The Gondola will take you to the mountain and costs JPY 1,300 for Adults/Senior and JPY 650 for kids. The Gondola ride is mandatory even for skiers and snowboarders. Once you’re on the mountain, you can just play around with the snow for free or do sledding if you’re not keen to do skiing or snowboarding. Sleds and long boots are also available for rental – JPY 1,500 for one day or JPY 2,300 for two days.
Snow Boarding / Skiing – if you want to try this winter sport, Gala Yuzawa have slopes for beginners. Just watch some Youtube videos for beginners and you’re good to go. You can rent standard set of gears for JPY 4,900. Ski set includes the ski, ski boots and ski pole. While Snowboard set includes snowboard and snowboard boots. If you want the full gear set including Ski wears and trousers it will cost JPY 7,900. The staff here speaks good english so you will not have problems communicating.
During the normal season the lift pass is JPY 4,600 yen for 1 day and JPY 7,000 for two days. Normal season runs from 16th Dec 2017 – 1st Apr 2018. In Spring season (2nd Apr 2018 – 2nd May 2018), lift passes are much cheaper, JPY 3,700 for 1 day and JPY 5,700. They have AM and PM lift passes too which is a bit cheaper from day passes.
Hot Spring and Swimming Pool – It’s best to take a deep on a hot spring after snow activities. Outside Jacuzzi and swimming pool are also available with swimwear on. Price: Adult JPY 1,300 / Child JPY 800.
Kanjiki Snow Fan Tour – Trek on the snow wearing the Japanese traditional snow shoes which are made of straw and see the stunning and panoramic views from the mountains. Duration: 30 mins.
Snow Shoe Trekking Tour – If you give up on snowboarding or skiing but want to explore the mountains, you can try the trekking tour. The guide will take you to the summit by chair lift then trail this winter wonderland using snow shoes. Some trails go through forested terrain. Duration: 120 mins.
If you’re on a budget or just just want to enjoy the scenery of snow covered peaks, feel free to go around, build a snowman, play a snow ball fight and just take pictures.
Gala Yuzawa is doable on a day trip, but if you want to stay longer, there are plenty of affordable options too. Checkout the list of hotel deals in Gala Yuzawa here:
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