Worried about how you can have fun in the snow even if you have never skied or snowboarded? If you think there is nothing for you to do but just sit and look at the snow, you should know there are many ways to enjoy Japan’s winter activities!
Here we’ll share several Japan winter activities you can enjoy at three of the more popular ski resorts near Tokyo. Come and see and experience them for yourself!
1. GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort (Niigata)
Niigata is extremely popular with the Japanese for being a ski area close to Tokyo. It only takes 75 minutes by Shinkansen from Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa Station, where the GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort is located. This is an easily accessible ski resort.
GALA Yuzawa is noted for its broad slopes and the many kinds of snow activities offered there. Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, areas provide other activities from which to freely choose to enjoy the snow, such as riding on a sled on snowy slopes.
There are lots of things you can do other than ski. The Kanjiki Tour involves walking on a snowy mountain equipped with snowshoes called kanjiki, which have long been used in snowy areas of Japan. This provides a great opportunity to see snowy landscapes where no one has been. It is offered every day during the season.
Take in the magnificent view from the observation deck above Gala Yuzawa. If you purchase the "Ai no Kane Observatory Set Plan" (3,200 yen, tax included), you can view the entire snowy mountain from a height of 1,030 meters. It offers a breathtaking view of the snowy vista for as far as the eye can see! A perfect way to enjoy Japan’s snow season.
- Address 1039-2 Kayataira, Yuzawa Asa, Yuzawa-machi Oaza, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata Prefecture
Take the Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and get off at Gala Yuzawa Station; takes between 75 and 90 minutes.
2. Naeba Ski Resort (Niigata)
The Naeba Ski Resort boasts slopes covering an area of approximately 134 hectares. Among the 22 courses are two snow parks and three gondolas. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you are bound to find something to enjoy Japan’s snow season all day long.
One of the highlights of Naeba Ski Resort, which has numerous snow activities, is the snowmobiles at Kappa Snowmobile Land. A snowmobile is like a motorbike that runs over snow. At other ski resorts, usually, only instructors are allowed to drive the snowmobiles, but at Naeba Ski Resort, you are allowed to drive them yourself.
You don’t need a driver’s license, and a guide will explain how to drive them before you set out. At the 10-minute course, high school age and above can operate snowmobiles by themselves, but those younger than that need to ride double with an adult.
On the 60-minute session, a guide will lead the way, taking you on an adventure through deep snow in the forests. This is an entirely different experience than skiing.
For those who would rather not ride on a snowmobile, we recommend snow rafting. A guide driving a snowmobile will pull you along over the snow in a raft. This is good for junior high school age and younger children and an especially fun experience when riding with a parent.
Mikuni 202, Yuzawa, Niigata, 949-6292
Tsuchitaru Station （Joetsu Line）
Vacancy search, reservation
from 10,768JPY 1room, 2adults
Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.
- Address Mikuni 202, Yuzawa, Niigata, 949-6292
3. Mount Jeans Nasu (Tochigi)
There are many exciting activities for children, such as a sled area where a guide watches over the children, rafting on snow pulled by a snowmobile, and a snow escalator that will automatically take you up the hill. A limited number of sleds with handlebars are also available at no charge.
There is a rest area for the exclusive use of parents whose children are playing in the Kids' Space. You can take off your boots and relax, and there are also bathrooms. Children tired from playing can also come in and rest up, which is another lovely point.
Mount Jeans Nasuマウントジーンズ那須
- Address Oaza Oshima, Nasu-machi, Nasu-gun, Tochigi Prefecture
About 70 minutes from Tokyo by Tohoku Shinkansen; get off at Nasushiobara Station. 1 hour by free shuttle bus (online reservations required for the shuttle bus)
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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