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Five Recommended Ski Resorts in One of Japan’s Snowiest Regions – Niigata

Ski resorts in Niigata Prefecture are popular for their easy access from the Kanto area, as well as for their snow quality. Many people visit during the winter every year. Here are five highly recommended ski resorts in Niigata.

1. GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort

First up is a famous ski resort that is directly connected to Gala-Yuzawa Station on the Joetsu Shinkansen (bullet train) line. The slopes are between 800m and 1,180m in altitude, and their inclines range from gentle to sharp, so skiers of all levels can enjoy themselves. There is also a variety of fun snow activities for children, and a "snow activity set" that consists of sleighs, boots and gloves can be rented. There are nearby restaurants serving a variety of foods, including local dishes and desserts, as well as the Gala-no-Yu spa. Be sure to visit those places as well!

Projected opening date: Usually in mid-December (varies depending on the weather condition)

1. GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort

1039-2 Aza Kayataira, Oaza Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata

2. Kagura Ski Resort

Next is Kagura Ski Resort, which is located at a high altitude so that you can ski while enjoying the majestic landscape of the area bordering two prefectures. It has a long season (from late November to late May) and great snow conditions, with powder snow almost every day from late December to early March. In addition, the Kagura No. 5 Romance Lift runs between January and early May, and is popular for taking skiers out to a tour course in the great nature.

Projected opening date: Usually late November – early December (varies depending on the weather condition)

2. Kagura Ski Resort

742 Mitsumata, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata

3. Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

The next recommendation is one of the largest ski resorts in the Koshinetsu area. It is famous as a place with rich natural snow and a wide variety of courses, all thanks to its unique landscape where skiers of all ages can enjoy themselves. It also has a wide range of restaurants that serve the famous rice brand from Niigata, Koshihikari, as well as dishes made with brand pork, Echigo Mochibuta. There are also two onsen (hot springs) – Ishiuchi Onsen and Hatsukaishi Onsen – nearby, so be sure to stop by!

Projected opening date: Usually mid to late December (varies depending on the weather condition)

3. Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

1938 Ishiuchi, Minami Uonuma-shi, Niigata

4. Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort

Next on the list is Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort, which is famous for its vast land that is divided into four areas. Its charm lies in the wide selection of different slopes available, including the Daibetto Champion Course – which has slopes up to 38 degrees steep – and the Panorama Slopes that consist of a variety of different slopes, as well as the Nagamine Slopes that are appropriate for beginners, and the Atema Slopes, which often have powder snow due to the heavy snowfall. There are areas for children as well, including slopes suitable for sleighs and SpongeBob Kids Park.

Projected opening date: Usually early December (varies depending on the weather condition)

4. Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort

112-1 Kabanosawa, Minami Uonuma-shi, Niigata

5. Naeba Ski Resort

Last on the list is a famous snow resort, Naeba Ski Resort, that has huge ski areas. There is an area where the snow is not compressed so that skiers can enjoy powder snow, as well as a Park Area with a variety of different slopes to suit any skier’s requirements. There are also many activities appropriate for families, including the world's first indoor ski slope for children. The nearby hotel – which has shopping, esthetic services, and amusement facilities – is also recommended.

Projected opening date: Usually early December (varies depending on the weather condition)

5. Naeba Ski Resort

Mikuni, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata

You can reach Niigata Prefecture from Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train) in around 1 hour and 40 minutes. It is connected to various locations across Japan by land, sea, and air, so consider including it in your winter travel plans!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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