Do you have plans for this winter? If you’re thinking of traveling in Japan, head north to Hokkaido or Yuzawa. Both areas have great ski grounds and snowy landscape, and both places offer superb cuisine in winter.
Here is an introduction to some attractive places in Hokkaido and Yuzawa.
Hokkaido has three great spots for skiing — Niseko, Rusutsu and Furano which have perfect powder snow condition.
Niseko has four different ski slopes: Village Ski Resort which has a huge variety of options for the most adventurous of skiers, Grand Hirafu Ski Resort which you can enjoy wide open runs free of obtacles from 1,000m above to beyond the tree line, Annupuri Ski Area which has runs to suit all ages and ski levels and Hananozono Ski Resort which has the best range of free ride ski and terrain parks in Niseko. Each has different characteristics, so Niseko is ideal for skiers of all levels.
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Rusutsu has the largest ski area in Hokkaido. Also, Rusutsu is not only popular among Japanese skiers and snowboarders, but also attracts foreign enthusiasts, too, because of its perfect powder snow conditions. Rusutsu has great natural terrain features which cannot be found in other ski resorts.
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Furano isn’t as well known among skiers overseas, but is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan, so it’s a good place to introduce your family and friends to, if they are into skiing or snowboarding. There are 24 courses catering to all levels in Furano. Also Furano has an abundance of varied terrain for every level of skiers and snowboarders and a vertical drop of over 950 meters making it one of the steepest mountains in Hokkaido.
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Also “The Sapporo Snow Festival” is a huge event held in Hokkaido every February. About 300 snow statues and ice sculptures are exhibited at three areas — Odori street, Tsu-dome and Susukino. The exhibits are lit up at night, making the area a winter wonderland.
Hokkaido is famous for its dairy products, such as milk, cheese and butter, as well as its potatoes, ramen and seafood. Ramen Yokocho (Alley) in Sapporo is a great place to eat It serves many kinds of ramen noodles.
Yuzawa, a hot-spring resort in Niigata Prefecture, is also a great place to ski and the nearest ski resort from Tokyo. Naeba is the most popular place for skiers. In summer, Naeba is known worldwide as the venue for the Fuji Rock festival.
Here is an introduction of three recomended ski resorts — Kagura Ski Resort, Gala Yuzawa, Naspa Ski Garden.
Kagura Ski Resort
Kagura Ski Resort has amazing 1225m vertical descent with 544 acres of terrain over 23 pistes and 23 lifts. Kagura Ski Resort is especially popular with intermediate to expert skiers and snowboarders who come for the off-piste/backcountry terrain and the free-style parks, however there is gently graded slopes ideal for beginners too. Kagura Ski Resort is about 25 minutes with by shuttle bus from JR Echigo Yuzawa station.
Gala Yuzawa is 10minutes from the center of Yuzawa town and has great facilities for beginners, children, and families. Also Gala Yuzawa has area for expert skiers and snowboarders such as an extensive terrain park with death-defying jumps, and a mogul areas to test the sturdiest of knees.
Naspa Ski Garden
NASPA Ski Garden is a ski resort ideal for families. It is located conveniently close to JR Echigo Yuzawa station. Also Naspa Ski Garden is directly behind NASPA New Otani Hotel, so it’s very convenient if you would like to stay more than one night.
One last thing we should mention about Yuzawa. It was made famous in the novel “Snow Country” which won Yasunari Kawabata the Nobel Prize in Literature. The region is also famous as a producer of high quality rice and sake. The popular Koshihikari comes from Yuzawa.
If you want to go on a tripto Hokkaido and Yuzawa, “See Japan” has a great tour that offers you many experiences. They can even offer one-day tours for anyone who only has a short holiday. Customized tour is also available too.