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Nestled in one of Japan’s snowiest regions, Niigata stands out as the ultimate destination for snow enthusiasts seeking the perfect fusion of winter sports and authentic Japanese traditions. Ranking as the third-largest hub for ski resorts in Japan, Niigata offers an impressive selection of 48 options. Visitors are drawn by the allure of pristine powder snow, complemented by a rich cultural experience that extends well beyond the slopes. Accessing the city is made effortlessly convenient, particularly with the efficiency of the Shinkansen bullet train, seamlessly linking Niigata to the major airports in Tokyo.

Explore Diverse Ski Resorts in Niigata 

  •  Mount Naeba
    Explore the excitement of Mount Naeba, a sprawling entertainment resort seamlessly merging two premier ski areas – Naeba Ski Resort and Kagura Ski Resort. Linked by the Dragondola, Japan’s longest gondola, these resorts collectively shape the extensive “Mt. Naeba,” drawing enthusiasts worldwide.

    Naeba Ski Resort offers diverse ski trails suitable for all skill levels, from family-friendly slopes to challenging advanced courses, slope style courses and banked slalom. Enhanced by illuminated night skiing, the resort exudes a magical ambiance. The 5.5 km Dragondola journey to Kagura Ski Resort adds to the collective winter haven with vast ski runs.

    Access: From Tokyo Station, hop on the JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa Station, taking about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then, catch a quick 40-minute bus ride to the resort. During the winter season, the resort also offers a free shuttle bus exclusively for hotel guests.

    Explore Mt. Naeba

    LOTTE ARAI RESORT promises an unforgettable mountain retreat. The resort caters to all level skiers and snowboarders with various 14 courses, from long run courses with spectacular views for beginners to super advanced courses with an average slope of 28 degrees in unpressurised snow, ensuring an exhilarating experience for winter sports enthusiasts. For families seeking adventure, there are a variety of unique snow activities, including zipline, snow rafting, and indoor options for children like kids’ bouldering and daily activities.

    Guests can indulge in culinary delights at LOTTE ARAI RESORT, where 14 on-site restaurants and bars present a diverse culinary experience featuring Japanese and Western cuisines including a sushi restaurant where you can enjoy Niigata’s quality seafood and rice. Experience an exhilarating après-ski ambiance with a vibrant nightlife that includes exciting karaoke sessions and trendy bars. Elevate your post-skiing moments as you indulge in the perfect blend of thrill and relaxation, making your stay an unforgettable celebration both on and off the slopes.

    Access: Travel conveniently from Tokyo to Joetsu Myoko Station via the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Enjoy a 1-hour and 50-minute ride, then hop on a complimentary 30-minute shuttle bus.  Explore Lotte Arai Resort

  •  GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort
    Embark on the ultimate snow adventure at GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort, a hassle-free winter escape just an hour and ten minutes from Tokyo. With upgraded rental gear, modern facilities, and diverse trails catering to all skill levels, Gala Yuzawa ensures a perfect snow adventure for everyone.

    Take a scenic gondola ride from the ski centre to the powder snow trails and explore the captivating Falcon trail for stunning views and an exhilarating descent. After a thrilling day, unwind at SPA GALA no Yu, offering hot spring baths and more.
    This resort provides a common pass for three ski resorts with 48 courses and is conveniently located near a hot spring resort for post-ski relaxation.

    Don’t miss out on exclusive discounts, including special offers for JR EAST PASS or Tokyo Wide Pass holders, with an additional discount exclusive for lift tickets.

    Access: Take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to GALA Yuzawa Station, which takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. The snow resort is conveniently located just in front of the station.  Explore GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort

Discover Niigata’s Cultural Abundance

Discover the allure of Niigata beyond the slopes as snow-tripping gains popularity. Niigata is a treasure trove of beautiful traditions, featuring world-class traditional culture. Consider using the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) to explore the region’s rich heritage before or after your ski adventure, immersing yourself in the timeless charm that defines Niigata.

  • Sip and Explore the Rich World of Japanese Sake in Niigata
    Journey into the world of Japanese sake—a rising star in Australia—meticulously crafted from rice, where the choice of rice and water quality is crucial.

    Niigata Prefecture is renowned as the leading rice producer in Japan, particularly for its famous Koshihikari rice, complemented by pure melted snow water, resulting in the creation of exquisite sake. Niigata Prefecture stands out as it has the highest concentration of sake breweries in Japan, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. The Ponshukan Marketplace, featuring three branches, including the Echigo-Yuzawa location, provides an ideal setting to savour the rich flavour of local sake in Niigata Prefecture.

    For a memorable sake adventure, explore JR EAST’s ‘Koshino Shu*Kura’ Joyful Train, meticulously designed around the essence of sake. This unique train ride pays homage to Niigata Prefecture, renowned for its locally brewed sakes. The name “Koshino Shu*Kura” reflects the charm of Echigo’s sake breweries and nature.

    Discover the world of sake craftsmanship as you travel and uncover Niigata’s rich sake culture. In Car no. 1, choose Raku Raku box seats with travel packages to enjoy sake and a meal with family and friends. Alternatively, opt for Observation pair seats for a panoramic view. Admire the landscapes through large windows while savouring carefully selected local sake brands’ tasting and indulging in local snacks.

    This specially curated journey promises a delightful mix of nature and sake experiences for an unforgettable adventure. Booking is required.

    Koshino Shu*Kura is temporarily closed during the months of December, January, February, and March. The next operational period is scheduled to commence in April.

  • Celebrating Nishikigoi Carp: Exploring the Birthplace and Beauty in Ojiya, Niigata
    Explore the captivating world of Nishikigoi, the iconic Japanese carp renowned for gracing gardens with its vibrant colours, creating a stunning visual spectacle. Niigata Prefecture proudly embraces Nishikigoi as the most cherished type, celebrated for its vivid patterns and graceful movements, often referred to as ‘swimming art’ or ‘swimming jewels.’

    Originating in Ojiya during the Edo period, these exquisite Koi emerged from a mutation, resulting in the beautifully patterned descendants we admire today. Ojiya Nishikigoi no Sato, a unique theme park in Ojiya City, serves as the birthplace and a showcase for the diverse array of live Nishikigoi.

    The Japanese Garden within the facility’s pond offers a breathtaking spectacle, featuring 200 carps representing 15 varieties.

    Access: Travel from Tokyo to Nagaoka Station by Joetsu Shinkansen, about 1 hour 40 minutes, and then head to Ojiya Station via JR Joetsu Line, just about 20 minutes. Followed by a 25-minute walk or a convenient 10-minute ride on the Ojiya City Inner Loop bus to the Sun Plaza bus stop plus 3 minutes walk.

  • Sanjo: A Legacy of Blacksmithing and Time-Honoured Craftsmanship
    Explore the cultural legacy of Sanjo in Niigata Prefecture, renowned for its enduring craftsmanship in blacksmithing, woodworking, and Buddhist altar making.

    Founded in the 14th century, Sanjo blacksmith’s history is closely tied to its key role during the Samurai era. In the 17th century, the peaceful Edo Shogunate era brought about significant changes, including the removal of Sanjo’s Castle and the samurai. This marked a transition towards the production of farming tools. The era’s frequent fires led to an increased demand for nails, attracting skilled craftsmen and nurturing a thriving blacksmithing community. Merchants, utilising the Shinano River, brought diverse ideas from across Japan to Sanjo’s blacksmiths, resulting in the creation of various items like knives and scissors.

    Today, Sanjo’s craftsmen blend traditional techniques with modern innovations, contributing significantly to the supply of machine parts for car manufacturers and office automation equipment. The city continues to cherish its heritage, preserving traditional craftsmanship while adapting to the changing needs of contemporary life.

    At Sanjo Blacksmith Dojo, visitors can experience such traditional sword smithing in Sanjo. A popular workshop is making paper knives from nails.

    AccessTake the JR Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Tsubame-Sanjo Station (about 1 hour 50 minutes) , and 10 minutes by car/taxi OR take another train from Tsubame-Sanjo Station to Kita-Sanjo Station via JR Yahiko Line, then 3 minutes by walk.

What is the Best Way to Travel to Niigata?

If you are an adventurous traveller who wants to enjoy skiing or snowboarding and Japanese culture on a winter trip, travelling with single tickets is easy way to customise your journey.

The Shinkansen offers a convenient way to travel to Niigata Prefecture, with easy online purchase and booking options available through the JR East’s user-friendly online platform “Train Reservation”.

For those who like to have a seamless round trip, we recommend the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) to enhance your overall experience.
After exploring in Niigata, you can hop to Nagano, another snow wonderland next of Niigata such as Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen, and Madarao reasonably with this JR EAST PASS.

Nestled in the Japanese Alps, Nagano offers excellent ski resorts, beautiful mountain views in Hakuba, a relaxing hot spring retreat in Nozawa Onsen, and great powder-covered slopes in Madarao.

The JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area) offers you 5 days of unlimited travel on trains and Shinkansen in the area covered! *Foreigners living in Japan can also purchase a JR EAST PASS.

Adult (12 years and older) ¥27,000
Child (6 – 11 years old) ¥13,500

We recommend all passengers to purchase the JR EAST PASS in advance online, ensuring smooth travel across JR EAST railway lines in the Nagano, Niigata area. The pass is conveniently available at https://www.jreast.co.jp/multi/en/pass/eastpass_n.html

Navigate through the user-friendly online platform ‘JR-EAST Train Reservation’ to effortlessly purchase Rail Passes, JR EAST tickets, and reserve seats. Upon completing your purchase and reservation, easily retrieve your seat tickets from the ticket vending machines at major stations, including Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.

If you are looking for the best route to your destination, Route search & Reservation can help you. This convenient page allows you to purchase tickets and make seat reservations based on the route you have searched.