Skiing in Tokyo: Day and Weekend Trips!

ByJason Gatewood
Dec 19, 2022

Skiing in Tokyo: Day and Weekend Trips!

Most Japanese say being able to enjoy all four seasons outdoors makes Japan unique. The tourist records set over are in agreement with that statement for sure. Here in Tokyo, we can trek to western Kanagawa, Nagano, Gunma, and Tochigi Prefectures in search of the perfect slope to ski down. But what if you have only a few days to yourself? You’re in luck because some of the best skiing on Earth is a short hop away.

Many companies cater to getting you to and from the slopes for a day’s snowboarding or skiing, and many options are all-inclusive. Pay one price covers the bus/train roundtrip, lift tickets, and more. Here’s a short list of some of the best we’ve found so far:

Gala Yuzawa

Perhaps the most accessible ski resort to get to from Tokyo, Gala Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture, northwest of Greater Tokyo, is only 80 minutes by Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and is directly connected to its namesake station. The ski area is very English (Chinese and Thai) friendly and offers skiing and snowboarding for all ages and levels. No need to bring your equipment; the equipment rental office can supply everything.

Echigo Yuzawa

 If you stay in the same area as Gala above, in the town of Yuzawa, and you’re the type that likes to “wing it” and go where the day takes you,  much of a plan isn’t necessary, to be honest. Take the same Joetsu Shinkansen bullet train as above and get off at Echigo Yuzawa station (one stop before Gala Yuzawa), and there are at least two slopes within walking distance of the station! Many more offer free shuttle bus service from the station. The town itself is a great destination at any time of the year since it’s also famous for its hot springs but comes into its own during the winter ski season. Some of the ski areas around town include:

And, of course, check out the town tourist info office for more details on everything else.

Tokyo Gaijins Ski Trips

The great thing about living in a major metropolis is you’re bound to find people that are into the same thing you are, and the Tokyo Gaijins group proves this point. The group is dedicated to those who love sports and the outdoors, and when winter rolls around, they make sure every weekend is an opportunity to enjoy skiing and snowboarding out on the slopes without hassle. Their trips are usually all-inclusive with transport, hotel stay, and meal provided; rental, lessons, and lift tickets are extra, but their website spells out the charges. Check their listings for upcoming ski trips planned to ensure you can get in on the fun.

Japan Travel Bureau (JTB)/Japan-I-Can

Lastly, if you’re still a bit undecided and your Nihongo is OK, you can always pop into one of many travel agent offices around town and ask to see their ski packages. The best way for the rest is to go to JTB’s English travel site, Japan Hotels, Ryokan, and Tours, with From day trips to Mt Fuji area ski areas to 3-day packages to Hokkaido ski resorts, you can find something that will suit your level of skiing or boarding.

–By Jason L Gatewood

Image: “Ski lift ” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by koemu (Flikr)

About the author

Jason Gatewood subscriber

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at ·