If you are after some serious Japanese powder, then an hour north of Nagano City is Myoko Kogen - a resort which perfectly encapsulates the Japanese cultural experience and the famous Japanese powder. Off-piste skiing is allowed across the whole resort and provides a unique experience here through the magnificent birch trees. The ski area is made up of 4 individual resorts; Suginohara, Ikenotaira, Akukura Kanko Resort and Akakura Onsen, and Myoko village lies just below these.
The main areas to ski – Akakura Onsen and Akakura Kanko are situated side by side, and are linked. Akakura Onsen is best suited to beginners and intermediates, and Akakura Kanko offers more challenging terrain. Suginohara and Ikenotaira are a short shuttle bus ride away, and included on the main resort lift pass. Suginohara has a lovely long 8.5km run, from which you can catch views of Lake Nojiri. Ikenotaira offers wide, gentle slopes, and a great freestyle park. Seki Onsen is a separate resort in the Myoko range and not included in the lift pass, but it is definitely worth a visit.
Local ski schools offer lessons in English, and it is also possible to hire guides for backcountry or off-piste tours.
Off the Slopes
This area is big for onsens (Japanese hot springs) thanks to the proximity of the volcano of Mt Myoko which is the source of the thermal spring waters. This incredibly relaxing après activity is a great way of experiencing a big aspect of Japanese culture.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can take the train to Nagano to visit the famous Zenkoji Temple or perhaps join a day trip to visit the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.
There are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from the in area with the majority to be found in Akakura Onsen. The izakayas (Japanese-style pub) are a really popular option here and really worth a visit as they have a great atmosphere.
There are some amazing ski-in ski-out hotels available, and numerous ‘ryokans’, which are traditional Japanese hotels with tatami flooring and futon beds.
Getting to Myoko is easy, as it’s only a 1.5 hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Nagano, and then a 40 minute train ride from Nagano to Myokokogen station. From the station we can arrange for your hotel to come and pick you up.