An hour north of Nagano City, in Niigata prefecture, Myoko Kogen is a great, relatively unknown resort, which perfectly encapsulates the Japanese cultural experience and the famous Japanese powder. Off-piste skiing is allowed across the whole resort, a rarity for Japanese resorts, and 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 Kanko are situated side by side, and are linked. Onsen is best suited to beginners and intermediates, and Kanko offers more challenging terrain. Suginohara and Ikenotaira are a short shuttle bus ride away, and included on the International Guest’s 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 ticket, also a slightly further bus ride away, but it is definitely worth a visit. Some hotels have courtesy shuttles which go there, however if this is not provided there is also a local bus, which costs approximately £7 for a return ticket.
There are some amazing ski-in ski-out hotels available, and numerous ‘Ryokans’, which are traditional Japanese Inns with tatami flooring and futon beds. The ski-in ski-out hotels are slightly further from the town as they are located right on the mountain, but it is easy enough to get around by local taxi or bus. The resort is also famous for its Onsen (hot spring), a great way to relax after a long days skiing.
Local ski schools offer lessons in English, and it is also possible to hire guides for backcountry or off-piste tours.
Getting to Myoko is easy, as it’s only a 1.5 hour train ride from Tokyo to Nagano by the bullet train, and then a 40 minute train ride from Nagano to Myokokogen station. From the station you can either walk to your accommodation if it is town, catch a taxi, or the hotel may have arranged a courtesy shuttle if you are staying in one of the ski-in ski-out hotels by the slopes.