Visit these Snow Resorts with the Economical JR Pass! Also Introducing Enjoyable Travel Plans (The First Part)
Winter has finally arrived! So along with the economical JR Pass, we'd like to introduce some snow resorts where you can enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding! We will also suggest some ways to relax your mind and body while having fun in these locations. The first part of this post features information on recommended spots in the Tohoku area that you can get to from Tokyo on the JR Pass!
* Information about the Economical JR Pass is in the last half. Be sure to read to the end so you don't miss it!
1) GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort
Taking only 90 minutes by train, GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort boasts excellent access from Tokyo. This snow park offers your friends and family a variety of ways to have fun: besides skiing and snowboarding, even beginners can enjoy sledding and playing in the snow. Since snow resorts are generally not in metropolitan areas, they are often accessible only by bus after transferring from the Shinkansen or trains. However, GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort is directly connected to Tokyo via the Shinkansen, making it a very attractive destination for travelers.
Enjoy Prime Japanese Sake
Speaking of Niigata, where Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort is located, it's known as the best place in all of Japan for growing rice. Why not try capping your day with a cup of Japanese sake made with high-quality rice?
Basic Information about GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort
- 1039-2 Ooaza Yuzawa, Aza Kayabira Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, Niigata Prefecture
- Access from Tokyo
- Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Gala Yuzawa Station (approximate travel time: 75 minutes at the maximum speed)
2) "Snow Monster" Trees of Ice at Zao Onsen Ski Resort
Boasting 14 ski slopes, Zao Onsen Ski Resort is the largest snow resort of its kind in Tohoku. Of course, visitors can enjoy skiing there, but the so-called "Snow Monster" trees of ice ("Juhyo" in Japanese) are a sight not to be missed! Just like it sounds, ice envelops the trees, creating a strange natural phenomenon.
The "Snow Monster" area is accessible by rope way, and the view from the middle of this route is impressive!
What's more, the Zao Juhyo Festival is held every year, from the end of December to the beginning of March. The ice trees are illuminated in the evenings!
- Light-up Period
- on designated days between 12/23/17 and 3/4/18, from 5-9pm.
After a lot of Walking, Relax in a Hot Spring
Right by the ski resort are a lot of hotels and Japanese "Ryokan" inns where visitors can enjoy the "Onsen" hot springs! The highly acidic sulfur in Zao Onsen's hot water is ideal for warming your body to the core. Please be aware of the following advice:
- ・ Eating and Drinking are Not Allowed
- ・ Keep Out of the Eyes (They will sting)
- ・ Be Sure to Remove Gold Jewelry (It will turn black)
Basic Information about the Zao Ropeway
- 229-3 Zao Onsen, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
- Access from Tokyo
1. Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Yamagata Station (approximate travel time: 2 hours, 30 minutes)
2. Take a bus from Yamagata station to Zao Onsen (approximate travel time: 45 minutes)
3)Appi Snow Resort
At this ski resort, the rustling powder snow piles up as the so-called "aspirin snow", which only falls in low temperatures. Here, particular care is given to keeping the slopes in their best condition by maintaining them every night. 21 courses are ready for visitors to try a variety of slopes with different kinds of snow and slope shapes! There are beginner's courses, too, so even first-time skiers can feel at ease, and the slopes are open until 8pm from the end of December to the beginning of March!
So Many Events for the New Year Holidays
At the end of the year, there is a count-down with a fireworks display. It's such a beautiful sight to see fireworks on the ski slopes! The New Year's Eve Fireworks Display will be held on December 31, 2017 (from 11:50 pm).
At the beginning of the year, there are special events for guests at nearby accommodations such as rice-cake pounding and free sake from local shrines, so visitors can enjoy spending a typical Japanese New Year here!
Basic Information about Appi Snow Resort
- 117 Appikogen, Hachimantai City, Iwate Prefecture
- Access from Tokyo
1. Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station (approximate travel time: 2 hrs, 10 minutes)
2. Take a bus from Yamagata Station to Appi Snow Resort (operating only in the winter, approximate travel time: 1 hour)
''JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) ''
The “JR EAST PASS (Tohoku Area)” is the best option available for people traveling from Tokyo to areas like Sendai and Aomori in the Tohoku Region. This pass grants you unlimited access to local trains and even the Shinkansen within the designated areas. The pass is valid for your choice of 5 days out of the 14-day period that begins after purchase (the 5 days do not need to be successive). If you purchase the pass outside of Japan, the validity period begins after trading in an exchange order for a pass itself. For a pass bought outside of Japan, its price is 19,000 yen for an adult and 9,500 yen for a child. On the contrary, if purchased in Japan, the price is 20,000 yen for an adult and 10,000 yen for a child. If you were to travel from Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station and back by Shinkansen, the round trip would cost 34,700 yen (adult fare), making the pass a savings of around 15,000 yen for that trip alone (using normal-season adult reserved seats on Hayabusa).
[Details of the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area)]
- Period of Use
- Usable year-round
- Period of Validity
Any 5 days out of the 14-day period after a date of issue (flexible 5-day pass)
*Date of issue refers to a pick-up date for passes purchased outside of Japan and a date of purchase for passes purchased in Japan.
- Prices outside of Japan is 19,000 yen for an adult (12 and older) and 9,500 yen for a child (6-11). Prices in Japan is 20,000 yen for an adult and 10,000 yen for a child.
- Valid For
- Unlimited travel within the designated areas in reserved seats on ordinary cars of limited express (including Shinkansen), express, and local trains operated by the East Japan Railway Company.
- Conditions of Purchase and Use
The JR EAST PASS is available for purchase by holders of non-Japanese passports with “temporary visitor” visa status and plan to stay in Japan for no longer than 90 days.
*Passport must be presented at time of purchase for confirmation purposes.
- Purchase Methods
① Within Japan: Purchase at a location where JR EAST PASS is available.
② Outside of Japan: Purchase an exchange order (e-ticket) from a travel agent or travel company or through the JR EAST website. Then, upon arrival to Japan, trade in the exchange order for your JR EAST PASS at any of the exchange locations.
This short clip below will give you valuable information if you are interested in this great-value JR passes but don’t yet know how to use or purchase them.