Visit these Snow Resorts with the Economical JR Pass! Also Introducing Enjoyable Travel Plans (The Second Part)
Winter has finally arrived! Along with the economical JR Pass, I'd like to introduce snow resorts where visitors can have fun skiing and snowboarding! I'd also like to suggest some local places where you can enjoy relaxing your mind and body.
This second post includes information on how to use the convenient JR Pass to get from Tokyo to Nagano or Niigata as well as the areas surrounding the Kanto plain!
* Information about the Economical JR Pass is in the last half. Be sure to read to the end so you don't miss it!
Recommended Places to Visit with the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area)
With 5 days of unlimited rides on all trains and Shinkansen in the area, JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) is the best way to go from Tokyo to Nagano or Niigata!
【Hakuba Happo-one Ski Resort】
This ski resort was used as the competition venue in the 1998 Winter Olympics. Boasting a peak height of 1831 meters, with an altitude difference of 1071 m, these slopes reach up to the top, offering many courses to satisfy advanced skiers! Of course, children and beginners have courses, too. From the peak, take in some breathtaking scenery of the Northern Japanese Alps! With the 3 peaks of Hakuba behind you, Mount Myoko and Mount Asama (an active volcano), along with Tokakushi and the Yatsugatake Range, stretch out as far as the eye can see!
Hot Springs for Beautiful People at Hakuba Happo Hot Springs
There are many hot springs in the area around Hakuba Happo-one Ski Resort! This area offers the only natural hydrogen hot springs in Japan, so Hakuba Happo Hot Springs is a famous bathing spot for making your skin look soft and beautiful!
Basic Information about Hakuba Happo-one Ski Resort
- 5713 Hokujo, Hakubamura, Kitaazumigun, Nagano Prefecture
- Access from Tokyo
1. Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (approximate travel time: 1 hour, 30 minutes)
2. Take a bus from Nagano Station to Hakuba Happo-one Ski Resort (approximate travel time: 1 hour, 20 minutes)
【Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort】
Extending from a height of 1650 meters at the peak of Mount Kenashi to the hot spring village, the ski slopes boast an altitude difference of 1,086 meters! From the quality and amount of its snow to the beauty of its views, with courses for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers and competitors, this ski resort is said be among the best in Japan.
Enjoy the Hot Springs!
Another attraction of Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort are the hot springs. The part of town where they are located offer "Soto-Yu ". These are 100% natural hot springs flowing freely at 13 open spots for shared bathing. After a day on the slopes, many people enjoy going around town for "Soto-Yu ". Instead of set prices, there are donation boxes at each bath entrance. Relax your tired body in a natural bath!
Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri Fire Festival
Every year on January 15th, the Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri is held. Designated as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Asset by the Japanese Government, it is known as one of the three major fire festivals throughout Japan. The purpose of this festival is to exorcise danger, pray for the healthy growth of children, and strengthen community ties. On this date, a fire is set to a wooden structure endowed with a "dosojin", or Shinto deity of roads and borders. As men battle intense fires with all their might, the flames of the big torches can reach as high as 20 meters (the fire is lit after 8:30 pm).
Basic Information about Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
- 7653 Toyosato, Nozawaonsenmura, Shimotakaigun, Nagano Prefecture
- Access from Tokyo
1. Take a Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Iiyama Station (approximate travel time: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
2. Take the Nozawa Onsen Liner, a direct bus line from Iiyama Station to Nozawa Onsen
Recommended Places to Visit with the JR TOKYO Wide Pass
The JR TOKYO Wide Pass offers unlimited access on Shinkansen and Limited Express trains for 3 days within the designated area!
With this Pass, travelers starting from Tokyo can access popular places such as Mount Fuji and Karuizawa, or even head up to Nikko.
【Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort】
The first ski resort to open in Nagano Prefecture features convenient access, with just a ten-minute walk after getting off of the Shinkansen. Rental ski wear is available, so it's easy to enjoy winter sports here! Thanks to its artificial snow machine, the slopes are always in excellent condition. Since over half of the slopes have gentle inclines, even beginners can relax and enjoy the snow! Besides skiing, there are facilities for sledding or playing with children. Another attraction is the ski lift, allowing those who don't ski the chance to enjoy the mountain scenery!
You Can Also Enjoy Shopping!
In front of Karuizawa Station, there is Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, where about 200 shops offer everything from famous-maker outlets to interiors, outdoor gear and even miscellaneous goods. Have fun doing some after-ski shopping!
Basic Information about Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort
- 1016 Karuizawa, Karuizawamachi, Kitasakugun, Nagano Prefecture
- Access from Tokyo
1. Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Karuizawa Station (approximate travel time: 1 hour, 10 minutes)
2. Walk about 10 minutes from Karuizawa Station (A free shuttle bus runs between Karuizawa Station and the Ski Resort from the beginning of December to the beginning of April)
【GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort】
The first post introduced Niigata's GALA Snow Resort, boasting excellent access by Shinkansen directly to the slopes! Go there with the JR Pass mentioned in the first post!
[Details of the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata 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 17,000 yen for an adult (12 and older) and 8,500 yen for a child (6-11). Prices in Japan is 18,000 yen for an adult and 9,000 yen for a child.
- Valid For
- Unlimited travel within the designated areas in reserved seats on ordinary cars of limited express (including Shinkansen), express trains, 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.
If you are interested in good value JR passes, but don’t know how to use them or how to purchase them yet, you will find this short clip below very useful.
[Details of the JR TOKYO Wide Pass]
- Period of Use
- All year
- Sale Period
- All year
- Valid For
- 3 consecutive days
- Adults (12 years and older) 10,000 yen, Children (6-11 years) 5,000 yen
- Terms of Purchase and Use
- Must be a foreign national with a foreign passport (passport will be checked upon purchase)