Guest post by John Blagys (Hakuba.com)
Japan is a powder paradise and while the resorts in Hokkaido may have caught the world’s eye, you don’t have to leave Honshu to chase your powder dreams. Here are 4 resorts that you can visit on the Super Cheap and all easily accessible from Tokyo.
The Hakuba Valley, Nagano
The most famous ski area in Honshu and host of several Olympic events during the 98’ games, Hakuba is a powderhound’s dream. The Hakuba Valley features 10 distinct resorts connected with a single Hakuba Valley Lift Pass and with over 200 runs throughout the valley, the area has plenty of terrain suitable for all levels. Hakuba draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world and will play host to the Free Ride World Tour in January and the Snow Machine Music Festival in March.
Accommodation: There are several great affordable options for Hakuba Accommodation and one that should not be overlooked is the Lab. It’s located 500m from the Happo One chair lifts and offers budget dorm style accommodation, an awesome in-house bar and daily breakfast.
Tip: Prices are cheapest in early December in March and those looking to travel on the cheap should consider visiting then.
Nozawa Onsen, Nagano
Walk around the streets of Nozawa Onsen and you feel transported to a different time and place. The traditional buildings, the quaint Japanese shops, and the steam rising up all throughout the town from used onsen water all mix together to form an incredible atmosphere for visitors. And we haven’t even talked about the slopes yet! Nozawa Onsen is one large resort with an impressive 300 hectares of terrain and a considerable 1,085 meters in vertical drop. Like the other resorts in Japan, the powder is first rate.
Accommodation: Nozwa Onsen doesn’t have backpacker hostels but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great options on the super cheap. Our favorite is Seisenso which offers great Japanese style accommodation starting at JPY 5,000. This is a great resource for Nozawa Onsen Accommodation options.
Tip: The onsens are everywhere and they’re free! How’s that for Super Cheap?
Shiga Kogen, Nagano
Shiga Kogen also hosted several Olympic events including skiing and snowboarding slalom events and is a great choice for snow enthusiasts unconcerned with the limited nightlife options in the village. The area caters predominantly to Japanese visitors and has little western development, so those looking to experience the snow the Japan way should look no further. Shiga is comprised of 21 resorts, all connected across 600 hectares of incredible terrain.
Accommodation: Shiga Kogen’s accommodation options are predominately Japanese style hotels and ryokan. Book a ryokan and enjoy the slopes like a Japanese local.
Tip: The world famous Japanese snow monkeys are located close by and should be coupled with any trip to Shiga Kogen.
Myoko Kogen, Niigata
The snowiest place in the world? Maybe. Myoko Kogen gets an unfathomable 15 meters of snow annually! Combine this with no lift lines, unrestricted backcountry, and epic tree runs and you can picture the appeal of Myoko Kogen. The resorts here have terrain from beginner to advanced, but Myoko Kogen is really for those who are looking to ride waist deep powder.
Accommodation: Yuki Dake is the definitive spot for budget travelers as it’s affordable, comfortable, and perfectly located walking distance to the lifts and several great restaurants and bars.
Tip: Jack’s Bar next to Yuki Dake serves up cheap drinks and great pub food and is an excellent place to mingle with like-minded travelers.