Just one hour from Tokyo on the shinkansen, Echigo Yuzawa is a fun get-away to a snowy paradise. There are mountains for skiing, and even play areas for kids to sled. Even ski gear and snow boots can be rented, so no need to go up with heavy bags. We left sunny Tokyo and after passing through a long tunnel near our destination, was surprised to be arriving in a winter wonderland.
We used Yuzawa Ski Park Resort with a free shuttle from the station. After arriving we signed up for a kids’ ski lesson and rented a sled.
Yuzawa Kogen is walking distance from the station. We took a cable car from the base to halfway up the mountain where there was a blizzard and we were in the clouds.
We stayed at Taki no Yu and had our own private onsen (photo above right) in our room. The kid-friendly ryokan had Purare-ru train set in the lobby.
The cuisine was very good. Below are photos of the small dishes for the okayu breakfast (left photo) and the appetizers for dinner (right photo).
Taki no Yu. Request the Kikyou Room for the private onsen in the room. The water made my skin feel soft and the temperature was not too hot. The rotenburo, outdoors onsen, was set in snow. Soaking in a hot tub while snow falls down is so relaxing. The room we stayed in had two beds and a separate tatami room for futons. It said it could sleep up to seven, so a good option if traveling with family.
The station has a large shopping area for omiyage including regional food products, knives, fresh produce, and rice. Niigata is famous for Koshihikari grown in Uonuma. There are several restaurants including a sushi-ya, soba-ya, and a nice cafe for mattcha latte and soft serve made with local milk.
Ponshukan is a saké tasting room for a flight of five saké starting at 500 JPY.
There is a visitors’ center in the station that is a warm seating area and has free wifi as well as some brochures in English.
For the return shinkansen we picked up two bentō at the ekiben stand in the station. Both bentō include a heating unit under the bentō that heats it up in five minutes. There is a big selection of cup saké sold at the station.
Echigo Yuzawa would also be an easy day trip from Tokyo. Round-trip tickets are less than 15,000 JPY. One tip, ask for seats on the second floor of the shinkansen for better views. Another tip, many roads and sidewalks have running water to keep the snow from accumulating. Be sure to go with waterproof shoes, or rent a pair of boots at the information center just outside of the station.