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Ski Resort near Tokyo on 14 Dec 2019? 2019/12/12 17:21
Hi, I have bought JR Tokyo Wide Pass and have booked reserved seat shinkansen tickets from Tokyo Station to Gala-Yuzawa Station on 14 December 2019. The problem is, Gala Yuzawa opening date will be postponed. Therefore I am looking for alternative ski resorts. I never ski/snowboarding before, there is not any snow in my home country, therefore I am very beginner and want to learn it with myself. I will go there alone!

I have tried to find the answer on google, I found that Kagura Ski Resort is the best option since it is already open right?

My question is:
1. Can I get off and get on at Echigo Yuzawa station? My shinkansen round trip ticket is for Gala Yuzawa station. Do I need to cancel it first and book the new ticket?
2. How do I get to Kagura from Echigo Yuzawa Station? Where I have to get off at?
3. Is Kagura okay for a newbie like me to learn snowboarding? Do the staff speak English?
4. What should I bring to ski there? I found on the website that I can rent the jacket and pants there, but how about the glove, knit cap, ski socks? Are there necessary? I never see snow before in my life!
by Shalahuddinn  

Re: Ski Resort near Tokyo on 14 Dec 2019? 2019/12/13 12:51
First, to answer your questions:

1. Yes, you can. Echigo-Yuzawa is the station before Gala-Yuzawa, so it is not a problem to get off there instead. When you leave, you will show your Tokyo Wide Pass at the manned ticket gate, then pass through to the shinkansen gate. You may need to show your shinkansen tickets at the manned gate to pass through to the shinkansen since technically the station is wrong, but it wont be a problem to enter from there because it is a station along the route and closer to Tokyo. It would only be a problem if it was a station further away.

2. You could either take a local train to Mitsumata Station (I don't think it's covered by the Tokyo Wide Pass though), a taxi, or there's a bus that goes from Echigo-Yuzawa to Mitsumata station. I found some information on it here: https://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Honshu/Kagura/Getting-There.aspx and here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/niigata/yuzawa/kagura

3. Having been to Kagura, I wouldn't consider it a beginner friendly resort. One of the things that allows it to open early and makes it a popular resort is the powder snow, which is not so easy for beginners to learn on. I think they do have a few groomed courses though. If you decide to go with Kagura I would definitely recommend lessons. They have lessons in English for both skiing and snowboarding, although advanced reservations are recommended so I would call them right away if you decide to go there.

4. YES. You will absolutely want gloves, a hat of some sort (unless you want to rent a helmet, which they might have; might be safer plus it does a good job of keeping your head warm!), and thick wool socks! Make sure to layer; when you're skiing you tend to warm up, but going up the lifts or waiting in line for them is cold. A good inner layer will help keep you warm and wick away the sweat while you're skiing.

All that said, I would look into going to Karuizawa instead. The shinkansen to Karuizawa is covered by the Wide Pass; all you'd need to do is get your shinkansen tickets switched, which should be no problem if you head to a Midori-no-Madoguchi today to get them changed. The Karuizawa Prince Ski Resort is right next to Karuizawa Station and is very beginner friendly; there are rentals and ski lessons in English there too. The snow is often "man-made" at this point in the season, but just because it doesn't fall from the sky doesn't mean it isn't real snow! You will still want a hat, gloves, and snow socks BUT if you couldn't get them easily, the Outlet Mall is right next to the station as well, and is another option if you get bored of skiing. All in all, for a first timer, I think it is the better choice than Kagura. Just my opinion :)
by scarreddragon rate this post as useful

Re: Ski Resort near Tokyo on 14 Dec 2019? 2019/12/13 16:39
@scarreddragon I see thank you for the long answer, it really helps me!

By the way which one is better, Mitsumata Station or Tashiro Station for a beginner like me?

Is it enough for me to buy this package? FYI, I do not have any equipment like a glove, a knit cap, etc.
1 Day Rental Equipment & Wear Set Equipment Adult \6,500

I also want to know do I need to buy the Ropeway and Gondola ticket?

Thank you for your suggestion, actually, I am going to karuizawa in the next day, therefore I do not want to repeat it again for skiing.
by Shalahuddinn rate this post as useful

Re: Ski Resort near Tokyo on 14 Dec 2019? 2019/12/13 20:29
They're both probably pretty equal. I'd go for Mitsumata just because it's closer!

Is it enough for me to buy this package? FYI, I do not have any equipment like a glove, a knit cap, etc.
No, the package is only for jacket and pants. It doesn't specify on the English page, but in Japanese it says グローブ・ゴーグル・帽子のレンタルはございません。They don't rent gloves, goggles, or hats.
You absolutely need those things, though, unless you want to freeze and risk frostbite! I'm not joking, take a look at this video from Kagura posted this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cnGJcARXn4

Those are the general conditions of the Yuzawa area this time of year. You will fall. A lot. Your hands take a lot of the brunt, so you'll need gloves for sure. Snow will get on your head and be very cold, so I wouldn't go without a hat either. I would also absolutely get goggles, but they're the one thing that you could manage without only because as a beginner I doubt you'll be getting up to enough speed to need them... but if you did, the snow becomes little ice shards in your eyes and you wont be able to see without them. Tomorrow the weather forecast says it will be sunny in the morning changing to snow in the afternoon. So if you go past the morning, as the conditions change I think you'll want them. By the way, when it's sunny the glare off the white snow is intense... it can even cause sunburn! So even in the sun I'd recommend the goggles and hat.

If you don't have them, you can probably buy them there. Most of these places have a shop selling the basics for people who forgot/don't have them. Bring cash (I'd bring at least 10000 minimum), as some of those types of places don't take credit card! I don't know about Kagura specifically though.

I also want to know do I need to buy the Ropeway and Gondola ticket?
The one day lift ticket from Kagura includes everything except (I think) the Naeba Dragondola (which isn't open anyway), as that is the connection to Naeba so you need the double park tickets for that. You'll want to buy the Kagura only lift ticket for 4900 yen, and then can ride anything at the park.

By the way, I hope you don't take offense at this, but you don't seem at all prepared for just how cold it's going to be in Yuzawa. I would recommend planning to get the appropriate gear when you get there, and also reading through this: https://www.healthline.com/health/frostbite-stages Frostbite can be dangerous, and happen faster than you might realize! If you can find kairo, they are warm little packet you can put in your pockets, between your socks and boots, and even stick on your body (don't go right next to the skin!) I always stuck some in my boots and gloves when snowboarding, as I get colder than others seem to.
by scarreddragon rate this post as useful

Re: Ski Resort near Tokyo on 14 Dec 2019? 2019/12/13 21:51
Actually you might not need any lift ticket at all, if there is snow and a slight slope reachable from the bottom of the hill.

I am a long time skier but when I first tried snowboarding a few years back, I started on the baby hill and just walked up the few meters and then more or less rolled down again.

As PP was saying unless you are some natural talent (or very good at skateboarding or even riding or something like that) be prepared to be IN the snow most of the day. You’ll probably also think that even the baby slope is way toooooo steep. So go at it easy. And yes, gloves and a hat is a must.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

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