Charmant Hiuchi3.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%

Charmant Hiuchi Ski Resort Niigata
Charmant Hiuchi Ski Resort Niigata
Charmant Hiuchi has a mix of off-piste terrain
Charmant Hiuchi has a mix of off-piste terrain
Tree skiing amongst the Evergreens
Tree skiing amongst the Evergreens
Little competition for the freshies!
Little competition for the freshies!
Base facilities at Charmant Hiuchi
Base facilities at Charmant Hiuchi
Another option for re-fuelling
Another option for re-fuelling
Centre House
Centre House
Where is everyone?
Where is everyone?
Deep on-piste
Deep on-piste
Good scope for off-piste riding
Good scope for off-piste riding

Charmant Hiuchi

The Charmant Hiuchi Ski Resort in Niigata is small, particularly on paper, so it would be pretty easy for a powder hound to dismiss this as just another pokey little Japanese ski resort that’s only suitable for the local beginners. Don’t write off Charmant Hiuchi though, because it’s a snow sanctuary that frequently gets puked on, and it’s not completely mellow.

Best of all for powder hounds, the Charmant Hiuchi ski area (Shulman Hiuchi) is delightfully undiscovered, in part because there are so many larger ski resorts that are quicker to get to from Tokyo. Charmant Hiuchi is ideally visited as a day trip from Hakuba or Myoko Kogen.

The CharMant Hiuchi Snow Resort is somewhat unique in that it opened post the bubble era, so unlike many other Japanese ski resorts, some of the amenities are relatively modern (don’t get too excited though!).

Pros

  • Charmant Hiuchi has the essential ingredients for a great powder hound destination for a day trip:
  • The ski area generally gets huge snowfalls and snow bases in excess of 5 metres!
  • Many of the slopes are north facing.
  • You can pretty much ski or snowboard the entire resort and bits of the sidecountry; lots of great tree runs.
  • Charmant Hiuchi isn’t on the mainstream powderhound radar so it’s generally very quiet, especially on weekdays.
  • There are beautiful views of the sea on fine days. - Cheap lift ticket combos are available that include a lift pass, lunch and an onsen.
Cons
  • The snow can be very deep but the powder is sometimes rather coastal, so fresh is best.
  • The terrain size is pretty small and if it’s not dumping with snow, then boredom may set in rather quickly.
  • There is no accommodation on-mountain.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • The staff tend not to use the grooming machines on powder days.
  • Don’t expect any or much English to be spoken at the ski area and surrounding towns.

Charmant Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Charmant Hiuchi is a bit of a pee wee ski resort, with only 3 lifts (1 quad chair and 2 pair lifts), 7 trails, and 96 hectares of piste terrain. At least it has decent vertical (510m, 501-1,009m) but it’s still pretty small and you can ski most of the mountain off the main quad lift.

Officially the trail stats are 20% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 35% advanced. In reality the slopes are not ideal for novices, and intermediate riders are likely to get bored rather quickly. Advanced riders that want to stay on-piste (god knows why!!) will get bored even quicker, even though one of the runs has a pitch of 37 degrees at one point.

Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, the real fun for advanced and expert riders is in the off-piste and backcountry areas. There is an official off-piste powder area, but the unofficial off-piste zones seem to be well tolerated by the patrollers too. The tree skiing across the resort includes the typical deciduous trees, evergreen pines, and easy to manoeuvre shrubbery. Of course, the latter is often not even visible when the snow base is at its peak!

The ski area is also renowned for having some pretty good terrain park features, but these don’t tend to be formed until spring when many of the powder hounds have gone home.

Charmant Hiuchi Snow

If you think Hakuba Cortina gets absolutely dumped on because of its proximity to the coast, then you can start to imagine what happens at Charmant Hiuchi which is even closer to the coast. In a typical Japanese ski resort fashion, they don’t spend much time measuring snow accumulations (so the average snowfall per season is unknown), just the base which is usually incredibly deep.

The powder quality can be epic when it’s dumping or soon after, but otherwise the snow falls into the “very good” category because it’s typically wet coastal snow. The top elevation is somewhat typical of many of the Niigata ski resorts around Yuzawa, but lower than the main Myoko ski resorts. What it does have in its favour with respect to the powder quality is the northeast to north facing slopes. Abundant snowfall combined with the good aspect is why the resort generally remains open until early May.

Where is Charmant Hiuchi Ski Resort?

The Charmant Hiuchi Ski Resort is 33km southeast of the coastal town of Itoigawa in the Niigata Prefecture of Honshu, 103km northwest of Nagano City. No is the closest train station, which is 16km northwest of the ski resort. It’s close to Myoko as the crow flies, although it’s 74km by road from Akakura. Charmant Hiuchi is 71km northeast of the Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort.

From Tokyo the train trip time has reduced now that there’s a Shinkansen (bullet train) through to Itoigawa, and then a local train to No, with a total trip time of about 3 hours. From Nagano to No it takes about 75-90 minutes (see Hyperdia for train routes and timetables). From No train station, there are occasional shuttle buses on weekends and holidays (one schedule per day if you’re lucky) otherwise you’ll need a taxi transfer.

So in reality, you’re best bet to get there is to have your own rental car or a guide who provides transport. And for a multi-day trip staying in local accommodation, you’ll definitely want to have a car. The phone number of Charmant Hiuchi for GPS navigation is 025-568-2244. The road for the last 16km from near No can be rather snowy – which spells good news!

Accommodation

There is no accommodation at the base of the ski hill. The closest lodgings are in little villages on Highway 246 ,such as the Guesthouse Sanraku (5.5km north of Charmant Hiuchi), which provides simple and cheap Japanese style lodging in dorm rooms or private rooms. Bathrooms are shared and there is also a communal kitchen.

Further away, the towns of Itoigawa and Joetsu have a range of hotels including deluxe hotels and budget capsule hotels for the fellas.

Itoigawa Accommodation Listings
Joetsu Hotel Listings

Ski Resort Facilities

Centre House at the base of the ski resort hosts most of the facilities and services, including ski and snowboard rentals, a kids play room (requires adult supervision), retail shop, rest room, and lockers. The restaurant offers very inexpensive fare that’s pretty typical for a Honshu ski resort. A photography service is provided and Charmant Hiuchi has a ski school, but don’t expect any of the instructors to speak fluent English.
Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Pow Pow Japan Tour DETAILS
HOSTED (UNGUIDED) PRIVATE GROUP TOUR
Cultural Ski & Snowboard Adventure
From price based on 8-day sample itinerary, twin-share room (group of 6).
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,503
To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions.
Ability: Beginner to Expert
Ski Japan's famous powder in conjunction with a rich cultural experience on this hosted tour. The tour is hosted by a local Japanese person who speaks fluent English; whilst the focus of the tours is primarily snow sports, you will experience the culture, food & festivities beyond the normal ski/snowboard adventure.
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Backcountry Skiing Tours
Alps to Coast Complete BC DETAILS
HAKUBA & MYOKO BC TOURING
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin share room (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,721
5% off advertised price if you book before July 15th 2017
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This backcountry tour includes the Hakuba and Myoko regions, and with a tail guide and the guarantee of a Japanese speaking guide, you'll get away from the ski fields and into the remote backcountry areas.
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Myoko Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from MYOKO
For PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on a Myoko day tour, group of 5.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 628
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15 2017
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the MYOKO area, you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding. The area (and also other nearby resorts) is huge & some of the best skiing is outside of the resort boundaries which should only be accessed with a guide. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
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Tanken Explore DETAILS
CHASE THE BACKCOUNTRY POWDER
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin share room (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,867
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15 2017
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Chase the powder around the Nagano and Niigata Prefectures where there are sooooo many ski resorts to choose from. This tour has the flexibility to pick the best area on any given day & from there you'll explore the backcountry with a lead and tail guide.
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