Cupid Valley3 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Cupid Valley Niigata
Cupid Valley Niigata
Fresh powder easy to come by
Fresh powder easy to come by
Cupid Valley Ski Resort
Cupid Valley Ski Resort
Resort owned villas
Resort owned villas
Cupid Valley (Yukidaruma)
Cupid Valley (Yukidaruma)
Cafeteria at the base of Cupid Valley
Cafeteria at the base of Cupid Valley
Short pitches of powder
Short pitches of powder
Tasty looking terrain above the lift
Tasty looking terrain above the lift
Cupid Valley Ski Resort
Cupid Valley Ski Resort
The obligatory crepe outlet
The obligatory crepe outlet
Small retail shop in the day lodge
Small retail shop in the day lodge
Games arcade
Games arcade
Equipment rentals
Equipment rentals

Cupid Valley

Cupid Valley Ski Resort Japan

Yuki Daruma Kogen aka Cupid Valley Ski Resort is a little known ski area in the Niigata Prefecture, just over the border from the northern tip of the Nagano Prefecture. On the face of it, Yukidaruma (which means snowman) seems like a pretty poxy ski area and in reality it probably is. You could visit Cupid Valley for a change of scenery from Nozawa Onsen, Lotte Arai, Myoko or Madarao, but there are much better ski resorts in the area to visit.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Yukidaruma Kogen

Pros
  • The place is off the beaten track and likely to be deserted, and the powder will be all yours for the taking.
  • On those rare fine days, the views from the top of the ski area of the Sea of Japan are pretty nice.
  • Like other ski hills in the region, it scores plenty of snowfall (although perhaps not the dry powder you’d find further inland or in Hokkaido) and the aspect is favourable for snow preservation.
  • The piste terrain is suited to low-intermediate riders.
Cons
  • It’s a small hill and only worthy of a day of exploring (if there’s fresh snow).
  • There is very little excitement in-bounds at Cupid Valley and negligible fall-line off-piste skiing because the terrain is so undulating. On the plus side, there are no ropes anywhere and off-piste skiing seems to be well tolerated.
  • The only tasty sidecountry is well guarded by ski patrol and the local snitches, and it’s difficult to ride there covertly.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective 
  • Cupid Valley is sort of in the middle of nowhere, but it’s worth the drive to get there because the powder stealing hordes can’t get there that easily either.
  • Don’t expect much or any English to be spoken.

Yukidaruma Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Cupid Valley Ski Area has only 9 runs across 530 metres of vertical (430 – 960 metres) and only 4 lifts: a gondola that runs the full length of the resort; 2 quad chair lifts; and a double lift (aka a romance chair which is about as close as you’ll get to some cupid love!).

The official trail stats are 25% beginner, 60% intermediate and 15% advanced, but they are all intermediate runs. The beginner runs are steep whilst the two supposed black (mauve) runs are rather mellow and one of them is so short that the ride is over in a nano-second.

You can come to Yukidaruma Kogen to play in the trees. The best off-piste riding is accessed from the top quad chair lift where you can have fun on the lumps and bumps, but there isn’t much pitch or fall line, so snowboarders may not enjoy it as much as skiers who can fossick for powder more readily. There is also some backcountry behind Mt Hishigatake, but it’s not that remarkable. 

Where is Yukidaruma aka Cupid Valley?

The ski area sits on the northern flank of Mt Hishigatake in Niigata, close to the border with Nagano Prefecture. Cupid Valley Ski Resort is 32km southeast of Joetsu (on the coast), 31km north of Nozawa Onsen (in Nagano Prefecture) and 46km by road from Lotte Arai (also in Niigata Prefecture).

Accommodation

There are a few lodgings near the base of the ski area including slopeside resort owned villas, the Kubikino Hotel adjacent to the car park, and a few pensions.

Considering that Cupid Valley is more ideal for day trippers, you’re more likely to stay in Nozawa Onsen, Madarao or Myoko. Or if you’re also checking out Charmant Hiuchi and Lotte Arai, you could stay in the city of Joetsu.

Joetsu Accommodation Listings
Nozawa Onsen Accommodation Listings
Madarao Kogen Accommodation
Myoko Kogen Accommodation

Facilities

The ski resort facilities are adequate for basic needs. There is a ski school if you speak fluent Japanese, equipment and clothing rentals (hopefully you have your own anyway?!), games arcade, and a kids’ park (but Cupid Valley is not the best place to take your kids). Assuming that you’ll use none of those amenities, there is also a cafeteria and an obligatory crepe outlet.

Spa Yukidaruma Onsen is a 2 minute walk from the base of the ski resort if you want a soothing soak after skiing or snowboarding.

Tours That May Include Cupid Valley

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 1,454
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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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Cupid Valley here

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