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Powder Odyssey - chase the powder in Northern Honshu

Cupid Valley Trail Map
Cupid Valley Trail Map
Cupid Valley Ski Resort
Cupid Valley Ski Resort
Yukidaruma Sidecountry
Yukidaruma Sidecountry
Cupid Valley Ski Resort Japan
Cupid Valley Ski Resort Japan

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 for intermediate skiers and snowboarders it probably is. Cupid Valley is a pokey little ski area with only a small number of piste, yet for skiers and snowboarders with a sense of adventure who want to explore the off-piste and sidecountry areas, Yukidaruma (Cupid Valley) offers enough powder fun for at least a day.

Rather than being a destination ski resort, Cupid Valley Ski Resort is more ideal as a day trip from Myoko, Madarao, Nozawa or even Yuzawa.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Yukidaruma Kogen

  • The place is off the beaten track and likely to be deserted, and the powder will be all yours for the taking.
  • Lovely tree skiing and sidecountry if you’ve got some good route-finding skills.
  • 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).
  • It’s a small hill and probably only worthy of a day or two of exploring (if there’s fresh snow).
  • There is very little excitement in-bounds at Cupid Valley.
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 15% beginner, 60% intermediate and 25% advanced, but it’s unlikely you’d come here to ride the piste. And the two supposed black runs are rather mellow and one of them is so short that the ride is over in a nano-second.

You come to Yukidaruma Kogen to play in the trees and do a spot of hiking to make the most of those steep, albeit short, backcountry runs. The patrollers are a little inconsistent about their approach to powder hounds, but generally it's a free for all.

Cupid Valley Snow

It snows a lot at Cupid Valley, but no one seems to collect snow accumulation data to put a figure on it. If nearby ski areas that are equally close to the coast with similar elevations are anything to go by, then it could be as much as 13-16 metres of snow per season. The aspect of Cupid Valley is very conducive to the quality of the snow being well maintained, with many of the slopes facing north to northwest.

Where is Yukidaruma aka Cupid Valley?

The ski area sits on the northern flank of Mt Hishigatake in Niigata, close to the border with the north of the Nagano Prefecture. Cupid Valley Ski Resort is 32km southeast of Joetsu, 31km north of Nozawa Onsen and 56km north east of Akakura of Myoko Kogen.

Driving is the easiest way to get there (or as part of a tour where transport is included). The telephone number for GPS navigation is 025-593-2041. Otherwise Cupid Valley is about 14km from the Mushigawaosugi train station, from where there are the occasional free shuttle bus.


There are a few lodgings near the base of the ski area including slopeside resort owned villas, a hotel and a few pensions.

However considering that Cupid Valley is more ideal for day trippers, you’re more likely to stay in Nozawa Onsen, Madarao or Myoko.


The ski resort facilities are adequate for basic needs. There is a ski school if you speak fluent Japanese, equipment and clothing rentals (surely you have your own?!), and a kids’ park (probably not the best place to take your kids). Assuming that you’ll use none of those amenities, there is also an eatery and the Yukidaruma Onsen which you’ll undoubtedly make the most of.

Tours That May Include Cupid Valley

No listings were found for Cupid Valley.

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