Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
You can have a gala ball at the Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort in Japan! Gala Yuzawa is very unique in that it has its own shinkansen (bullet train) station, so it’s fabulously quick and convenient to get there from Tokyo for a day trip or short break. Hop off the train, take a few steps to the ticket office, a few more steps if you need to rent ski or snowboard equipment and clothing, and then in the same building you’ll find the gondola to get up to the slopes. Too easy!
Due to its ease of access from Tokyo
, if you think you’re going to find uncrowded slopes and abundant fresh powder then think again! If you’re an avid powder hound, Gala Yuzawa ski resort probably won’t be at the top of your bucket list, with steeper, higher, less crowded and better ski resorts elsewhere around Honshu. That being said, you can sometimes have a powdertastic day and score some great storm riding (on-piste) on foul weather days when most people are too scared to come out.
Gala Yuzawa Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The gondola from the train station takes you up to the main Gala Yuzawa ski area which has 17 courses, 11 lifts (many of which have poxy names akin with the horse drawn carriage era), and only 381 metres of vertical drop.
Gala Yuzawa is a reasonably small resort but it’s interconnected with Yuzawa Kogen
and its rather mellow slopes from the southern area, and Ishiuchi Maruyama
which is a fraction steeper from the northern area. For just a handful more yen, you can purchase a 3 Mountain Pass to access all three of these Yuzawa ski resorts.
The trail stats are 35% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 20% advanced. The northern area of Gula Yuzawa features easy green runs, the central area has more beginner runs as well as intermediate piste, whilst the southern area is slightly steeper (don’t get too excited – the maximum slopes only goes to 33 degrees!).
Gala Yuzawa Snow
The town of Yuzawa is not nicknamed “snow country” for nothing where it’s said to snow 11.8 metres on average per year. So snow volumes are generally impressive up at the top of Gala Yuzawa. With respect to the Gala Yuzawa snow quality, it’s generally very good but not quite the same as the famed Japan powder.
Where is Gala Yuzawa Japan?
The base of Gala Yuzawa is 3km northwest of the town of Yuzawa
in the Niigata Prefecture of Honshu, which is about 200km northwest of Tokyo
. To get there from Tokyo, it’s a speedy ride on the Joetsu Shinkansen to the Gala Yuzawa station (sometimes as little as 75 minutes!).
There is negligible accommodation near the base of Gala Yuzawa and most people on a multi-day trip stay in the town of Yuzawa. There are very regular buses between Gala Yuzawa and Yuzawa to connect you with your accommodation. See the Yuzawa accommodation
page for more information.
Yuzawa Hotel Listings
The Yuzawa Grand Hotel
is a deluxe hotel located opposite the Echigo-Yuzawa train station and it’s on the bus route to Gala Yuzawa.
The Yuzawa Ski House
is located in front of the Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort ropeway (interconnected with Gala Yuzawa), and offers free shuttles to various nearby ski resorts. The rooms are Japanese style and there is an onsen on-site.
is a 5 minute walk from Gala Yuzawa or there are free shuttles. This lovely ryokan has Japanese rooms with ensuite and there is a beautiful onsen. Apparently the “Snow Country” novel was written here, but hopefully you’ll be too busy out skiing to find this an inspirational place to write!
Otherwise you can stay at one of the Ishiuchi Maruyama hotels
(interconnected with Gala Yuzawa), some of which provide convenient ski in ski out access.
Of course day trippers also have the option of stay in one of the Tokyo hotels
Ski Resort Facilities
Gala Yuzawa has very well developed facilities, including plenty of English signs in case your kanji reading isn’t too great. See the Gala Yuzawa ski resort facilities
page for more information.
Summary of Pros and Cons of Gala Yuzawa
- From Tokyo, this is a perfect day tripping spot to get a quick snow fix.
- JR offers very inexpensive package deals for a train ticket and lift pass for Gala Yuzawa.
- The resort is very Anglophone friendly (ie English speakers).
- For overnight visitors, you can hang out in a “real” Japanese town rather than at a resort where you might not experience any Japanese culture.
- Yuzawa is a great base to check out the many surrounding ski resorts. Yuzawa, aka snow country, has a high concentration of ski resorts and not far away to the north in Minamiuonuma is another collection of ski resorts.
- Gala Yuzawa is very modern and is a resort with all the bells and whistles.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- The small ski area can be heaving with Tokyo-ites on weekends and the narrowness of some of the runs can exacerbate the congestion.
- There aren’t really any off-piste opportunities (although next door at Ishiuchi Maruyama you’ll find some). The resort is owned by the JR company which is very conservative. If you head off-piste you won’t just risk getting your lift pass pulled, you might get charged for trespassing.
- Like many other Japanese ski resorts there is no après ski (unless you define having a nap as après-ski!).
- With the exception of the discounted Shinkansen/lift passes, expect to pay a premium for everything else.
- Gala Yuzawa is suited to beginner and intermediate riders.
Packages/Tours That May Include Gala
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Gala Yuzawa here
GUIDED PROGRESSION PACKAGES
2 Nights | 2 Days Guided Instruction
From price based on twin/double-share room mid-week (Sunday night through to Thursday night) and is based on a 2-day/night package.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Ability: Intermediate to Strong Intermediate
Improve your skiing & snowboarding skills with a qualified instructor whilst visiting some of Japan's fabulous ski areas (11 to choose from) in the Echigo-Yuzawa region. This package is ideally suited to low intermediate and above skiers and boarders who want to improve skills on the piste & in powder.