Gala Yuzawa2.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
Gala has its own Shinkansen station
Gala has its own Shinkansen station
Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
Gala Yuzawa has lots of intermediate groomed runs
Gala Yuzawa has lots of intermediate groomed runs
Overlooking Yuzawa
Overlooking Yuzawa
The views of Yuzawa from the cafeteria
The views of Yuzawa from the cafeteria
Fun for families
Fun for families
Gala Yuzawa is ideal for intermediates
Gala Yuzawa is ideal for intermediates
Looking across to Yuzawa
Looking across to Yuzawa
The trip from Tokyo can take as little as 75 minutes
The trip from Tokyo can take as little as 75 minutes
A quiet weekday
A quiet weekday
Groomed runs
Groomed runs
Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort Japan
Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort Japan
Gala Yuzawa is quiet on weekdays
Gala Yuzawa is quiet on weekdays
Gala is convenient to access from Tokyo with a bullet train
Gala is convenient to access from Tokyo with a bullet train
Gala Yuzawa train station exits straight into the gondola station
Gala Yuzawa train station exits straight into the gondola station
Gala Yuzawa Japan
Gala Yuzawa Japan
Gala Yuzawa has comprehensive facilities and services
Gala Yuzawa has comprehensive facilities and services
Gorgeous views from the slopes
Gorgeous views from the slopes
A gondola heads from the bullet train station up to the main part of the ski area
A gondola heads from the bullet train station up to the main part of the ski area

Gala Yuzawa

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!).

Yuzawa Accommodation

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.

Takahan 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

Pros

  • 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.
Cons
  • 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.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Gala Yuzawa is suited to beginner and intermediate riders.

Packages/Tours That May Include Gala

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Snowcountry Progression Packages DETAILS
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.
Price p/p
USD 486
Book by July 31, 2016 and lock in last years rates
Ability: Intermediate, 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.
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Gala Yuzawa here