Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort
The Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort near Yuzawa Japan is probably most well known for the distinctive Hotel Green Plaza Joetsu
. The striking ski-in ski-out hotel at Joetsu Kokusai has a red roof with a mix of Tudor and goth architecture, and in addition to being incredibly family friendly, it comes complete with a full dose of Japanese kitsch! Not surprisingly, its look and feel is rather similar to its counterpart at Cortina, the Hotel Green Plaza Hakuba
The hotels are about where the similarities end for the two ski resorts. Hakuba Cortina
is a small ski resort with some awesome steep tree skiing, whilst Joetsu Kokusai is a sprawling ski resort that is mostly very mellow. Joetsu Kokusai is ideal for families, beginners and intermediates, and considering it has its own train station which is only 12 minutes from Echigo-Yuzawa Shinkansen station, it’s very quick and easy to get there from Tokyo
Joetsu Kokusai Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Joetsu Kokusai ski resort is large by Japanese ski resort standards, and they make it sound big by describing the trails as covering 3,800,000 square metres. When converting this to a more conventional way of describing the size of a ski resort, this is only 380 hectares (940 acres) which makes it about the same size as nearby Naeba
, and it only has 22 courses (marked runs). When comparing sizes to international resorts, it’s less than a tenth the size of Whistler Blackcomb
, and about 1/8th the size of Park City Ski Resort
The number of lifts (25) also makes the Joetsu Kokusai ski resort sound big, but these are not gondolas or long high speed lifts. Due to the nature of the terrain lay-out, lots of little short lifts are required. Rather than being a mountain with a big face that provides long fall line runs, the ski area is more of a series of undulating hills. Combined with slow lifts, it can take a while to get from one area to another whilst exploring the Joetsu Ski Resort.
The official trail stats are 30% beginner, 50% intermediate, and 20% expert, with some of the latter runs being appropriate for strong intermediate riders. Sometimes a couple of the “expert” runs are groomed which takes away part of the challenge, but they sure are fun for some speedy turns.
Where is Joetsu Kokusai?
The Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort is located in Minimi Uonuma City, 14km north of the town of Yuzawa
in Niigata. This is snow country and there are lots of nearby Yuzawa ski resorts
including Mt Granview next door.
The ski resort has its own train station, JoetsuKokusai, on the Joetsu line, and it takes only 12 minutes to get there from Echigo Yuzawa. From Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa, the Shinkansen (bullet train) takes only 75 to 80 minutes.
Joetsu Kokusai Hotel and Accommodation
The lairy looking Hotel Green Plaza Joetsu
provides ski-in ski-out convenience, western or western-Japanese combination rooms, and lots of amenities.
For those on more of a budget, there are some pensions in the village at the base, and various other accommodation options in the Minami Uonuma area including ryokans, pensions and hotels.
Minami Uonuma Accommodation Listings
Yuzawa Hotel Listings
Ski Resort Facilities
This ski resort was built during the bubble era so no expense has been spared with respect to the facilities. Amenities and services include equipment rentals, ski school, multiple restaurants, retail shops, and an onsen. And kids are well catered for with kids snow play parks and child care.
Summary of Pros and Cons of Joetsu Kokusai
- This is a reasonably large ski area by Japanese standards.
- Joetsu Kokusai is very quick and easy to access from Tokyo.
- The ski resort offers amazing views on fine days.
- The slopes cater very well to intermediates, and the beginner terrain is pretty good too.
- Joetsu Kokusai is incredibly family friendly, although it doesn’t cater particularly well to English speaking children.
- The hill/s are reasonably flat, so advanced riders will get bored rather quickly considered there are minimal on-piste or off-piste challenges.
- Not surprisingly considering the ease of access from Tokyo, it gets rather busy on weekends.
- The unusual terrain and lift layout and slow lifts are not conducive to long runs and scoring lots of vertical in a day.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- Staying at the hotel is very resorty, but if you love modern Japanese resort culture and buffets then you’ll be in heaven.
- The Hotel Green Plaza Joetsu is a nice hotel but it is rather expensive.
- Very few staff speak English and you might only see a handful of other international guests.
Tours That Might Include Joetsu Kokusai
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Joetsu Kokusai 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, 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.