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How To Get There

Where is Madarao Kogen?

Madarao Kogen lies in the very northern part of the Nagano Prefecture near the border of the Niigata Prefecture, 38km northeast of the city of Nagano (which is 233km northwest of Tokyo). Iiyama (pronounced ee-ama), a little temple town, is located 11km east of Madarao.

Getting to Madarao Kogen

Narita Airport (the Tokyo international airport) is the main gateway for Madarao. There are two main options for getting to Madarao Kogen from Narita Airport:
  1. Combo of train/train to Iiyama/bus or taxi – this includes a train from Narita Airport to Tokyo (or Ueno), and then a bullet train (Shinkansen) to Iiyama, and then a bus or taxi to Madarao. This is the fastest route depending on the timing of connections (3-4 hours). The other advantage of taking the trains is that it provides a great insight into a part of the Japanese culture. If your flight arrives into Narita Airport in the evening, there is some potential you’ll need to do an overnight stay in a Narita Airport hotel
  2. Madarao bus all the way - the trip takes longer, about 5-6 hours, but the Madarao Kogen bus provides the advantage of not having to lug your bags around the train stations and on and off trains and buses. This is also the transport of choice if you arrive at the Narita airport in the evening and want to get to Madarao the same night. You can book your airport transfer with Nagano Snow Shuttle. There are a few schedules a day and the evening schedules include drop off at your Madarao accommodation (day time drop off at Madarao Kogen Hotel).
Nagano Snow Shuttle Airport Transfers

Haneda Airport (the Tokyo international airport) is another option as a gateway airport, but it's not as ideal. There are two main options for getting to Madarao Kogen from Haneda Airport:
  1. Combo of train/train to Iiyama/bus or taxi – this includes 2 trains from Haneda Airport to Tokyo, and then a bullet train (Shinkansen) to Iiyama, and then a bus or taxi to Madarao. This is the fastest route depending on the timing of connections. If your flight arrives into Haneda Airport in the evening, there is some potential you’ll need to do an overnight stay in a Haneda Airport hotel
  2. Shuttle bus all the way - there is an early morning bus from Haneda to Madarao Kogen Hotel with Nagano Snow Shuttle which may also require a Haneda airport hotel stay.

OPTION 1 DETAILS

From Tokyo (Narita) Airport
From Tokyo international airport, take the train (Narita express) to Tokyo (Shinjuju) station which will take about 1 hour. These trains depart the airport rail terminal frequently and you can use a Japan Rail Pass for this train. Alternatively if you’re happy to purchase train tickets once you’re there, you can catch the Keiser Skyliner train to Ueno (a train station on the Nagano side of Tokyo), which only takes 35 minutes.

From Tokyo Station (or Ueno) to Iiyama
Trains from Narita Airport arrive at platforms #1-4 of Tokyo Station and there’s quite a hike up to the Shinkansen Bullet trains. The Iiyama bullet train departs Tokyo Station regularly throughout the day (you can check train timetables here), and the trip takes about 100 minutes.

Alternatively if you’ve arrived at Ueno station, you have to swap from the local Ueno train station to the Ueno Shinkansen train station, a walk of about 150 metres. This station isn’t quite as chaotic as Tokyo and offers the advantage of a faster trip time.

The Shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno to Iiyama can be covered using the Japan Rail Pass or you can just purchase the tickets at the station.

From Iiyama Station to Madarao Kogen
From the Iiyama train station there are somewhat regular Nagaden and No-Ta-Ma buses to the resort or you can get a taxi (about 30 minutes).

Is it Worth Purchasing a JR Rail Pass?

See our Japan rail travel page for more information on the JR East Pass (Nagano Niigata) including is it worth purchasing a JR East Pass

Driving to Madarao

Driving to Madarao provides the distinct advantage of having the flexibility to easily visit various nearby ski resorts and go powder hunting. The Madarao telephone number for GPS navigation is 0269-64-3214.

The roads up to Madarao are somewhat windy and steep for a Japanese ski resort, but the rental cars have snow tyres so there is no need to put chains on. And with sophisticated English GPS, navigating around is pretty easy. You can rent a car from Narita Airport or Nagano.

Private Transport to Madarao

Madarao is often included on various multi-resort tours where a guide/driver to take you to Madarao is part of the tour. These tours may be based in Myoko Kogen or Yudanaka.

Getting Between Iiyama and the Ski Resort

There is an inexpensive night bus to Iiyama that departs Madarao at 4pm and returns at 9pm, that can be organised via your accommodation. The night bus stops at the drugstore (a massive supermarket) and at the station where you can “catch” the sushi train, or there are a variety of other cool eateries in town. Alternatively if you want to explore Iiyama during the day, enquire with your accommodation regarding the bus schedule or a taxi.

Getting Around Madarao Ski Resort

There are no public shuttle buses around the village so you may need to do a bit of walking. From the lower part of the village it takes about 10 minutes to get to the slopes. Some of the Madarao accommodation providers will assist with shuttles around the village.

Other Ski Resorts Near Madarao

Madarao is inter-connected via the lifts and slopes with Tangram Ski Circus, a resort that’s particularly good for intermediate riders.

At the end of the village is the Hotel Sympathique Madarao with the Madarao Sympathique Ski Resort dropping down below it. This is a tiny ski resort with only 190 metres of vertical drop and a handful of runs for beginners and intermediates.

Nozawa Onsen is a 22.5km drive to the northwest of Madarao, and there are very inexpensive government subsidised No To Ma buses that connect Nozawa Onsen, Togari Onsen ski resort (good for a powder day to get away from any crowds), and Madarao. The timetables are such that it’s possible to do a day trip at Madarao from Nozawa Onsen, but not vice versa. However the bus is great as a transfer if you want to do a multi-day stay at Madarao and then continue your holiday at Nozawa. A reservation for the bus is required, which can be made by your Madarao accommodation provider.

Madarao is also close to Myoko Kogen with Akakura Onsen, the main hub of Myoko Kogen, being only 19km to the west. However the Tangram side is more accessible than the Madarao side. There are daily buses between Myoko Kogen and Madarao such as the Myoko Shuttle bus.

Other nearby ski resorts: A couple of the Madarao lodges provide private tours/transport to nearby ski resorts for their guests such a Snowball Chalet, Hakken by Active Life and Xplore by Active Life.