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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.

Madarao Kogen Travel – Getting There

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.
  2. Chuo Taxi all the way - the trip takes longer, about 5-6 hours, but it 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. The cost differential is dependent on the number of people in your group. 
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 hotelOPTION 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

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. See the bottom of the Madarao overview page for more information.

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 a taxi.

Getting Around Madarao Ski Resort
It only takes about 10 minutes to walk from one end of the village to the other, so it’s easy enough to get around on foot. Otherwise there are orange shuttle buses that travel around the various areas of the village. These go regularly at the start and end of the ski day.

For those staying at either the Monaile Hotel or the Madarao Kogen Hotel, there is an on demand shuttle that operates between the two hotels.

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. Whilst the two resorts are pretty close, the road between the two is sometimes closed in winter. 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 subsidized 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. For those staying in Myoko Kogen as part of a Myoko Powder Package or Nagano Niigata Explorer Tour, day trips to Madarao/Tangram can be incorporated which include transport to Tangram, a combined lift pass, and guiding. Daily buses between Myoko Kogen and Madarao will be available for the 2016-17 season.

Other nearby ski resorts:

Madarao packages
Ski lodging & accommodations
Hosted Ski Tours & Multi-Resort Safaris