The Legendary Roadie....NEW for 2018!
Definition of Roadie: “a member of a crew for a traveling group of musicians or other entertainers, whose work usually includes the setting up of equipment”. Well that is similar to what your ski guide does for you on tour. However Epic Ski Adventures have two other versions of a “Roadie”. The first is an adventurous ski road trip
with a group of mates or like minded individuals and the second is something we drink in the van at the end of an epic day
on the way back to our accommodation. Either way it all makes for a legendary ski trip especially when you get to ski in three different prefectures (provinces). Moving from Nagano
then back to Nagano you will experience a snow quality like no other.
By our definition, a “roadie” means this tour will move about a bit. The first four nights are based in Yudanaka
which acts as a hub to a number of resorts which we drive to each day. You will then hit the road and ski a half day at Kagura ski resort and stay half way up the mountain at Wada-goya lodge at 1,380 metres so we can access first tracks the following morning. We then relocate to Tenjin Lodge for four nights
for some legendary skiing then back to Yudanaka for the last four nights
for more action on the slopes.
Skiers on this tour need to be solid advanced to expert skiers
with no exceptions
Your Japanese ski adventure is not complete without being immersed in a culture that has to be experience to be appreciated. Visit the world famous snow monkeys
up close, be part of a traditional Geisha performance, be entertained by the taiko drum, shamisen guitar and lion dance, participate in a Karate performance, explore one of Japan’s oldest castles in Matsumoto and visit the Zenkoji Temple and 1998 Olympic museum in Nagano, soak in the rejuvenating Onsens
, taste the local sake and beer
recipes and visit historic Shibu Town. And let’s not forget the night where the group all eat together at the Sushi train followed by an legendary night in the karaoke bar. You will get a totally authentic Japanese ski experience.
This tour is for advanced to expert skiers only
with no exceptions. There is no leeway on this and we will be vetting our guests ski level prior to signing up for the tour.
For shorter tours check out the Nagano Ski Buffet
or the Nagano Powder Chasers
Ski Areas Visited
This tour has the ability to visit a number of resorts in the Nagano
prefectures. The resorts have been hand-picked based around our three Q’s criteria – quality, quantity and quietness. The resorts visited are dictated by the conditions on any given day and each area has its own individual micro climate so don’t be surprised if we visit the same resort more than once. Transport to these mountain is either by ESA buses or vans and different groups are mixed together to fill the seats on the Nagano part of the tour (The Niigata and Gunma part of the tour has its own vehicle). The resorts we can access for our clients include: Nagano - Shiga Kogen
(with 19 interconnecting resorts), Madarao
, Ryuo Ski Park
and Nozawa Onsen
; Niigata – Kagura
; Gunma – Tenjindaira
and Minikami Houdaigi
. Drive times to these resorts vary from 15 minutes to 50 minutes in good road conditions
Logistics & Luggage
When you leave for the Niigata and Gunma part of the tour there is only so much room in the van for luggage. Skis will be stored on the roof, along with AVI packs and poles, and ski boots in the luggage compartment. This leaves room for one bag each
and is limited to a pack or small suitcase the size you would put in carry-on luggage in a plane
. The gear you need to take is a change of clothes from your ski gear, toiletries and a towel. On the night you stay on the mountain at Kagura, all that is required is some overnight gear including a small towel to go in your AVI pack which you will unload at the lodge before skiing that day. The rest of your gear can be left at your accommodation at Yudanaka.
Accommodation & Meals
There are two types of accommodation when based in Yudanaka, the first four nights at Hostel Aibiya in western style room and the last four nights at Ryokan Biyu in Japanese style room. Wadagoya lodge at Kagura is dorm type sleeping on Japanese futons, and Tenjin Lodge accom is in a Japanese style room (however if booked early enough they have a number of western style rooms with queen double beds and king size single beds).
Hostel AibyaHostel Aibiya
is located in Yudanaka township and the perfect place to relax after a day on the slopes. Yoshi and his family provide a high level of Japanese service backed up with western insights gained by working overseas. English speaking with a wealth of knowledge of the Nagano area, Yoshi will look after all your needs.
The hostel has an option of quad share single western bed rooms and twin share rooms with shared bathroom, and there is the option to upgrade to the twin/triple deluxe rooms with private bathrooms.
There is a well equipped kitchen for those who would like to cook themselves or you can enjoy the many traditional Japanese restaurants only a short walk away. There are two different types of lounge rooms and a separate cinema room. There are separate male and female shared shower rooms.
A free continental breakfast is provided each day with breads, cereal, fruits, yoghurt, coffee, tea and fruit juices.
Free WI-FI is available throughout the hostel. A gift shop with crafts made locally and beverages, local Shiga Kogen beer and snacks are available for sale. Experience the tradition at a local ryokan onsen for a small fee.
The hostel is only a 3 minute walk from the train station and local convenience stores are nearby.
Ryokan Biyo no YadoRyokan Biyu no Yado
...quad dorm rooms...
is a 3.5 star Ryokan
Rooms all come with private ensuite/bathroom
and are Japanese-style with woven tatami floors
and futon beds
. All rooms have a flat screen TV, small fridge & kettle. Your room also has a traditional yukata which is not mandatory to wear at this Ryokan, although it is definitely comfortable attire after a day on the slopes.
The Ryokan also has some western rooms which are double the size of the Japanese rooms available as an up-grade for an additional cost.
There is a spectacular an indoor Japanese bathhouse
(onsen) and outdoor hot spring
(rotenburo) and there is also a private onsen available
for rent for an additional fee.
The THREE night-time meals included in the Ryokan Biyu package are traditional multi-course Japanese cuisine
served in the hotel dining area. Breakfast (also included) is either Japanese or Western-style
. For the remaining night-time meals you have the choice of many authentic Japanese restaurants in down-town Yudanaka or Nakano, or you can buy additional meals at the Ryokan.
There are massage services available, free wi-fi in the common lounge area, a luxurious lounge bar and common seating area, drinks vending machines, grand piano, large screen TV, karaoke and a souvenir shop.
...deluxe Japanese-style rooms...
.....outdoor hot springs
Tenjin Lodge is a family-owned and operated mountain lodge, deep in the Joetsu National Park, and just minutes away from Tenjindaira Ski Resort. Your hosts, Bo Yeon, Kieren and their staff provide a homely experience for travellers, and their daughter Hana acts as entertainment manager, and the family pet Lucky is the ever attentive receptionist.
There are two types of rooms Western or Japanese style with their own toilet and wash basin, with shared lodge bathing facilities. Each room has a powerful winter heater with a fridge and free WI-FI throughout the property. The western rooms are first in best dressed as they are limited in number. There is also a family room that sleeps up to six people.
The male and female baths are fed by the same natural mountain spring which supplies water to the lodge. They are not onsens as the water is heated to temperature and the room has a pleasant ambiance with views of the forest outside. The water is not re-circulated so the baths are operating on a constant flow. Each bathroom has two showers which run hot 24 hours of the day and during the ski season the baths are available between 5pm and 8pm.
Breakfasts are served at the Lazy Bear Restaurant in house and are made up of either the western breakfast consisting of a hearty serving of scrambled eggs and toast or the mountain breakfast consisting of warm oatmeal served with chopped seasonal fruit and yogurt. Both breakfasts come with coffee/tea or juice. The evening meals at the lodge consist of Italian pastas, South East Asian and Korean dishes.
You will also travel into the local town of Minakami for two of the nights to sample some of the tasty cuisine from the local restaurants. A must is Restaurant Daruma – Japanese Izakaya in Minakami where the Master is always welcoming and he serves up some great value cuisine.
.....a nice cummunal area
Experience Kagura Ski Resort to the fullest by staying up on the mountain at 1,380m altitude in the newly renovated Wadagoya Mountain Hut. Delicious meals, hot baths, draft beer, and automatic first tracks. Dedicated skiers could not ask for anything more. Wadagoya sleeps up to 32 on dormitory style futons - it’s like camping out all over again.
...fabulous food at the lodge...
NOTE: This itinerary is a guide. The tour is dictated by the weather each day and your guide will fit around where the best conditions are. This is a powder tour so wider skis are recommended to get the best out of your time with ESA. Your guide is there to show you lines you may not have discovered on your own.
Also note: the evening performances of the Geisha, Taiko Drum and Karate demonstrations may vary on which night they fall on the 14 day tour due to overlap in bookings.
Make your way to Yudanaka (home of the snow monkeys) on either the amazing rail system or a shuttle from Narita or Haneda airport and be picked up at the station at Yudanaka and taken to your lodging at Hostel Aibiya (further information on how to get to Yudanaka is contained in the FAQs and pre trip instructions). The area has a history of over 1,300 years as a hot springs resort and more recently was put on the map due to the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games. Before you head out for dinner at the many fine eateries around Yudanaka, you will be met by your guide to review the plan for the next fourteen days.
Made up of 19 resorts Shiga Kogen is the largest ski area in Asia with the highest lift access in Japan. Because Shiga is so large and elevated, fresh lines can be found days after a snowfall. And because relatively few westerners have discovered this area the queues are almost non-existent and another bonus is that very few Japanese ski off-piste. After skiing, why not try an onsen to sooth any aches and pains followed by a local beer or wine from the lounge bar. Tonight is a chance to get to know the rest of your group even better in a social setting, so why not try the local restaurant Hakko which serves a variety of Japanese and Western dishes.
Madarao (Madapow) is another of the Japanese ski fields that does not attract the hoards of gaijins (foreigners). This field seems to have its own micro climate and when it snows here it can be very light and deep. If you are looking for a change from the Japanese fare there is a restaurant on the mountain that makes the best burgers and pizzas. Tonight we will travel into the town of Nakano for your first tour meal to enjoy a meal at Kappa Sushi Train followed by the new signature event of karaoke at the purpose built bar at Ryokan Biyu. There is a one song minimum either as single, duet or group to ensure everyone can ski the next day!
After breakfast we will travel to Nozawa Onsen for some more action on the snow. Considered by some as the birthplace of skiing in Japan, its 300 hectares of terrain and 50km of slopes will not disappoint. If time permits at the end of the day we will take a walk through Nozawa Onsen township and enjoy the many shops and eating treats. For those that would like a totally Japanese meal experience just down the street is a great yakatori restaurant. Tonight you will be entertained by a traditional Geisha performance at the Ryokan Biyu.
Roadie time! This is the part of the trip where we lighten the load. The skis go on the roof and the boots in the back. Each person has a small bag akin to a carry-on bag in a plane. A half day off the skis to rest those legs goes a long way to ensure that the next part of the legendary roadie goes well. The travel time of about 2.5 hours from Yudanaka to the Kagura ropeway will see you arriving just before lunch. You will make your way with a small over night travel bag to the Wadagoya Lodge via three lifts to drop your gear off and then enjoy some afternoon skiing to familiarise yourselves with the terrain for an early start the next day. The dining is covered in the tour cost tonight.
Staying on the mountain has its advantages. First tracks whether it is a fresh snow day or not is still way cool. Kagura is a three-in-one ski resort that incorporates the areas of Kagura, Mitsumata and Tashiro. The Kagura Ski Resort is also interconnected with Naeba Ski Resort via a super long gondola, the Dragondola, to form one large ski area referred to as Mt Naeba. The real goodies are off the top lift which gives us access to a wide range of terrain with some very light snow if the snow god plays ball. Depending on how the day goes, the guide may relocate all the overnight gear to the vehicle by himself and send the rest of the group on the 5.5 km gondola that links Kagura with Naeba to be met again at the Prince Hotel in Naeba. Time to break out the roadies as from there we will travel to meet up with Bo, Kieren. Hana, Lucky and the team at Tenjin Lodge for a knock up meal and hot bath.
Game on. After breakfast, if the Snow God has co-operated we are off to Tenjindaira (the locals call it Tenjin). This is where things start to get real. Tenjin is not an area to be trifled with and the area turns up the volume to what you have been experiencing thus far on the tour in regard to steepness, depth and risk. So, on this part of the tour ESA engage local guide Kieren for his knowledge and experience on this mountain to bring our guide to guest ratio to 2:6. Depending on the day you may break into two groups of 3 guests skiing the same area or run it with a lead guide and tail guide. By the end of the day why not try a craft beer from the bar Tenjin Lodge, freshen up in the natural spring hot bath then we will go and dine at a Minikami favourite restaurant – Daruma.
Because Tenjin gets so much snow there are times it is just not possible to ski it. So a backup plan is needed which the Gunma area provides in the resort of Minakami Houdaigi. You are not going to come across any westerners here and the mountain has a real locals feel. Mount Hotaka (Hotakasan) in Gunma has various ski resorts sitting on its flanks, yet the Hodaigi Ski Resort is located on the northwestern slope and many of the runs face due north, so the snow quality is particularly nice. After another legendary day on the snow, finish up your roadie as it is time for a visit to Takaragawa Onsen which is Japan’s largest outdoor onsen. It is a mixed onsen and located in a valley with a river bubbling between numerous hot pools. Back to Tenjin Lodge for another amazing meal prepared by Bo and the team.
After refuelling in the breakfast room and if the conditions permit we are back to Tenjin to put down some more legendary lines. Our second back up plan if this does not transpire is the resort of Hakkaisan. The Hakkaisan Ski Resort has some fun off-piste skiing near the cable car and the short cuts between the snaking green trails, but the real fun is the sidecountry terrain that includes interesting tree skiing as well as chutes, rock littered slopes, and cliffettes. For the last evening at Tenjin Lodge we will dine in the town of Minakami then share an evening nightcap with our guide and host Kieren and relive some new found ski stories.
After packing the van we will continue the Legendary Roadie. Our first stop is Matsumoto Castle which is the oldest 5 story, 6 layer castle tower in Japan. Get a photo with the Samurai, Ninja and Geisha who frequent the castle garden area. Roam around Nakamachi-dori street and Nawate-dori street to soak up the old time Matsumoto atmosphere. For those in need of some western cuisine there is a Hawaiian restaurant with a wide range of burgers. No visit to Nagano is complete without visiting the Zenkoji Temple with over 1400 years of history. Unique in the fact that the city of Nagano was built around the temple thus known as a temple city and that it houses the oldest Buddhist image in Japan. You can walk through the pitch-black corridors under the main hall and tradition has it that if you touch the key below the principle image, your entry into paradise is secured (apparently they have lots of powder snow there!!). If time permits you will also visit the Winter Olympic Museum and speed skating rink and a massive ski store called Xebio sports. The group will check into Ryokan Biyu in Yudanaka and enjoy an amazing meal. You might want to bring your camera.
After breakfast we will drive to either Togakushi or Ryuoo Ski Park depending on where the best snow is to be found. With seven lifts, your time at Togakushi will have you smiling with some of the easiest access slack country around. This is a truly authentic Japanese resort. Ryuoo is much the same and the areas only ropeway offers some great tree skiing and steep open courses. Get together with the rest of your group for dinner. You might want to choose the restaurant Goen opposite the train station to toast your glasses and indulge in some quality Western and Japanese fare.
Because Madarao is just that good we will check it out again and also include the adjoining resort of Tangram. After a big day at Madarao/Tangram many guests require a “roadie” from the Lawson store at the bottom of the mountain to celebrate their epic day. After another exquisite meal at the Ryokan Biyu your nights entertainment includes a karate performance and teaching session from one of Japan’s Grand Masters.
After breakfast you will further explore Shiga Kogen for your last day on the snow. The great thing about the 19 connecting resorts at Shiga is that you may ski one area for the morning then after lunch relocate to another part of the mountain for more powder action. Your pass gives you access to the whole of Shiga and your guide knows where those private stashes are located. Being the final day, if the Snow God helps out we will ski a part of the mountain we call the “happy ending”. If time allows we will visit the local sake museum and taste up to 10 different sakes that are made on site. Enjoy a meal at one of the many traditional Japanese restaurants in Yudanaka followed by a taiko drum, shamisen guitar and lion dance performance at the Ryokan Biyu.
It is time to bid farewell to your fabulous hosts at the Ryokan Biyu. No visit is complete to Yudanaka without some interaction with the famous snow monkeys. This is the only place in the world you can see the snow monkeys soaking in natural hot pools up close and personal.
2018 Rates & Inclusions
Per person - ¥429,000 per person
Private room upgrade - ¥54,000 per person
- Rates & invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
- Rates are based on twin share (private room upgrade available as shown above)
- Pick up and drop off at Yudanaka train station
- 13 nights accommodation including:
- 4 x nights accommodation at Hostel Aibiya in twin share western room with shared bathroom,
- 1 x night at Wada-goya lodge at Kagura in dorm Japanese style rooms,
- 4 x nights at Tenjin Lodge in twin share Japanese style room and
- 4 x nights accommodation at Ryokan Biyu in twin share Japanese style rooms with own bathrooms.
- Includes daily breakfasts and 6 dinners during the tour.
- Ski guide (1:6 guides to guest ratio)
- Ski guides for two days at Tenjin (2:6 guide to guest ratio)
- 10 x full day and 1 x half day lift passes
- All mountain transfers
- Free transport to the Sushi train for dinner followed by a karaoke evening at the Ryokan Biyu karaoke bar
- Transport to the world famous snow monkey park
- Geisha Performance
- Taiko drum, shamisen guitar and lion dance performance
- Karate performance from a Grand Master champion of Japan
- Rejuvenating Onsens visits
- Walk around 1300 year old historic Shibu town
- Local sake factory sampling tour
- Visit to Matsumoto Castle and Nagano to visit the Zenkoji Temple and 1998 Winter Olympic Museum
- Plus many more hidden gems....
- International Flights - book flights here
- Travel Insurance - purchase online here
- Lunches, snacks, alcohol, dinners (apart from the advertised dinners)
- Rental gear (although we can assist you with getting good rates)
- Avalanche safety gear (available for 1,000 yen / day)
DEPOSIT & FULL PAYMENT
- Deposit is 20% of full tour price per person.
- All deposits are non-refundable.
- Final balance due: 30 days prior to departure.
- All payments are in Japanese Yen (JPY)
CANCELLATION BY YOU
- more than 30 days prior to departure, full deposit forfeited.
- Less than 30 days 100% forfeited.
- Tour operator highly recommends you take out travel insurance at time of sending your deposit.
CANCELLATION BY EPIC SKI ADVENTURES
Epic Ski Adventures reserves the right to cancel any tour prior to departure. In this case you will receive a full refund. You will not be entitled to make any further claim for compensation, damages, expenses, loss of time or inconvenience.
Other Important Information
Terrain & SafetyThe rules when skiing at resorts in Japan can be a lot different to what is experienced in Western resorts around the world. At a high percentage of the resorts in Japan, trail skiing is the norm and anything off the main marked trails is deemed "out-of-bounds". The out of bounds is not patrolled so as far as the resort is concerned; skiing there is at your own risk. The out of bounds skiing provided by ESA is deemed (what has been termed in Japan by westerners) “slack country” or “side country”. Many times these out of bounds areas are in between two marked courses so at the bottom of the run you meet up on a marked course to take you back to the lifts, hence the term “slack country”.
Some resorts are more lenient with "out-of-bounds" skiing and others very strict. Some will have signs that state "ski at your own risk" where others may not. ESA consider everything that is not on a marked trail to be out of bounds.
If you wish to experience the "out-of-bounds" (skiing off any of the marked trails) areas:
The ESA team have the following credentials:
- You must carry the essential avalanche safety equipment (beacon, shovel, probe & backpack to carry such gear)
- You must be able to ski at a sufficient ability / level to manage the conditions on the day for any out-of-bounds runs
- You will need to undertake an safety instruction session on the use of your avalanche equipment (even if you already know how to use it)
- You will be required to sign a release of liability agreement prior to undertaking any out-of-bounds skiing with ESA
Exclusion of Liability & RiskAdventure sports activities involve many risks, dangers and hazards. These risks and hazards are outlined in the ESA release of liability, waiver of claims, assumptions of risks and indemnity agreement which all participants are required to read and sign before participating in adventure sports activities. This agreement will affect your legal rights should you be involved in an accident.
- knowledge and experience at skiing the various resorts they visit in the Nagano and Niigata areas
- accreditation and different combinations of instructors, ski patrol, avalanche awareness and first aid
- ski instructors have a minimum of level 2 NZIAS certification.