Heli direct from Haneda to the exclusive Numajiri Kogen Ski Lodge has to be the ultimate crowd beater option for anyone worried about the chances of getting covid randomly after Japan opens up again.
No monorails, no trains, no buses, just a scenic helicopter flight to the magnificently wild Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture.
Sounds good to us.
On several previous Aizu missions we have had no dramas doing the Shinkansen plus local train from Fukushima option, or the direct express airport bus option (about 4 hours). It’s one of the easiest and closest self drive options from Tokyo too.
But a heli from Haneda would be even better!
Numajiri Kogen Lodge enjoys a ski in/ski out location at the Numajiri Ski Resort (claimed as Japan’s oldest ski area).
The boutique lodge has a unique mountaineering heritage. It was founded by Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mt Everest. Junko took on the male climbing establishment of the time, founding the Ladies Climbing Club in 1969, after discovering there wasn’t one in the then very male dominated sport. The ladies’ slogan was “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves” and they certainly did! Several in fact, and by 1975 they built up to summiting Everest on a largely self-funded expedition.
It sits beside a run at Numajiri Ski Resort, a boutique area ideal for families with small children, and close to more, and larger, ski Aizu powder gems like Minowa, Nekoma, Alts Bandai and Grandeco.
All of these are only 10 – 30km away.
For couples and groups who prefer escaping crowds at major resorts and who want to experience real Japanese hospitality this is a great choice.
There would be few better places to recover from the rigours of an expedition than soaking in the therapeutic Nakonasawa Onsen water in Numajiri Lodge’s lovely baths.
But for next level onsen therapy do the hike up past a steaming hot waterfall to the source springs of the superheated water.
After a hard bash through deep snow I had the hottest bath of my life there last year, much to the amusement of my guide. In other seasons it’s a popular guided hike.
After Tabei’s passing in 2016 the lodge closed for a time.
But now it has been completely refurbished and renewed under the ownership of Ookawaso Ryokan, who have a 60 year tradition of hospitality at Aizu Ashinomaki Onsen.
The rooms feature luxurious fit outs, and superb cuisine featuring local seasonal ingredients by the resident top chef is a highlight.
If crowds of fellow foreigners are not your thing, especially with covid concerns likely to continue regardless of vaccination levels, then Numajiri Kogen is the ideal virtually private getaway.
Snow options are excellent, with something in the area to tempt all levels.
Snow quality and quantity is also good at the more interior/higher Aizu areas, like Minowa, Grandeco and Nekoma, especially in main winter mid-December to the end of February.
The wild setting is magnificent. Forests, lakes and snowy peaks dominated by the caldera cone remnants of Mt Bandai, stretch in all directions, not a city in sight.
Aprés? Well, a whisky or fine wine with fellow guests is it.
To book Numajiri Kogen Ski Lodge and the heli transfer option email your dates and preferences to firstname.lastname@example.org
Otherwise book the lodge on the website (in Japanese) here