Myoko in Niigata Prefecture is a must for Japan family snow holidays report the Ternes, who have done two big family trips there and can’t wait to get back for more as soon as Japan opens up again.
[A Joint Promotion with Niigata Prefecture]
Our family has visited Myoko twice now for a ski holiday and what fantastic times we have had!
There is such a wide variety of snow sports activities and one of our highlights of the location is that it keeps us feeling like we are immersed in the Japanese culture compared with other larger ski resort locations in Japan.
We have flown into Tokyo Narita for both trips and have experienced catching the bus from the airport (about 5 hrs) and utilising one of the world’s leading train networks (metro, bullet and alpine trains). The 3 hour train ride is a faster way to arrive at Myoko and we found that stopping at Ueno, rather than Tokyo Central, is a shorter, easier walk for the kids to switch to the bullet train. It was also easier and quicker than our previous trips to Hokkaido that requiring changing to a domestic flight and then getting a long bus ride.
Both our stays have been at the Akakura Kanko / Akakura Onsen Resort in Myoko. Over the years the main strip here has grown to be very vibrant with many new restaurants appearing and new hotels and accommodation developments. There are many places to head out for dinner with a wide variety of Japanese and western options. The kids are happy and have a chance to try some new dishes.
Our accommodation, Red Warehouse, suits our needs well with a location very close to the main street. Red Warehouse has both Western and Japanese style rooms with bunk beds in the western rooms and futon mattresses in the Japanese rooms. Most rooms have an ensuite toilet and basin in the room, with shared shower facilities. We prefer the Japanese rooms as they give the kids some local cultural experience and there’s a little more room to move around.
The lodge operators are super helpful, making everyone feel welcome and at home during their stay. Having an industrial kitchen on site means you can cook meals at home too, so you don’t have to eat out all the time. The lodge owned shuttle bus takes you to the local supermarket to get supplies, a fantastic service and fun shopping experience with the kids stocking up on funky Japanese snacks.
The combined Akakura Kanko / Akakura Onsen resorts offer a great terrain mix for the whole family, with runs for skiers/boarders of all abilities.
Red Warehouse is a short walk from Myoko Snowsports who were able to fit us all out with skis, boots, poles and helmets that suit the local conditions (it’s not worth trying to lug your own gear around the world). They also offer great snow sports programs for kids and adults.
The kids were allocated to a group lesson to suit their ability with English speaking instructors that were able to safely guide them around the mountain while refining their skills. You could see the improvement throughout the week as the longer runs allowed the kids test their skills while having the “most fun ever” going over the bumps and through the trees.
Meanwhile mum and dad were able to get a few runs in further up the hill, where the groomed black runs were flanked by waste deep, light fluffy powder runs through well-spaced trees. With lunch included for the kids we were able to sneak in a few extra laps, meaning that we got our fix in before picking up the kids.
The afternoons were time for us to have a family ski, where the kids couldn’t wait to show off their new skills and the secret runs they had discovered.
On days when we were too tired to continue all day, we had the choice of relaxing in the lodge or heading into town for an Onsen in one of the many thermal spring heated spas/pools. Our lodge had the option of using their own single family sized Onsen, which allowed us all to enjoy the experience together.
Myoko Snowsports were also able to organise a guided day trip to another mountain. For us it was to the spectacular Lotte Arai resort. After a short half hour or so bus trip from Akakura, the kids were able to join a lesson with Myoko Snowsports Arai branch, while we had our guide take us on a tour of the mountain.
The terrain in Arai is more diverse than Akakura, with more open space, steep off piste runs and extensive trails cut into the mountain. The overnight snowfall meant that we were able to duck off the groomers to enjoy the ‘Japow’ through a steeper section and then pick up the groomer to get us back to the bottom of the lift.
There is still the ability to hike further up the hill to earn some fresh, untouched turns but we decided to leave that to the younger sliders! The kids loved being able to take the lifts all the way to the top of the mountain, where they were above the clouds, and then ski down the meandering long home run to the base village. The trip to the alternate mountain was definitely worthwhile as it expanded our adventure and allowed us all to experience a different type of mountain.
As our family grows we are already looking forward to our next adventure to Myoko and can’t wait to watch our kids progress even more in their skiing ability. It already feels like our home resort as we are made so welcome by all our new friends there. It looks like Akakura/Kanko will be our number one choice destination for years to come.
Myoko / Niigata More Info
The Enjoy Niigata English website has some excellent information about visiting the Myoko area
More on Myoko