Japan Insider – Niigata Prefecture – Naeba Ski Area

January 5th, 2017

Mountainwatch | Richie Carroll

So you’re thinking of heading to Japan? At first, most Southern Hemisphere powder hunters think Hokkaido, located on the North Island of Japan. However, the South Island, in particular the Niigata Prefecture, boasts a wide variety of terrain, just as much snow, better weather conditions and…less crowds! Got your attention? Keep reading to get the inside on Japan.

Japan is becoming a global hotspot for all skiers and boarders looking to get their fix of the white stuff during the Northern Hemisphere winter. We want to give you the heads up that there are tons of resorts located within Japan and the South Island which, in our eyes, are the place to be this Northern Winter.

Naeba Ski Resort

The Naeba Ski Resort is a hidden gem amongst all the Japanese ski resorts. Mt Naeba is conveniently linked to another ski resort called Kagura, which is the powder hunter’s heaven with numerous off-piste options and easy backcountry access and, don’t worry, there’s no painstaking bus transfer you have to endure to hop across as the two resorts are connected by a comfy Gondola! Naeba & Kagura boasts 169 hectares of skiable terrain and has 45 lifts to get you up and down the mountain in no time.

Download Naeba Trail Map

Download Kagura Trail Map


Naeba Ski Resort is located roughly around 3 hours drive northwest of Tokyo in the Niigata prefecture. The closest main town to the resort is Yuzawa, which is about a 30 minute drive.

How To Get There

Transport in Japan is the one thing that instils fear in all international visitors, don’t worry though as it’s pretty easy to get to Naeba and is quite an enjoyable trip. Don’t bother renting a car and dealing with the stress of driving in a foreign country. The train network in Japan is beyond world class and is the best option to get around. From Haneda or Narita Airport, you will have to hop onto another JR train (Shinkansen) in Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa station. From station, please take free shuttle bus (No reservation needed), which takes approximately half an hour to reach Naeba Ski Resort. Be sure to check the bus schedule. Alternatively, you may take the Naeba White Snow Shuttle from Shinagawa Prince Hotel. The bus ride takes approximately 4 hours stopping in between for rest. It cost JPY3,600/pax/way. Reservation is necessary through Travel Agents.

Where To Stay

The Naeba Prince Hotel is the place to stay! It is conveniently located right smack-bang in the middle of the ski resort offering ski-in ski-out luxury. It has a lot rooms, so no worries with late bookings. When you can barely make it to your room, due to your daily dose of mad pow disease, there are over 20 restaurants within the hotel to choose from. On top of this, the Prince Hotel has so many activities and entertainment on offer from day spas to karaoke!

Where To Eat

Almost everybody visiting Japan is stumped with the life-ending problem of the need for a semi-decent coffee. Well, Snowman Café & Restaurant located in the Prince Hotel, whips up a bloody decent coffee to get you back in your groove before a day unleashing in the powder. The food is also a great option for a post ski or board feed to get you back on your feet in the morning for another day of action.

Coordinates: 36.7896° N, 138.7837° E
Prefecture: Niigata
Closest City: Yuzawa
Resorts: 2
Elevation: 1,845m
Vertical Drop: 1225m
Ski Patrol / Mountain Safety: Yes
Avalanche Control: Yes
Terrain: Freeride/Freestyle
Parks: 3
Backcountry: Yes
Pow Rating: 4/5
Other Activities: Spa, Lounge, Sushi Bar, Sake Bar & Karaoke! Karaoke! Karaoke!