While it is true that snow in Tokyo is possible, it cannot really give you the full-blown snow experience with activities like skiing and snowboarding. This means that anyone who would like to experience snow activities need to go out of the city.
Thanks to the Shinkansen (bullet train), however, you can easily go to a place where you can do all these activities and more.
Only 90 minutes by train from the Tokyo station is the beautiful Gala Yuzawa, where you can do these activities and more. It’s one of the nearest places to experience snow if you’re in the capital city, and the best part is that it’s extremely easy to reach. Here are some of the things that you should know before going.
It takes less than two hours to get there.
It is very convenient to get to Gala Yuzawa, as the train station is actually connected to the snow resort! This means that there will be less walking and you won’t have to shell out more cash for transportation.
All you need to do is hop on the Shinkansen on the Tokyo Station. From here, you will spend approximately 90 minutes to get to the ski resort. Simply go to the Tokyo Station and book a trip that goes straight to Gala Yuzawa Station.
That’s pretty much it! It’s very simple, but if in case you get confused at the station (we won’t blame you–it’s huge!), there will always be English-speaking staff who will be glad to help you.
It could cost you (unless you have a JR Pass!)
A trip to the ski resort isn’t cheap. A full day ticket costs about 4600 yen and a half day ticket costs about 3400 yen. This is just access to the ski resort, and does not include the gear that you may want to rent out.
Pro tip: If you’re a tourist in Tokyo, you will be able to save a lot of money with a JR Pass If you have a JR Tokyo Wide pass (this one’s good for three days), you can get discounts on the gondola ride going to the resort, lessons, and equipment/locker rentals.
A ride to the resort alone already costs about 7000 yen, so it will be wise if you get this before booking that trip! Check out this website for a comprehensive guide.
There are lots of activities in store for both pros and beginners.
Some of the activities waiting for Gala Yuzawa visitors are skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoe trekking, and snow fan tour.
Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, as there are available lessons that you can do here. There are expert instructors (who speak English and Chinese) who will help you get started.
The Gala Yuzawa ski center also has amenities like a hot spring and swimming pool that will help you relax after you do all the snow activities.
Most of the gear you’ll be needing is available.
No need to buy or bring your own gear if you’d like to do activities here. Everything that you’ll need to have fun in the snow–from skiing to sledding to snowboarding gear–are available here. They’re all clean and well-maintained, so don’t worry! There are also a wide array of sizes available.
You can get discounts to some of these gears if you have a JR Pass, as discussed above. Simply show your pass to the staff at the resort’s counter and they’ll let you know about the discounts you can get.
If you’re staying at a hotel in the area, you can also try asking the hotel staff if they offer discounts or ski equipment packages for guests. You might be able to get these for cheaper prices than if you rent at the Gala Yuzawa rental shops.
There are lots of food options.
All the snow activities can sure become tiring, but don’t worry about food, as there are lots of choices available! From curry rice dishes to sweet crepes; light snacks to filling meals, you will sure find something delicious here.
If you’d like to have a full meal before you hop on the Shinkansen, you’ll have lots of restaurants to choose from! The Tokyo Station is huge, and there are so many delicious food choices. The only problem you’re going to have, really, is which restaurant or shop you’ll get.
It is possible to experience snow near Tokyo! There are a number of snow destinations just outside of the city, but this is one of the most accessible. If you’re visiting the Japanese capital and would like to experience snow in a nearby area, this one is a definite must-visit!