The mountainous Myoko Kogenin Niigata is made up of nine main ski resorts including Myoko Akakura, Myoko Suginohara, Myoko Ski Park, Madarao Kogen and Tangram Ski Circus. They are all connected, with Akakura village acting as the central point, where you’ll find most of the accommodation. The attraction here goes beyond its ample snowfall and plentiful options for skiing and snowboarding – Myoko Kogen is also home to seven natural onsen (hot springs).
The abundant snowfall, which averages around 14 metres a season, is the result of obliging geography. Moisture is swept in from the nearby Sea of Japan and is cooled down rapidly by the surrounding mountain peaks. As such, this resort, one of the oldest in Japan, is home to some of the longest (Myoko Suginohara) and steepest (Akakura Onsen Ski Resort) ski runs around.
The wide variety of resorts offers something for everyone, from newbies to advanced skiers seeking challenging runs and adrenaline. Akakura Onsen Ski Resort is a great all-rounder as it offers gentle slopes as well as mogul routes and the aforementioned steep run. Seki Onsen, on the other hand, is popular among intermediate skiers looking to plow through tons of powder.
From Tokyo, Myoko Kogen is reachable in three to four hours. The most popular route is to catch the direct shinkansen from either Tokyo or Ueno Station to Nagano Station. From there, the local Kita Shinano line will take you to Myoko-Kogen Station in about 45 minutes.
Myoko Kogen is a bather’s paradise as it’s rare to find so many different types of onsen in one location. The hot springs here – Akakura, Shin-Akakura, Ikenotaira, Suginohara, Myoko, Mushi and Seki onsen– are prized for their water’s unique colours and properties. The water ranges from clear (rich in minerals) to cloudy white (rich in sulphates to help alleviate high blood pressure) and even black (known to soothe dry skin).