If you’re visiting Japan in the winter months from January through March, you might want to check out the ski resorts! Being born in a tropical country, I don’t have much experience with snow, so I had to check it out. We ended up going to Iwappara Ski Resort in Yuzawa, just a few hours away from Tokyo. Here’s my experience!
Winter Season Opening Time for Iwappara Ski Resort
Generally, the ski resort will only be open from mid of December to the end of March. Please check the ski resort webpage for the exact dates of each season. They are closed outside of these times.
How to get to Iwappara Ski Resort
The easiest way to get to the resort is by train, which will take approx 2 hours from Ueno station. The closest major train station to Iwappara ski resort is Echigo-Yuzawa station (which is also the place you’d want to go if you’re going to Fuji Rock in the summer!).
It is a JR station, so if you purchased a JR pass that covers this region, your pass will work! It takes about 1 hour by train from Ueno station to Echigo-Yuzawa station, and then you can resume your journey with a local train to Iwappara-skiing ground station. Without JR Pass, this journey will cost around 6,000 yen.
As we have a car, we decided to drive to Iwappara. It was quite a scenic drive, but it did take about 3 hours to get there.
Ski Lift Pass at Iwappara Ski Resort
In order to enjoy the slopes, you will need to purchase a ski lift pass. The ski lift pass at Iwappara Ski Resort can be purchased for different lengths (6 hours, day pass, or night pass) and ages (kids, juniors, and adults).
To give you an idea of the price, these are the ticket prices for adults for the 2021-2022 Season:
|Ticket Type||Adult Ticket Price|
|Day Pass (8 AM til closing)||4,500 yen|
|6-hours pass||3,500 yen|
|Night Pass (5 PM til closing)||1,500 yen|
|2-day Pass||7,500 yen|
|3-day Pass||10,500 yen|
For more updated information on the fee for the 2022-2023 season, and for other types of tickets, please click here. It will be in Japanese but you can easily translate the page via google translate!
The pass can be purchased at a booth at the foot of the ski slope. If you are here for a day trip, you’ll want to purchase the 6-hour pass. Once you’ve purchased the pass, you can slot it into the sleeve of your jacket, like so:
Equipment Rental at Iwappara Ski Resort
You can rent equipment on the spot at Iwappara Ski Resort. We got ours from Solomon station right on the first level of the ski resort as marked here on google maps. The equipment rental is run by Salomon station – if you are going during peak season, you can reserve your equipment online.
Just like the ski lift fee, the prices will depend on how long you want to rent the equipment for – 6 hours, night time only, or full day. For the 2021-2022 season, it costs around 7,000 yen a day to rent full gear (ski jacket, pants, boots, and ski poles).
For more updated information on the prices, you can click here. Again, the page will be in Japanese but you can easily translate the page via google translate!
Food options at Iwappara Ski Resort
At the foot of the ski slope at Iwappara Ski Resorts, there are plenty of food options! They are all Japanese food. Expect dishes like curry rice, ramen, and soba, which can be found for about 1200-1600 yen per meal.
My experience on the slopes at Iwappara Ski Resort
Going here, I was (and still am) a total beginner. It was my first time skiing, or doing any type of snow sports activities, ever! Thankfully, my partner grew up in Japan and was very familiar with winter activities so I was in good hands.
The slopes are Iwappara caters to all kinds of people. Beginners like me can enjoy a few runs at the beginner slope. You can go to the left or right of the main ski lift (the one immediately next to the ticket booth).
If you are more advanced, you can go up using the main ski lift and transfer to the steeper slope.
I don’t recommend doing this unless you’re confident in your skills though. I went up and had to take off my skis and slowly crawl down the mountain…
In terms of safety, I think they did a great job. The ski lift is properly manned with very alert guards, and whenever someone misses either boarding the lift or if someone fell while getting off the lift, the entire thing would be immediately stopped. I know this for sure because I was the cause of at least 2 lift delays while I was there