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The Nagano Ski Safari

Yudanaka Onsen (Shiga Kogen - Madarao - Tangram - Nozawa Onsen - Togakushi - Suginohara)
14 days


Let's first of all deal with the skiing (or snowboarding). You have eight days on the slopes and the (loose) objective is to ski the best of the Japanese Alps within Nagano prefecture. Your local ski resort is expansive Shiga Kogen, but also within easy striking range are Madarao, Tangram, Togakushi, Suginohara, and Nozawa Onsen. Drive times to these resorts vary from 25 minutes to 50 minutes in good road conditions. With your guide you'll use the lift to access the best powder, on and (largely) off-piste.

So this is a tour for advanced skiers and snowboarders who wish to bag as much powder as possible and explore the “slack country” of each of these resorts. The below itinerary is a merely an indication of what may be, as your daily destination will be dictated by the weather and your guide will fit around where the best snow is on any given day. And because this is powder country, then wider skis or specialist boards are strongly recommended to get the best from your time - we can arrange rentals if required. 

However, this is more than only a ski tour - your tour leaders and guides get every bit as excited about Japan itself and the itinerary has a strong 'cultural' agenda also. Your accommodation is an authentic Japanese ryokan (with onsen baths), activities are planned for most evenings, sightseeing is included and the meals are experiences in themselves. Because you are down in Honshu Island, this is a far more immersive 'Japanese' experience than our tours up on Hokkaido Island. You will go visit the world-famous snow monkeys, you'll enjoy a traditional Geisha performance and interactive Taiko Drum, Shamisen Guitar and Lion Dance show. And the above merely scratches the surface - they have plenty of activities and excursions up their sleeve to create the quintessential Japan winter holiday.

When it's all over you leave the group in Yudanaka Onsen and then head to Tokyo on the bullet-train, for three nights / two full days of sightseeing before heading home.


Nagano Ski Safari

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from the UK, flying directly to Tokyo on British Airways.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo Haneda Airport. You are met by our representative at the airport and have a shared taxi transfer booked, taking you directly to you accommodation in Yudanaka Onsen in the Japan Alps. Check in to your ryokan and meet the rest of the group - and your tour leaders / ski guides. Relax in the onsens and then have dinner with the group...traditional Japanese kaiseki cuisine.
Day 3
Your first day with your guide will invariably be in one of the Shiga Kogen resorts - but remember that this is the largest ski area in Asia with the highest lift access in Japan (higher and dryer). Because Shiga is so large and elevated, fresh lines can be found days after a snowfall. In the evening the group heads to Nagano City via the Kappa Sushi Train, which you then - to complete the immersive Japan experience - follow with a karaoke evening. Regrettably, there is a "one song minimum" requirement....though you can sing as a duet or as a group.
Day 4
Today the plan is to head to nearby MADARAO (and adjacent TANGRAM), where you'll find some the best tree skiing in Japan. And the mountain restaurant here serves a mean burger and chips, just to counteract all the Japaneseness. In the evening you all head out in Yudanaka Onsen for a meal in a local (very Japanese!) restaurant.
Day 5
Today is pencilled is as the NOZAWA ONSEN day. The ski mountain may be a little busier here - Nozawa is a very popular ski resort - but it's mighty pretty and your ski guides are locals, so they know where to find the secret powder stashes off the sides. After a day on the slopes, it's time to enjoy the pretty village, before heading back to your ryokan in Yudanaka Onsen for dinner and a Geisha performance.
Day 6
This is a day on which many guests choose to rest - after three hard days on the slopes - but for those of you made of sterner stuff then the plan is to head to TOGAKUSHI for the day, which has a wide range of runs and, in contrast to Nozawa, absolutely no foreigners to be seen. This is a local's ski field. For those not skiing - or an any bad weather day, for that matter - then the group may choose to head over to Matsumoto in the van, home of one of Japan's most famous castles. You may also visit Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, which has over 1400 years of history and is unique in the fact that the city of Nagano was built around the temple thus known as Japan’s only temple city and it also houses the oldest Buddhist image in Japan. Dinner is a restaurant in Yudanaka Onsen.
Day 7
Today you will head over to SUGINOHARA, which is one of the ski resorts in Myoko Kogen. This is where you'll find Japan's longest, and best maintained, groomers...and also some pretty amazing side-country. In the evening, back at your ryokan, there is a taiko drum, shamisen guitar and lion dance performance - as well as a karate demonstration.
Day 8
Today is allocated to SHIGA KOGEN again - you've only skied here once so far (the first day) and this massive resort demands far more time. This is the 'home resort' for your guides and they know it better than anyone - trust us, you won't ski the same place twice! In the evening you are booked in for some sake tasting in a local sake museum, before dinner in a restaurant in Yudanaka Onsen.
Day 9
By this point the day-by-day itinerary will be writing itself - the local conditions will be dictating play and, as a group, you can be making decisions based on what you've enjoyed most thus far. A good idea would be to head back to Madarao, but now concentrate more on the linked-resort of TANGRAM. After dinner, again at a restaurant in Yudanaka Onsen, you head to Mt Yokoteyama (Japan’s highest lift access 2,307m) to get on a 'pistenbully' snow cat to then drive up to the peak - views of the 'snow monster' trees is accompanied by a hot drink and some homemade baking.
Day 10
Your final ski day is very deliberately left free. Where do you want to head? Where was best? All we can guarantee is epic powder and a full day of on-mountain indulgence. This is the last day, so lets make it the best day! And, after dinner in the ryokan, it is time to celebrate new friendships in the hotel bar - this is the leaving party.
Day 11
Time to check out of the hotel in the morning, and we suggest you get them to drop you down at the nearby snow monkey park. Don't worry about luggage, this will have been sent on separately to your hotel in Tokyo, so you get to spend a coupe of hours with the bathing monkeys before jumping on the train back to Nagano Station and then bullet-train to Tokyo. Make your way to your hotel in the Shinjuku district and afternoon and evening at leisure in Tokyo.
Days 12 & 13
Two full days at leisure in Tokyo. You are no longer with the group, so this is time by yourselves and you are free to explore at your own pace. Different Snow have produced comprehensive, pragmatic and sometimes irreverent 'How To...' guides to help you explore - full of practical advice, recommendations, sightseeing notes and tips.
Day 14
Make your way out to Tokyo Haneda Airport and fly directly to the UK, arriving home the same day.

Dates, Cost & Tour Inclusions



27 Dec to 9 Jan 2021

5 Jan to 18 Jan 2021

14 Jan to 27 Jan 2021

23 Jan to 5 Feb 2021

1 Feb to 14 Feb 2021

10 Feb to 23 Feb 2021

19 Feb to 4 March 2021

28 Feb to 13th March 2021

9 March to 22 March 2021 


£4,996 per person* / single supplement = £675

*note that this cost may vary and this is usually down to the costs of the international flights. This is more likely over Christmas / New Year or other peak dates. We will confirm the price if you call us (or email) to check availability.


International flights from the UK to Tokyo on British Airways (economy class).

Shared taxi transfer from Tokyo Airport to Yudanaka Onsen.

Bullet-train from Nagano City and in to Tokyo.

9 nights twin share accommodation in Japanese style rooms at Ryokan Biyu in Yudaka Onsen. Breakfast are included.

3 nights in the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, central Tokyo. Breakfast is included.

Dinner is included for two nights in Yudanaka Onsen.

8 days of lift passes.

8 full days of guiding/instruction.

All mountain transfers.

Transport to the world famous snow monkey park.

Geisha Performance.

Taiko Drum, Shamisen guitar and lion dance performance.

Interactive Karate performance from a Grand Master champion of Japan.

Evening tour in a Pistenbully snow cat to the highest lift access point in Japan 2307metres to see the snow monster trees. Includes hot drinks and homemade breads.


Rental gear.

Avalanche gear rental.

Accommodation & Ability Requirements



Ryokan Biyu in Yudaka Onsen. 

Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, central Tokyo.

In Yudanaka Onsen you stay in the fine Biyu no Yado ryokan, an upmarket establishment. And in Tokyo you stay in the Keio Plaza Hotel, one of the capital's finest 4-star hotels. If you need to bring down costs we can look at cheaper accommodation in Yudanaka Onsen (Lodge Abiya) and also in Tokyo (Kadoya Hotel).

Lodge Abiya in Yudanaka Onsen.

Kadoya Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo.



6:1 Client to Guide ratio.

Skill Level: advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders only. Most days are lift-accessed and they will split the group according to ability levels.

What our customers say

5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

Highly recommend

We had no idea what to expect in Japan (or how we would get around), we couldn't have done it without the expertise and guide documents from Different Snow. Everything on the holiday ran very smoothly and we felt like we could call at any time if we had any questions.

Grace  ·  U.S.A.

I would highly recommend Different Snow

They put together a Christmas holiday for 7 of us at fairly short notice. The holiday was well organised, the suggestions were excellent and everything worked like a dream. We had a great holiday and were extremely grateful.

E.M.  ·  U.K.

Please visit our Trustpilot page to read the full reviews.

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How to book

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Give us a call, or fill in the enquiry form, or send us an email. We’ll listen, give advice and make suggestions.


We create a tailor-made itinerary proposal and email this to you. Together, we then refine it until it is just as you want.


A 20% deposit secures the booking. The balance payment is not due until 10 weeks before departure.

Travel Pack

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