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Myoko Kogen

Tokyo Haneda Airport
bullet train, shared taxi or private transfer
1,124 metres

With some of the best vertical and longest runs Japan has to offer, Myoko also enjoys the deepest powder snow due to its proximity to the Sea of Japan, only 20 miles away.

Myoko Kogen is made up of not one, but three ski resorts; Akakura, Suginohara and Ikenotaira. Then you can also throw in the tiny powder-trap that is Seki Onsen, and the freeride mountain at Arai, both of which are close by and easily accessible. Truly, this is Japan's ski heartland - a region famed for its abundant snowfall and the on-mountain experience cannot be bettered. 

This is also a region well known for its rich history, culture and traditional Japanese onsens.

You base yourself in charming, traditional Akakura Onsen - a ski village that resolutely retains its Japanese character, with an authentic main street which has a mix of traditional and new buildings and great restaurants. This is not the place for rowdy partying and the Japanese guests tend to be early-to-bed...but if you want some great grub, several cheeky sake's and enjoy a friendly, 'local' vibe - then this village may be right up your street.

But this is all after the mandatory après activity....which is to take a soak in one of the many onsens, of which there will invariably be one in your hotel. That is to say, every accommodation in Akakura has its own onsen and it is almost compulsory to use it after a long day on the mountain.

 

Myoko Kogen

Resort Card

Beginners:
Intermediate:
Advanced:
Snowboarders:
Après Ski:
Families:

Our Opinion

"With no artifice or pretension, Myoko Kogen is the real Japan. The main village is authentic and characterful though, importantly, neither contrived nor twee. Yet it's on the slopes that Myoko excels, the powder is deeper here than anywhere else in Japan (the snow records demonstrate this) and the terrain is second-to-none. It can sometimes be a little tiresome getting to slopes beyond Akakura (where the village is), but absolutely worth it if you make the effort. Myoko Kogen flies under the radar for most, and the village could certainly do with more quality accommodation if numbers ever increased, but for the time being they really don't know what they're missing out on!"

Nick Coates Founder
Myoko Kogen

Skiing & Snowboarding in Myoko Kogen

Myoko is an absolute haven for powder junkies with gladed slopes (the tree-skiing policy is relaxed), off-piste riding (excellent guiding is available) and long, long runs (indeed, the longest in Japan at over 8km).

The central resort of Myoko Akakura is actually two interconnected areas, with the main ski village at its base. The resort is sizeable, varied and experts can be kept happy in amongst the powder or out in the backcountry. Suginohara is well worth a day, with its impressive lift infrastructure and long, perfectly groomed runs. Ikenotaira Onsen is also popular with intermediates, and has some decent tree skiing, along with a terrain park and half pipe. A fourth option is Seki Onsen, which is tiny and only has a couple of creaky old lifts…yet it’s well worth the trip after a big dump of snow, as it’s got some outrageous tree skiing, with a few pleasingly-steep pitches.

Off Piste & Expert

Each of the ski resorts have a few black runs, most of which are left ungroomed, and its fair to say that the pitch on Myoko mountain can be a little more interesting than elsewhere in Japan. It remains largely a Japanese resort (popular at weekends) and the sparsity of foreigners is advantageous if you want to head off-piste – fresh tracks galore! Getting in amongst the trees is permitted at most of the ski resorts, and they are similarly enlightened when it comes to backcountry skiing.

The main resort - Akakura Kanko - has some of the steepest terrain and also great tree skiing. There are gates at the top for accessing backcountry, and then you can hike to the top of Myoko-san (2,454m) and ski right back to the resort. Suginohara has some awesome side and backcountry, but be prepared to do some walking. However, our little ace-up-the-sleeve is Seki Onsen – a bargain-basement, no frills tiny resort with only two lifts and virtually no grooming. When the powder is deep, there is no better secret corner of Japan!

Intermediate

The grooming is immaculate and with many wide, long runs intermediates often find themselves in carvers' heaven. This is a region made for cruising - the runs over near the Akakura Kanko Hotel and then the truly epic runs in Suginohara being the stand out attractions. Indeed, this is where you'll find Japan's longest continuous ski run - 8.5 kilometers. I did it top-to-bottom in one go and the memory of the thigh burn still lives with me!

Novice

Akakura Kogen actually has some great terrain for beginners and they have one of Japan's best English-speaking ski schools operating in the village. And then - for progression - Ikenotaira Onsen resort holds no nasty surprises and has some of the widest, gentlest pistes we've ever seen.

Where to stay?

Akakura Onsen is the most popular village in which to stay, for several reasons: it's central and offers good access to the other ski resorts, the best ski mountain is actually on your doorstep (several ski-in, ski-out options), it has the largest number of bars and restaurants and - most importantly - it's a rather pleasant small village. Not beautiful in the way Nozawa Onsen is, not buzzing-with-life in the way Niseko is, not rural in the way Zao Onsen is...instead just authentic, straightforward and welcoming. This is a real community, with only a few foreigners as permanent residents, and there is nothing twee or contrived for the tourists. This is what small-town Japan looks and feels like!

Myoko accommodation varies from traditional (basic) pensions, a couple of ryokans and then some more European-style hotels. Most are aimed at budget travellers, with the notable exception of the prestigious and super-luxurious Akakura Kanko Hotel which is actually built right on the slopes, well away from the village.

Hotels & Ryokans

A family-owned Japanese-style inn, with deep armchairs, real fires and snuggly rugs.

Medium
Akakura Onsen village

A wonderful traditional Japanese Inn, right on the main street in the village.

First Class
Akakura Onsen village

Right on the slopes is the region's most historic and opulent hotel. Elegant & steeped in tradition.

Deluxe
On the slopes

Almost ski-in, this is the best budget option in the village...friendly & affordable.

Budget
Akakura Onsen village

Ski guiding & excursions

Stay within the main Myoko Kogen ski resorts, or travel to nearby Seki Onsen to even Arai. Either way, a guide will not only take care of any transport arrangements, but also reveal to you the secret powder stashes everyone else misses. The guiding company we use in Myoko are truly excellent and always deliver for our guests.

 

For the hard-core Myoko Kogen also offers opportunities for real backcountry skiing - above the ski resorts, ascents to the mountain peaks offer some fabulous skiing and snowboarding. We know just the man, a resident of some 20-plus years (native American) and one of the best, most affable ski companions you're ever likely to encounter. He knows these mountains like the back of his super-fat skis.

 

We can also pre-book and organise an afternoon tour to the Snow Monkeys in Joshinetsu National Park from Myoko Kogen, it takes just a little longer to get there.

On the mountain

Hire an experienced, qualified, locally-knowledgeable private ski or snowboard guide.

Head out with your guide, conditions dependent, to Japan's secret powder resort.

Skiing in the powder snow requires a different technique - once learned, paradise awaits.

Off the mountain

Take an afternoon off the slopes and go see the monkeys!

Sample Itineraries featuring Myoko Kogen

These suggested itineraries will give you a starting point for what your ski holiday to Myoko Kogen could potentially entail. Sometimes we combine ski resorts and we often cherish the opportunity to explore and experience Japan beyond the ski slopes. 

We hope these itineraries will inspire, excite and inform you as we begin the planning process. But note: they’re not set departures or tours, as every holiday we plan is completely tailor-made for you - consider these itineraries as inspiration only.

Hokkaido Powder Unlimited - Itinerary
Itinerary

Hokkaido Powder Unlimited

An itinerary with a singular objective: to ride the finest, deepest powder snow in Hokkaido.

15 days
Niseko - Asahikawa - Furano
Find out more

Ski Concierge

Akakura Onsen is where you will stay, where you'll hire your ski equipment from, where the ski school is based and the place from which the guides operate - it's the local hub in every sense. Whilst the village has a low-rent, homespun feel the facilities and amenities can actually be excellent...if you know where to go. The ski school is one of the best in Japan, the rental gear is of decent quality and we have friendships with a few knowledgeable and hugely experienced guides who are based in the village.

Lift Pass

Okay - this can get rather complicated. There is a single lift pass that covers the 'big-4' ski resorts of Myoko Kogen - Akakura Onsen, Akakura Kanko, Suginohara and Ikenotaira Onsen. However, this cooperation between the resorts is only extending to foreign guests staying in particular hotels accredited to the local tourism office. If we are not staying in one of these specific hotels, then we need to buy a day pass for each resort, though fortunately the linked resorts of Akakura Onsen and Akakura Kanko will sell you a ticket allowing access to both.

Lift passes costs are a little less than elsewhere in Japan...so great value.

Ski Equipment

There are several ski hire shops along the main street and most only have crap (rear-entry boots!). Fortunately we know the best two - the only ones worth considering - and we can get this arranged for you in advance of travel. These places have fat skis, and they also have standard and performance ski and snowboard sets for adults and kids.

Lessons

Myoko Kogen has an excellent ski school, which caters for all level of skier/ boarder. Services include private lessons, some group English-speaking lessons, photography tours, guiding and multi-resort programs.

What our customers say

4.5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

A brilliant holiday

We had a family holiday (three generations) to Niseko, with some time in Tokyo. A brilliant holiday. Different Snow were so knowledgeable about Japan and skiing, so helpful and friendly, and full of good suggestions - even down to restaurants and non-skiing activities. We are looking forward to our next trip with them!

Roger  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

Would recommend Different Snow to everyone

Different Snow organised a tailor made holiday for my wife and I, visiting the snow monkeys, a ride on the bullet train, a short stay in Tokyo and 10 days skiing in Hakuba / Arai, both amazing resorts and plenty of snow. Excellent hotels, all transfers etc and even arranged last minute changes to our itinerary at our request that were dealt with happily and efficiently, nothing was too much trouble for them.

Trevor  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

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