The Alpine experience: Echigo Yuzawa


Echigo-Yuzawa is a hotspring resort popular for hiking and camping in summer and snow sports in winter, located in the southernmost part of Niigata and adjoins Nagano and Gunma. The Yuzawa-onsen ropeway from Sanroku Station (at the foot of the mountain) brings you up to an elevation of 1,000 meters above sea level. At the top of the mountain, you can visit the Alps-no-sato, the alpine plants garden, where you can enjoy ‘mizubasho’ (skunk cabbages) in the spring, ‘nikkokisuge’ (a kind of yellow lily) in summer, and the autumn leaves of Japanese larch trees in fall.  For more information on sightseeing see this website here.

Echigo-Yuzawa is covered in snow in winter and attracts many skiers. This is a historic hot spring resort, which appears in the well-known novel “The Snow Country” written by the Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata. .

The main station of Yuzawa Town is called Echigo Yuzawa Station.  The Joetsu Shinkasen (bullet train) stops regularly at Echigo Yuzawa Station.  The train from Tokyo takes on average between 75 to 85 minutes. 

Around the station you will find museums such as the Shiro Shirahata Photo Museum, which has around 170 landscapes of world-famous mountains, and the Yuzawa Folklore History Museum.

The GALA Yuzawa resort has it’s own station (GALA Yuzawa Station) which is just a few km further on than the main Echigo Yuzawa Station.  Please note that not all of the trains that go to Echigo Yuzawa continue on to Gala Yuzawa Station, so it is best to check beforehand.  If you planning to go to any of the other resorts in the region apart form GALA Yuzawa, you should get off the train at Echigo Yuzawa Station.

On exiting Echigo Yuzawa Station you will find shuttle buses going to most of the main resorts in the region from both the West and East exits of the station

Stay at the Asahikan minshuku. Website: Asahikan is a friendly minshuku run by the Koshigoe family ( including the dog and cats ) since 1930. Located at the base of Yuzawa Park Ski Area, Asahikan will pick up all guests at Echigo Yuzawa Station and take them to any of the 19 ski resorts in Yuzawa. All of the Japanese style rooms are clean and spacious, and the Koshigoe meals are highly recommended, with a pleasant mix of Western and Japanese style food on the menu.


From Tokyo: 1h 10 min to Echigo-Yuzawa Station by JR Jo’etsu Shinkansen Line.

From Osaka: 3h 40 min from Shin-Osaka Station via Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa Station by Shinkansen.

The Kanetsu Expressway (toll road) runs through Yuzawa.  The journey from Nerima I.C. in northern Tokyo to Yuzawa I.C. is about 176km and in good conditions can take less than two hours.  (Please note that in bad weather conditions and peak times, it can take considerably longer).  The journey takes you north through Saitama and Gunma Prefectures, under the Tanigawa mountain range in northern Gunma and into Yuzawa Town.

If you are planning on visiting the resorts in the Yuzawa Town area and Minamiuonuma, get off the Expressway at Yuzawa I.C.   From the exit, either turn left onto Route 17 towards Kandatsu, Kagura and Naeba or turn right onto Route 17 towards other resorts in Yuzawa and Minamiuonuma.

(If you are planning on visiting Naeba or Kagura you might want to get off the Kanetsu Expressway before then at the Tsukiyono I.C. in Gunma Prefecture.  From there, take Route 17 and head north to Naeba).

If you are planning on visiting the resorts in Mimaniuonuma you can either take Route 17 north through Yuzawa or continue on the Kanetsu Expressway past Yuzawa I.C. and get of either at Shiozawa Ishiuchi I.C. or Muikamachi I.C.

Nerima IC >
Yuzawa IC

1 thought on “The Alpine experience: Echigo Yuzawa”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s