Gala Yuzawa's primary claim to fame is that it has its own Japan Rail(JR) Shinkansen (Bullet Train) station. It is actually on a side track which diverges from the main Joetsu Shinkansen track just after Echigo Yuzawa Station, being only 3 minutes further on. The main Joetsu Shinkansen line runs between Tokyo and Niigata City on the Sea of Japan (northwestern) coast of Japan.
Although you can go to Gala Yuzawa as a destination, there is very little parking, as it is really regarded as a day trippers mountain. The number of people at Gala Yuzawa is limited to some extent by how many people the Shinkansen can carry there. Even so, it does get crowded, but not as much as you might expect.
There is a gondola that takes people to the main mountain restaurant from the Shinkansen Station. There is also another route into the mountain from Echigo Yuzawa via Ropeway (Cablecar), to the "Southern area", but this is not currently open. There is in fact a 3rd way into Gala Yuzawa, via a link at the top of the mountain to Ishiuchi Maruyama, which is located over the other side of the mountain. Ishiuchi Maruyama has 19 lifts, and if a link lift pass is purchased, you can ski/board on both mountains. Ishiuchi Maruyama is actually a better bet, so far as accommodation is concerned, with many small hotels giving ski in ski out access.
Gala Yuzawa has limited variety, with the main central area having a few beginner and intermediate trails feeding back to the restaurant, plus one advanced run up the top. There are more slopes in the northern area with a few intermediate, and beginners runs and one advanced slope, plus a terrain park, and there often a moguls course there. The least crowded areas are the top chair and the northern area.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Gala Yuzawa is located in the Yuzawa area of Niigata Prefecture
Very easy to get to from Tokyo. Can leave Tokyo and be sliding in less than two hours. A great way to spend a spare day if you are staying in Tokyo.
Because it is easy to get to from Tokyo, it can get crowded, but this is somewhat limited by how many people a few Shinkansens (Bullet Trains) can carry. It is relatively quiet during the week.
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Although Gala Yuzawa is 201km from Tokyo, being on the Joetsu Shinkansen line means that it is a mere 92 minutes away, depending on which train you take, and the number of stops it makes. You can cut the travel time even more, by catching the fastest Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa (72 minutes!!) and catching a taxi 5 minutes to Gala(generally the 7:00am train from Tokyo). This also has the advantage of beating the second(7:20am from Tokyo) regular Gala Yuzawa train from Tokyo by about 25 minutes. (The first regular train is the 6:32am, but is not as popular!!). This can be important, as you beat the queues as hundreds of people arrive from Tokyo.
JAPANiCAN offers almost 30% discounts on transportation and lift tickets at Gala Yuzawa. Round-trip Shinkansen fare and lift ticket included are JPY 12,900 per person, and can be booked online in English. See http://www.japanican.com/tours/FToursKensakuShosai.aspx?TourCode=GMT01TYOOSSG1 for more details.
Japan Rail offer very attractive return Shinkansen and lift ticket packages for day trippers. These can be as cheap as 7,700yen early season, and 8,800yen after the new year. This is very good value when you consider that a normal return Shinkansen fare is normally 13,400yen. One early season package includes return Shinkansen, lift ticket, ski/board rental, and 1000yen off lessons for 8,400yen. These packages must be booked in advance. You can go into the "View Plaza" travel office at bigger JR Stations, where you can also pick up brochures outlining various special JR ski packages.
If you have a JR Rail Pass, or have one extra day on a JR East 4 day flexible pass(4 separate days, valid for one month), you can pop up to Gala Yuzawa with a minimum of fuss.
No on mountain accommodation
Numerous accommodation options in Yuzawa town near Echigo Yuzawa station.
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Bars & Entertainment
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