Ski Travel Report: We went to the easily-accessible day trip ski resort Gala Yuzawa!

December 08, 2023
Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort, which has a ski center directly connected to the train station, can be reached in about 75 minutes from Tokyo Station! It’s particularly convenient compared with a lot of other ski resorts, so it enjoys popularity as a day trip ski location that many people frequent every year. In order to introduce the many charms of the Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort, we sent some of our young staff members, known for their work with “WAmazing Snow”, out for a ski travel report! “This is my first time to go skiing in Japan - what should I do first?” “Can even beginners like me ski with aplomb...?” Even if you have these concerns, there’s nothing to worry about. If you read this, you’ll have a clear picture of how to plan a ski day trip - from access to the resort to how to enjoy it. Be sure to check it out!

The Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Gala Yuzawa Station

Staff meeting up at Tokyo station
Our ski resort day trip starts from Tokyo Station! Gala Yuzawa Station is the most accessible location for the ski resorts in Niigata, so if you’re in the Tokyo metropolitan area, you can arrive in a minimal amount of travel time.

Buying tickets from the ticket machine
First, purchase tickets from the ticket machine. English and Chinese languages are supported, making purchasing simple. If you’re unsure, tickets are also sold at the window, so utilize this option as well.

Ekiben store
One thing in particular to look forward to on the Shinkansen is the “Ekiben.”

It’s becoming a famous part of Shinkansen journeys in Japan.

There are plenty of unique Ekiben sold at Tokyo Station, so you can take the time before departure to make a careful decision on the one you want.

Tokyo Station platform
So we’ve got our tickets and our Ekiben. Now we’ve just got to ride the Shinkansen! Our staffers are getting excited.

Joetsu Shinkansen
The Joetsu Shinkansen has finally arrived.

A look inside the Shinkansen
If the seats are open, you can spin them around to create a 4-seater arrangement.

4-seater arrangement
This is what the inside looks like. Completed group seats for comfy seating.

Tuna and salmon roe bento
Once we get moving, it’s time to fill our bellies with Ekiben.

Our male staffer chose the tuna and salmon roe bento. It’s unexpectedly filling, so we can recommend it to those who really want to fill up.

Healthy bento
On the other hand, the female staffer chose a healthy Ekiben with a nice balance of vegetables.

Eating the Ekiben
Having a lively conversation with friends while eating the Ekiben. The nice thing about Shinkansen travel is that you have time to enjoy card games and make your plans for the day! After about 75 minutes of travel time, we finally arrive at Gala Yuzawa Station!

See the Ski Center as soon as you get off the train!

Cowabunga Ski Center
As soon as you pass through the station gates, the large-scale Cowabunga Ski Center will appear right before your eyes.

As the rental reception, shop, changing rooms, and information center are all concentrated in one place, it's very easy to use!

Try to suppress your “I want to ski already!” feelings and first head for the ski rental center.

Our staffers listening to the rental goods explanation
At reception, they’ll check the size of your ski wear and the type of skis as well as the goods loaned out. You can rent everything at once, so it’s no problem showing up empty-handed!

There are receptionists who are fluent in English, Chinese, and Thai, so those who aren’t confident in their Japanese abilities can rent with ease.

Getting the rental goods
There are plenty of customers who drop by every day, but the cut of the clerks’ jib is quite remarkable! We were able to borrow perfectly sized ski wear and skis in no time at all!

Rental goods recieved
Preparations all done! Time to go get changed.

Changing room locker
You can find large-scale lockers within the changing rooms! You can store even relatively large luggage there easily. You can utilize them as much as you want during the day, so no problem if you forget something.

Escalator that leads to the gondola lift area
At the top of the escalator, you’ll find the gondola lift area at the 3rd floor of the ski center. Make one final check to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Ride the gondola to the 800-meter altitude slope!

In front of the gondola lift area
It takes 7 minutes from the gondola lift area to the slopes. You can get to the 800 meter altitude slopes in one shot.

Show the gondola lift ticket
Show the employee the lift ticket, and head for the lift area.

Boarding the gondola
You can store your skis in the left/right-hand side pockets.

Calmly and slowly make your way onto the lift. The gondola lift moves slowly, so there’s no need to rush.

Inside the gondola
This is what it looks like inside the gondola. There’s plenty of space for 4 people to kick back and relax.

Scenery from the gondola lift
You can enjoy the scenery from the windows, or have a nice chat with everyone. Enjoy your 7 minutes floating in mid-air.

Scenery from the gondola lift
The scenery from the gondola is amazing! Our staffers are getting excited, naturally.

After disembarking from the gondola
After getting off, just get your bags and quickly head to the next destination.

Time to take a commemorative picture for getting off safely. Try to settle down and head for the slopes!

Skiing on satisfyingly fluffy snow

Commemorative photo in front of the lift
A commemorative photo in front of the central area lift!

The weather was a bit rough that day, so as you can see there was a bit of a snow storm.

Visibility was a bit poor, but with extremely new snow the snow quality was at its best!

Central slope area
The large-scale lift located in the central area is a symbolic presence of Gala Yuzawa.

We recommend riding this first and going to the expansive beginners courses in the northern area.

Riding the lift
Riding the lift, it’s a straight shot to the summit!

Profile of a female staffer riding the lift
A side-profile picture of a female staffer sitting next to the cameraman. Be careful not to lose your cameras and cell phone inside of the lift.

The view from the ski lift
The higher the altitude, the better the view you'll get of the Yuzawa area mountains! Enjoying the view from the lift is one of the real thrills of skiing.

Snow blowing at the slope summit
The snow blew stronger at the summit area. It’s finally time for the first ski!

Skiing on the beginners course
We skied on the flat-level beginners course first off. At the start of the season, getting your feel for skiing back is very important! Don't push yourself at the start.

Course near the summit
Incidentally, our female staffer is from up north so she chose to ski, being familiar with it since her childhood. Our male staffer, who isn’t very athletic, went with the snowboard, which is relatively easier than skis.

Female staffer getting warmed up on the beginners course
The Gala Yuzawa slopes have many flat-level courses, which is perfect for beginner practice.

Commemorative slope photo
There are plenty of places on the slope for taking a commemorative picture. For those who like taking pictures, perhaps part of the fun will be trying to find them all?

Rolling down the snowy mountain
This was a particularly snowy day, so the snow was very fluffy. It doesn’t hurt even if you fall down.

Our staff enjoying sliding down the snowy mountain
Two fully enjoying the snow. After skiing for 1-2 hours, you’ll get used to it, so unless you’re a total beginner you should be able to take on any course you like!

Commemorative photo at the slope summit
The two really enjoyed themselves, efficiently taking on the courses. It was a very fulfilling ski experience!

A late lunch at the large food court in the Central Area

Before the meal
Skiing puts muscles to work that usually aren’t used - as a result, it uses up more stamina than you’d think. We got hungry after just a little bit of skiing. Which means that it’s time to get lunch after the afternoon rush has died down.

Meals at the food court
You can find plenty of shops at Cheers in the central area, giving you lots of options for your meal! This time our staffers chose Pal Pal, a large food court-style restaurant.

Female staffer enjoying her delicious food court meal
As if to say, "I can't wait any longer!", our female staffer began to deliciously stuff her cheeks.

Finishing the meal
It only took 10 minutes to clean the plate. That smile certainly looks very fulfilling.

Food court 1st floor
A shot of the first floor food court from the second floor. There are plenty of seats available, so even groups needn’t worry.

In the afternoon it's crowded to the point of no seats being available, so we recommend having your meal at a slightly different time.

Ice cream sample
You can find Blue Seal, an ice cream shop that was born in the US and raised in Okinawa, on the second floor of Cheers. Perhaps in consideration of those who don't like cold ice cream, they also sell warm tapioca drinks.

They've got plenty of light dishes for when you're slightly hungry, so it's nice to casually drop by.

Sledding in the afternoon

Before going down on the sled
There's a slope exclusively for no-holds-barred sledding near Cheers, so we wasted no time in going there!

Sled rental reception
The sled rental reception is near Cheers. There’s guidance along the way, so you won’t get lost.

Entrance to the sled slope
Even for a slope exclusively for sledding, the incline is quite authentic. However, it’s constructed so that you won’t go too fast - safety first.

There are plenty of skiers who bring along their families and sled together with their small children.

Overall look at the sled slope
This sled slope is located very close to the central area.

Our male staffer pulling the female staffer on the sled
The only thing you need is the rental sled! Sledding has got a certain hassle-free something to it that skiing just doesn’t have.

Our staffers enjoying the sled
It’s as if our staffers have turned into rambunctious children.

The staffers enjoying the sled slope
No only kids, but adults too can also fully enjoy snow sledding. It’s something you can do without a whole lot of hassle even with tired legs, so give it a try, why don’t you!

Soothe your body in the day trip onsen

Before entering the onsen
The onsen is the best way to soothe your cold body after skiing! So, we paid a visit to Gala no Yu on the 3rd floor of Cowabunga.

It’s an authentic onsen, featuring regular baths, a pool, outdoor bath jacuzzi, and a sauna. This is a super-famous relaxation spot that most day trip visitors utilize!

Free break area
There’s a spacious break area in front of the onsen. We recommend cooling down your overheated body here.

Our staffers taking a break after the bath
A little break after coming out of the bath. It’s so comfortable, you may find yourself dozing off. Start making your way back before you nod off.

Ski goods shop
At Gelespo, you can find an assortment of unique ski wear and other ski goods at a special price. The ski center really is fully equipped with an assortment of facilities, so we recommend enjoying some shopping on your way back.

We stopped by Ponshu-kan at Echigo-Yuzawa Station

Ponshu-kan entrance
We stopped by Echigo-Yuzawa Station on the way back, which is one station over from Gala Yuzawa Station.

At Ponshu-kan in Echigo-Yuzawa Station, you can get a taste of various types of Japanese sake and regional Niigata dishes.

Our staff enjoying sake
There are almost 100 types of sake you can taste test at Ponshu-kan!

The reasonable price of one coin will get you one cup, so it might be fun to try and find some sake that’s just right for you.

Almost 100 types of sake
Many types of sake lined up. There are also plenty of shops that sell snacks that go well with drinks.

Regional dishes at Ponshu-kan
The “Bakudan Onigiri” is made from delicious Niigata rice, and is full of ingredients, making for a voluminous rice ball. It’s definitely something you should check out when you drop by Ponshu-kan!

Drunken Statues commemorative picture
The “Drunken Statues” is a particularly famous commemorative picture spot that greets Ponshu-kan visitors! Definitely a picture you’ll want to take on your ski trip.

Summary of the Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort Travel Report

Gala Yuzawa Station gates
Thus concludes our travel report for the Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort.

There are plenty of people who say “This is the place for a day trip!” regarding Gala Yuzawa, as it’s a wonderful slope known for its balance between ease of use and convenience.

There are plenty of other ways to enjoy the resort besides skiing too, perfect for those who want to go all out and really enjoy themselves in the snow. This ski resort is also rated very highly among the WAmazing Snow staff!

For beginner skiers who have never seen snow before: why not make some wonderful snow memories this season at Gala Yuzawa?

Pricing information and schedule may not be up to date and are subject to change without notice. Please check before your trip.

Related ski resorts
No. 4 Ski Resort

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort Niigata Prefecture

No. 4 Ski Resort
Dec. 20th to May 6th
Longest run distance2,500 m
Maximum gradient33 °
Longest run2,500 m
Maximum33 °

Adult 2 people1 night

USD 76.52〜 (JPY 12,000〜)