Gala Yuzawa is one of the most popular ski and snowboarding resorts in Japan. This is partly because it’s the easiest to reach from Tokyo with its convenient bullet train access.
Located in Niigata Prefecture, Gala Yuzawa is known for its heavy snowfall and excellent powder snow. It’s a great destination if you want to ski or snowboard while in Japan in the winter.
How to get to Gala Yuzawa by Shinkansen
Gala Yuzawa is located around 166km from Tokyo (approximately 91.8 km by road).
It’s easy to reach by Shinksan bullet train from the capital. The ride from Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa is fully covered by the JR Pass.
Gala Yuzawa is unique among Japan’s ski resorts, as it has its very own Shinkansen station directly connected to the ski center. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the slopes.
To arrive right in the heart of the resort, simply take the Joetsu Shinkansen Tanigawa service directly to Gala Yuzawa from Tokyo Station. There are around 12 daily services and the ride takes as little as 75 minutes.
You can also take the Joetsu Shinkansen Tanigawa service if you’re coming from Saitama (1 hour) or Takasaki (30 mins). These services to Echigo Yuzawa run every hour.
Like the Tōhoku Shinkansen and the Hokkaidō Shinkansen, the Joetsu Shinkansen is operated by JR East.
Arriving via shuttle bus
Not all Joetsu Shinkansen trains stop at Gala Yuzawa. You should be aware that Toki services on this line do not stop at the resort.
However, another option is to take the Toki service to Echigo Yuzawa Station, the main station in Yuzawa city.
You can then take a free shuttle bus to Gala Yuzawa resort from outside the East Exit of Echigo Yuzawa station. The bus ride takes less than 5 minutes.
Why Gala Yuzawa is so popular
Since opening in 1990, Gala Yuzawa has been extremely popular for winter sports enthusiasts looking for a day or weekend trip from Tokyo. This is because it’s one of the best ski resorts near Tokyo.
It’s also interconnected with other nearby ski resorts such as Yuzawa Kogen and Ishiuchi Maruyama. You can also easily reach both by taking a shuttle bus from Echigo Yuzawa Station.
However, it is worth mentioning that while it is easy to access from Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa can be extremely busy on weekends and holidays. This is especially true when the snow is good.
Features of Gala Yuzawa
This medium-sized, well-equipped resort is a great spot for skiing and snowboarding in Japan. It offers over 33.8 km of slopes for all levels (including 2.5 km downhill course.).
Gala Yuzawa is divided into three main areas, the Central Area, Southern Area and Northern Area (connected to Yuzawa Kogen). The slopes are suited to beginners and intermediates, with gentler slopes in the Central Area and expert options in the other two.
Gala Yuzawa has heaps of other fun features. There’s a snow park, sledding slopes, and the Bell of Love observation deck, where you can enjoy a stunning panorama of the surrounding mountains.
There are also a number of ski and snowboard schools in Gala Yuzawa. These offer lessons in either Japanese or English and are led by experienced instructors who know the slopes well.
Whether you’re looking to hit the slopes, take in the views or enjoy some local culture, Gala Yuzawa has something for everyone! Check out the resort’s official website for more detailed information!