Myoko Ko­gen

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

Hon­shu

Lo­cated in Ni­igata Pre­fec­ture, Myoko Ko­gen has nine re­sorts – the main ones be­ing Akakura Kanko (some­times called Akakan), Akakura On­sen, Myoko Sug­i­no­hara and Ikeno­taira On­sen.

Myoko is more laid back than Niseko and is less crowded, although that is chang­ing as more peo­ple dis­cover its virtues. Not the place if you pre­fer a long-night sculling sake. Sug­i­no­hara has the long­est run in Ja­pan at 8.5km, and Akakura On­sen has one of the steep­est, The Wall, which is for ex­perts only. The ski and snow­board school has lessons in English and caters for chil­dren. Tree skiing is al­lowed.

Akakura is a lovely tra­di­tional vil­lage and is where most of the ac­com­mo­da­tion is lo­cated. Dine at Syokudo Shi­bata, Avaya or Chia. Drink at Skate Bar (it has a skate ramp) or Shin­set­suya. Akakura Kanko Ho­tel was built for the im­pe­rial fam­ily in 1937 and is five-star all the way.

Find a roten­buro (out­door on­sen), go snowshoeing, sake tast­ing and, for some­thing dif­fer­ent, the Don­toy­aki Fire­works Fes­ti­val is on at Sug­i­no­hara in Jan­uary.

Nozawa On­sen

In Nagano pre­fec­ture, Nozawa On­sen is a tra­di­tional vil­lage that has not been over­run with Western in­flu­ences. Ac­com­mo­da­tion ranges from pen­sions and ryokans to larger lodges that are ex­cel­lent for big groups of fam­i­lies or friends.

The au­then­tic cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence is al­most as good as the skiing, with the on­sens in this area dis­cov­ered in the eigth cen­tury.

With 24 lifts and 50km of ter­rain, Nozawa On­sen is one of the largest ski re­sorts in Ja­pan and has some­thing for ev­ery­one.

Stroll the cob­ble­stone streets and feel as if you have gone back in time. Pick up some pork buns and steamed dumplings from street ven­dors and try the lo­cal pick­led veg­etable del­i­cacy – noza­wana. Dine at Wak­a­giri, Wan­ryu Ra­men or Tsukush­inbo and drink at Foot bar, Stay bar or Heaven.

There are 13 public on­sens (soto no yu), with O-yu the best. Also try the Ashi no yu – hot foot baths. For OMG mo­ments, the Doso­jin Fire Fes­ti­val is on Jan­uary 15 ev­ery year and is a sight to be­hold. For­get oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety pa­ram­e­ters – there are none.

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