Myoko’s reputation for powder snow needs no selling. Add variety, vertical, ease of English and local culture, and one need look no further than Myoko Kogen for the quintessential Japow ski adventure.

As the brand new display at the Myoko Kogen Visitor Centre next to Imori Pond points out, the area is “one of the snowiest places on Earth”, averaging around 14 metres per season (quite a bit more during the 2021/22 season). Siberian storms gather moisture over the Sea of Japan and unleash on resorts close to the west coast before heading on to other places, like Hakuba. As such, waking up to waist-deep snow is not uncommon. So it’s a good idea to know which resort might suit your style on any given day.

Myoko Kogen is not simply one ski area. Depending upon your definition of “Myoko” you could be talking of a mountain, a town, or a number of ski resorts. Below is a breakdown of the main resorts followed by the all-important info on how to get here.

Myoko Kogen Ski Resorts

Akakura Kanko/Akakura Onsen

Akakura Kanko is one of the oldest resorts in Japan, having opened in 1937. “Akakan” has one gondola and six quads and offers plenty of variety.

The maximum elevation is 1500m and the longest run is 4.5km. You’ll find terrain for everyone with 40% beginner, 30% intermediate and 30% advanced.

Myoko Snowsports operate their ski school from the Champion side of Akakan and so, if visiting with a young family, you may want to familiarise yourself with this area. Akakan also has a terrain park.

Akakura Kanko, Myoko

Akakura Kanko. 📷 Nathan Eden

Connected to Akakan is Akakura Onsen Ski Resort, above the little village of the same name (what many consider the “centre of town” if there is such a thing). With 14 lifts and 17 courses, this is quite a large resort in Japanese terms, especially for those without a great deal of experience. Half of the runs are for beginners with 30% intermediate and 20% advanced.

Akakura Onsen has many of the same facilities and features as Akakan, including kids’ facilities and a terrain park but unlike Akakan, offers night skiing.

Given the proximity and how easy it is to ski between the two main resorts, you may even want to consider Akakan and Onsen as one resort. Of course, you can get a joint pass at a reasonable price for these two connected resorts. Many take this option as it lets skiers and riders start at one and finish at the other — helpful if you want to start the day with a coffee at your favourite cafe and end the day with a beer at your bar of choice, or if you simply want more bang for your buck over the course of a whole day on the mountain.

Home to a beacon safety checking station, access to backcountry at the Akakura resorts involves boot packing to some deep and steep riding back into the resort.

Akakura Onsen, Myoko

Akakura Onsen. 📷 Nathan Eden

For more info on Akakura Kanko, click here.

For more info on Akakura Onsen, click here.

Ikenotaira (Alpen Blick Resort)

Sometimes referred to as a family resort, Ikenotaira is home to some wide-open terrain. Besides being a pretty smooth introduction for those just dipping their toes into the trees, Ike styles itself as a resort open to what one might call “alternative snow activities” such as snow bikes, skates and scooters, as well as being a choice area for snowshoeing.

Owing to wide and mellow runs, there’s plenty of space and rarely feels too crowded. There are a few advanced runs but it is ideally suited to beginners and intermediates; 40% beginner, 45% intermediate and 15% advanced.

Ikenotaira, Myoko

Ikenotaira. 📷 Nathan Eden

While there is something for everyone on the right day, a powder day may not be that day as there’s probably not enough steep to suit the deep if you’ve woken up to snow to the waist. And just like the trees and on-piste stuff, backcountry at Ikenotaira is perhaps a bit better suited to beginners and intermediates than the advanced riders.

For more info and course map, click here.


Although some may debate it, Sugi is home to Japan’s longest run at 8.5 km, but it’s the amazing park riding that is the highlight. There, you’ll find numerous rails and other features to keep you interested for hours.

Suginohara, Myoko

Suginohara. 📷 Nathan Eden

Sugi provides backcountry access into the crater of Mount Myoko and, along with some deep and steep, affords an awe-inspiring view. There’s the option to ride back to the resort or ride/hike into the crater and up to Myoko-san (with the help of an experienced guide, of course).

(Beg:40% Int:40% Adv:20%)

For more info and course map, click here.

Lotte Arai

Along with Madarao/Tangram, Lotte Arai is one of those resorts either included or excluded when the boundaries of Myoko Kogen get blurry. What is for certain is that it is quite close to Akakura and more than worthy of inclusion. The first thing that separates Lotte Arai from many other Japanese ski resorts is above tree-line skiing in wide bowls. Off-piste action is permitted in avalanche-controlled areas.

Lotte Arai, Myoko

Lotte Arai. 📷 Nathan Eden

The second point that might differentiate Arai in the eyes of first-time visitors is the different aesthetic of the resort itself, on occasion referred to as Disneyland-esque owing to its pastel-infused vibe. It probably won’t feel too much like authentic Japan but does boast some amazing facilities and Myoko Snowsports also operates a wing of their ski school meaning English-speaking families are well-catered for.

(Beg:36% Int:36% Adv:21% Expert:7%)

For more info, click here.

Best of the Rest

Equally close in the opposite direction to Lotte Arai from Akakura are both Madarao Mountain Resort and Tangram Ski Circus. These two connected resorts offer enough variety to comfortably call them a destination unto themselves but can also make a very convenient day trip from the main areas of Myoko Kogen. The main attraction here is tree skiing but there’s also some good side and backcountry.

The eclectic Seki Onsen is one for the deep days and, while tiny, punches above its weight in terms of powder and steep tree skiing. Beyond that, a day trip to nearby Togakushi Ski Resort is best coupled with a walk through the row of giant cedar trees on the way to the Upper Shrine of Togakushi Shrine. Kurohime may provide a mellow alternative for families, while further on, Nozawa Onsen is under an hour away (depending on road conditions).

Getting To Myoko Kogen

Myoko Kogen is about 3.5 hours northwest of Tokyo, just inside Niigata Prefecture, slightly beyond Nagano Prefecture and its prefectural capital of the same name. Once in Tokyo, take the Shinkansen from either Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Nagano city. Change here for the local train to Myoko Kogen Station.

Myoko Kogen train station

Myoko Kogen train station 📷 Nathan Eden

There are other options of course. Namely, Snow Shuttle, Chuo Taxi or car rental. Once in Myoko, if your hotel doesn’t provide shuttles to the four main resorts each morning, there are buses, so too are there buses to Madarao/Tangram, Lotte Arai, Seki Onsen, and others. For drivers, if your hotel provides parking then getting around by car affords the utmost in freedom, allowing you to cater your day to wills, wants and snow conditions. Pro-tip; take the Shinkansen to Nagano city and rent a car from there rather than in Tokyo — rental companies in Nagano will assume you’re travelling to places like Myoko and therefore include winter tyres and the appropriate insurance.