This article is part of Ski Asia's Perfect Day series, in which we ask locals and business owners how they'd spend the ultimate day in their home resort. 

We love asking ski resort locals how they’d spend a perfect day at their home resort, because it’s often the fastest way to get to know a new ski destination. Escape Myoko owners Neil Denize and Tayler Paulsen’s answers on Myoko will resonate with many of our readers, because it’s clear they enjoy the resort for many of the same reasons tourists fly from all corners of the earth to get there.

Escpae Myoko owners

Escpae Myoko owners Neil (top) and Tayler (bottom), both picture with their son, Finn.

The catalyst for Neil’s obsession with snow was a visit to Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand in 2006, which saw him pack up his bags shortly after to chase winters in North America, Europe and, eventually, Japan. It was in Minakami, working as a ski and snowboard instructor, where he first discovered the country’s incredible snowfall. Eight years later, after many winter seasons split between Japan, Australia and New Zealand, he and newly-married Tayler took a reconnaissance trip to Japan where they ended up purchasing the now-named Mountain Hut Myoko.

“We were immediately drawn to the area’s proximity to excellent resorts and the surprisingly affordable property market”, explains Neil.

“Our first season at Mountain Hut in 2018 was a significant learning experience, as we were new to operating a small business in a foreign country with limited Japanese language skills. Despite the challenges, it was a lot of fun. The 2019/20 season kept us very busy, and we were fortunate that COVID-19 didn’t become a major concern until March, around the time when things usually start to wind down for the season.”

Hoping that the pandemic would “blow over in a couple of months”, the couple purchased SUGI Chalet in June 2020, however a Covid-enforced absence from Japan as well as two years of record snowfalls led to significant damage to their properties.

Neil credits strong local connections and friends to their recovery, and after a successful return to business last season the pair are getting ready to launch Two Pines, a snowboard rental shop and pizza spot. They have also recently begun offering backcountry guiding services, ski/snowboard instruction and women’s camps to their growing list of services as a business.

Myoko backcountry days


You’d be forgiven for thinking there wouldn’t be any time left to enjoy the Myoko’s famous conditions, however the photos below of Neil and Tayler ripping through powder in the backcountry suggest otherwise, and Neil lists “having the opportunity to snowboard nearly every day during the season and enjoy the company of our fantastic crew” as a significant perk of the job.

But their biggest perk?

“[It’s been] the chance to be present for our 2.5-year-old son, Finn, and share this unique mountain lifestyle with him as he grows up – a source of great pride and happiness.”

“It’s important to note that running a business in a small, rural mountain town isn’t without its unique set of challenges and sacrifices Nevertheless, it’s a fulfilling life, and we feel incredibly fortunate to live in the mountains, blending our passion with our livelihood.”

Below, Neil takes us through his idea of a “perfect day” in Myoko, Japan:


Our go-to winter breakfast is a Mountain Hut Lodge specialty consisting of scrambled eggs, rice, coleslaw, with a healthy dose of sesame dressing and Kewpie mayo. We basically eat it all season long, and it never gets old. It gives you all the energy you need for a huge powder-packed morning up the hill.

Mountain Hut Lodge

Mornings at Mountain Hut Lodge


I typically head out the door around 8:00 am, heading straight for Suginohara ski resort. I grab a coffee from Sugi Base and then hop on the gondola for a few fun laps to warm up my legs before the top chair opens at 9:30, depending on the amount of snow received the night before. I like to get a few laps on the piste while the conditions are good. After that, I start venturing off into the trees on the skier’s left off the top chair and make my way over to the ridge line, hitting the pillow lines all the way down. On a bluebird day with a good snowpack, I might be tempted to hike above the top chair and drop into the crater of Myoko. I should note that I would only recommend this to people with avalanche gear and experience in the backcountry or those accompanied by local guides.

For the beginners and intermediate crew, I head to Ikenotaira ski resort, which is only a 10-minute stroll up the hill from Mountain Hut Lodge. It’s ideal for beginners and families, and it’s perfect for people wanting to experience tree riding for the first time. The trees at Ikenotaira aren’t too tight, and they offer a nice, easy pitch. Later in the season they usually have a fun terrain park with plenty of features suitable for all skill levels. We love to session the park pretty hard, especially in slushy, fun spring conditions.

Pillow line in Myoko, Japan

Pillow line in Myoko, Japan


Personally, I don’t usually opt for a big lunch when I’m riding. However, if I’m at Suginohara, it’s hard to resist a burger at Sugi Base or a baked apple at the Yellow restaurant at the bottom of the park chair. On the other hand, if I’m riding at Akakura Kanko, a coffee and cake set on the terrace with a view over Lake Nojiri on a clear day is pretty special.


Depending on how my legs were feeling, I would typically continue riding for a couple more hours in the afternoon. This might involve venturing off into the trees or having a session on the jib features. The Sugi park crew does a fantastic job with their park. Alternatively, I might ride back to the lodge and have a session in our mini backyard park, which we work on throughout the season. It’s a lot of fun, and the whole lodge tends to get involved, whether it’s outside on the snow or with cheers from onlookers inside the lodge.

Backyard session, Myoko

“I might ride back to the lodge and have a session in our mini backyard park, which we work on throughout the season.”


There are so many good onsen options in the area. If you’re ever in Myoko during the green season, Tsubame Onsen is hands down my favourite. It’s an outdoor onsen in a natural setting, and the best part is, it’s free. Unfortunately, it’s not open during the winter.

However, during the winter months, Alpen Blick Resort and Spa in Ikenotaira has a great onsen, plus a restaurant in the same building. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy an onsen and then grab dinner afterwards or vice versa. Most of the time, I’m happy to settle for a long soak in our Ofuro baths at the lodge. While they may not be ‘onsen,’ they are always full, always hot, and incredibly convenient.


“…hands down the best Japanese food you’ll ever eat.”

The local ramen restaurant, Arakin, in Ikenotaira, is hands down the best Japanese food you’ll ever eat. And they don’t just serve ramen; their menu is extensive. But if you’re in the mood for something more Western, our new pizza spot in Suginosawa village is set to become a favourite. It combines delicious pizza with a relaxed atmosphere, making it perfect for capping off a day on the slopes with a cold beer and good tunes.


Although Myoko is not widely known for its nightlife, it does offer cosy spots for evening après. Akakura village is the place you want to do some bar hoping. We would usually start off at Full Circle for a great selection of cocktails and also bar snacks followed by Skate Bar where you can have a crack at their indoor mini ramp, followed by Popcorn if you are in for a big one.


If you’re after your own luxury ski-in/ski-out chalet all to yourself, then SUGI Chalet is the perfect place for a group of mates or families and can sleep up to 16.

Sugi Chalet, Myoko

Sugi Chalet, Myoko. View more images

Alternatively, if you’re looking for lodge-style accommodation, then Mountain Hut offers various room types catering from couples to families and is ideal for budget to mid-range travellers. We operate all our offerings under Escape Myoko, and our website or socials @epicescapes_co is a great place to start planning your next epic holiday to Japan.


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There are lots of options in Hokkaido and Honshu that can be tailored to the kind of skiing you like and when you plan to come. Answer a few questions and we’ll get back to you with some recommendations.

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