My My Myoko

MYOKO KOGEN

If you’re looking into going to Myoko Kogen, which I sincerely think you should be, there is some basic information you should know.

First off, Myoko is a little ‘city’ situated at the base of Mt Myoko. It is easy enough to find your way there as it is serviced by the JR train via Nagano. However if you stay in Myoko you won’t have any ski-in, ski-out options as the resorts are at least 10 minutes drive.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice my usage of the plural form of the word ‘Resort’ because yes, there are several. If I were to be specific, there are are seven resorts that make up the Myoko Ski Area, however I would only recommend setting up your temporary home in four of these resorts.

To help you decide where to set up camp, I’ve created a general overview of five of the seven resorts, because Myoko Ski Park and Kyukamura RunRun each have just one chair lift…

 

AKAKURA ONSEN

From what I can see, it’s the ‘largest’ of the towns, where it has an actual strip of buildings with bright lights where you can meander on your hunt food. Here you will find ramen shops, yakitori joints, shabu shabu and oh so many crepes.

The town is still relatively small, where the majority of restaurants and bars are along the main strip or just off of it.

Myoko Kogen - akakura-5

The resort itself is linked with Akakura Kanko. When you head to the lift ticket office you will have the option of buying tickets for just Akakura Onsen or an all mountain passes to gain access to the chairlifts from both mountains. The all mountain passes are only offered as day passes, so if you’re looking to save a few dollars by only doing a half day, you can take a shuttle that was 500 yen one way.


Quick Stats on Akakura Onsen:

  • Top Elevation: 1.5km
  • Skiable Area: unknown
  • Vertical Drop: 760 m
  • Number of Lifts: 14 lifts
  • Longest Run: 4.5km
  • Snow Fall in 2014/2015: 15.22 meters from December to April
  • Off Piste: Not allowed, and we had at least one person in our hotel have his lift pass clipped for riding into the trees.
  • My two cents: It’s a beginner friendly mountain, with many lifts around the base of the resort for beginners to avoid the heavier winds higher up. The runs are fairly mellow (translation: flat) and wide. There is a steeper part to the mountain higher up by chair lift #15, but that was really it. My friends and I chose to stay in Akakura Onsen for the food, but generally made a bee line over to Akakura Kanko via the chairlifts.

For more information, check the following sites:

General Resort Overview

Shuttle Bus

AKAKURA KANKO

Now, the area  is called Akakura Kanko, however the ski resort itself is called Akakan, but you can refer to it as either.

As my friends and I didn’t have our own wheels and were limited to the shuttle bus, I only got to drive through the ‘village’, and I can’t say that I observed much there.  There is a scattering of buildings, and from a google earth check, where to me, it appears about 40% of the size of Akakura Onsen.

The resort itself is linked to Akakura Onsen, where you can buy all mountain passes to gain access to the chair lifts from both mountains and then ski / board from one to the other.

Myoko Kogen-3

Quick Stats on Akakura Kanko: (note: websites provide same stats as Akakura Onsen as they are linked resorts)

  • Top Elevation: 1.5km
  • Skiable Area: unknown
  • Vertical Drop: 760m
  • Number of Lifts: 1 Gondola, 6 lifts
  • Longest Run: 4.5km
  • Snow Fall in 2014/2015: 8.70m from December to April
  • Off Piste: Not allowed however this appeared to be where the backcountry riders came to access the side country and now one seemed to stop them. So, if you’re willing to ‘risk’ your pass go ahead launch into the trees near the top of Hotel No. 5 Lift, or hike to get untouched powder at the top of Champion No. 3 Lift. From my experience, no one bated an eyelid.
  • My two cents: This my favourite side between the two Akakura resorts. If you’re staying in Akakura Onsen, buy an all mountain pass. If you’re staying in Akakura Kanko, play it by ear.

For more information, check the following sites:

General Resort Overview

Shuttle Bus

IKENOTAIRA

This town appears even smaller then Akakura Kanko’s. The only real thing of note was that they had a larger than normal souvenir / convenience store.  The rest of the village (appeared to me) to be made up of homes.

Ikenotaira

The Mt Myoko Kogen shuttle will deliver you to base of Ikenotaira Resort for 500 yen each way. Be sure to look up the times carefully as not all shuttles will stop at Ikenotaira Resort.

The resort is a stand alone resort, unlinked from the other resorts around Mt Myoko.

Quick Stats on Ikenotaira:

  • Top Elevation: 1.5km
  • Skiable Area: 60ha
  • Vertical Drop: 700m
  • Number of Lifts: 8 lifts
  • Longest Run: 4.5km
  • Snow Fall in 2014/2015: 9.2m from December to April
  • Off Piste: Falling in line with the others, they say “not allowed”, however I spied a fair few of us riding into the trees, especially the towards the top of the mountain. 
  • My two cents: This is the ultimate beginner’s resort…for boarders. I mean, skiers can learn here as well, but it just seemed like 85% of the riders were boarders.
  • The runs are pretty much all straight forward which makes it challenging to get ‘lost’. The runs towards the base of the mountain are mellow with really wide sections. My first impression was that I was going to get bored half way through the day, but then I found the Happy Park, which is what they call their beginner’s park.

DCIM100GOPRO

For more information, check the following sites:

General Resort Overview

Shuttle Bus

SUGINOHARA

This appeared to be the second most developed town of the five main parts to Myoko Kogen ski area. However, it appeared most of the village was residential, so if you’re into apre-ski drinks, you may need to BYO. 

The Mt Myoko Kogen shuttle will deliver you to Suginhara for 500 yen each way, where it took about 30 minutes from the starting point at Akakura Onsen.

The resort is a stand alone resort, unlinked from the other resorts around Mt Myoko.

Quick Stats on Suginohara:

  • Top Elevation: 1.855km
  • Skiable Area: 90ha
  • Vertical Drop: 1.124km
  • Number of Lifts: 8 lifts
  • Longest Run: 8.5 km (which is the longest run in Japan)
  • Snow Fall in 2014/2015: 9.33m from December to April
  • Off Piste: Again the rules officially say “not allowed”. However that being said, I did run ride into the trees just to the right of the start of the park While it was technically out of bounds, it was also in bounds given that there was a cat trail that wound its way through.
  • My two cents This had to have been one of my favourite of the Myoko resorts, given the run was nearly the double the next largest. In addition to this, the top of the mountain had plenty of character, where the black fun had rolling hills and features the pop off. The tree runs to the side of the park was a definite bonus, even if it wasn’t steep and the shrubbery not fully covered.

Myoko Kogen - Suginohara-4

For more information, check the following sites:

General Resort Overview

Shuttle Bus

SEKI ONSEN

I can’t comment on what ‘village’ it would have other than looking at google maps, which I did and it looks tiny. If you’re curious, check it out.

I wouldn’t really recommend staying in Seki Onsen because the Myoko shuttle bus doesn’t service this area until mid January and even then it is only on weekends. If you have a car, it may be a way to get cheaper accommodation. So assuming you don’t have your own set of wheels, maybe just hit this area up on the weekends or book a cab to drive you out to Seki Onsen on a day of your choosing.

(Obvious) Tip: If you are planning on booking a cab to take you to Seki Onsen on a weekday, be sure to remember to book a cab ride to take you back to your accommodation after the lifts stop running. I feel a little condescending suggesting this, but during out time in Myoko a crew from our hotel booked a taxi to Seki without booking a return trip. As the story went, they were stuck waiting around till 8pm because all the cabs were booked out by the time they got on to it.

Quick Stats on Seki Onsen:

  • Top Elevation: 1.2km
  • Skiable Area: unknown, and I can safely assume it wouldn’t be much
  • Vertical Drop: 310m
  • Number of Lifts: 2
  • Longest Run: 1.5km
  • Snow Fall in 2014/2015: 13.5 m (14.5m if you count that they were open in May too)
  • Off Piste: I am assuming they will say ‘Not Allowed’ however I have third party accounts that the resort won’t stop you here.
  • My two cents:
  • You can see Seki Onsen from Akakura Onsen and it appeared the resort runs into a gully. On a particularly powdery Monday, the resort looked devoid of people which gave me a bad case of FOMO as I assume that with so few people it would be nearly impossible for the area to get tracked out, and I was imaging that gully to be a haven for off piste or tree riding. The reason I never made it out to Seki was because the limited vertical drop turned me off.

For more information, check the following sites:

General Resort Overview

Shuttle Bus

Hop, Skip & A Jump

So there you have folks, my overview of five of the seven resorts that make up Myoko Kogen. Now all you have to do is choose an area by asking yourself:

  1. Do you want to be closest to the resort you’ll want to ride the most? or Do you want to be closest to the night life?
  2. Do you want a quiet snow-filled holiday that features more Japanese culture? or does not not even factor in?
  3. Do you want to bunker down at a single resort? or are you okay with hopping on the shuttle bus?
  4. Are you willing to cook your own meal? or do you want a pension that will feed you morning and night? or do you want the ability to choose where and what you will be eating?

Answer the above questions, and hopefully you’ll start piecing together which area will be best for you.

Photos For japan part 3 (1 of 1)-9

I would recommend staying at least a week before moving on, and even then I don’t recommend you move on too far away, because sitting just across the valley is Tangram Ski Circus and Madarao Kogen. If you haven’t heard of these two interlinked resorts, well, you’re welcome. They aren’t the largest but they got a lot on offer, but more on that later.

Cheers,

Leeva

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