Gala Yuzawa — a popular ski resort in Niigata Prefecture — is one of the easiest and most affordable snowboarding day trips from Tokyo. Here’s everything you need to know to go.

Basic info

    Gala Yuzawa’s 2023–2024 season: December 16, 2023 to May 6, 2024
    Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Spring hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    One-day pass: ¥6,500 in person, ¥5,800 online
Snow and skiiers at Gala Yuzawa
Photo by Chris Kirkland

Gala Yuzawa, sometimes written as GALA Yuzawa, is one of several skiing and snowboarding resorts in the Yuzawa area of Niigata, but what sets it apart is that it has its own bullet train station (aptly named Gala Yuzawa Station) — and it’s only 90 minutes away from Tokyo.

You can hop on a train just after 6 a.m. in Tokyo, be grinding the slopes by 8 a.m., and get back into the capital by nightfall, in time to tend to your cats/child/pet rock.

Suggested Activity
Navigate Japan with a Saily eSIM from $US3.99
With mobile data packages from $US3.99 for 1GB to $US22.99 for 20GB, Saily has your Japan data needs covered. Saily is brought to you by the people behind NordVPN.
A gondola at Gala Yuzawa
Photo by Chris Kirkland

Who should visit Gala Yuzawa?

The place is well suited to beginners, with a range of gentle slopes, and even a sledding slope, in the central area. There are some intermediate options too, with a couple of expert courses in the northern and southern parts of the resort. There is also a 2.5 km downhill course — a fun feature aimed at beginner-intermediate snowsters.

It’s a pretty small resort, though when the connected Yuzawa Kogen and Ishiuchi Maruyama resorts are also open, there’s a bigger variety of skiing to be had.

Gala Yuzawa also has a ski/snowboarding school with English-speaking instructors. They offer both private and group lessons, ideal for those with a bit of snow shyness.

A view from the top of a slope at Gala Yuzawa
Photo by Chris Kirkland

The Yuzawa area has heaps of hot springs, making it a grand old place to just kick back and relax, too.

How much is it to ski or snowboard at Gala Yuzawa?

A one-day pass is ¥5,800, and a half-day pass is ¥4,600.

The only thing you need to organize separately is gear — you can either bring your own, or rent it there. You can select it as an add-on to your resort package.

Accommodation near Gala Yuzawa

If you want to make an overnight trip of it, hotels can be found near Echigo-Yuzawa Station, which is one stop away from Gala Yuzawa Station.

Pro tip: You can book a one-night stay at the Hotel Angel Grandia Echigo-Nakazato, with round-trip Shinkansen tickets, meals, and special evening ski-slope access included, from ¥30,200.

What facilities are available at Gala Yuzawa?

Hitting the slopes can be tiring work, so Gala Yuzawa has plenty of space to put your feet up. Among the facilities in the resort are a large indoor pool and hot spring. Entry is ¥1,000 before 3 p.m., or ¥1,300 after, with a towel set included.

Suggested Activity
Official Street Go-Kart in Shibuya
Dress up in costume and drive through the famous Shibuya Crossing, Harajuku and Omotesando. You'll get a whole new view of the city. This is one of the most popular activities in Tokyo!

If you’re looking for a cheapo option, there’s also a free-to-enter relaxation space on the third floor of the Ski Center with benches and massage chairs, as well as a children’s play area on the second floor.

There are several restaurants offering Japanese light bites scattered around the Ski Center, Rest Area, and the North Area.

If you’re looking to bring your own gear from home, there’s also a heavy luggage counter on the third floor of the Ski Center, where you can collect and store your board or skis.

Gala Yuzawa FAQs

Is there an all-in-one package I can buy for a trip to Gala Yuzawa?

Not at the moment. While Gala Yuzawa does have a lot of space to ski and places to relax, there are no hotel facilities on site. You would have to book a separate hotel, and then pay for lift tickets for each day you’re visiting. You can check the JR View Travel website (in Japanese) for various discount package plans, though.

There is also a great-value seasonal package for a hotel in nearby Echigo-Yuzawa, which you could use as your base.

Suggested Activity
Get Tickets To the Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku (Up to 30% Off)
Experience one of the craziest, most colorful places in Tokyo — the all-new Samurai Restaurant, from the creators of the Robot Restaurant. Get your tickets and sit back for a wild show of lasers, lights, samurai, dancers and other uniquely Japanese weirdness.

I’m a more experienced skier/snowboarder. Is Gala Yuzawa worth it?

Absolutely. While the majority of courses at Gala Yuzawa are aimed at beginner- and intermediate-level participants, you’re not going to be left out. The South Area has 3 out of 5 of its slopes ranked as advanced-level courses, so there’ll be some challenges to sink your teeth into.

Can I drive to Gala Yuzawa?

You can. While the Shinkansen might be the quickest option, Gala Yuzawa is very accessible by road. If coming from Tokyo, the resort is about 3 km from the Yuzawa I.C. exit on the Kan-Etsu Expressway. Gala Yuzawa has a parking area with space for around 400 cars, with free all-day parking.

Explore other places to ski and snowboard near Tokyo.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Pass prices may vary depending on the time of year. This post was first published in December 2015. Last updated in November 2023, by Shyam Bhardwa.

Ask our local experts about Tokyo

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Watch this next