Earth : Asia : East Asia : Japan : Chubu : Niigata (prefecture) : Yuzawa (Niigata)
The canonical backwoods hot spring and skiing resort, Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata's classic novel Snow Country (雪国 Yukiguni, see box) takes place in Yuzawa. Or so the Yuzawans claim; to be quite strict, the novel never mentions the name of its setting, but Kawabata wrote the novel while staying in Yuzawa so perhaps it's not too big a leap to make.
From Niigata Airport, take the airport bus direct to Niigata Station - this journey takes approximately 25 minutes, Then from Niigata Station you can take the Joetsu Shinkansen train direct to Echityo Yuzawa Station - this journey takes approximately 45 minutes.
Yuzawa is easily reached via the Echigo-Yuzawa (越後湯沢) station of the Joetsu Shinkansen line. Trains run 2-4 times per hour from Tokyo station, taking 75-90 minutes at a cost of ¥6490 (no cost with the Japan Rail Pass). Toki trains generally make fewer stops and continue on to Niigata, while Tanigawa trains terminate at Echigo-Yuzawa after stopping at all stations on the route.
In the wintertime, most Tanigawa trains continue on to the Gala Yuzawa ski resort (see Do).
Ski and Snowboard
JR East actively promotes Gala Yuzawa: The Gala One-Day Ticket includes a round-trip on the bullet train between Tokyo and Gala Yuzawa, round-trip lift ticket and a 20% discount off of ski equipment rentals. This ticket permits departure from/return to any JR station within the 23 wards of Tokyo, connecting to the bullet train enroute. Adults ¥11900/Child ¥6500 for ordinary class travel on weekdays; the price is higher on weekends and during the New Year's Holiday, and lower during the off-peak. Foreigners who purchase this ticket will receive gifts at the Gala Yuzawa resort as part of a tourism promotion campaign.
Holders of the JR East Rail Pass can purchase a special Snow Play Set Ticket for ¥1000, which includes a round-trip lift ticket, and rental of a cap, gloves, boots and a sled for one day. The trip on the bullet train is, of course, fully covered by the rail pass.
Japan's only fully foreign owned and operated Austrian-style ski lodge, STI Ski Lodge in Isiuchi