(NOTE: ALL information is for the 2011-2012 season!)
Living in or around Tokyo and looking to get some winter action done this season?
You’re in luck as you have access to well over 100 different ski resorts littered throughout Niigata, Nagano, and Gunma Prefectures. However, getting to a resort can cost well over ¥15,000, and that’s just in transportation costs. That’s not including lift tickets, board/ski rentals, etc.
That’s where the Gala 1-Day Ticket comes in.
With the Gala 1-Day Ticket, it includes:
- Round-trip Shinkansen from Tokyo to Gala-Yuzawa Station (via the Joetsu Shinkansen Line)
- 1-Day lift ticket for Gala-Yuzawa Ski Resort
- 10% off rentals
…all for ¥12,200.
If you were to purchase the Shinkansen tickets and lift ticket separately, it would come to ¥18,300, saving you at least ¥6,100. Also, if you board at a station other than Tokyo Station, the price gets cheaper further along the Joetsu Shinkansen.
From Omiya Station – ¥11,100. Kumagaya Station – ¥10,100. Takasaki Station – ¥8,700. Also, if you purchase the ticket from an automated ticket machine rather than buying from a staffed window, it’ll save you an extra ¥300!
Trains for Gala-Yuzawa leave at least twice an hour and the trains home are just as frequent.
As for Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort itself, it’s not a bad place to go skiing. From train platform to ski lift takes no more than 2 minutes (EXTREMELY convenient if you bring your own gear), and there are plenty of facilities available to guests, including restaurants throughout the resort, locker rentals, a LARGE changing area, and even a hot springs. It’s also one of the higher resorts in the Yuzawa, so the snow tends to stick around a bit longer than the neighboring resorts. There’s a high speed gondola provided at the main building and the resort has plenty of quad and triple lifts to get throughout the entire resort with ease.
However, the ease and convenience of Gala-Yuzawa Ski Resort has its costs. Because they’ve made it TOO easy for Tokyoites to visit, it’s one of the most crowded, especially on weekends!! Lines to get on the lift can get long, and it makes the lunchtime rush a little unbearable, especially if you’re starving. Also, there isn’t as much variety as some of the other resorts, such as Naeba or Happo-one in Nagano Prefecture, but it’s enough if you’re just doing a day trip.
All-in-all, it’s a good price for a one-day trip. If you’re looking to do a weekend trip, there are plenty of specials that the local hotels or inns can offer that also include lift tickets. If you need help looking, don’t be afraid to leave a comment below, and I promise to respond quickly!
Finally with any train ticket report, are the fine details to help plan your trip better.
- Price: ¥12,200 on weekdays, ¥13,200 on weekends (from Tokyo Station. Half price for children
- Type: One-Day Shinkansen Pass plus lift ticket. Getting on/off at stations not ticketed for is not allowed.
- Purchase Locations:
- Automated ticket machines that also sell Shinkansen tickets
- JR Ticket offices (Midori-no-madoguchi)
- Purchase/Usage Period: December to April/May (depends when resort closes for the season)
Finally, JR East has provided a lot of useful links, all in English!, to help give a little more information (just in case I forgot anything!)
GALA 1-Day Ticket – (English) Official JR East webpage about the ticket. Also gives information how it can be used in conjunction with the JR EAST PASS (if you’re an overseas traveller).
Gala-Yuzawa Ski Resort – (English) Official webpage for the ski resort. Includes detailed information about the resort, such as hours of operation, lift operation, weather/snow conditions and courses.
GALA日帰りきっぷ – (Japanese) Official JR East webpage about the ticket.
Snow Japan – (English) A great (if not the BEST) English-related webpage to snowboarding and skiing in Japan. Has detailed information about ALL resorts in Japan and is updated at least once a day. A great place to start if looking to hit the slopes this winter.