Nag Snow Guide 2014

While Nagoya is not a particularly snowy city in the winter or a spectacularly green oasis in the summer, it does have the advantage of being near some of Japan’s greatest natural hangouts. This is particularly advantageous if you like hiking or skiing. The proximity to the mountains lends itself to a wide range of outdoor options year-round. If you are a snow freak there is no need to get on a plane (or even a train for that matter), there are ample spots to ski as close as 45 minutes away. And if you are willing to travel a bit further the snowy fields of Hakuba are well worth it.

When we asked our readers what they wanted to know about skiing near Nagoya, many asked for some recommendations of places that were accessible either by public transport or at least without the need for snow tires. Another request we had was some close to the ground recommendations for places to stay that were better suited to foreigners.

Truth be told, skiing and snowboarding in Japan has become a big business for foreigners, from Nisseko to Hakuba, and wherever you go skiing they are not only ready to receive foreign guests, they have a lot of them already.

With all that in mind, we have come up with a quick look at where to go for snow this season, with an eye towards what people living in the Nagtropolis need to know.

Heavens Sonohara

When it comes to “close by”, it is hard to beat the just over one hour trip to Heavens Sonohara in Nagano. This is an ideal place to go for a quick day trip to enjoy the snow, but note that snowboarding is not allowed. They have advanced, intermediate and beginner slopes as well as a pretty nice “Kid’s World” snow park which features a nice slope for sledding as well as a Hello Kitty show.

Getting There

The best thing about Sonohara is that not only is it close, you can usually drive there without snow tires as the entrance is just 1km from the Sonohara exit on the Chuo Expressway. You can rent your skis and get lift tickets at the bottom of the mountain and the gondola takes you up the mountains in a spectacularly steep panoramic ride. While purists will complain that the snow may not be as great, it makes for an easy trip and is very kid-friendly.

Heavens Sonohara Lift Prices

Half Day    Adult: ¥3,300 / Children ¥2,000
All Day     Adult ¥4,000 / Children ¥2,300

Kid’s World Sledding Park ¥500 Entry Fee.
Open: 8:30 to 4:30 Weekdays and Holidays.
Tel: (0265) 44-2311
Chisato 3731-4, Achi-mura,
Shimoina-gun, Nagano

Where to Stay

As the main appeal of Sonohara is how close it is to Nagoya we don’t have any particularly great recommendations for where to stay. However there is a fairly popular onsen nearby for your après-ski enjoyment.


If you have heard anyone in the Nag chatting about a day trip skiing, most likely you’ve heard the name Dynaland thrown about. Located in Gifu it is one of the biggest ski resorts near Nagoya, with 18 different courses. All that terrain is useful because there can be a lot of people.

Since it merged with the Takasu resort halfway up the mountain, there is a pretty good chance that the more adventurous will have more space farther up where the snow tends to hold out longer. We suggest you make your way there on a weekday as you can be certain to avoid the crowds.

Dynaland is also relatively easy to get to. The Meitetsu One Day Ski Bus Tour is one of the easiest and most reasonable options for those who don’t have a car.

The bus leaves from Meitetsu Bus Center (Nagoya Station) early in the morning and takes you to Dynaland and Hirugano Kogen Ski Resort located in Gujo, Gifu for a full day skiing at each ski resort with a ride back to Nagoya Station at night. This day tour includes round-trip bus, lift ticket and discount coupons for ski / snowboard rentals and lessons.

Getting There

The price for a bus tour is between ¥5,800 and ¥6,900 with a special price of ¥4,000 for women on Wednesdays.

The bus leaves Nagoya at 7:30, arriving at Dynaland around 10:00 and leaving at 17:30 to get back to Nagoya around 20:00. For an additional ¥500, you can get entry to the adjoining Takasu Snow Park at the top of the mountain.
More information on the web available here:

If you have a car, Dynaland is open from 5:00 to 23:00 and has a fireworks event every Saturday in January and February starting at 20:00.

Dynaland Lift Prices

Dynaland and Takasu Snow Park:
¥4,800 One Day Pass

Open: 5:00 to 16:30 Weekdays
5:00 to 16:30 Holidays
Night Skiing: 17:30 to 23:00

Dynaland only:
¥4,400 One Day Pass

Tel: (0575) 72-6636
Nishibora 3035-2, Takasu-cho,
Gujo-shi, Gifu

Where to Stay

There are some nice hotels, ski lodges and onsen facilities around the resort. Here are some we recommend:

Villa Montsaint
Located right in front of the ski resort Villa Montsaint also offers lift tickets and special discount coupons.

Holiday House Green Garden
Just five minutes by car from Dynaland and a few minutes further to Hirugano Kogen this hotel is relatively new and stylish hotel

St. Moritz
This budget hotel has the basics, including a large communal bath – but other than that it’s just convenient and cheap. From Dynaland it is just a 10 minute drive drive.

Hirugano Kogen

Another great child-friendly ski spot is Hirugano Kogen which has lots of activities for tykes who can’t ski yet or who want to learn. Kids under four can ride the lift for free and they also have a toboggan run. There is also an amusement park where skiers and snowboarders aren’t allowed and the kiddies can play in the snow as well as sled.

Getting There:

A Meitetsu One Day Ski Bus Tour costs between ¥4,700 and ¥6,000 with a special price of ¥4,000 for women on Thursdays. It leaves Nagoya at 7:30 and arrives at Hirugano Kogen at 10:40. The bus departs Hirugano Kogen at 16:50 and returns to Nagoya by 20:00.

Hirugano Kogen is 5km from the Hirugano Kogen SA Smart IC (Tokai Hokuriku Expressway)

Hirugano Kogen Lift Prices

Half Day:     Adult ¥2,700 / Children ¥2,000
All Day:     Adult ¥3,900 / Children ¥2,500

Open: 8:00 to 16:30 Weekdays,
8:00 to 16:30 Holidays

Tel: (0575) 73-2311
Takasu-cho Hirugano 4670-75,
Gujo-shi, Gifu

Ciao Ontake Ski Resort
Looking for a resort that is accessible by train? Try the Ciao Ontake Ski Resort which is located on the northern slopes of Mt. Ontake to the southeast of Takayama in Gifu. The train ride there has a great panoramic view of the Northern Japanese Alps – which reach as high as as 2,200 meters.

By Train

The JR train package costs ¥9,000 on weekdays (¥7,900 without ski / snowboard rentals), ¥9,500 on weekends. This package includes round-trip JR tickets on the special Wide View Shinano limited express train, a shuttle bus between the nearest station and the ski resort, as well as gondola and lift tickets and ski and snowboard rentals if you need them.

Trains leave Nagoya at 7:00 and 8:00, arriving at Kiso Fukushima Stn. at 8:29 and 9:25. Busses leave the station and arrive at the Ciao Ontake Snow Resort at 9:40 and 10:35. You can enjoy all day at the resort, leaving at 15:40 or 16:40.

Where to Stay

If a day trip is not long enough for you, there is an overnight package beginning at ¥15,100 which includes two meals. For accommodation you can choose between a traditional inn (ryokan) or a ski lodge. This package includes everything mentioned above as well as a two day gondola and lift ticket.

More info on train deals here:

Ciao Ontake Ski Resort Lift Prices

Half Day: Adult ¥3,200
All Day: Adult ¥4,500 / Children ¥2,000

Open: 8:30 to 16:00
Weekdays 8:00 to 16:00 Holidays

Tel: (0577) 59-3620
Hiwada 1739-1, Takane-machi,
Takayama-shi, Gifu

Looking to go a bit further afield? Then You and many of your friends from around the world will no doubt head to Hakuba.

Located in Nagano, Hakuba is nestled deep within the Japanese Alps and sports over ten ski resorts and numerous hotels, inns and lodges. It is also home to a veritable United Nations of dining and entertainment options. At times the place is so packed with foreign tourists it can feel like you aren’t in Japan at all.

Where to Ski

Hakuba Goryu and Hakuba 47 are considered by many to be the best resorts in the Hakuba valley – and one lift pass gets you into both which are connected at the top. These resorts are famous for great skiing conditions – nice powdery snow and the ample variety of courses. It snows a lot here and often you will find yourself lost in the ample snowy wonderland that stretches before you.

Getting There

By Train
Hakuba Goryu and 47 are only 2km from Kamishiro Station on the Oito line.

By Car
You can get there by car but the nearest Expressway exit is the Nagono Interchange, 42 km away on the Joshinetsu Expressway.

Hakuba Goryu

Open 8:00 to 16:50 Weekdays, 6:30 to 16:50 Holidays
Night Skiing from 18:00 to 21:30

Hakuba Goryu  Lift Prices

Half Day:  Adult: ¥3,800 / Children ¥2,000
All Day:  Adult  ¥4,800 / Children ¥2,500
Night Skiing: ¥1,800 / Children ¥900

Tel: (0261) 75-2101
Kamishiro, Hakuba-mura,
Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano-ken

Hakuba 47

Open 8:00 to 16:30 Weekdays, 8:00 to 16:30 Holidays

Hakuba 47 Lift Prices

Half Day:     Adult ¥3,800 / Children ¥2,000
All Day:     Adult ¥4,800 / Children ¥2,500

Tel: (0261) 75-3533
Kamishiro 24196-47, Hakuba-mura,
Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano-ken

Where to Stay

Hakuba Green Valley
If you want your own private and pet friendly cottage try Hakuba Green Valley. Some of the cabins have private onsen baths and they offer transport to and from the ski slopes.

Tel: (81)0261-75-4000
24196-24, Kamishiro Hakuba-mura,
Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano-ken

Brownie Villas
If you are looking for cabins that are quiet enough so that kids can play in the snow without worrying about traffic this place is comes highly recommended.

Tel: (0261)72-5153
2937-730 Misorano Hokujyo Hakuba
Kita-Azumi Nagano

Hakuba Alps

Most any foreigner in Nagoya will have met or at least heard of Troy and Sakiko from the backpacker’s lodge Hakuba Alps. They have been running their establishment and the Tracks Bar nearby for over 12 years now. For more info check out the special feature on Hakuba Alps on the following page.

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