Convenient day trip from Tokyo but not a serious consideration for anyone except total beginners. There are much better resorts in the area
Gala Yuzawa bus signs / Photo: Steve Dowle
Gala Yuzawa street sprinklers / Photo: Steve Dowle
Gala Yuzawa restaurant / Photo: Steve Dowle
Gala Yuzawa restaurant display / Photo: Steve Dowle
Gala Yuzawa town / Photo: Steve Dowle
Typical evening meal at Hotel Inamato in Gala Yuzawa / Photo: Steve Dowle
Hotel Inamato at Gala Yuzawa / Photo: Steve Dowle
Boot room like no where else at Hotel Inamato in Gala Yuzawa / Photo: Steve Dowle
The Gala Yuzawa Cowabunga base has a number of useful facilities. The train station is in the basement and they can help out with any additional train tickets you need. The hire shop on the next level has a form that you fill in and queue, you can hire any combination of board/skis/boots/jackets/trousers/gloves/goggles the full set will cost 7000 yen(£40) for a full day, a day lift pass 4000 year. Lessons are available and there are a few English speaking instructors and just make sure you ask when you book in case they haven’t guessed. There is a restaurant and gift shops on the same level, and also changing rooms and lockers to store your kit. On the top floor is a day spa which costs an additional 1500 yen, and within that a large room where you can grab a mat and have a snooze.
Yuzawa is a compact traditional town and a mile away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and other cities and English is rarely spoken. The main Echigo Yuzawa train station is situated one of the main street, and all the facilities are within walking distance and shuttle buses connect you to all the resorts. It can be confusing to work out which bus goes where but ask in your hotel or just get the piste map out and point.
Walk along the street at night and you’ll see plenty of lanterns and kanji writing adorning the restaurants and shops, little water jets coming out of the street to help clear the frequent snowfalls and people sheltering under umbrellas wearing kimonos as they head off to Onsens.
There are a number of Onsen’s in the area. Komaksu No Yu and the foot-spa Kannakuri are located just off the main high street, and you can’t go wrong by visiting Yama No Yu a locals favourite.
In the summer the Fuji Rock Festival is held in the area
For more information visit the official tourist board site which is in English
Very few bars and restaurants will have staff that speak English, which on one hand is proves that you are out of the tourist zone but can be a little uncomfortable. Tour company welovesnow are based here, and make sure you take a look outside of any restaurant for their logo on the door. If you find it then the restaurant will have a menu that has been translated into English by them, and not only is it translated but it includes descriptions to explain what the dishes are; extremely useful.
There are many traditional Japanese restaurants along and just off the main street.
The Bottle Bar is located downstairs on the main high street and is open until 2am most days. Funnily enough its serves beer from around the world and it has a pool table.
The Inamoto is a excellent modern Ryokan and centrally located on the high street and only a few minutes walk from the main station. The kaiseki-ryori restaurant is a real dining experience serving amazing ornate dishes but not recommended for the unadventurous.
The indoor onsen is open until 11pm every night, and the Ryokan caters for modern tastes with wireless internet in the lobby. www.oyadoinamoto.jp tel: 025-784-2251