Cupid Valley – In the Heart of Snow Country
Nestled between the Myoko and Yuzawa ski areas of Niigata is the smaller and less well-known Cupid Valley - also known as Yukidaruma Kogen, or Snowman Plateau/Heights! Being off the main track it is usually quieter and less crowded than bigger resorts, yet still has runs up to 4km, and many things to enjoy in a day trip.
This park is tucked into a hilly area, receiving incredible quantities of powdery snow! Metres of it! The weather is often misty, but on clear days you can glimpse beautiful sea views from the top. It is not a huge park, though with nine main tracks and linking trails, it will keep you busy exploring for a day. Whilst the official sites state 15% of tracks are advanced, my honest opinion is that the courses are all beginner and intermediate.
Advanced skiers and snow boarders will not be challenged. But in saying that, not everyone wants a thrill or challenge every time, every day! Sometimes it’s nice to go slower, or take a break; just enjoy being out in the open, having fun with a bunch of happy people in a beautiful place. Let me tell you more on why I think it makes for a great day out.
The park has wonderful facilities, all within a nice, and relatively new alpine-style building – Cupid Valley opened in 1990. It has clean resting spaces and change rooms, with lockers. Gear and wear rentals are available – saved me, because would you believe, on the day I went to check CV out, two hours into the drive I realized my boots were at home.
There are nice eating areas both in the main plaza and up on the slopes; standard menu of anywhere in Japan. There’s a shop selling various snow sport items plus cute souvenirs! I was there just around Valentine’s Day and it had some extra special freshly made treats! There is also a game room. All facilities are very clean. Skiers, snowboarders, and snow skooters are all welcome, plus there is a child area, and fat-tyre snow bicycle rentals. I have tried this in Aomori for a bit of fun! Join a class if you’d like lessons.
Overall the park has a warm, friendly and local feel. It does have some tree areas, though off-piste is not permitted, plus the undulating nature of the terrain could be somewhat inhibiting. But as I said, Cupid Valley is located in between a number of big resorts – not only Myoko and Yuzawa, but also Nozawa Onsen, Madarao, Charmant and not too far from Hakuba. So it is possible to take in a number of resorts on the one trip. And my suggestion is that this park is wonderful for a day break away from the bigger parks. Spend a relaxing and cruisy ride/ski no matter your level, or equipment choice; explore all the different paths! It is a lovely park for families and kids. And to top it all off, it does get incredible snowfalls!
Check this website for locations to other ski areas, plus conditions and snow levels.
Like many other ski resorts, Cupid Valley has all-year-round activities. In warmer months you can enjoy hiking, BBQs, a waterslide and more. There are lovely cabins to stay in onsite (not in winter), and many other events and activities to be enjoyed, so please look at their official site.
It does have an onsen onsite but unfortunately it is not operational this year – hopefully it can be fixed soon! Nothing like hot springs after a hard day on the slopes!
Accommodation and Access
There are a few lodges in the surrounding villages, plus numerous opportunities in and between the cities of Naoetsu and Joetsu. The resort can be reached by public transport and cars, and the free carpark has the capacity for 1,250 vehicles (see the official website). Finally, there is an onsen at the park but at the moment it is not running. More information is available online.
Hyperdia is a great website for public transport in Japan. You can find not only timetables, but fares, travel times, distances and transfers; even track number, line and train name! Covers a range of public transport in Japan, including trains, buses and ferries.
I came across a few tours that take in Cupid Valley as part of a trip. Please see this for more information.