Niigata is a paradise when it comes to experiencing seasonal excitements. Every season walks in with a distinct appeal. In spring, you get a chance to witness the fragrance of cheery blossom in the best parks of Japan along with the dazzling colors of tulip. Summer is the time for a long walk in the best beaches or if you are into surfing and water sports, you will again love Niigata. With the good byes of summer, autumn of Niigata becomes utterly romantic with the changed shades of maple trees in the parks of the beautiful heritages.
Well, now here's the winter! Niigata is such a fair city that winter will not disappoint you either. Within Japan, Niigata has a clear image for being a snowy part of Nihon. When you talk about snow, how can you not talk about Skiing? So, get your gears going!! It is said that there are above 50 ski and snow boarding places in Niigata which clearly makes sense because Niigata gets heaps of beautiful cottony snow every winter and this winter has been no exception.
Ski area showing the slopes
I have been fortunate to try skiing at a popular spot called - Ninox Snow Resort which is located on the western slopes of Ninojodake, to the east of Shibata City in the northern region of Niigata Prefecture. There are more of Ninox branches spread in other parts of Japan as well but my personal experience was in this zone. The gradually steeping wavy road with big pine trees along sides leads you to this ski area. Taking pictures of the mature wood and the road itself during the trip was a good experience. The ski area is not as huge and the beginner area is pretty much flat so don't worry if you are just a beginner ( like me), you can still do the simple ones and you have lessons available. For the professionals, it is an even better place because the uphill slope is very steep and pretty high. The lift takes you up hill through the rope and then you on your own ski down the steep slopes. The thrill that comes with it is incredible.
Photo: Richard on FlickrIf you don't have your equipment -- again no need to worry, you may rent them. Snow savvy friends in our trip said that Ninox had a good quality of snow, which I could not agree or disagree with my limited knowledge of skiing. But since the weather was very fine with sun at its full intensity, the scenic beauty at the zone was fantastic. There is a separate zone for kids to enjoy within the park so kids can play safe as well. The good thing for people with kids is that since the resort is small, you can keep track of kids without worrying much. There are also cafe and shops available for food and drinks so socializing and having fun is another thing you could do after a skiing adventure. The staff at the park are very friendly which makes the ski adventure cozy and relaxed.
Happiest part of skiing for me was I was able to get back home in a single piece with all bones intact as I am always scared of falling. I did fall number of times but that was all part of fun. I can’t wait to go to back !!
There are number of ways to get to the park if you using public transit- you may either take a shuttle bus directly from Shibata station or a train can take you there.If you are catching one from Niigata hop on to Joetsu Shinkansen Line else take Uetsu Honsen LIne from Shibata Station.
A full day ticket for an adult will cost 4000yen while that for kids is 3000 yen or you can buy a 5 hours ticket for a bit lesser price. There is parking cost for the vehicle i.e. 1000 yen per car.
8.30 am to 5 pm (daytime hours)
They also operate some hours at night but it is best to call beforehand to confirm.