THE CITY OF MINAMIUONUMA: DAY ONE

Two-Day Minamiuonuma City — Snow Country Experience w/Muica Onsen Snow Resort

Within north-central Niigata Prefecture lies the quaint, gorgeous and unique city of Minamiuonuma. Offering delicious sticky rice and udon, breathtaking scenery, unmatched slopes for snow activities, kimono snow bleaching, a sake cellar and more; this charming, one-of-a-kind town is perfect for a weekend getaway.

In Minamiuonuma City, locals take to skiing as being a regular part of life, they do not see it as a leisurely activity but rather as a sport required of them growing up as a part of their physical education in grade school. However, many tourists travel from the Tokyo area each weekend to enjoy the magnificent views and clutter-free slopes. We have laid out a two-day itinerary to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the amazing things Minamiuonuma city has to offer.

City view
Enjoy picturesque mountain views from atop the slopes.  Photo Credit: Mari Kamimura

DAY ONE

While traveling by Shinkansen (bullet train), take in stunning views of Tokyo’s countryside, with snow-tipped mountain peaks in the distance and charming homes atop the mountainside.

After leaving the train station, view awe-inspiring picturesque mountains and small town buildings. Walk down the roads and discover an old-fashioned street which maintains its original infrastructure, with no electrical wires obstructing your view of the mountains. On this street there is a functioning post office, police station, clothing stores and more.

Upon arrival to Muica Onsen Hotel, gear up for the slopes. Wear your own snow attire or rent from Muica’s convenient snow shop. Rent snow pants and jackets, skis and/or snowboard, ski poles, snow goggles and boots.

Skiing
Learn the basics of skiing from a professional ski instructor.  Photo Credit: Mari Kamimura

Next, go outside for a personal one-on- one lesson from a professional ski instructor or take on the slopes solo or with a friend. For beginners, before conquering the slopes, the ski instructor will teach you the fundamentals of skiing. Once you have successfully mastered the basics, make your way to the ski lift. Here, you can take in the stunning views as you are lifted high above the ground. After landing, the ski instructor will assist you as necessary — holding onto your hands or skis as you glide down the hill, in addition to teaching fundamental techniques for stopping and turning your skis. From there, the instructor will teach based on your skill level, continuing with the basics and guided assistance or moving on to advanced turning techniques.

Snowboarding
Take in marvelous views while using Muica’s convenient ski lift to get up the mountain with ease.  Photo Credit: Adrian Uribe

Take a break from the snow and head on over to Muica’s dining area for yummy katsu curry or delicious ramen. Enjoy hot tea and good conversation, then continue on skiing/snowboarding. If you are tuckered out from the day, check in to your hotel, jump into a cozy yukata (Japanese cotton robe) and enjoy an afternoon nap in your Japanese style bedroom, complete with a tea set and futon. If you prefer a more traditional style bed, twin and queen beds are also available inside the room.

After a long day venturing down the slopes, relax by unwinding in a communal onsen, also known as a hot spring, located on the second floor inside Muica’s Onsen Hotel. Onsens are known for their health benefits, such as promoting circulation, giving a boost of energy and glowing skin. Before stepping into the onsen, as a part of proper etiquette, you must first take your clothes off and wash with soap and water. Once you have cleansed your body of the day’s dirt, enjoy the hot spring water and the soothing sounds of the mini waterfall within the onsen. Weather permitting, you may also utilize the outside onsen where you can enjoy the beautiful views of the mountain while relaxing. If you’re just staying for the day, the onsen is available to you for a nominal fee (be sure to bring extra yen). For patrons staying overnight, the onsen is included with your hotel stay.

Onsen
After spending all day skiing or snowboarding, take a dip into Muica’s relaxing onsen.  Photo courtesy of Muica Onsen Resort

Once you have rejuvenated and freshened up, enjoy a delicious spread of cuisine. Start off by building your own salad and sipping on savory seafood based soup. Next, choose from a wide variety of fish including sashimi, crab legs, trout and smoked salmon. Yakiniku is also available to grill beef, chicken and sausage. Don’t forget to dive into one of their airy, moist and delicate desserts— enjoy chocolate, green tea, strawberry or raspberry mini cakes.

Dining out
Dine on a variety of delicious Japanese foods at Muica Onsen Resort.  Photo Credit: Suzy Twilley

After dining on an incredible dinner, retrieve back to your comfy bedroom, enjoy a night cap and rest up for another jam-packed day filled with exciting activities. Stay tuned to find out about day two which includes yuki-sarashi (kimono bleaching by snow), snowshoeing up the mountains, a visit to Hakkaisan’s Yukimuro (snow sake cellar) for sake tasting, and sake vending machines at Muikamachi station.

Directions: Begin at Higashi-Fussa Station and stay on for nine stops. Get off at Kawagoe Station and remain on the same platform, crossing over to Kawagoe Line (Shinjuku). Ride for five stops and get off at Omiya Station. Here, purchase your Skinkansen (take the Joetsu-Shinkansen) to Echigo-Yuzawa Station. From here, travel to your destination station, Muikamachi station.