Skiing in Nagano: Madarao Kogen (900m-1300m) Part II

Looking up at Madarao mountain

View of Mt Myoko from the Tangram area

I was lucky to be able to do another daytrip to Madarao Kogen, this time with sunny blue skies and colder temperatures, suitable for skiing. It had snowed the previous night, and all the trees were covered in a thin layer of snow, giving the entire resort a fairy world quality. The weather only turned cloudy later in the afternoon, making it easier to stop skiing in time.

Directly opposite is Nozawa Onsen

A small resort with steep slopes

This time, I ventured to the very top of the resort. I rode what was possibly the smallest chairlift I had ever taken (see video), to the spot where I had eaten lunch on my last year’s hike. I had an amazing view of Mt Myoko, as well as the southern part of Niigata prefecture stretching all the way to the Japan sea. Heading down, I followed a fun red slope, called “Ocean View”, that zigzagged through the forest.

Nearing the top of Madarao ski resort

In the distance, the sea of Japan

I had a late lunch and decided to have pizza again at Aki’s Pub & Cafe’s. This time, I could sit outside in the afternoon sun. The pizza was as good as I had remembered; I especially enjoyed the chewy, tasty dough. Since I had another hour of skiing, I ordered a tall black coffee to help speed up my digestion (or help me forget about it).

Aki’s Pub & Cafe, the best pizza in Madarao

Enjoying pizza outside is the best

The most remarkable part of the day were the views, missed on my previous ski trip. Although I also had good views on my hike, the winter air is a lot clearer and crisper than in the autumn. Since Mt Madarao is a minor peak sitting between the Myoko-Togakushi Renzan and Joshin-Etsu Kogen National Parks, it has a front row seat to all the major mountains of the area, and it would take too long to list them all here.

The mountains of Nagano part I

The mountains of Nagano part II

Interestingly, I could see exactly where the snow line ended between the wet coastal area and the dry interior. After a few last runs near the bottom of the resort, I returned my ski gear at 4h30. This time I had tried the other ski rental shop, Shirakaba. They didn’t have my ski size, so they gave me “fat demo” skis instead. I could do curves really well but skiing fast was less easy. One could say I wasn’t convinced by the demonstration!

On the left, the wet coastal area, on the right, the dry interior

Good skiing can be had at Madarao

Of all the resorts, Madarao Kogen offered me the most satisfying day-trip from Tokyo. It might not have had the most slopes, nor the highest ones, but it had the perfect combination of easy access and good-quality skiing. Hopefully, I will be able to return next season, on another blue-sky day to enjoy the amazing views.

Skiing at Madarao Kogen in good weather

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