Tokyo Rail Days Trip | DAY 3 : Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
Day three on our Tokyo Rail Days Trip! We had snow on the first day, Sakura on the second day, and now we're going to try SKIING for the first time in our life! (Yes - none of us have tried it before.) Today's story will definitely be fun and challenging, since we're not going to skiing in one of those random resort... We're going to GALA YUZAWA!! *confetti*
A little about our destination today:
GALA Yuzawa is a world-class ski resort located in the town of Echigo Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture. Located about 200kms to the north of Tokyo, the area is famous for its impressive snowfall, and with skiing from 1,181m down to 358m, GALA Yuzawa resort is the perfect place to enjoy the excellent snow conditions.
So yes, for my first experience, we'll go to one of the finest resort in Japan and worldwide! My story will be a POV of a real beginner, so if any of you want to try skiing but still having doubts about it, follow the post below!
We departed from Tokyo Station with this special train called "Nax Tanigawa" that took exactly 77 minutes from Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa, Niigata. It's an express train that take visitors directly to the ski resort.
It's gonna be cold, so we wrapped ourselves up! Let's go skiing!
2. GALA YUZAWA MAIN BUILDING
This is the information Centre area for visitors.
There are multiple-language speakers here that will help you in English, French, Mandarin, Korean, and more.
Information Board, Announcement Wall and waiting area across the Information Centre.
There's also gift shop and sport-equipment stores on the first floor.
Cafe and restaurants area.
There are also an area for public rest - decorated with wooden tables and chairs.
Lunch cafe beside the public rest area.
By taking off our shoes, we can have a rest here during the day.
The first-floor area is huge, and basically resembles a mini department store with rental corners, resting rooms, changing room and leisure stores like gift shops and cafes. Everything is also extremely clean and neat. I suggest you to come early for looking around the shops (maybe getting some new gears at the sport centre!) and try some local snacks that are only available in Gala Yuzawa.
3. EQUIPMENT & CLOTHING RENTAL
Since me and my family didn't bring any proper ski equipment, we try the rental service of Gala Yuzawa, where we can rent the clothes and equipment all together. It's quite an easy procedure - we just need to fill a rent form and then queue for getting the clothes.
The rental form with detailed queries.
Trying the size of our rental shoes here (for sliders).
These ones are for ski-players and Snowboarders.
After choosing the size, we line up on the pick-up corner for claiming our rental items.
After that, we must go to the changing room and rent a locker to keep our extra luggage and clothes together. This is the ticket.
Here's the locket machine where we can purchase our locker ticket.
After getting the ticket, we need to find our locket based on the number here!
Here is the locker! We can set up a password to lock and open. Easy!
For practical reason, esp. first-timer, I suggest you to try their rental services because of these practical consideration : (1) we don't have to spend inefficient sum of money on ski gears and equipment (just in case we're not into skiing regularly, just ocassionaly), (2) we don't have to bring extra luggage on our flight and on our way to the resort, and (3) we don't have to do post-skiing laundry or cleaning. That definitely will save time and energy.
4. SPA & WHIRLPOOL
One of the nice facilities that Gala Yuzawa has is the Spa and Whirlpool. As we know before, Japan is famous for its hotspring (onsen), where we can enjoy taking a long dip in the hot-watered pool while being surrounded by colder weather. During waiting for our lunch, me and mom were feeling a bit tired, so we decided to try the spa and whirlpool first to relax. Here are the pictures from spa area:
They have separated spa for man and woman. When we want to go inside, we have to take off our shoes and wear their slippers.
This is the "beauty" room on the man side. Decorated with blue!
Male's locker area.
This is the main entrance of Female's section. Those rattan boxes are for us to put our clothes and belonging outside the lockers.
The Female's lockers.
Female's beauty area with pink ammenities.
We can purchase toothbrush, sanitary pad from these vending machines!
This is the hot-pool, with washing-area on the right side.
The main hot whirlpool.
There's an outdoor area where we can enjoy hot pool while enjoying the snow.
Before we started, the are was closed temporarily for daily maintanance. They clean the pool everyday.
5. GALA YUZAWA SKI RESORT
After spa-time and lunch, we finally heading to the main Gala Yuzawa Resort area! We took a cable car from the ground station, then ride up to the mountain where all the snow-related activities take place. It took about 5-7 minutes to get to the mountain top.
My sister acted like it's cool.
That's the main station down there!
After the ride, we jumped out and HERE WE ARE! In a land covered by SNOW! (Apologize for the over-excitement - we don't get to enjoy snow back home!)
We didn't come on weekend, so it wasn't so crowded. Also, the area is HUGE, and consisted of three separate sections dedicated for different purposes (snow playground, ski and snowboarding courses, advanced-routes).
My sister tried the ski course first. We can sign up for short-classes, to learn about the basics.
(CLICK HERE FOR LESSON & CLASS INFORMATIONS)
Geared Up for Ski!
So for the first trial, here's the order: Snowboarding - Ski - Snow Sliding!
I let him try the snowboard. I was too scared to try!
We started the basic learning around this area. There were many beginners too oun the playground.
I t was bright and sunny that day, and the sun's reflections are strong because of the snow - so bring sunglasses!
And... take many pictures!
Many family pictures!
Me and mom were so curious about Snow sliding so we decided to play slides together :)
Meanwhile, my boyfriend and my sister went up higher to try skiing and snowboarding.
He's got cooler shades.
While skiing or sliding, we can enjoy the mountain views too.
Mom tried skiing for the first time!
Advanced ski and snowboard players were also fun to watch!
I tried skiing too - and I fell down a lot!
So me and mom decided to walk around....
...and play the snow-slider like a kid!
Then of course, we made snowballs.
I was happy just to sit and see around. Making snowballs. Taking pictures.
Meanwhile, my sister succeded her lesson!
And I still succeded on eating around. Strawberry Cheesecake and Mint Chocolate!
The mountain provides such a nice background to take pictures.
Oh, you can enjoy crepes too - mine was Cheese Caramel with Vanilla Ice Cream and Cheesecake fillings.
PERSONAL OPINION : A VISIT TO GALA YUZAWA WILL BE WORTHY FOR YOU WHO LOVE THE COMBINATION OF NATURE, SPORTS AND ADVENTURE. IT WILL GIVE YOU UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE TO REMEMBER.
It was definitely one of the most interesting and fun experience I ever got in life. My life was far from any adrenaline-seeking exploration, but now I feel like adding more rush into the blood! And the most special thing is to actually experience this with my favorite peopple on earth - my family. They brought joy and grateful feeling to my heart more than anything.
6. HEADING BACK
After hours playing with the snow and eating snacks around the playground, we finally went home (by first cleaning ourselves in the locker room and gave back our rental clothes/equipment). We took the same train back to Tokyo Station from Gala Yuzawa, and it was around sunset time when we passed the small town. Covered in snow and soft shade of fog, the town was like a dream to me - I feel like jumping inside a story from my childhood bedtime story, flying away to the fantasy land far away inside the mountain. Beyond beautiful.
DESTINATION : GALA YUZAWA, NIIGATA
1. Depart from Tokyo Station by Train - Max Tanigaza (8:04) → Gala Yuzawa Station (9:37)
2. Arrived at Gala Yuzawa then go to the Main Entrance of Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort just right beside the station.
Total Trip Time : (approximately) 1,5 hours.
TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMER
If you want to visit Kawazu too, you can use Tokyo Rail Days Tour package - just like we did. It's easy and cheaper to travel around by using train, and it's not as difficult as what people think, so I recommend this to everyone who wants to experience the nature outside Tokyo on one-day trip. Some advantages of using Tokyo Rail Days:
- To refresh your mind about this trip, please read this post first: WHAT IS TOKYO RAIL DAYS?
- Tokyo Rail Days Tour is EASY TO GET. You can purchase from LOCAL TOUR AGENTS in your country (in Indonesia, most established Travel Agents have provided the tour, so you can ask them for the available tour packages (based on the season) and they will help you to plan and reserve the tickets.
- You can check the promotion and offered package on TOKYO RAIL DAYS WEBSITE (click on the link), then consult with your agents about how you can buy the packages. You can also try to make online itinerary and set the date/time/etc via the website. Payment can be done online or via tour agent. EASY TO BUY!
- The tour packages are cheaper and only available for non-Japanese tourist. So it's a very good deal for us. EASY TRY!
- Tokyo Rail Days is a flexible tour, so you can pick your own schedule and train time by yourself. No need to hire a private guide at all (that can cost A LOT).
- The train is clean, convenient and easy to get in. Most staff in the station also understand English, so there's no need to be worried about not getting helped. The train is also available in direct routes, so don't worry about changing trains. EASY GO!