Seki Onsen is one of several resorts at Myoko and is owned and run by a Family Business. The whole family plus 10 other employees take care of running the lifts.
A double chair brings you half way up the mountain and then from there a SINGLE chair brings you to the top, when it is running. They have very limited grooming with only two machines, one of which was totally snowed in (buried in 2011) and will not be used until spring. We didn’t really care as we are here to enjoy untracked powder and there is plenty of it. A snow base of several meters plus over 2.5m of fresh over the previous week was good enough to have plenty of fun.
First impression might not be the best. Smallish and short runs, but then when you start to explore the area you will enjoy every run a bit more. Nice pillows, rollovers, spines and more. Described by some as feature`licious.
We talked to the owner in the morning to find out about the off piste rules and for once it was a big relieving and very welcome change for Japan. He told us that he gave up warning people on where to go and not to go. Instead of these warnings he simply told us that any off piste rescue will be VERY expensive and fully charged towards us. He said we had better know what we are doing. A fair way in my opinion and they would for sure save a lot of money on ropes and signs which many of us would ignore anyway.
Weekdays are very quiet and the top single chair will not necessarily be open. But if you are polite and ask you might be spoiled by a temporary opening. Enjoy it as long as it lasts because they might shut it down again after an hour or two.
There is a restaurant within the resort which offers Japanese food and drinks. This also gives you a good chance to dry all your wet stuff while having a break.
On a powder day this resort is best for experienced powderhounds. Intermediate skiers probably won’t be too enthused with the one and only groomed run from mid mountain back to the base.
Skipatrol: Not seen at all. The lift staff would probably take care of anything if needed but would probably not be there within minutes. So if you ski off piste or even decide to hit the backcountry make sure you know what you are doing and have skiing partners with you. The weather did not allow us to see the whole potential of the backcountry but once we got to see parts of it for about 30 seconds and it looked promising for sure.
Overall: Good things come in small packages.
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No matter if you are on a low buget or prefere to stay in luxory. You will always find the right accomocation for your needs. Ski in ski out also available.
Ask at your lodge. There are package deals (Ticket plus food) for most resorts.
Myoko offers a wide range of different restaurants. From a short 4 day stay I can recommend the following small selection of restaurants located along the main street. “Alps Undo” noodles at Fu, downstairs of the Italien Pomodoro which is also pretty good. Keep walking “uptill” along the main street till you have to turn left or right. Right on the corner on your left hand side there are two small Izakaya restaurants KEI and Hoheto downstairs. Both totally different but with fantastic food. If you are a group of several people order many of the small dishes and share.
How To Get There
Details and text taken from the book “Snow Search Japan” by WSG media:
By Train: Myoko is fairly accessible for those travelling within Japan and arriving from abroad. The town of Myoko Kogan is in Niigata prefecture, although it’s just over the boarder from Nagano prefecture. Nagano City is the main access point for Myoko, allowing you to take advantage of the high-speed Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo (about 90min). After the smooth Shinkansen ride you must take the slightly bumpier local train to Myoko Kogan Station, 40min on the Shin-Etus line. From Myoko Staiton local buses connect throughout the day to the resort base areas of Suginohara, Ikenotaira and Akakura. Nearly all accommodation will pick you up from Myoko Station as part of their service, and the Myoko tourist office also runs a minibus pick-up service from Nagano City.
By car an easy 2.5h drive from Hakuba, from Nagano about 1h, about 4h from Narita Airport