A convenient stop on the Joetsu Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Niigata, Echigo-Yuzawa Station is a gateway to the many ski resorts in the surrounding area. Of those, GALA Yuzawa is immediately accessible while many others can be reached using shuttle buses and taxis operating from the station. On this page you will find the following information:
Naeba is the largest ski resort in the area and in summer, plays host to Japan’s largest music festival – Fuji Rock Festival. As such, Echigo-Yuzawa is a convenient transport hub from where to explore a beautiful and entertaining corner of Central Japan. Often referred to simply as ‘Yuzawa’, the area surrounding the station is a well-known ‘onsen’ (hot spring) area, with numerous hotels and guesthouses to choose from.
The following page provides information to assist with moving to and from Echigo-Yuzawa Station as you travel through Central Japan. It is not intended to provide complete information about the station or its facilities, but instead, provide some helpful information for travellers enroute to other destinations.
TRAIN LINES / SERVICES TO ECHIGO-YUZAWA
Several train lines operate out of Echigo-Yuzawa Station including:
— JOETSU SHINKANSEN: bound Tokyo and Niigata City
— HOKUOKU LINE: bound for Muikamachi and Tokamachi
— JOETSU LOCAL LINE: bound for Nagaoka inc. Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort
Of those lines, the Joetsu Shinkansen will be of most interest to international visitors:
Running from Tokyo Station to Niigata Station, the Joetsu Shinkansen stops at the following stations:
*Takasaki Station is a stop on both the Joetsu Shinkansen and Hokuriku Shinkansen – running from Tokyo to Kanazawa via Nagano – lines, allowing travellers to transfer between the two services.
**In winter, some shinkansen services continue onto a winter-only stop at Gala-Yuzawa, directly underneath the ski resort of the same name.
Two services – the Toki and Tanigawa – operate from Echigo-Yuzawa to Tokyo while the Toki only runs from Echigo-Yuzawa to Niigata. Both services include both reserved and non-reserved carriages and take 80 minutes / JPY6260 to reach Tokyo and 50 to 60 minutes / JPY4950 to reach Niigata. For the train schedule, please refer to our ‘Joetsu Shinkansen Timetable’ page. The Joetsu Shinkansen is covered by the full Japan Rail (JR) Pass and JR East Pass – see below for details.
SERVICES TO GALA YUZAWA – WINTER ONLY
Only 1.5km on from Echigo-Yuzawa Station, Gala Yuzawa Station is a seasonal stop only available on some Tanigawa services during winter. Typically open from mid-December until early-May, the station is directly underneath GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort, allowing visitors direct access to the ski slopes directly from the station.
Services running to and from Gala Yuzawa Station are equipped with carriages modified to include additional space for ski and snowboard gear. Only open in winter, this station is only practical if heading to GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort. For all other nearby resorts, get off at Echigo-Yuzawa Station.
RAIL PASSES COVERING TRAVEL TO YUZAWA
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen and other rapid services is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travellers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of most shinkansen services:
JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the Japan Rail (JR) Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars. The JR Pass allows for use of any service on the Joetsu Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
JAPAN RAIL (JR) EAST PASS / NAGANO & NIIGATA
This pass covers the Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines serving Nagano and Niigata, along with other regional services. There is only one option of pass, covering 5 days of use within a 14-day period from its date of activation. Notably cheaper than the JR Pass, this is a great option for visitors staying within Nagano and Niigata. Much like the JR Pass, it allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
PURCHASING & ACTIVATING A JR PASS
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated overseas sales office. Once you have completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue). It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Once in Japan and prior to using your pass, you must actually get your hands on it by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at many major train stations and airports, including Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kansai International Airport. Passes cannot be exchanged/activated at Echigo-Yuzawa Station. If you have time to do so before leaving the airport, you can use the pass immediately. Tokyo Station is another popular place to exchange/obtain your pass at either of these offices:
— JR East Travel Service Center (Marunouchi North Exit): 07:30 to 20:00
— JR Central Ticket Office (Yaesu North Exit): 07:30 to 20:00
If you need to exchange your pass while at Niigata Station, you can do so at this office:
— Travel Service Center: 10:00 to 19:00 (17:30 on weekends & holidays)
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport. Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date). Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
ECHIGO-YUZAWA VISITOR CENTER
The Echigo-Yuzawa Visitor Center is open daily from 08:00 to 18:00 (extended to 19:00 during winter) and can provide general information and luggage storage. Located inside the station near the stalls and shops selling food and souvenirs, the office is easy to find.
ACCOMMODATION IN & AROUND YUZAWA
Echigo-Yuzawa is a well-known hot spring destination and gateway station for many nearby ski resorts. The town is home to a variety of hotels and guesthouses, catering to all tastes and budgets. Our ‘Best Places to Stay in Yuzawa’ page has information and links to accommodation listings for Yuzawa town, nearby Naeba and other convenient areas.
YUZAWA SKI RESORTS: THE STATS & FACTS
Thanks to the shinkansen line running from Tokyo, GALA Yuzawa is arguably the easiest ski resort to reach from the capital – and many people choose to do so. If you’re headed to Yuzawa this winter, it pays to do your research as their may be better resorts within easy reach of Yuzawa town that are better-suited to you and if nothing else, ones that are less crowded. Our ‘Yuzawa Ski Resorts’ main page has everything you need to know when planning your next winter getaway.
15 THINGS TO DO AROUND YUZAWA & WHERE TO STAY
Known fondly as ‘yukiguni’ or ‘snow country’, Yuzawa and the surrounding area is famous as an area of heavy snow, ski resorts and a unique local culture. But did you know there’s even more reasons to visit outside of winter when Naeba Ski Resort hosts Japan’s largest music festival, Fuji Rock Festival and Echigo-Tsumari Art Field attracts visitors from all over the world. Our ’15 Things To Do Around Yuzawa & Where To Stay’ page tips and suggestions of just what’s on offer in the area including accommodation listings.
HOW TO GET TO YUZAWA
As a stop on the Joetsu Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Niigata, Echigo-Yuzawa Station is only 80-minutes from the capital and the gateway to the region. For detailed information on how to reach Yuzawa, see our ‘How To Get To Yuzawa’ page.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
Echigo-Yuzawa Station is just one part of Japan’s fantastic rail network. Unfathomable in its size and efficiency, moving around the country by train is easy and comfortable opening-up all regions of Japan for exploration. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Locally-based and operating all year round, Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy the region’s many ski resorts and other fantastic destinations and activities. For guests wanting to access the resorts in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination including from/to Nagano Station and any resort in the region.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.
Got a question about visiting Yuzawa and Central Japan? Contact us and let’s get planning together!