Sugadaira Kogen Snow Resort
Despite being one of Nagano’s larger resorts and easy to get to from Tokyo, Sugadaira Kogen remains largely unknown to international visitors. Big but flat, reliable but no amazing snow, Sugadaira has plenty of positives but also some obvious limitations that make it best-suited to beginner skiers and boarders. On this page you will find the following information:
Located less than 60 minutes drive from Ueda Station – a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa – Sugadaira Kogen Snow Resort is one of the larger resorts in Nagano and thanks to its high elevation enjoys a long season and reliable snow. Having said that, there’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of it. While big it is relatively flat and though it does indeed enjoy reliable snowfall, it isn’t subject to the regular powder dumps of the more famous Nagano resorts, limiting its popularity with the international market.
Sugadaira Kogen does however have its perks. Big, flat and open it’s ideal for beginner and lower-intermediate skiers and boarders for whom the huge powder of other resorts can be a problem. It retains a distinctly Japanese character with few international visitors while features like its famous snowcat tours are a great way to newbies to push themselves a little further and if nothing else, get some great photos to post online. In short while it isn’t for everyone, Sugadaira Kogen should definitely be on the short-list of possible winter destinations for plenty of travellers.
SUGADAIRA KOGEN: THE STATS & FACTS
Consisting of three ski areas – Taro, Davos and Pine Beak – Sugadaira Kogen is a relatively-large ski resort popular with local residents. The resort enjoys good elevation located between 1270 to 1580 metres above sea level and generally flat and open. As such, Sugadaira won’t appeal much to intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders but is an excellent choice for beginners, who can cut their chops on gentle runs with lots of space. Located further south and inland than Nagano’s most popular resorts, Sugadaira doesn’t receive the legendary powder dumps of Hakuba, Nozawa and Myoko Kogen but thanks to its higher elevation and low temperatures, its snow stays in good condition and the resort enjoys quite a long season.
Operating Dates & Times
Dependent on snow conditions, areas of the resort typically open from the second week of December and remain in operation until the start of April. The full resort should be open from the second half of December. Lifts operate from 08:30 to 16:30 or 16:30. Night-skiing is available in some areas of the resort from 18:00 to 21:00.
Sugadaira claims up to 60 courses however most of those a small and are in truth only sections of a run. In reality, the resort has 36 courses services by 19 lifts, totalling around 175 hectares of skiable terrain across Sugadaira’s three areas. Courses breakdown as: beginner 20% / intermediate 60% / advanced 20%. Situated between 1270 to 1580 metres, the vertical is a disappointing 310 metres. The steepest pitch hits 36° but overall, the resort is open and flat with the longest running hitting 4KM.
At first glance, Sugadaira has everything it needs to be a good resort. Located in the middle of Nagano and relatively large (by Japanese standards) with good elevation and a long season, you might wonder why it isn’t better known among international visitors. Sugadaira is indeed big enough but it’s very flat and lying further inland and to the south of Nagano’s more popular resorts, it doesn’t receive the huge powder dumps the region is legendary for. This limits who it appeals to with the resort best-suited to beginners, families and those wanting to head somewhere you’re unlikely to run into other international visitors.
Of its three ski areas, Taro and Davos are connected by a tunnel while Pine Beak sits by itself. Pine Beak is itself divided into two connected areas that offer the best skiing / boarding in Sugadaira including the steepest runs, access to trees zones and the best snow quality in the resort. Visitors heading to the Davos area can enjoy a snowcat tour to the top of Mount Neko. Around 2200 metres above sea level, venturing up that high takes you well above the summits of most Japanese resorts from where you can ski / board back down into the Sugadaira. It’s important to set your expectations as should you venture up there your guide will lead you back along the track the snowcat has just created but if you’re a beginner, it’ll suit you well and if the weather is good, make for some great photos.
Tickets & Passes
Day passes for Sugadaira cost: Adults (13+): JPY5400 / School Children 64-12): JPY3100 / Younger Children (4-5) JPY1100 / Infants (0-3): Free / Seniors (60+): JPY4300. A range of other tickets are also available including half-day, multi-day and season tickets. Please note that day-passes do not cover night-skiing at the resort, for which a separate ticket is required.
Rental & Ski School
Sugadaira provides a good range of services for visitors but unsurprisingly most are aimed at the Japanese market with few English-speaking suppliers. In terms of rental there are outlets dotted across the resort with some guesthouses also supplying in-house rental. Basically, you won’t have any trouble arranging the basics – skis, snowboard, clothing, etc. – but finding high-spec gear might be a challenge. Sugadaira Ski House has a good English website making it a good place to start if looking to arrange what you need in advance. There are multiple ski and snowboard schools operating in the resort but again, almost all cater to the Japanese market. Sugadaira Highland Pro Ski Snowboard School is an exception to that rule, offering English ski and snowboard lessons – the best and only really option in Sugadaira.
There is no real backcountry to speak of at Sugadaira and little true sidecountry. Basically, if you’re advanced enough to be looking to get off-piste and into Japan’s legendary powder then Sugadaira probably isn’t for you. Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen have a lot more to offer when it comes to getting into the deep stuff.
Kids & Families
Though English and other foreign language services are basically non-existent in Sugadaira, it is a child-friendly resort well-suited to families. Popular with Japanese families, who come to enjoy its open space and lack of crowds, there are children’s activity zones in each area of the resort while the ski runs themselves provide the space for young skiers and snowboarders to find their confidence.
WHERE TO STAY IN SUGADAIRA?
Sugadaira is a popular destination in both winter and green season thanks to its many sports fields and other outdoor facilities, which attract semi to professional athletes and sports teams to base themselves in the area. As such, there’s no shortage of accommodation ranging from large hotels to small, family-run guesthouses. Accommodation is dotted across Sugadaira with no central village. Located in the Davos area of the resort, Sugadaira Prince Hotel is a good option for international visitors. Offering both Western and Japanese-style rooms, the hotel includes an ‘onsen’ (natural hot spring) and two restaurants. The hotel is definitely showing its age however its comfortable and super convenient, with near immediate access to the ski runs. You’ll find plenty of smaller guesthouses and lodges in all three areas of the resort – including some with ski in/out access in Taro – with no one option standing-out above the others. If you’re looking for high-end perks you won’t find them here but if you’re after local, friendly and comfortable, then Sugadaira has plenty to offer. For accommodation listings, see the ‘Ueda: Sugadaira Kogen’ hotel page of the Ueda tourism website.
JAPAN SKI RESORTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Did you know that Sugadaira is just one of the more than eighty ski resorts in Nagano? Needless to say, when you choose Nagano for your winter getaway you are spoiled for choice! Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know to start planning your ski and snowboard adventure including: LATEST NEWS & DEALS, THE BEST RESORTS IN NAGANO & JAPAN, FAQs and of course OUR SKI PACKAGES, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT & TOURS.
HOW TO GET TO SUGADAIRA
Located around 1 hour from Ueda, Sugadaira Kogen is easy to get to from Tokyo using the Hokuirku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Ueda Station and then an express bus onto the resort itself. Our ‘How to Get to Sugadaira’ page has everything you need to know about how to get there from Tokyo, Nagano and many other starting points – COMING SOON!
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND UEDA & BESSHO ONSEN
Visitors to Sugadaira are almost certain to head to the resort via Ueda – a nostalgic city known for its quaint features, good food, hot springs and legendary samurai. The former stronghold of the mighty Sanada clan, any visit to Ueda starts at the expansive Ueda Castle Park before exploring its retro enclaves and side streets before heading to Bessho Onsen – Ueda’s renowned hot spring haven. Our ’25 Things to Do Around Ueda / Bessho Onsen & Where to Stay’ page has everything you need to know about what’s on offer, why you should visit and where to stay once there.
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 Ueda 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 Nagano and Central Japan this winter? Contact us and let’s get planning together!