Travel Tips

5 Days in Madarao

05Dec

Small crowds, a ‘local’ feel, a variety of friendly lodges, lift tickets and food priced the way it should be and tonnes of snow, translates into epic powder days centred around a true Japanese cultural experience that visitors crave – all without those regretful stares from lift-queue’s, back up to quickly-disappearing fresh tracks.

Standing 1,382 metres and perfectly positioned for those colossal Siberian storms coming off the Sea of Japan, Madarao is a bowl-shaped, hidden snow-treasure north west of Tokyo, literally on the border of snowy prefectures Nagano and Niigata. Madarao Mountain Resort has 15 lifts, receives over 14 metres of pure, unadulterated, dry snowfall every winter and is easily accessible via the city of Iiyama, which is directly connected to Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train) network. Too good eh? Too right!

It’s highly likely that you’ll be blessed with plenty of the world-famous MadaPOW days! Here is our take on ‘5 days in Madarao’:

 

Day 1 

Grab your lift-passes from Hakken reception, tuck into the complimentary continental breakfast offered for Hakken guests, then get some MadaPOW!

Head to Powder Wave or Powder Theatre in the upper mountain – Madarao Resort intentionally thins out the trees so powder-hounds like you can enjoy tree riding at its finest!

Ride straight down to your lodge, defrost and share your day’s stories during your post-pow wind down at the Hakken bar. Our bar will serve our favourite Japanese beers on tap as well as providing exclusive access to classic cocktails with oozing colours and flavours directly from our friends from East Indian Trade Co in Bronte, Sydney.

The Hakken bar also serves a super-fine list of blended and single malt Japanese Whiskeys and delicious light meals to help you regain your energy but light enough as to not ruin your appetite for dinner.

We can’t speak highly enough of any of the neighbouring restaurants, but our dinner pick would have to be Jazzy’s, a memorabilia-riddled restaurant offering traditional Japanese food and western-style steaks run by a friendly, old school, Jazz loving, cool-cat local man and community leader. Make sure you reserve a table earlier in the day – it’s very popular during peak season.

 

Day 2

Don’t forget to check out Tangram – the resort attached to Madarao. There are some fine tree runs off the back of the number 15 lift heading into the base of Tangram. You can purchase your all-mountain tickets for a small additional fee, giving you access to both resorts.

For dinner, visit our sister lodge Active Life Madarao (ALM) about, a 5 mins walk from Hakken. ALM are introducing a delicious BBQ grill and Ramen Station this season and you don’t want to miss this!

 

Day 3

Madarao is one of the few resorts in Japan that actively encourages tree riding! Speak to Aki, from Aki’s Pub and Café for hidden powder stashes while ordering your barista coffee! Go straight back to Aki’s for lunch because we guarantee Aki’s pizza’s will hit the spot.

Alternatively, if it’s time for a back-country tour, Aki, who you’re now familiar with, runs tours for experienced riders and skiers. They are awesome people, safety conscious and excellent at what they do!

 

Day 4

For your rest-day, the Jigokudani Snow Monkey park in Yamanouchi is only an hour from Madarao and can’t be missed. It’s an easy and comfortable bus ride and we’ll let you know the most cost and time efficient way to get there from Hakken upon your arrival.

Finish the day with a couple of hours of night skiing at Madarao before heading to ‘Tap That’ at ALM. ALM have gained a remarkable reputation for serving a mouth-watering selection of locally brewed IPA’s and APA’s!

Dinner and drinks at the Shaggy Yak, our friends down the road, is an absolute must! They’ve just opened a warm and quirky Yakitory bar/restaurant in an insulated outdoor Yurt! Sounds cool eh? It looks even cooler! Apparently, their selection of Nippon Whisky is good too!

 

Day 5

Devour your continental breakfast at Hakken, grab a barista-made coffee from our sister lodge ALM and head to the slopes, 2 mins away.

For lunch go to Banff! Grab a Japanese curry on rice, sit back and enjoy a fresh can of Asahi. Banff restaurant is located at the base of Chair 11 and ‘Crystal’, a mellow but long consistent slope, perfect for perfecting your carves or learning on.

For dinner, hop across the road to Rudolph’s in the main Madarao village for western style food like pizza, Bolognese and pasta complimented by a crisp, mouth-watering biru!

 

Day 6

Sayonara! When you are ready to say goodbye to Madarao, head off to Myoko Kogen. Myoko is a quick bus ride away. While you are there, stay with our friends at Red Warehouse!

 

Note:

As an alternative for one of your days, take the Active Life complimentary shuttle to Nozawa Onsen, dedicated for guests across our lodges. You will arrive before the first chair, return home after the last chair saving you on accommodation while maximising your day there.

The Fabulous New Active Life Shuttle Bus

24Aug

Here at active life Madarao we are crazy about skiing and offering the best when it comes to hitting the powder. We know that snow is good for your health and a great pass time for your holidays. We are dedicated to making skiing memorable for you. You can check out more on why snow is good for your health.

Our New Shuttle Bus.

We understand that after some skiing sessions at Madarao, you might feel the need to try skiing some new slopes. Worry no more. We got you. We are introducing a new complimentary shuttle to take you to Nozawa ski resort, where you can have a taste of new, different snow. What more? This is absolutely hassle-free. Take it as a gift from Active Life Madarao team, just for your love of snow.

The Active Life shuttle will be operating between Madarao and Nozawa from 25 December 2017 to 31 January 2018 on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. The shuttle will, however, run throughout the season (25 December 2017 to 31 March 2018) from Iiyama train station to Madarao and back.

For more information on the shuttle timetable and terms and conditions, you can see

Nozawa Onsen-Nagano

Located in the north of Nagano prefecture, Nozawa Onsen belongs to the Joshinetsu Park, about 50 kilometers from Nagano station.

The Nozawa Onsen has a rich skiing history, with alpine skiing having been introduced in 1930 by Hannes Schneider from Austria.  Since then, many people took an interest in skiing in the Nozawa Onsen. It also leads in skiing and snowboarding tournaments, as well as hosting biathlon competitions for the Nagano Olympics.

The village strives to maintain a traditional Japanese culture, which is ideal for international tourists.

The village also has several bars, restaurants, convenience and souvenir shops.

The Best of Nozawa

1. Nozawa Mountain

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is among the oldest skiing destinations in Japan, having been established over 70 years ago.  It is no doubt the largest ski resort with 297 hectares of skiing surface, and an elevation of 1650 meters, right at the base of Mount Kenashi-Yama.

Nozawa Onsen is a real skiing paradise, offering powdery, uncontaminated snow, which starts from December, extending well into May.

2. A Ski Trail for Everybody

With 36 skiing trails, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort has something for everyone. There are 14 trails for beginners and children which are gentle and expansive. The ice quality is also superb and safe for beginners.

Intermediate and advanced skiers can also challenge themselves in more difficult trails such as the Utopia, Challenge course, Schneider, Skyline and Yamabiko trails.

The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort can be accessed using these three routes: the Nagasaki trail, Homage trail, and Kawasaki trail.

To ensure ease of access to the trails, Nozawa offers two gondolas, and 21 ski lifts spread all over the trails, to take you back to the top of the slope.

3. Family-Friendly Services

Nozawa ski resort offers safe and free rest areas for kids, called the “Naski,” where you can leave your kids as you go skiing on the slopes.  Outside the rest area, there is a park with safe playing equipment such as sled rides and inflatable bouncers. At the second floor is a day care for children, but this has its charges and terms.

4. The Soto-Yu (Hot Spring Baths)

The hot baths in Nozawa are a must see for anybody visiting Nozawa. There are thirteen public hot baths, which are locally maintained by the community. Each bath has its own unique story or medicinal value. The baths are clean, and sanitary, and perfect for relaxing and catching up after a long day of skiing. There is no charge for using the baths, but you can leave a donation for maintenance purposes. You are required to bring your towel and personal effects.

You can also enjoy Ashy no yu, which is a hot spring for a foot bath. There are several of these in the village.

You can enjoy Onsen Tamago (eggs boiled in the hot springs) too.

5. Asa Ichi (Market)

You probably want to carry some beautiful souvenirs from Nozawa. The early morning market which usually opens on designated days is ideal for collecting Japanese vegetables, crafts, and other local items.

 

The next time you are in Madarao resort be sure to take advantage of our new Active Life shuttle bus to Nozawa, to enjoy more Japanese snow and culture.

Madarao Kogen, Japan – Rise above Sea Level and Surf the Snow!

14Apr

Kicking up powder snowboardingSnowboarding has developed into a beloved and well-established winter sport, boasting its own unique culture, equipment and super-star athletes. The sports international competitions draw world-wide renown and have inspired adrenaline junkies to push themselves to great heights, immersing themselves in one of the most amazing natural thrills available.

There are many styles of snowboarding, each of which have naturally progressed and branched off into their own standalone tournaments – such styles include: alpine racing, freestyle, back country and free riding, though where did it all begin? At what point did man decide to rise above sea level and surf the mountains instead?

Well, one day, a young Surfing enthusiast by the name of Sherman Poppen was day dreaming about surfing the winter landscape of the Rockies. He decided to bolt his children’s skis together and turn his daydream into a reality! – Before long, all of the kids in the neighbourhood on his doorstep, begging for him to build them a “Snurfer”. By 1972 Dimitrije Milovich would produce the very first snowboards as we know them today.

Fast forward to now and here you are sat reading this, day dreaming about the very same thing; carving up the soft powder and embracing the winter chill while you experience the pinnacle of adrenaline rushes. So what are you waiting for? It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete stranger to snowboarding; if you’ve any experience in surfing, then you may just find that you’ll pick it up naturally, but there’s only one way to find out right?

Why choose Madarao Kogen for your next Snowboarding destination?

ALM 20170213

Madarao Kogen is one of the hottest Ski and Snowboarding resorts in the World right now and is definitely worth a look. This stunning location is no longer the undiscovered powder prize of the past!

Although Western tourists have long favoured the likes of the Alps; Japan is definitely on the rise. OK, so it’s quite small in comparison, though it packs one hell of a punch when it comes to top quality skiing and snowboarding. You could put it down to the estimated 11 meters of snow that it receives each season, though I’d argue that there is certain mysticism in the mountain air. Japan is a fascinating place, and from the moment you step off the airplane you are immersed in a truly captivating culture that fills your soul with magic and inspiration.

On top of that, Madarao Kogen is a largely “undiscovered” location. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a beautiful location that is absolutely swamped with tourists. Isn’t the whole point of snowboarding being able to get away from it all? – High up on the mountain, looking down on the world as you carve your cares into powder. Madarao Kogen will provide you with this calm; it offers a certain peace that simply cannot be found elsewhere.

Beat the crowds and make the most of this truly exceptional destination before masses jump on the band-wagon.

Japan Ski Packages

5 things to remember when travelling to Japan for a skiing holiday

19Jan

If you are looking for an incredible place to Ski or Snowboard this year then you should most certainly check out Madarao in Japan. Japan offers some of the most incredible conditions for skiing in the entire world. They boast deep and consistent powder, relatively untouched slopes and a culture that will render you awe-struck and inspired.

The Japanese culture is however vastly different to that of the western world and some other European skiing destinations such as the French Alps. In this light it is important that you brush up one a couple of essentials and basic etiquette before you arrive at your destination.

1: Blending in

One of the golden rules of travelling is trying to blend in. Now this is understandably easier said than done, being an Australian in Japan, though showing a little respect and taking an interest in their culture and matters that are important to them. The most important of which is minding your tone of voice. It is all too easy for English speaking westerners to come across as overbearing and loud or overly familiar so try to show a little respect and you will be welcomed with open arms.

2: Learn a few of the basics in Japanese

This isn’t an essentiality, though it will certainly go a long way towards making your life easier when travelling through Japan. A few simple words and phrases such as “Hello”, “Goodbye”, and “Nice to meet you” will make all the difference and make you feel more at ease as well. You will find some basics, here.

3: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Within reason! Don’t walk around trying to pretend that you are Japanese, but simply do as they do in the sense that you are respectful of their values. For example: tipping is not a common practice in Japan and is often considered as rude. This may be quite hard to wrap your head around coming from a western culture, though it is something that you must bear in mind so as not to offend anyone.

Also, be prepared to take your shoes off in most places. The Japanese are a very clean people so follow their lead on this. Do not litter and try not to eat in places where nobody else is eating. Again, some of these things may seem rather trivial to you, but a little manners costs nothing right?

4: Gift Giving

If you have thoroughly enjoyed your skiing holiday and you want to reward or thank some of the staff at your resort; tipping is going to feel like the most natural thing to do. Again, as we’ve established leaving a tip can actually be considered as being rude, however gift giving is a different thing entirely. If you really want to make an impact on the people that you are staying with then gifting them something from home will go down very well indeed.

5: Credit Cards are rarely accepted

Carrying cash around with you may not feel safe, or natural, though it will likely be your best option if you don’t want to find yourself stuck and unable to pay for something. Japan is largely a cash based country so do bear in mind that most places will not accept a credit card before you travel. It is always best to ensure that you have plenty of cash, kept safely on you.

 

So there you have it: a few basic bits of information that will assist you on your holiday to Japan. You will never experience a holiday quite like it, particularly if you are skiing. The Japanese are a wonderfully kind and patient people who will most certainly go above and beyond to ensure that your holiday will be one to remember. Find information on our amazing offers, here.