Myoko is the place to be if you dig Mother Nature. Even better, if you dig powder snow.
With a bullet train station stop in the area, Myoko Kogen, a highland area in southern Niigata, is quite accessible. It’s possible to do a day trip to Myoko Kogen, but if you’re there for snowboarding or hot springs, but staying a night (or two) in the local resorts may not be a bad idea. Myoko’s got nine ski resorts and seven hot springs waiting for you.
The most iconic symbol of Myoko is undoubtedly Mt. Myoko. Not only is the 2,454-meter active volcano listed as one of “Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains,” it is also a popular hiking spot. Though, some hikers claim the hike up Mt. Myoko to be quite steep and rocky.
The hike comes with a big reward though. Located right at the foot of Mt. Myoko is Tsubame Onsen, which receives a ready supply of hot spring water from the mountain. Although the area is host to several ryokan, it has an open-air secluded milky-white bath that is completely outdoors and sized only for five-to-six people. Entrance fee is also by donation — a perfect spot to say thanks to your body after a long hike, no?
Seki, Akakura, Ikenotaira, and Suginosawa are other popular hot spring villages in the area. The snow in Myoko is more than snow; it is powder snow. Dry, loose and fluffy; perfect for a slide. There is a total of nine skiing grounds — the most famous being Akakura and Ikenotaira — on the slopes of Mt. Myoko’s foothills.
However, besides winter, Myoko is gorgeous in all four seasons. To the south of the ski resorts lies Naena Falls, a perfect cooling spot in summer and a colorful backdrop in fall. When you’re there, make sure to fill your stomach by catching some flowing noodles in a bamboo gutter. Another point to stop by while driving to Naena Falls is Imori Pond. The pond’s mirror-like water not only reflects Mt. Myoko entirely, but also the vivid colors of the trees in the surroundings.
From July to November each year, more than 1,500,000 LED lights are used to add colorful magic to the big golf course at APA Myoko Resort for Myoko Happiness Illumination. These lights form beautiful patterns, the resort is quite a bit more romantic than it usually is during these few months!
Myoko is an enormous colorful area that is a simplistic yet lively scene of the Japanese countryside.