Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

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Ishiuchi Maruyama
Ishiuchi Maruyama
Ishiuchi Maruyama
Ishiuchi Maruyama
Ishiuchi Maruyama
Ishiuchi Maruyama
Ishiuchi has lots of intermediate runs
Ishiuchi has lots of intermediate runs
Terrain park fun
Terrain park fun
Lots of wide open slopes
Lots of wide open slopes
Ishiuchi Maruyama is connected to Gala Yuzawa
Ishiuchi Maruyama is connected to Gala Yuzawa
The resort has an unusual lift layout
The resort has an unusual lift layout
Ishiuchi Ski Resort
Ishiuchi Ski Resort
The slopes are lined with lots of restaurants
The slopes are lined with lots of restaurants
Various slopeside accommodations
Various slopeside accommodations
Skiing Ishiuchi
Skiing Ishiuchi
There are lots of ski resorts in the area
There are lots of ski resorts in the area
Slopeside restaurant
Slopeside restaurant
Mid-mountain restaurant
Mid-mountain restaurant
That
That's one ugly building!

Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Ishiuchi

Ishiuchi3/52
Ishiuchi3 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
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Ishiuchi Maruyama

Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort is a bit of a mouthful so most people just refer to it as Ishiuchi, which is pronounced something like “itchy oochy”!

Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort is inter-connected with Gala Yuzawa, and the two ski resorts are incredibly different. Gala Yuzawa is a big commercial ski resort that was purpose built during the prosperous bubble era, whereas Ishiuchi has grown organically. Ishiuchi Maruyama has retained the soul of skiing in Japan and it has lots of little independently run hotels, restaurants and shops that line the slopes at the three base areas. Ishiuchi Maruyama has upgraded some amenities in recent years, and it’s light years ahead of Gala in terms of its approach to tree skiing.

Despite it actually being part of Minami Uonuma city, Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort can be considered one of the Yuzawa ski resorts because it’s only 5km from the Echigo Yuzawa train station (the hub of Yuzawa).

Pros and Cons of Ishiuchi Ski Resort

Pros
  • Ishiuchi is very easily accessed from Tokyo, so it’s ideal for a day trip or a weekend getaway from Tokyo, although on weekends it's usually very busy.
  • The slopes are perfect for those who like cruisy runs and knowing that the next hot chocolate (or atsukan) stop is never far away.
  • The terrain parks are very good by Japanese standards and Ishiuchi has a half pipe.
  • The cute little villages provide a lovely authentic Japanese experience mixed with modern Japan.
  • The night skiing is decent.
Cons
  • The Ishiuchi ski area has a mish mash of lifts that are laid out rather poorly. They couldn’t even get the new chondola quite right.
  • The low elevation of the resort can impact on the snow quality when temperatures are marginal.
  • If you’re a bit itchy for some Ishiuchi off-piste powder, it probably isn’t the best Japan ski resort for you. Off-piste skiing for introductory advanced riders is good compared to Gala Yuzawa and Yuzawa Kogen, but experienced powder hounds will probably want to go elsewhere.

Interconnected with Gala Yuzawa

The top of Ishiuchi is connected via the slopes with Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort to the south, which in turn is connected to Yuzawa Kogen. Whilst this is a far cry from Trois Vallees of France, the three ski areas provide a very large area to explore (by Japanese standards).

On weekends, the crowds descend on the three ski areas due to the ease of accessibility from Tokyo, although Ishiuchi tends to be much quieter than Gala Yuzawa.

Ishiuchi Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Even by itself, the Ishiuchi Maruyama ski resort is reasonably large for a Japan resort, with the terrain sprawling across three main base areas (Hatsukaishi, Chuo and Kanko/North). Ishiuchi has 24 courses, 664 metres of vertical drop (256 – 920m), and 13 lifts which includes a chondola and 4 high speed quad chairs.

The piste terrain mostly consists of cruisy beginner and intermediate runs, and with so many restaurants lining the slopes, you don’t have to schuss very far before you can take another pit stop. Another strength of Ishiuchi is the terrain parks, which includes a half pipe, but check opening times for the pipe.

Ishiuchi Maruyama has some advanced rated runs, including a couple that hit 35 degrees for a moment, although other than some bumps there’s nothing particularly challenging about these runs. Ishiuchi has introduced a couple of small designated tree runs that have wide open trees. Elsewhere off-piste skiing is well tolerated and there is some tasty sidecountry for those with backcountry skills.

Where is Ishiuchi Maruyama?

The Hatsuka Ishi base is the closest to Yuzawa, only 5km north of Yuzawa and the Echigo Yuzawa train station. The central or Chuo/Main Entrance is a little further along, and then Kanko or North Entrance is further north again. Part of the Minami Uonuma city, Ishiuchi is 200km from Tokyo in the Niigata Prefecture.

The little Ishiuchi train station (Joetsu line) is only 2km from the Kanko base area, but most people travel to Ishiuchi Maruyama from Tokyo by catching the Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa station (80-85 minutes) and then one of the free buses to the Hatsukaishi or Chuo base (10-15 minutes - east exit). Or for overnight guests, some of the Ishiuchi hotels offer complimentary shuttles to and from Echigo Yuzawa.

Ishiuchi Accommodation

It’s easy enough to stay in one of the Yuzawa hotels and enjoy the benefits of staying in a town, and take a bus to the ski resort.

Yuzawa Hotel Listings

Or if you want to stay right near the slopes there are lots of Ishiuchi accommodation options, including many convenient ski-in ski-out lodgings. Many of the Ishiuchi hotels and Japanese inns are reasonably inexpensive, and there are also affordable pensions and lodges, and a few self-contained options.

Ishiuchi Accommodation Listings

Facilities

The modern Resort Center at the Main Entrance houses lots of the Ishiuschi ski resort facilities. There are also various small and privately owned facilities. The slopes of the base areas are lined with collections of little old school cafes and restaurants, and funny little ski rental shops. These independents are generally not particularly modern, but they’re sort of quaint.

Ishiuchi Ski Resort is also trying to compete hard in attracting non-skiers. Pedestrians can use the gondola cabins of the Sunrise Express chondola and head up to the magic carpet serviced snow park for kids. The Veranda has an observation deck, fancy café, and there are dome bubble tents where you can have lunch and enjoy the views.
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