By Sandra Isaka
The Minakami Kogen Hotel 200 is a wonderful get-away only two hours from central Tokyo. With the Minakami Kogen Ski Resort on-site, and many other activities year-round, it is a perfect choice for anyone with an active lifestyle. If you decide to stay at the resort, here are ten tips to make your visit the best it can be.
- If you do not read Japanese, have someone take a look at the Japanese website for you. Although informative, the foreign language pages do not include all of the fantastic packages available.
- If you are traveling by mass transportation, contact the hotel in advance and book a seat on their free shuttle from JR Jomo-Kogen or JR Minakami Station.
- The sun rises at the back of the hotel and the rooms on that side really heat up. If you normally find things in Japan to be too warm, open up the vents beneath your windows as soon as you wake up, and leave them open until nightfall. Once the room gets too warm, it is hard to cool it off. You might also want to have a staff member set the thermostat for you. There are instructions in the room, but they are only in Japanese. Also, be sure to keep the drapes closed while you are out.
- Don't miss the rotemburo just because it is across the parking lot. Many guests never make it over there and it is a highlight of the resort. To (possibly) have the bath all to yourself in the morning, go at 7:20 and then head straight to breakfast; or go to breakfast at 7:30 and then go directly to the bath afterward. Most Japanese enjoy a leisurely breakfast so the rotemburo is often empty from 7:30 - 8:30am.
- Expect the weather to change - especially in winter. Mornings are often bright and sunny. Later in the day, clouds roll in, temperatures drop, and snow begins to fall. If you are a photographer, or get cold easily, go outside early!
- If you are traveling with very small children in winter, take advantage of the babysitting in order to have some time to enjoy 'adult' activities.
- Be sure to request a non-smoking or smoking room, depending on your preference. And, if you really hate smoking, request a room on a non-smoking floor.
- In winter, if you are interested in dog sledding, make reservations well in advance. Only 8 people can participate each day.
- Although the resort caters to all income levels, if you want a more upscale experience, book one of the large suites that have a separate living room and bedroom. And, make a reservation for dinner at Fujiwara, the 11th floor restaurant that serves amazing Italian/Japanese fusion course dinners.
- When available, be sure to book a spot on the free shuttle to Takaragawa Onsen, which is only 15 minutes away. Upon arrival, pay 1,500 yen (rental towel included) to enjoy mixed bathing in an incredibly traditional riverside setting.
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