Welcome to Myoko, the Japow Capital of Japan. First things first; the average snowfall for Myoko Kogen is a whopping 13-15 meters per winter season. That's enough to satisfy any powder junkie a few times over. On the heels of a burgeoning scene which sees an increasing number of foreign ski and snowboard tourists visiting Japan's famed snow resorts in search of "Japow", Myoko has seen as an increase in popularity of recent years. However, it has managed to sidestep issues that have affected other ski areas; either losing "Japanese-ness" or not quite being able to cater for English-speaking visitors. It's a fine line which, so far, Myoko has been able to tread.
The large handful of ski resorts and surrounds in the Myoko Kogen area is still home to authentic Japanese villages and yet, has ski schools, lodges, etc, that cater well to those who don't have time to learn the local language for the sake of a ski or snowboard trip to the Japanese mountains.
All Guests Are Welcome
One such lodge is the recently renovated and opened Myoko House, which shares its name with both the area and Mount Myoko which towers above it. The lodge is a traditional minshuku (family-operated, Japanese-style bed and breakfast) but with a recent refurb and both Japanese and Australian owners, meaning both Japanese and English assistance is available to all guests at any time. It's a family-friendly atmosphere in which guests can make new friends with both Japanese and foreigners or just enjoy a quiet drink by one of three fireplaces.
Myoko House combines both Japanese and Western elements with comfortable Western-style beds in most rooms but one Japanese-style room for those who prefer a futon. The family rooms have ample space for an extra futon while the twin rooms are very cozy, two of which have relaxing views into the forest behind the property.
Free Breakfast and Transfers
Myoko House offers one of owner Akiko's increasingly famous free breakfasts each day, free transfers to and from Myoko Kogen Station (if required), free transfers to one of the four main resorts each morning (buses run regularly to the others) or free parking directly at the front of the lodge for those who drive (given the number of resorts within reach, those staying for a week or two might enjoy the freedom of a car to explore).
Aside from the four resorts mentioned above concerning free transfers, buses can have you at a further five within 20-30 minutes, depending upon weather conditions on any given day. Beyond that, there are also many more resorts within an hour's drive. A long story short; skiers and boarders have very little chance of getting bored in the area.
Gyoza and Sake
Away from the mountain, Myoko House also has a gyoza and sake bar, relaxation areas and a guest kitchen. Chef Akiko uses her gyoza recipe handed down from her family to put much love into traditional pork gyoza. In addition, she's studied natural foods more recently in catering dietary requirements with vegan gyoza, gyoza nabe and a growing number of healthy, plant-based options. Her desserts are also worth a visit alone! Akiko also runs a gyoza cooking class, perhaps for a recovery day away from the slopes and a great indoor activity for a family or group of friends to enjoy together. Guests can choose either the traditional or vegan option. Check out the video below:
Myoko, and Niigata Prefecture as a whole, is famous within Japan for three things; snow, rice and sake. Of course, the rice wouldn't be what it is without the snow and the sake without both, and so all are related. What results from the prefecture's top-quality snow is rice and sake of equal character. While every prefecture has its own philosophy when it comes to sake, some bolder than others, Niigata crafts nihonshu with food in mind. So it makes sense to include sake on the menu at Myoko House right next to the gyoza and other delights. Myoko House's gyoza and sake bar stocks sake from all over Niigata Prefecture and offers suggestions on pairing and caters to tastes to introduce visitors to sake in a way they may not ordinarily have the opportunity to do (but typically only up until 8 pm in respect of families staying at the lodge).
Japow and Hospitality
Myoko House is one of the few lodges which includes a guest kitchen. Families or friends who wish to either save a few dollars cooking at home or simply want to enjoy time together without going out into the cold in search of dinner may use the guest kitchen and relaxation area away from the gyoza and sake bar.
Whichever way visitors may choose to enjoy their stay, Myoko House ensures a clean, comfortable and friendly atmosphere in which to do so. The perfect base to score some of your own Japow!