Myoko Suginohara is a huge ski and snowboard resort in the Myoko Kogen area, one of several dotting the slopes of Mt. Myoko in Niigata. I had often heard that the snow was excellent and the courses many and varied, so I went with a crew of other boarders on a day following a good dump of white. Mt. Myoko is visible from the approaching highway, and I confess my heart nearly stopped when I saw the scale of Suginohara laid out down one side of the mountain.
When a friend’s binding popped its nuts on our way to the top of the mountain, he was ecstatic to find that they sold a range of binding accessories at the top of the lift, a very thoughtful touch. But as we had left him believing that he was going to trek all the way back to the car park, we didn’t see him again till the late afternoon. We finally bumped into him in the woods – he was wild-eyed and raving incoherently about “the most unbelievable powder run ever, we gotta go there now, man!” This was patently laughable, because the whole mountain seemed to be covered in runs just like that.
Myoko has the longest continuous run in Japan – a stunning eight and half kilometers. Since I had busied myself in the trees most of the day and avoided the groomed runs, I didn’t travel this particular trail until the end of the day when the speakers announced that the resort would soon be closing. Like everybody else on the mountain, I got on the big course and headed down. The situation soon became like Whacky Races with everybody zooming along helter-skelter as fast as they could go. I picked out a couple of skiers who I particularly wanted to beat down to the bottom and bombed along with most direct line possible, flying off the bumps with total abandon. It was possibly one of the most exhilarating runs of many I’ve had in Japan.
There are plenty of other good reasons to go to Suginohara, including the cross course, the park with its good variety of furniture, and some amazing views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. For families, the free pass for kids under 13 is another plus.