Take the Shinkansen Bullet train from Tokyo to Iiyama (101 mins), experience Japanese engineering at it’s best – on time and spotlessly clean. Whilst at Tokyo station, grab a traditional bento box to enjoy on the journey, alternatively, you can purchase refreshments on the train.
The team at Kuma Lodge will pick you up from the village bus stop or help you from your private car / taxi. We’ll help deliver your luggage to the comfortable private room, home for the next 7 nights.
After a brief tour of the lodge from Taka-San or Kumi, our local English speaking team, why not relax with a hot beverage or for those eager to hit the slopes, layer up in anticipation of some slope side action.
If you are hiring ski gear, Taka-San will take you to the nearby hire shop and ensure you are kitted out in the correct rental gear, we can also assist with your lift tickets.
You’ll be given a ski trail map, village guide outlining the local shopping, bars and restaurants, plus guides for surrounding area day trips. Our extensive in-room welcome booklet includes all the local information you may require. We also have international power adaptors in case you left yours at home.
Tonight, why not dine at “Maroudo”! Operated by friendly long term local residents of Madarao, Maroudo offers fresh soba noodles made daily on-site, delicious fish/sashimi and Japanese Hot Pot. It’s tucked away within a small pensione, a few mins drive from Kuma and remains a favourite of ours. The restaurant will collect you from Kuma Lodge and drop you home in their own mini van at no extra cost.
Enjoy a hearty cooked breakfast with fresh fruit, juices and cereals daily at Kuma Lodge to fill you up for the day’s activity ahead. Coffee lovers may want to grab a hot Allpress coffee at Aki’s Pub (next door to Kuma Lodge) before enrolling in a lesson at one of the English speaking ski schools. Whether it is children or adults of varying degrees of experience – brushing up on your skills is a valuable exercise and can reduce the risk of injury, ensuring you get to see more of the resort through improved confidence levels on the snow.
Start the day with a coffee from our neighbours at Aki’s.
Then go find some epic fresh MadaPow!
The more experienced skiers may want to hit the runs early, ski down into the valley from Kuma Lodge and take quad chairs #1 or #2, blasting through a few quick runs – top to bottom to get the blood pumping.
With 16 lifts at Madarao Mountain Resort, this undiscovered resort gem offers plenty of terrain to explore and very few people to share it with. Madarao boasts 13 official tree courses, the most recognised in Japan, these are gladed to reduce obstacles and shrubbery to enhance the skier’s experience.
For lunch today, why not try “Banff”, it is close to the ski schools offering cafeteria style hot meals and cold beers with a great view of the ski trails. As the sun starts to set, grab a Japanese draught beer at Aki’s pub as you watch the last of the skiers head home.
To look after those muscles following a good workout today, head just up the road from Kuma Lodge to the Madarao Kogen Hotel and indulge in a traditional Onsen hot bath. Remember in Japan, they bath naked (segregated into Mens & Womens areas), however, they do give you a modesty towel if required. If you’re unsure, speak to a member of our team about the protocol and we can talk you through it. It is a highlight of any visit to Japan that we thoroughly recommend, your body will thank you tomorrow!
Tonight we have secured a table for your group at “Shaggy Yak”, an intimate and unique dining experience in a Mongolian Yurt just footsteps from Kuma Lodge! Unwind by the log fire on their deep sofas with vinyl records spinning and enjoy a selection of quality local whisky, sake and a tasty Izakiya style menu with many share plate options
With you now having your bearings and itching to explore more of the terrain, let’s upgrade the ski pass to include access to our neighbouring resort, Tangram Ski Circus. At just Y500 per day (approx. $6 AUD) it is a bargain!
With some great long ski trails and excellent powder skiing, Tangram is a smart choice for skiers of all ages and experience, with a good mix of easy to challenging courses.
The children will also love Tangram as they have an excellent kids snow play area with a magic carpet, some igloo’s, snow bikes, a carousel and equipment to make snowballs and snowmen. Another fun family activity is a banana boat sled ride pulled behind a ski-doo over the snow covered golf course, our little guests really love this one!
There are multiple dining options at Tangram itself, or on your way back to Madarao via the long interlinking triple chair, why not dine at “Restaurant Heidi” after first skiing the “Sky Love” course into Madarao or via the naturally occurring halfpipe “Sawa”. Heidi is one of the numerous on-piste dining options that offers Japanese Curry as well as many other hot lunchtime meals – or if you feel like noodles try the traditional ramen next door.
Enjoy a cheese platter or some fresh fruit in the lodge as you unwind with a warm drink or glass of wine with friends.
For dinner, we are off to “Donguri-tei”, a beautiful lantern lit dining experience with both Japanese hot pot (Shabu Shabu) or traditional bbq dining options. They are both wonderful, however, we prefer the Shabu Shabu which is truly a unique way to dine and also very tasty. The lovely local Brother & Sister owners will arrange for you to be collected and dropped home in their van from Kuma Lodge.
You’ve explored Madarao and Tangram, everyone’s super excited to chase more of the Madapow, ask Taka-San to meet you on the mountain today to explore some of the lesser known powder spots or study that trail map in fine detail to search out those famous tree’s runs that you may have overlooked. In different snow conditions (and even different times of the day), certain areas of the resort offer different things to skiers and boarders. With the majority of the resort left ungroomed (rare in Japan), so much of the terrain remains untracked for your enjoyment long into the afternoon. Our tip – if it’s a powder day, common in Madarao, hit the tree’s or steeper runs early to get the deep stuff all to yourself.
Lunch today is at Unjuane burger bar. Only a short stroll from the top lift and outside the Madarao Kogen Hotel, Unjuane offers gourmet burgers and a great drinks selection, ideal for a relaxing lunch with friends and then straight back into the action slope side.
Spend the afternoon riding the #11 and #15 chairlifts and stop off for a hot chocolate to warm you up whilst you discuss your days activities with friends and start to plan your night out. Be sure to try “Pizza Box” the single chair lift that takes you to the peak of Mt Madarao for stunning views of the surrounding area on clear days.
Hit the Onsen early, and after a good deep soak head back to Kuma Lodge to relax. Tonight’s meal together is at “Restaurant Rudolf”! Offering a wide selection of Japanese and Italian dishes including pizza, the friendly local staff at Rudolf will ensure you have a great night. They also have a private dining area if you have a large group. It’s an easy walk from Kuma Lodge or we can take you in our van.
Backcountry! Meet at Aki’s pub early for a coffee and debrief, today you are exploring the extensive side and back country of Madarao and surrounds. Epic, deep powder turns await and you will be expertly guide by the team at North Nagano Outdoor sports.
For the beginner or intermediate skiers, it may be wise to do another group or private lesson to work out the kinks and get the technique right, ensuring you get more from your time on the mountain.
Lunch is at Aki’s pub – with everyone close by it makes sense to enjoy an authentic pizza or Japanese curry, both are superb. Wash it down with a cold beer or quality coffee and watch the action out front as it’s literally on the ski run!
Unwind this afternoon back at Kuma Lodge, head down to the basement games room to play ping pong, darts or watch a movie on Netflix and relax on our sofas.
We have dinner sorted tonight just a few doors down at “Madarao Mountain Lodge”. Abe is a fantastic cook and together with her husband Mark who is a great host, they create a relaxed dining experience. Play some guitar, listen to some tunes and enjoy great casual food. Huge burgers, great Katsu sandwiches or choose a hot dish and wash it down with a selection of boutique local beers or your choice of wines.
Hit the slopes and chase that powder early – as this afternoon we have arranged a private taxi to take your group to see the famous Jigayurani Snow Monkeys. It is a half day tour from Kuma, so you’ll leave around 1.30pm and on the way home, stop by neighbouring Iiyama City (25 mins from Madarao) to dine at “Rokubee”, a stand out restaurant serving a range of local specialties including noodle dishes, sashimi and an extensive array of sake’s.
Want some fun? Hit up “Woody’s Bar” on the way home just around the corner from tonight’s restaurant and have a few kamikaze shots and belt out your favourite tracks … it’s karaoke baby!!
Take a taxi home and tuck into your super comfortable beds at Kuma Lodge for a great night’s sleep.
With the snow still falling, you’ll have your favourite part of the mountain to hit up early with friends. Set up a photoshoot, get some action shots to record your adventures and take in the panoramic views from the top of the mountain with far reaching vista’s of Myoko, Lake Nojiri and out to the Sea of Japan.
Lunch has to be at “Sakura”, let the long term local owners sit you in front of their hot plate in the open kitchen as they prepare mouth watering okonomiyaki (japanese noodle pancakes) – a must to try and long time favourite of our guests.
Hit up the onsen on the walk back to Kuma Lodge for one last soak with your group and recount today’s powder turns. On the way home, grab a beer at “Tap That” boutique beer bar.
Okonomiyaki at Sakura is a favourite for Kuma guests.
Picture courtesy of Powderhounds
Tonight’s farewell dinner is at “Jazzy’s”, a Madarao institution! Surrounded by old jazz posters showcasing the rich music history of this village in days gone by, Mr Jazzy serves up a long list of Japanese dishes, many of them share plates with an Izakiya (pub) style. With a great wine & cocktail list, chill out on the lounges to enjoy a night cap or head next door to “Drop Bar” an intimate bar + eatery for some live music and late night bar bites.
There are so many things to explore in Madarao and surrounds, let us custom design your holiday experience and ensure you have a memorable Japanese ski vacation.
For more inspiration, read our articles currently online in Kuma News discussing the key reasons and ideal time to visit Madarao.