Yuzawa - Sightseeing Business insight in Snow Country, Japan

Snow culture (EN)

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Yuzawa-city  is located in Niigata prefecture, Japan and population is 8017.(1) The main language is Japanese and 80% of people in Yuzawa works at The tertiary sector. It’s around 70min from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Because of surrounded mountains and a lot of snow, Skiing resort is very popular in Yuzawa. It’s also popular for Onsen. People developed unique snow country culture to survive this challenging environment. People enjoy 4 different season. There are a lot of attractive contents in Yuzawa so it's good to think some sightseeing business idea in Yuzawa.

Immigration Promotion Movie in Yuzawa, Niigata, Japan


It’s around 70min from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Kanetsu Highway is also popular to come from Tokyo to Yuzawa by car. Access is very easy, there’s Joetsu Shinkansen and Kanetsu highway to come to Yuzawa. Also, it’s easy to come From Niigata side by Shinkansen too. .This place is surrounded by Japanese Alps (Tanigawa mountains, etc…). Because of These high mountains, Japan sea, and the seasonal wind, Yuzawa area gets a lot of snow. 

History of Yuzawa as Onsen and Skiing/Snowboarding city:

The name of Yuzawa(湯沢 in Kanji) was named because there was stream(沢) that Hot water (湯) springs out . The first discoverer was Takahashi Hanroku and he run hot spring. (2)(and still running!) Yuzawa's history as a hot spring city has begun at this time around 900 years. (Heian-era).

In January 1911, Austrian soldier Theodor Edler von Lerch gave ski guidance to Japanese youth commissioned officers for the first time. This is the first case that skiing was introduced to Japan. Skiing has become popular first from practical side of job such as transportation for military and postal service.Eventually, it became popular for fun as a winter sport. (3)

In 1931, the Joetsu Line was opened and changed Yuzawa region. Hot spring in Yuzawa was previously used by people nearby villages to heal fatigue during the agricultural season. Since Joetsu line is connected between Tokyo metropolitan area to Yuzawa area,  it became a recreation area for the people of the big city. Also, many skiers started to come to visit for skiing too. (4)

From 1934 to 1937, Yasunari Kawabata wrote and published "Yukiguni". In 1957, an English translation "SNOW COUNTRY" was published. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. (5) From here, the popularity of Echigo Yuzawa is nationwide for Japanese because of this novel.

The number of skiing customers had increased  as transportation from Tokyo to Yuzawa had became convenient more and more. The National Route 17 is launched in 1966 Joetsu Shinkansen was launched in 1982 The Kanetsu Highway is launched in 1985  (6) In the 1987-1988 season, the movie “私をスキーに連れてって  ("Take me skiing” directly translated) "   was released and the ski boom came.  The number of customers had increased by 5 million. After that, the bubble economy came, and the peak season of 1991 - 1992 season exceeded 8 million people (7) Click the graph below to make it bigger.

Since Joetsu Shinkansen and the Kanetsu Expressway launched and access from Tokyo to Yuzawa became very convenient  in 1985, resort condominiums were constructed in various locations of Yuzawa Town. and in 1992, 50 resort apartment buildings were founded (10) Yuzawa was also affected by the bubble economy in 1986. and in 1987, Act on Development of Comprehensive Resort Areas (Resort Law) was overtaken. (8) However, because of soaring land prices, destruction of nature, and destruction of the living environment, the opposition to build resort apartments has increased among local people. In 1992, Yuzawa Town decided to refuse resort condominiums. Also The bubble economy had already collapsed at this time (9)

The number of constructed rooms of resort mansion / Created by Snow notes / Data Reference 湯沢町史(下)p592

The number of foreign sightseeing customers in Yuzawa 

As a result of ranking in the year-on-year growth rate in 2019, Niigata Prefecture ranked first (+85.2% YoY). This was followed by No. 2 Gifu (+ 72.2%), No. 3 Yamagata (+ 64.7%), No. 4 Fukushima (+ 56.2%) and No. 5 Gunma (+ 52.1%). (10)  Looking at each region of Niigata prefecture, The “Echigo-Yuzawa / Naeba” area increased by + 105.7% (about 2.1 times), and the “Joetsu / Itoigawa / Myoko” area where also are popular in skiing / snowboarding increased by + 95.8% (about 2.0 times). (11

The graph below shows the number of guests to stay in Niigata. More than half of customers are from Asia.

The number of guests to stay in Niigata prefecture (unit: 10K)  / Created by Snow Notes / Reference : 2018 Year report from Development Bank of Japan

How City is promoting Yuzawa?

This is Yuzawa Guide Map in English. This is how currently Yuzawa city promoting in English. http://www.angel-g.co.jp/pdf/echigo_yuzawa_guide_english.pdf


  1. Easy access from Tokyo :  it’s just around 75min from Tokyo and people can experience totally different experience.
  2. Unique Culture:   Yuzawa area has very unique snow country culture to survive harsh winter season. 
  3. 4 different season:   Because of difference of climate, people are able to enjoy different food, scenery, and activities depends on different season. Although Skiing season is popular in Yuzawa, there are a lot of opportunities to cultivate activities in different season too.
Photos by Yuzawa Sightseeing Navi


  1. Attracting sightseeing tourists in Spring, Summer, and Fall season :  Although there’re many things to enjoy in each different season. Yuzawa region is still struggle to attract customers except skiing/snowboarding. It means that the number of people who search about Yuzawa decreased in Spring, Summer, and Fall season and it’s also hard for service providers (Hotel, Sightseeing company, restaurants, gift shop etc…) to attract customers. The graph above shows that  year-on-year growth rate increased a lot but the purpose of most of customers is skiing, snowboarding, and snow.
  2. Language Barrier :  English or other language information is increasing a  lot for foreign guests who enjoy skiing / snowboarding. However, in other season, there are still not enough information about sightseeing, transportation, etc in English or other languages.

Organization related to Sightseeing :

Onsen Association :

Sightseeing tourism associations : 

Skiing Resort :



Business Support:
The Yuzawa Chamber of Commerce Industry The Chamber of Commerce exists to boost the economy of the responsible region.In addition, backing up SMEs is considered essential to boost the local economy. the Chamber of Commerce will gives SMEs consultation about management.  Experienced management instructors provide accurate management consulting while referring to important documents such as financial statements.The Chamber of Commerce also provides interaction events between business owners.


Yuzawa is very close from Tokyo but very different environment. People can enjoy amazing nature including snow. It's popular for Onsen and Skiing and infrastructure is in place. The number of Japanese tourists decreased but foreign tourists increased especially from South East Asia to enjoy snow. The amount of English information is also increased in winter these days because of increase of the foreign tourists but there're still not enough information and promotion in terms of other season.

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