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In the latter half of the 19th century, an English missionary introduced the 3000m-high “Japan Alps” to the world. Spread throughout the northern part of Nagano prefecture, these mountains are home to four sprawling ski areas: Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen and Myoko.

These resorts are centrally located on Japan’s main island, Honshu, about 250 km (150 miles) away from Tokyo. It only takes about 90 minutes to travel from Tokyo to Nagano by bullet train, and from there, about 60 to 90 minutes to travel to each resort by express bus or local train line.

As the site of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, this area is known for its high-quality snow and resorts. In winter, cold wind from the Eurasian content picks up plentiful moisture from the Japan Sea and unleashes it as powder snow across the Japan Alps. With an average annual snowfall of 3 to 5 meters, over 1000m of vertical and courses that run up to 8km long, these spacious and multi-faceted slopes provide the best experience.

These four ski resorts provide not only skiing and snowboarding, but several other experiences to keep you entertained during your stay:

The area boasts an abundance of natural hot springs (onsen), so please refresh yourself at one of many hotel or public hot spring baths. Nozawa Onsen’s hot spring village and the Yudanaka Shibu Onsen village at the base of Shiga Kogen are perfect examples of traditional Japanese onsen villages which make for an unforgettable winter holiday.

Another feature of this hot-spring-abundant area is the only place in the world where you can see wild monkeys taking hot springs baths, the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park. These monkeys are called the “Snow Monkeys,” and many people come from all over the world to see them bathing like humans.

While here, you can also explore Japan’s oldest National Treasure castle, Matsumoto Castle; home of the oldest statue of Buddha in Japan, National Treasure Zenkoji; and the atmospheric town where the world-famous ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai Katsushika, spent his final years, Obuse. More historical sites, cultural workshops and more await you, all easily accessible from your ski destination

The global metropolis Tokyo. International ski resorts. Japanese traditional culture. This area puts these and more all at your fingertips.