Myoko, Niigata, Japan
Myoko is a little gem of a town. Think snowlined streets (the banks of snow at the moment are about 2 metres high!), lots of izakayas, which are small Japanese pubs serving tapas style local food. Delicious and cheap.
But the main reason to come to Myoko is the snow. And the volume of it! With an average of about 13 metres per year, some of the best parks in Japan and fantastic Japanese hospitality, you are guaranteed a unique time.
There are a number of resorts, but the three main ones that we use are Akakura Kanko, Ikenotaira and Suginohara. These resorts are all linked by a free shuttle bus that runs hourly during the day. From Kanko to Ikenotaira is about 10 mins by bus, from Ikenotaira to Suginohara is about 15/20mins.
Akakura boasts wide treelined pistes, fantastic tree runs, a mini park and a kicker line. Spectacular view across the valley, you can see that the area is littered with tiny resorts.
Ikenotaira claims to have some of the best parks in Japan, and we'd agree. The 2 main parks, Happy Park and Ikeno City offer something for everyone. Happy Park has 2 mini kickers, wide flat boxes, small rainbow rails and a flat down. Perfect for learning or practising a new trick,
Ikeno Park boasts over 15 features last time we counted. Great, perfectly groomed kickers. The park shapers roll out like clock work every few hours to groom and smooth the park - it's like a military operation. Even if park riding is not your thing, it's worth watching the really high standard of local riders.
You can eat really cheaply at all 3 mountains. Ramen/fried rice and curries are all common place and you can pick up lunch from about 500yen.
We were pleasantly surprised at how polite everyone is. No queue jumping, the lifties say hello to everyone, and your chairlift gets brushed down to remove any snow, before you sit.