Honshu, Japan

Arai is a fantastic family ski resort area in Honshu, recently re-opened for the first time in over 10 years after being brought back to life by the Lotte Hotel group. This rejuvenated resort means modern facilities, world-class amenities, luxurious accommodation, and plenty of first tracks!

Scout Loves

  • International Ski School with English-speaking instructors.
  • Avalanche controlled off-piste & fantastic high alpine terrain.
  • Snow...and lots of it! Up to 15 metres annually.
  • Family friendly activities to keep the kids entertained.

Scout Tips

  • The Lotte Arai Hotel has great hotel-style rooms, while the Lodge offers upscale and spacious rooms for families.
  • Catch the free resort shuttle from Joetsumyoko Train Station to the resort.
  • Great day trip option from nearby Myoko Kogen.
  • Over 65% of the terrain caters towards intermediate to advanced skiers.

Scout Review

Arai is fast becoming one of the new must-ski destinations in Japan, and there's plenty of reasons why! Originally built and opened in 1993 as a luxurious purpose-built ski resort, the Arai (formerly known as Arai Mountain Resort and Spa) operated for many years as a popular ski destination, however closed its doors in 2006, alongside many other ski resorts in Japan. Newly refurbished and redeveloped for the international skier, Lotte Arai Resort reopened December 2017 with fantastic reviews from visitors. Incredible snowfall, advanced off-piste terrain, wide open alpine bowls, and family friendly resort facilities, this 'new' powder paradise has upped the ante for luxury ski resorts in Japan.

Arai has everything you need for a luxe ski vacation all in the one spot. From lounge & whiskey bars, bakeries, private karaoke rooms, indoor swimming pools & day spas, to five star accommodation that ranges from standard hotel rooms to private penthouses - Arai is ticking all the boxes. Team that up with brand new resort facilities, including international ski school, child care, and plenty of non-ski activities for the kids (think climbing wall, zip-line, and trampolines), this resort has become hot topic among the international ski community. 

It's not all about the first class facilities either. For those who love backcountry style terrain, with rolling alpine zones and over a 1000 metres of vertical, Arai is a fantastic resort to explore. Due to it's snowfall and high-alpine exposure, the in-bounds terrain can be subject to avalance conditions, however, Arai boasts a team of highly trained and experienced international snow patrol and avalance forecasters on site to make sure your powder turns are safe. And what amazing powder turns they are! If you're an on-piste kind of skier or new to deep powder skiing, Arai can seem daunting, however, it's a good option for those wanting to take the next step in their skiing (and delve into the addictive world of Japanese powder!). 

Arai Skiing

The Arai Resort offers some fantastic skiing in Honshu, especially for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders. The terrain itself is much smaller than nearby resorts at only 388 acres, however, it has the all important vertical (951 metres) for those waist-deep powder days. Below the tree-line, the resort offers some great light tree-skiing, and lots of options for beginner skiers, including some nice, long blue runs that are sure to get the quads burning. Above the tree-line, you have access to incredible wide open powder bowls, and off-piste skiing within avalanche controlled areas. For even more fresh lines, you can take the short hike up to the peak from the top chair.

Arai's proximity to the Sea of Japan brings storms with plenty of moisture for snow, and plenty of it, up to 15 metres annually. Some say that due to this, Arai receives more snow than nearby Myoko Kogen and Seki Onsen! The slopes are East-facing, so the snow sticks around a little longer through Spring. Ski patrollers at Arai are diligent, so expect to find a few in-bounds areas roped off - as tempting as they may look, the mammoth snowfall also brings increased avalanche danger so best to steer clear.

The resort is serviced by only 5 lifts - one main gondola, two quad chairs, and two double chairs, however, this is more than enough to easily access all the terrain at Arai.

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Arai For Families

Arai has some great facilities for a family ski holiday. At the base area, you will find an International Ski School with English-speaking instructors (operated by Myoko Snowsports) with a great range of group and private lessons for kids (from the ages of 3) and adults. This is a major drawcard for Arai, being one of the only resorts in Japan with an extensive international-visitor friendly ski school. Also expect to find high quality rentals, which can be easily arranged right at the gondola base building. 

For families, both the Lotte Arai Hotel and the Lodge offer great rooms for families, with the Hotel also providing childcare services. One benefit of staying at these hotels is the prime location, almost ski-in/ski-out, and easily access to the base of the resort. The rooms at the Lodge are a bit more spacious for families. Both have great amenities for the kids, including an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and the Lodge has a fun karaoke room. Tubing is also available at the base, perfect for a down day or a spare afternoon, and there is a food court and restaurant at the base and top of the gondola, providing many options for dining throughout the day.

The terrain is catered to intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders, however, there are good beginner slopes at lower mountain, including nice long blue runs. 

Arai Accommodation

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Arai is a relatively small resort area with limited accommodation options. The Lotte Arai Resort Hotel & Lodge is the main complex at the base of the resort and offers a good range of rooms for individuals, couples, and families. Both offer deluxe Western-style accommodation, with many restaurants, shops, and amenities including indoor & outdoor pools, indoor & outdoor onsen, gym, and day spa. The Lotte Arai Hotel has 149 hotel rooms, whereas the Lodge caters for a more upscale ski holiday, and has a great bar, lounge, and karaoke room on site.

The Lotte Resort Hotel & Lodge have fantastic re-furbished rooms and brand new facilities, but be prepared to pay a little extra to stay at the resort. Having no main village as such at the resort means dining out can be rather pricey, however, there are surprisingly a large number of options; from bakeries and cafes, to exquisite restaurants. Opting for accommodation with half-board (breakfast and dinner included daily), does reduce the impact on your wallet. For budget travellers, we recommend a home base at nearby Myoko Kogen and taking a day trip (or two!) to Arai.

Resort Activities

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Other than incredible skiing, there aren't many other activities at the resort itself. Kids (and adults) can participate in tubing, which is always a great way to spend an afternoon. The day spa is also a fantastic way to spend the day, with treatments and pampering sessions available at the Lotte Arai Resort Hotel.

Getting There and Around

Arai is located on Mt Ohgenashi in the Niigata Prefecture of Honshu, only about 21km North of Myoko Kogen. Shinkansen is the easiest way to get to Arai, with a bullet train journey approximately 3 hours from Narita Airport (or only 1.5 hours from Tokyo). The resort offers a free shuttle from Joetsumyoko station, or a taxi is relatively inexpensive and it's only 15km to the resort. 

Transfers are available from Myoko Kogen for those wanting to take a day trip or partaking in a multi-resort ski holiday. Private transfers are also available from Tokyo Narita and Haneda Airports via Chuo Taxi.

The resort itself is incredibly compact, with everything within walking distance. The main hotels are located directly at the base of the resort, so you're on the slopes for first tracks straight away each morning.

When To Go

Like many of the Nagano resorts in Honshu, the majority of snow falls between mid-December and mid-February, with plenty of powder days throughout January. Heading towards the end of Feb and start of March, expect more bluebird days and Spring-like conditions. January is the coldest month, and brings stormy and blizzard-like days, however, this also brings the mammoth snowfall consistent with the regions proximity to the Sea of Japan (15 metres a season!).

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 1079ft / 329m Gondolas 1 Beginner 25%  
Summit Elevation 4101ft / 1280m Express Quads 0 Intermediates 45%  
Vertical Drop 3120ft / 951m Quad Chair 2 Advanced 30%  
Skiable Area 388ac / 157ha Triple Chairs 0      
Annual Snowfall 590in / 15m Double Chairs 2      
Longest Run TBC Surface Lifts 0      
Operating Hours TBC          
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