Taking a train to the snows

Tumbling down head over heels near the summit of a 2,000-meter mountain is the most fun I’ve had in ages. On a Monday, the sparsely peopled ski runs at Mitsumata resort in Niigata Prefecture were knee-deep in feather-soft powder snow: perfect conditions for cushioning even the nastiest of falls.

An amazingly cheap weekday JR package deal that included a day-return shinkansen trip from Tokyo Station and a one-day ski pass made this trip painful on neither the pocket nor the posterior.

The only difficult thing about the experience was getting up at 5:15 a.m. in time for the 7:00 a.m. departure to Echigo-Yuzawa. The train, which takes just over 70 minutes, gobbles up track at an incredible rate, making short work of the capital’s urban jumble before speeding northwest across flat plains toward the gray-blue shadow of Niigata’s mountain ranges on the horizon.

Read the rest of the story: Taking a train to the snow.