Located 2 hours by Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo, Iiyama acts as the gateway to the Sekida Mountains and the 70km-long Shin-Etsu hiking trail.
“Iiyama isn't on the usual tourist trail but that's part of the charm. It's a gateway to many great outdoor activities, from incredible powder snow skiing and snowshoeing in winter, to hiking in the summer and autumn – with hot spring baths and tasty homemade food awaiting you at the end of the day.”
With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train line back in 2015, Iiyama became a lot more accessible, particularly during the winter with an influx of ski enthusiasts keen to try out the powder snow at Madarao Kogen or Nozawa Onsen ski resorts.
Iiyama has the distinction of receiving the heaviest snowfall of any populated place in Japan - it can get up to 4m (13 feet) of snow, making it the perfect place to try out all sorts of other winter activities, such as snowshoeing and riding fat bikes downhill!
Once all that snow melts in June, Iiyama opens up as an outdoor activity hotspot, offering everything from countryside cycling to stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Nojiri and the Chikuma River, the longest in Japan.
Our favourite activity to do in the area is the Shin-Etsu Trail, a 70km-long hiking trail along the Sekida Mountains that form the backbone of the prefectural border between Nagano and Niigata. In between hiking you get to stay at small hotels or family-run inns, providing the perfect opportunity to tuck into fresh, local cuisine and soak in therapeutic hot spring baths.
Experiences in Iiyama
The highlight is the Shin-Etsu Trail, a 70km-long hiking trail along the Sekida Mountains that form the backbone of the prefectural border between Nagano and Niigata. The flexible route can be hiked over 6 days, or you can cherry pick the most scenic sections.
Featured trips including Iiyama
- Togarinozawa Onsen
Feel a sense of achievement as you complete all six days and 70km of the Shin-Etsu Trail.
6 nights: from US$1885 pp (twin share) Read more >
- Togarinozawa Onsen
Lace up your hiking boots for a three-day hike along the Sekida Mountain's Shin-Etsu Trail.
3 nights: from US$1040 pp (twin share) Read more >