Snowball Chalet at Madarao Mountain

We haven't opened up the bookings yet for next season and January is already sold out... we still have some rooms in December, February and March so send an email to and we will hold your booking for you. Get in quick!

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Living the dream in the Japanese Alps

After traveling the world and working 7 back to back ski seasons, Dan and Andy Solo have finally found the perfect place to settle their skis and snowboards and share their love of adventure and snow with guests from all over the world. Without a doubt, Japan is the best destination for a winter holiday! The wonderful people, fabulous food, powder snow, incredible culture, history, bullet trains, sumo, gardens, sake, scenery, temples, onsens (hot springs), ice sculptures, fire festivals… the list goes endlessly on.

Snowball Chalet is our boutique 9-room ski chalet in the heart of Madarao village, just 100m from the ski slopes (and an easy 2hr trip from Tokyo). Built in stunning cedar wood, its been lovingly renovated with plush new carpets, designer fireplace, Japanese o-furo bathtubs, comfy couches, downstairs games den, new bathrooms, drying room for your ski gear, quality furniture and lovely Japanese art, features & photography. Its the perfect place to unwind with a wine or whisky by the fire, with your friends or family, after a big day on the mountain.

Part of Snowball Chalet, the Shaggy Yak Yurt Restaurant is the Madarao meeting place for guests and visitors to unwind at the end of a long fabulous day. Lounge on comfy chairs and cushions with low tables laden with sake, beer, whisky or wine and izakaya-style treats such as gyoza, edamame, yakitori and fresh local produce. From 3pm ‘til late, warm yourself by the fire with your friends and family, recounting your adventures from the day, while the powder snow builds up again outside.

The Chalet


Madarao is at the heart of the very best of Japan

In under 2 hours you can travel from Tokyo Station to Snowball Chalet, ready to strap on your gear and hit the slopes (or kick back and sip your sake). And if you need a change of scenery, Madarao is in the middle of a ring of fantastic ski resorts, most of them only half an hour away. We run tours to nearby resorts so can enjoy the best of Madarao or head to the closest cranking mountain!


Lounging by the fire with a drink in hand

After a big day on the mountain there is no better way to while away the evening sitting by the fire at the Snowball Chalet with drink in hand listening to cruisy tunes reading the book you have been dying to read for the last year. Whatever your winter wonderland entails, Snowball Chalet can provide your perfect Japanese holiday. So live the dream and book your room now…


The Shaggy Yak

Guests can head right next door to our Shaggy Yak restaurant for delicious Japanese snacks plates, hearty meals, fresh salad and a fine selection of whisky, wine, sake and beer and other goodies. It also features a lounge area with fireplace and fine vinyl spinning tunes from Japanese jazz to Michael Jackson.


Guest rooms at Snowball Chalet

We've designed our boutique guest rooms to feel special, comfy, warm and inviting. We hope you feel like you want to stay there forever, snuggled up, looking through the falling snow to the mountains beyond with all the comforts you need and want.

Local Attractions


Visit the famous snow monkeys soaking in hot springs

This unique Japanese experience transports travelers back to ancient Japan. The monkey shave been warming themselves in the volcanic hot springs for many centuries and having the opportunity to see it is one of the most amazing experiences in the country. Madarao is a just s short trip away from the area and it makes for a fantastic cultural day trip especially when combined with a visit to Yudanaka Onsen, a beautiful spa town (for humans).

Sake tasting at the traditional local breweries

Sake brewing is as Japanese as it gets... This unique alcoholic beverage is made using techniques and recipes handed down from generation to generation. Every Sake is different just like western wines and being introduced to the amazing subtleties by passionate Japanese guides makes this such a special experience.

Meditation with Zen Buddhist monks

For those of us who live hectic lives there is no substitute for this incredible experience. You will be immersed in the zen world of the Japanese buddhist monk's lives. They will take you through a meditation ritual and your mind will be cleared of the worries and madness of modern life.

Soba noodles making classes

Learn how to make these traditional buckwheat noodles from master soba artisans and follow up by settling down in front of the most perfect bowl of soba your taste buds have ever experienced. This is a must do experience for everyone interested in Japanese cuisine.

Snowshoeing in the forest (just near Snowball Chalet)

Snowshoes tours take you into the stunning winter wilderness of the area. You will be amongst the Japanese Cedar, Aspen and Cherry's for this one of a kind trek. Depending on snow depth it can be reasonable physical exercise and you will take turns breaking trail giving everyone a fantastic sense of achievement. If you are quiet you might be lucky enough to meet a Kamoshika (native Japanese Mountain Goat). They look like an odd cross between a wolf, monkey and a goat).

Dining in a little kamakura igloo dome

In February the Iiyama (closest village to Madarao) locals build a snow dome village. You can have a delicious Japanese dinner in them. Make sure to bring warm clothes and extra layers for your bum.

Make your own traditional washi paper

For those of us with a creative streak learning to make your own Washi Paper is an amzing experience. Enjoy learning to this age old craft from Japanese Masters. You take your own paper home with you and can buy beautiful examples. Too. You will also be able to stroll through the Iiyama Paper Museum and see the ancient sheets made for emperors and samurai.

Iiyama Temple Tour

Often referred to as the ‘little Kyoto’ of the snow country, Iiyama boasts over 20 temples and the ruins of the former castle. Temple experiences range from meditating with Buddhist monks to enjoying a vegetarian banquet, marvelling at golden dragon murals or simply strolling through ancient temple grounds and structures.

Iiyama and Nozawa Fire Festivals

Narazawa Daitengu is a spectacular performance held during Iiyama’s annual snow festival. The Narazawa Daitengu (big-nosed goblin) Festival features tengu dances performed by primary school children, and the grand finale of the Daitengu dance. The dance is performed by an adult man who is carrying a flaming 2.5m long torch which he waves around flinging the crowd with embers considered to be good luck if they fall on you (especially if you don't get incinerated). Madarao is also just a hop skip and a jump away from the Dosojin Fire Festival in Nozawa. We will run a tour to the festival for those who are lucky enough to be at the Snowball Chalet at festival time (Limited spaces so get book early).

Aki's Backcountry Tours

This is one of the Snowball Chalet staff's favorite tours. Madarao has some of the best easily accessed back country anywhere in Japan. There are runs for intermediate, advanced and extreme level skiers and boarders. You are basically guaranteed incredible fall line perfection. Aki supplies all safety equipment including avalanche beacons and digs snow pits to ensure safety of the group.


Snowball Chalet has been designed to meet your every need for a wonderful winter holiday.

Snowball Chalet is a boutique 3-storey cedar chalet nestled high in the Japanese mountain village of Madarao, just 2 hours from Tokyo in the heart of ‘snow country’. Its been designed to meet your every need for a wonderful winter holiday, combining rustic wabi-sabi character with all the modern comforts you expect.

We offer 9 guest rooms, a comfy lounge area with designer fireplace, 2 stylish o-furo baths, downstairs games den for kids, drying room, views to the forest and a flat 1-minute stroll to the ski slopes. With a focus on comfort, style and good old fashioned mountain hospitality, Snowball Chalet is your quintessential cosy ski chalet in the heart of the village.


Drying Room

At Snowball right when you come off the mountrain you can hang all your gear in the toasty drying room so every morning when you head out you have warm boots and gear so you will be comfortable all day long.

Après Drinks (that's french for after ski drinks)

At Snowball Chalet we know whats important at the end of a big day on the mountain... The right whisky, sake, schnapps, wine or beer. You can either lounge around by the fire at Snowball or pop over to the Shaggy Yak next door for your après experience where you can also get eda mame, gyoza, yakitori, salads, chips...
We take our whisky seriously. The Hakushu, The Yamazaki and Nikka Reserve are three of our favourites but it doesn't end there.

In-house Photographer and Drone Service

Obviously this is an amazing advantage. We follow you across the mountain ensuring you have incredible memories of waist to chest deep powder to take home with you.
We also have a drone service to capture you from on high. You just can't get better footage of your turns.
Love the memories you make!

Japanese Toilet

The Japanese washing toilet (Washlet) is a masterful thing. It is warm and one of the greatest advances in modern asian cultures and personal hygiene.
It's really hard to describe the Japanese toilet seat so we will wait till you arrive so you can experience it for yourself.

Board and Ski Waxing

We learn't waxing from one of Australia's best ski racers and we take it seriously.
Akira and Dylan will be doing most of the waxing for guests for the winter of 2017/18 and are budding scientist at heart so they check next day's weather to make sure they lay the right stuff on your gear.
We only hot wax at Snowball... It means the pores of your base soak up the wax and keep you sliding unhindered for days to come.

Warm and Cozy Rooms to Suit Everybody

We know when you travel you want super nice sheets and warm doonas and we have made sure you get the best of the best!
At the end of the day when you fall into our insanely comfy beds you will be the happiest snow bunnies on the mountain.
All our rooms have the lushest beds that are super supportive and the right kind of soft. The pillows are luxurious and the doonas are warm.
The rooms have toasty adjustable heating so you will never be cold.

Snowball Chalet is my little piece of heaven. We skied perfect waist deep powder all day long and then sat by the fire place drinking Japanese Scotch and eating the most delicious food.

- Joachim

Beautiful chalet with lovely and clean bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. Super comfortable new beds which is important for us when travelling and skiing. Warm and comfortable chalet with a really nice ambience about it. The owners are extremely lovely and most hospitable. I loved the chalet and would honestly recommend it to skiers looking for extreme comfort with a real 'chalet' feel and unique snow experience.

- Betty

We spent 3 nights at Snowball Chalet and did not want to leave. The location is perfect, 1 min from the slopes!
Such a cozy atmosphere! We have enjoyed every moment spent in the chalet! The common area are so comfy, that it makes you feel at home! This is the place to stay in Madarao! Would love to come back. Dan is very warm and welcoming!
Thanks for your hospitality!

- Aude