Snowball Chalet

We are giving away a free day pass at Madarao Mountain for all bookings on the website or by email.

Come stay with us at Snowball Chalet's gorgeous accommodation. Send Dan an email dan@snowballchalet.com and we will hold your booking for you.

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, it has been lovingly restored with plush new carpets, designer fireplace, Japanese ofuro bathtubs, comfy couches, new bathrooms, drying room for your ski gear, quality furniture and lovely Japanese art, features & photography.

The Snowball Chalet lounge is the perfect place to have après drinks and unwind with a wine, sake, martini, schnapps or whisky by the fire, with your friends, after a big day on the mountain. Recounting your adventures from the day, while the powder snow builds up again outside for the fun to continue tomorrow.

The Chalet

Madarao "The little village that could"

Madarao Mountain is at the heart of the very best of Japan

In just 2 hours you can travel from Tokyo or Ueno Station to Snowball Chalet, ready to strap on your gear and hit the slopes (or kick back and sip your sake). Madarao has more tree runs than any other ski resort in Japan and also receives some of the highest snowfalls on the planet. We regularly eclipse Hokkaido ski resort annual snowfalls. There is perfect uncrowded beginner ski runs, sensational intermediate cruisers, mind boggling powder tree runs for days and epic back and side country.

When we first opened we thought being smack back in the middle of Nozawa Onsen and Myoko would be something every guest would love but it turns out once people ride Madarao Mountain they don't want to go anywhere else. It is just too good. That said if you are adventurous Madarao is in the middle of a ring of fantastic ski resorts, most of them only half an hour away and many of them totally unknown but absolutely awesome fun.

Lounging by the fire with a drink in hand... The perfect après

We know what makes an amazing ski holiday so we have crafted an environment that sets the accomodation standard in Madarao to make sure you absolutely love both Snowball Chalet and Madarao and will be desperate to keep coming back year after year.

After a big day on the mountain there is no better way to while away the evening than sitting by the fire at Snowball Chalet with drink in hand listening to cruisy tunes spinning on the record player reading the book you have been dying to read for the last year. We set up a perfect après bar right in the lounge so you can choose from your favourite Japanese and worldwide treats. If it is Veuve, The Yamazaki, schnapps, a martnini, craft beers or wine you are after we have you covered.

The lounge is cozy and warm and a perfect place to tell stories about the day's heavenly powder, the Snow Monkeys, the double ejection into a 2 meter deep powder puff or dream about what tomorrow will bring. Join us in the lounge so we can tell you our stories too.


The amazing Snow Monkeys

We run tours to the incredible Snow Monkeys right from the front door of Snowball Chalet so you can visit these amazing creatures, watch them bathing in the hot springs and marvel at their unique culture.

The Snow Monkeys have discovered the delights of the onsens. They spend hours a day enjoying the warm waters. It gives us an incredible opportunity to gain insight into their lives. Most of our guests visit the monkeys and come back inspired and delighted. The photo opportunities are brilliant, but it is more than that. The monkeys hot spring is located in a stunning valley, Jigokudani accessed by an absolutely beautiful forrest stroll. The unique experience of the Snow Monkeys is one you will never forget. 

After we visit the Snow Monkeys we head to fabulous Shiga Kogen brewery for a sake tasting and then on to Shibu Onsen for a stroll through the village and a taste of manju, a delicious traditional Japanese sweet dumpling.

The whole experience is so unique and is a lovely way to spend the afternoon. What is even better is that we don't leave until 2pm so you still get a huge day of riding on mountain before we go.


The skiing and boarding at Madarao Mountain

The ski runs are just a short 120 meter stroll to the end of our street and across the road. Click in and off you go for the day.

Madarao is an entirely unique mountain in Japan in that people are encouraged to play in the trees all over the mountain. It has more tree runs than anywhere else in Japan. There are wide also open groomed runs non groomed cleared runs and tree runs for every level of skier and boarder. There are cruisy groomers and crazy steep tight trees and everything in between. Because the forests have been opened to riding it means there is a mind boggling amount of exploring to do. You could easily not ski the same thing twice in two weeks of skiing here if you are a little intrepid. At the end of 3 seasons of skiing we are still finding things we have never skied before. Madarao looks small on paper but is totally amazing in reality.

There is a fantastic international ski school run by one of the Madarao locals Aki Kitamura san. All of his instructors are certified in either the European, North American or Australian/New Zealand systems. They all speak English and are excellent instructors. We can introduce you to Aki san if you would like to make reservations. Whether you want to learn to ski/snowboard or master powder and trees Madarao is the perfect place to come.

There is an extraordinary amount of side and back country on the mountain. Some of it is lift accessed and some you need to hike. Aki runs back country tours with certified guides and will make sure you have all the right gear. We also rent out avalanche beacons, shovels, probes and airbags so you will be safe out there and will get to experience the perfect backcountry steep tree skiing Madarao and Tangram are becoming famous for.

Restaurants in Madarao

Madarao and Iiyama has a stack of great restaurants. here are just a few...

Maroudo This restaurant is an excellent traditional Japanese sukiyaki, hot pot experience. Ogawara san will drive over and come to collect you from Snowball Chalet and then drop you back after your meal. The hotpot is around ¥3500/person plus drinks. Basically everyone is in love with the Ogawara family and their delicious food.

Donguri Tei is a Japanese BBQ restaurant. Grill your own wagyu, chicken pork and veges over the binchotan charcoals. Dip into the BBQ sauce and be transported to a land of delicious hearty flavour. They can cater for vegetarians if need be so everyone can enjoy the experience. Masato san from the restaurant will drive over and come to collect you and then drop you and you back after your meal. The BBQ is around ¥3500/person plus drinks and ¥2700 per person plus drinks for the vegetarian option.

Rudolf's is a fantastic Japanese/Italian restaurant run by a lovely Japanese family. Morita san cooks delicious Japanese fare, pizza and gratin for you whilst you marvel at the eclectic restaurant decorations. When Japanese people cook Italian food it just adds another layer of special. They also have an excellent selection of Japanese whisky. Make sure you try the kyogetsu and grapefruit. It is yummy!

Waremokou is down in Iiyama and serves some of the most sophisticated and delicious food in the Nagano region. Everything is fresh and perfect. Make sure you order the Omikase (Chefs suggestion degustation) for a totally unique eating experience. If a guest wants to go here we always make sure we crash the party. We are surprised every time we eat here. A truly unique and special Japanese experience. price ranges from ¥1500 for lunch all the way to ¥6000 for degustation and drinks (think the most beautiful sake Japan makes).

Shaggy Yak is our contribution to Madarao restaurants. A relaxed atmosphere with hearty Japanese inspired tapas dishes. Great for families and friends alike, there will be vinyl spinning on the decks, amazing local and international craft beers and an amazing selection of Japanese whiskies. Prices range from ¥2500 - ¥3500 plus drinks per person dependant on how hungry you are. There are lots of vegetarian and gluten free options on the menu as Shaggy Yak uses gluten free soy in everything and the dashi stock is vegetarian as well making it easy for vegetarians to let loose.

Jazzy is like stepping back in time to the heady days of Jazz influenced Madarao. You will see signed BB King, Chet Baker and Maceo Parker memorabilia. The owner cooks lovely Japanese style home cooking and just takes a few bookings a night. It is a privilege going here. The food is simple and not pretentious is hearty and delicious. Prices range from ¥1500 - ¥3000 per person plus drinks. Make sure you try Ito san's Katsu. It is the best on the mountain.

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

We have 3 Deluxe Ensuite Rooms, a Deluxe Two Room Suite, 2 Family Rooms (2 rooms with and interconnecting ensuite), a Standard Room with Shared Facilities and our totally amazing Luxury Suite which is next door to Snowball Chalet in a huge 60 foot yurt.

The Luxury Suite has it's own designer fireplace made by a 200 year old company that started as a samurai sword manufacturer in Gifu prefecture, your own vinyl collection and turntable to explore our old school music collection during your stay, a reading area, 2 lounges and private Ofuro (Japanese bath) with mountain views. It is absolutely stunning.

All the rooms except for one have new beautiful ensuites with Japanese toilet seats, hot hot water and beautiful products including loofah and bamboo toothbrushes.

You will be super comfortable because we really care about your comfort. We have made sure everything is perfect... just as it should be when you are on holiday.

Snowball Chalet in Madarao is a little piece of pow heaven. My wife and I arrived the first week of the season 2018-19. The snow did not disappoint. With epic powder conditions for a lot of our week. Snowball Chalet itself has a traditional and funky modern feel. Its Western/Japanese style done perfectly. You can relax in front of the log fire with some drinks or retire to your room. We loved it so much we returned for our honeymoon in the last week of the season(March 19)... Dan and his team looked after us impeccably, moet champagne and choc’s on arrival as well as upgrading our room. Safe to say we are in love with Snowball and Madarao

Paul & Holly

Snowball Chalet is my little piece of heaven. We skied perfect waist deep powder all day long and then sat by the fireplace drinking Japanese Scotch and eating the most delicious food. Just doesn't get any better than that!

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

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