Kanayasan: I Visited the Cradle of Skiing in Japan

In the previous article, I talked about the Japanese ski soup “Ski Jiru (スキー汁)” and mentioned the place where the art of skiing was first introduced from abroad.

Specifically, for the first time in Japan in 1911, Major Theodor Edler von Lerch from Austria gave ski lessons to Japanese people at “Kanayasan (金谷山: Mt. Kanaya)” (Google Map) in the city of Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture.

Actually, for this blog article, yesterday I visited Kanayasan, the mountain regarded as the cradle of skiing in Japan.

Kanayasan Ski Area in Joetsu, Niigata

At the street intersection of the foot of Kanayasan, there is a signboard showing the direction to the mountain, which says that “金谷山スキー場 (Kanayasan Ski Area)” is “日本スキー発祥の地 (the cradle of skiing in Japan)”.

Kanayasan, or Mt. Kanaya, is very low in altitude, just 145 meters high above sea level, so it only takes some minutes to get to the ski area by car through the upward slope from the intersection.

Kanayasan Ski Area in Joetsu Niigata

After driving my car for several minutes, I arrived at the entrance of the Kanayasan Ski Area “金谷山スキー場”. Unlike every year, as of yesterday (January 24, 2020), there wasn’t any snow in the area.

When looking back at the opposite side, there was a nice view of the city of Joetsu, even though when I visited there, it was drizzling.

Memorial Hall

There is a Western-style white house at the end of the parking lot, which is a memorial hall celebrating the cradle of skiing.


During the summer months, you can enjoy a bobsled ride using the ski lifts installed on the edge of the ski area.

Statue of Major Theodor Edler von Lerch

The Statue of Major Theodor Edler von Lerch

On the top of the hill adjacent to the entrance of the ski area, even now overlooking the city, the bronze statue of Major Theodor Edler von Lerch is standing.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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