Despite Tohoku’s harsh climate is one reason why Tohoku hasn’t become as developed as the other cities, tourism remains to be one of its biggest industries. Its climate is probably the reason for the amount of snowfall it receives – which some opine to be the highest in the world as well as the breathtaking scenery of the region. This less developed, but nonetheless beautiful backwater destination, with its multiple castles and onsen pools, is often being visited yearly by many winter sports enthusiasts. Although it is not as updated as other skiing destinations, Tohoku ski resorts are less crowded and recognized for their own uniqueness when it comes to skiing and snowboarding courses.
Midweek is the best time to experience the snow powder pleasure of Tohoku ski resorts. When most resorts are literally deserted and you can have the courses all to your powder delight. To maximize the enjoyment, go on a resort hopping expedition to experience different courses. Here is your guide to the 10 best Tohoku ski resorts.
Hakkoda Ski Resort
Located in the Aomori Prefecture, Hakkoda is a deep powder ski paradise for skiers and snowboarders where the ski areas can be a bit more challenging and even hardcore compared to other destinations. This makes Hakkoda a place of energy and spiritual awakening.
Address: 1-12 Kansuizawa-Arakawa, Aomori, Aomori Prefecture 030-0188
Official Website: http://hakkoda-ski.com/
Appi Kogen Ski Resort
Appi Kogen Ski Resort’s snow was described as an aspirin powder by many a powder hound as it thickens to 8 meters during winter. Appi Kogen has a high-quality resort – probably one of the bests in all of Japan, including a first class hotel for tourists and visitors. It covers an area of 282 hectares with the longest run at 5.5 km.
Address: Appi-kogen, Hachimantai-shi, Iwate-ken 028-7395
Official Website: http://www.appi-japan.com/welcome-to-appi/
Tazawako Ski Resort
The biggest ski resort in Akita Prefecture is Tazawako – it is however small compared to standard ski resorts in other parts of Japan, perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers. It overlooks the beautiful Lake Tazawa. The lake is so deep that it doesn’t freeze during winter.
Address: Mizusawa Onsen Kyo, Tazawako, Senboku-Shi, Akita Prefecture 014-1201
Official Website: http://www.tazawako-ski.com/ (Japanese only)
Akita Hachimantai Ski Resort
Akita Hachimantai Ski Resort is perfect for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers as slopes seem to have been designed for all levels. The trees in this resort are widely spaced, and there are lots of pillows and natural features to enhance skiing.
Address: Kumazawa Kokuyurin, Hachimantai, Kazuno-shi, Akita-ken 018-5141
Official Website: http://www.akihachi.jp/ (Japanese only)
Inawashiro Ski Resort
Inawashiro Ski Resort is the snow mecca, perfect for snow powder enthusiasts who love tree skiing and fresh tracks. Inawashiro, located in Fukushima Prefecture, has two sides that are connected by slopes and lifts – Inawashiro Minero and the Chuo. Both are blessed with lots of snowfall each year which is best ridden fresh.
Address: 7105 Hayama, Inawashiro-machi, Yama-gun, Fuskushima Prefecture
Official Website: https://www.inawashiro-ski.com/
Grandeco Ski Resort
The Grandeco is located at Mt. Bandai Volcano, part of Asahi National Park. It is an all-season resort complete with quad-lifts and gondolas, a grand hotel, and excellent powder and perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Other activities in the resort during winter are snowshoe tours and cross-country skiing.
Address: Arasunasawayama Hibara Kitashiobara Fukushima 969-2701
Official Website: http://www.grandeco.com/english/index.php
Onikobe Ski Resort
Onikobe Ski Resort offers a range of snow slopes for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Many are attracted to its many raw ungroomed trails of fresh powder. They are less crowded too unlike other Tohoku slopes, and skiing is a bit more comfortable. Onikobe is a family oriented resort with day care center for children and ground activities.
Address: Komukaihara-9-55, Naruko Onsen, Onikobe Osaki-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-6941 Miyagi Prefecture
Official Website: http://www.onikoube.com/ (Japanese only)
Spring Valley Izumi Kogen Ski Resort
Spring Valley Izumi Kogen Ski Resort is located north of Mt. Izumigatake while the ski hill, where most runs are easy, is south of it. This resort is for easy skiing and snowboarding fun. It enjoys enough snow for skiers of all levels. It has a fully operational food court where you can enjoy a wide range of dishes including Imoni, which is a famous local dish in Miyagi.
Address: 14-2 Dakeyama, Fukuoka, Izumi-ku, Sendai
Official Website: http://www.springvalley.co.jp/en/
Zao Onsen Ski Resort
Zao Onsen is a picturesque little traditional town with twisting streets with geothermal heat underneath, 30 to 40 minutes from Yamagata City. It has 12 courses for novices to expert skiers. It also has a fun park for children, Family Snow Park, and a skiing course for senior skiers. Visitors come here for a dip into the outdoor onsens after a ski. Another famous attraction in this resort is the “snow monsters”, the whole forests covered with snow. The picturesque scenery is a must-see when you ski in Zao.
Address: 708-1 Zao Onsen, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture 990-2301
Official Website: http://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english/
Tengendai Kogen Ski Resort
Tengendai Kogen Ski Resort has been in operation since 1963. It is located in near Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture. The area boasts of the long season of winter, resulting in more snow powdery deposits and good quality that makes the ski resort popular to powder hounds. It has a 3,000-meter long narrow course that starts at the top of the ropeway going down to the base.
Address: Tengendai Sumomoyama, Yonezawa-shi, Yamagata-ken 992-1461
Official Website: https://snow.gurunavi.com/guide/htm/r0211ens.htm
Snow sports enthusiasts need not go very far in Japan to enjoy snow powder. Tohoku ski resorts are the most sought-after venues for fun and challenge on the slopes because of their accessibility from major cities and transportations. The quaintness, simplicity and less popularity make it appealing to serious ski and snowboarding devotees.
Thumbnail image is from Flickr