AIZU Region3 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Wagner Custome Skis
Japan Ski Tour Tohoku Area

Mt Bandai has a a handful of ski resorts on its flanks
Mt Bandai has a a handful of ski resorts on its flanks
Aizu is a delightfully snowy area
Aizu is a delightfully snowy area
Negligible competition for the powder
Negligible competition for the powder
One of many onsens in Urabandai
One of many onsens in Urabandai
Indoor onsen at the Active Resorts Urabandai
Indoor onsen at the Active Resorts Urabandai
There are many Aizu ski resorts
There are many Aizu ski resorts
Plenty of fresh lines
Plenty of fresh lines
Grandeco has some good lift infrastructure
Grandeco has some good lift infrastructure
Nekoma Ski Resort Aizu
Nekoma Ski Resort Aizu
Plenty of "Japanese culture"
Plenty of
Gyoza - yum!
Gyoza - yum!
Plenty of opportunities to sample lots of Japanese cuisine
Plenty of opportunities to sample lots of Japanese cuisine
A short walk to the top of Nekoma
A short walk to the top of Nekoma
Views from the top of Nekoma
Views from the top of Nekoma
Aizu skiing
Aizu skiing
Aizu has some large onsen hotels
Aizu has some large onsen hotels

AIZU Region

The Aizu ski region is starting to gain a tiny little bit international attention as new spots for powder hounds to visit. There are about a dozen Aizu ski resorts in the Fukushima Prefecture near Mount Bandai, plus more in the lesser known Minami Aizu (ie south Aizu). Fukushima skiing ranges from well developed ski resorts with lots of bells and whistles that attract lots of Tokyo-ites, to low frills local Aizu ski resorts that are completely off the beaten track, even to most Japanese people.

Summary of Pros & Cons of Aizu Ski Region

Pros
  • The Aizu ski region has a high concentration of ski areas, so you can sample lots of different terrain.
  • Unlike westernised destinations such as Niseko, an Aizu ski trip provides the full Japanese cultural experience.
  • An Aizu ski holiday can be very affordable with respect to accommodation, lift tickets and food, particularly if there are special deals on.
  • The ski resorts are delightfully quiet (those with easy access from Tokyo can be busy on-piste on weekends).
  • The region has plenty of options for onsen soaking.
Cons
  • Like most Japanese ski resorts, each Aizu ski area is not large and has enough terrain for only 1-2 days of playing.
  • And also common to the majority of Japan ski resorts, Fukushima skiing has only minimal piste terrain for advanced riders, so if you don’t like to ski or ride in the trees, you’ll be bored senseless. 
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Most of the Fukushima ski resorts are not geared up for non-Japanese speaking guests, but this is all part of the cultural experience you’ve been longing for (and your google translate app wants a workout!).
  • The area has struggled to attract tourists because “Fukushima” conjures up concerns about the events of 2011. There are no issues with the Aizu region and undoubtedly the locals would love your support.
  • Typically off-piste skiing and riding is not allowed. If you can be simultaneously discrete and respectful, no one else is likely be off-piste so there will be plenty of fresh lines.
  • There is a distinct lack of shuttle or public transport options to get around to sample various Aizu/Mt Bandai ski resorts. This helps to keep the gaijin crowds away, which is ideal for those on a multi-resort tour or with a car.

Where is Aizu?

Aizu is located in the Fukushima Prefecture, which is part of the Tohoku region (northern Honshu) in Japan. Some of the Aizu ski resorts sit on the flanks of the impressive Mount Bandai, whilst others are located near Mt Adatara. The Minami Aizu ski resorts are in the region to the southwest of Lake Inawashiro.

Koriyama is the gateway Shinkansen (bullet train) station, and the train ride takes only 80 minutes from Tokyo Station (see Hyperdia for timetables). From there you can rent a car, and considering the progressive English navigation systems, it’s really easy to drive around. Or even easier, if you’re on a multi-day tour your guides will drive you around.

Or if you’re just planning to go to one ski area, you can catch a local train to Inawashiro, and from there the ski resort or hotels provide a shuttle service.

Aizu Accommodation

Some of the Aizu ski areas have on-mountain ski-in ski-out accommodation, such as Minowa, Grandeco, Listel Ski Fantasia and Alts Bandai. Otherwise there are various options for onsen hotels and pensions. The two main accommodation regions are Inawashiro (south of Mount Bandai) and Urabandai (north or back of Mt Bandai). From either of these areas, it’s easy enough to do a day trip to any of the Aizu ski resorts.

Aizu Accommodation Listings

Aizu Ski Resorts

Aizu Ski Resort Area Top
(M)
Courses Lifts Max 
Slope
Adatara Kogen E of Mt Adatara 1,350  8  4  33
Alts Bandai S of Mt Bandai 1,280 29   9  29
Grand Sunpia Inawashiro S of Mt Bandai  1,200 9  4  40
Grandeco NE of Mt Bandai 1,590 8  5  33
Inawashiro S of Mt Bandai 1,255 18  8  34
Listel Ski Fantasia SE of Mt Bandai 871 6  3  37
Minowa NW of Mt Adatara 1,500  11  3  34
Nekoma N of Mt Bandai 1,337  10  6  33
Nihonmatsu Shiozawa E of Mt Adatara 925  4  2  35
Numajiri W of Mt Adatara 1,220 13  6  30
Sannokura N of Kitakata 780 3  2  22
Urabandai Resort N of Mt Bandai 1,200 3  3  35

Front Side of Mount Bandai
Alts Bandai is a very well known ski resort (by the Japanese, not by international skiers) with highly developed infrastructure. The terrain at Hoshino Resorts Alts Bandai is pretty typical of a Tohoku ski resort (small, mostly beginner and intermediate runs, a little tree skiing). It’s good for park riding and it’s busy (on-piste) on the weekends with Tokyo-ites. It sits on the SW flank of Mt Bandai, 13km from Inawashiro town.

Inawashiro Ski Resort has nice views across Lake Inawashiro and amazing tree skiing, but only when the powder is fresh because the slopes are mostly southeast facing (it sits on the southern face of Mt Bandai). The ski resort is 4km from the town of Inawashiro.

Urabandai (Backside Of Mt Bandai)
Nekoma has a respectable amount of off-piste tree skiing and sidecountry terrain, and at the top you feel like you can almost reach out to Alts Bandai on the front side of the mountain. Nekoma is also popular for its park. The top elevation is a little higher than Inawashiro and Alts Bandai, and lots of the slopes are north facing, so the snow quality is often superior to some of the other Bandai ski resorts. Nekoma is 4km from the central zone of Urabandai.

Grandeco has well developed facilities. It’s mostly a very mellow ski area and requires a bit of route finding nous to get some decent tree skiing. Grandeco doesn’t have the best aspect for snow quality if the sun’s been out.

East
Minowa is our favourite powder skiing resort in Aizu. Minowa is 24km west of Urabandai on the NW flank of Mt Adatara. Decent elevation and aspect make Minowa a good choice for powder quality, and off-piste skiing is tolerated a little more than at other Aizu ski resorts.

Adatara Kogen sits on the other side of Mt Adatara from Minowa, and it possibly doesn’t score the same amount of snow as those to the west of Mt Adatara. It has some lovely off-piste terrain off the top that’s completely devoid of other powder hounds but check the gondola’s running before turning up. Adatara Kogen is about 41km east of Urabandai.

Tours That May Include Aizu

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Powder Odyssey DETAILS
GUIDED SAFARI - TOHOKU
7 Nights | 6 Days Guided Skiing
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,862
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are looking to go off-the-beaten track in Tohoku (northeastern Honshu) where there are abundant lines of fresh powder and no foreigners, this tour is perfect! Visit Tohoku ski areas you've probably never heard of before and immerse yourself in the Japanese culture.
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit AIZU Region here