Geto Kogen Ski Resort
Getō Kōgen Ski Resort (sometimes also written as Getou Kogen) can be absolute ecstasy for a powder hound when the weather gods are being “kind” ie “brutal”! Geto Kogen commonly gets dumped on with insane amounts of snow; an estimated 15 metres per season! The snow base is generally 4-5 metres and it sometimes gets up to 7m; more than enough snow to get a powder hound smacking their chops! Even more awesome is that the “gaijinometer” is set close to zero and on weekdays Geto Kogen is pretty much deserted. Perfect!
Geto Kogen is not a true destination resort and best visited for just a day or two. There’s really only enough terrain to warrant a one to two day visit, and you wouldn’t want to pre-book a multi-day trip here because the weather can be viciously temperamental. Geto Kogen is best visited on a guided multi-day tour (see below) because the tour itinerary can be flexible and the guides keep an eye on the weather. One of the many other benefits of a tour is that they can drive you to the resort.
Getou Kogen Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Getou Kogen is a medium sized ski resort by Japanese standards (so it’s reasonably small) with 14 courses and 430 metres of vertical (640 - 1,070m). It only has 5 lifts but this is definitely not an impoverished ghetto when it comes to the infrastructure! In addition to a hooded quad chair, there are two gondolas. They even have night skiing, which seems a little over the top.
The official trail stats are 40% beginners, 40% intermediate with several groomed red runs, and 20% advanced with a few black trails.
The steepest on-piste pitch is 36 degrees, whilst some of the off-piste drop-offs into the gullies are a little steeper. Unfortunately the steep sections in the upper parts of the mountain are very short before mellowing out, and near the base it’s almost flat.
For us powder hounds, the off-piste skiing and snowboarding is the main attraction. Getou Kogen has some fantastic tree runs down a series of short ridges, and with that much snow there’s minimal shrubbery! There aren’t major restrictions to off-piste skiing, but you’ll probably need to be a little delicate around ski patrol.
Geto Kogen Snow
Getō Kōgen gets ridiculous amounts of snow. Like elsewhere in Tohoku, the quality of the powder can vary from rather dry to a little heavy.
Where is Geto Kogen?
Geto Kogen (translated to Geto Heights or the Summer Oil Plateau Ski Area!) is located in the Iwate Prefecture of northern Honshu (Tohoku
region). Geto is located 25km southwest of Kitakami which is 53km south of the city of Morioka.
There’s no village at Geto Kogen, just the ski resort facilities buildings and very simple lodging. The accommodation is dormitory style and consists of one big room sleeping up to 88 people in 2 storey bunk beds. It sounds primitive but it is really cool! A highlight is the beautiful onsen that includes an outdoor area that overlooks the snowy surrounds.
Many of the ski resort facilities are housed in a cold massive building that looks like it’s a space station! Amenities and services include rather pricey ski and snowboard rentals, lessons (Japanese only), childcare by appointment (Japanese only), a huge self-service cafeteria, and a little café. There are also a few retail shops with the standard Japanese food gifts and tacky souvenirs.
Pros and Cons of Geto Kogen
- Getou Kogen is a powder magnet!
- This resort is well and truly off the beaten path of Japanese ski resorts that foreigners usually visit so you can experience the “real” Japan and you don’t have much competition for the freshies, especially on weekdays.
- For such a quiet resort, it has surprisingly well developed amenities for day trippers and good lifts which are a godsend on bad weather days.
- Geto has some amazing off-piste terrain although the steeps are a little short.
- Not enough terrain variety for more than a couple of days.
- On deep days there are lots of off-piste gullies and run-outs for snowboarders to get bogged.
- This resort is hard to get to (unless you’re on a tour), which has the associated pro of the lack of crowds.
- It is not likely to appeal to most families and beginners unless they speak fluent Japanese.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- The accommodation is very basic yet inexpensive and very unique.
- Geto can get slammed with harsh weather.
Tours That May Include Geto Kogen