Ryuoo4 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Epic Nagano Progression

Ryuoo Ski Park Ropeway
Ryuoo Ski Park Ropeway
Great views from the terrace
Great views from the terrace
Photo: Ryuoo Ski Park
Photo: Ryuoo Ski Park
Photo: Ryuoo Ski Park
Photo: Ryuoo Ski Park
Great beginner terrain near the base
Great beginner terrain near the base
Ryuoo Ropeway
Ryuoo Ropeway
The lower part of the Ryuoo Ski Resort
The lower part of the Ryuoo Ski Resort
Ryuo Ski Resort Nagano
Ryuo Ski Resort Nagano
The upper part of the ski area has superb snow
The upper part of the ski area has superb snow
Ryuoo Nagano
Ryuoo Nagano
Ryuoo Ropeway station
Ryuoo Ropeway station
Lower slopes of Ryuoo Japan
Lower slopes of Ryuoo Japan
There are various slow lifts at Ryuoo
There are various slow lifts at Ryuoo
The village has various hotels and pensions
The village has various hotels and pensions
The snow quality is usually very good
The snow quality is usually very good
Ryuoo Ski Park Ropeway
Ryuoo Ski Park Ropeway
Freshies for L-platers
Freshies for L-platers
Some of the Ryuoo accommodation is ski-in ski-out
Some of the Ryuoo accommodation is ski-in ski-out
A good place to learn to ski or snowboard
A good place to learn to ski or snowboard
Ryuo Ski Resort Japan
Ryuo Ski Resort Japan

Ryuoo

Ryuoo Ski Park

Ryuoo Ski Park (also often spelt as Ryuo, a dragon king) is a ski area in Kitashiga in the Nagano Prefecture between Shiga Kogen and Nozawa Onsen. Whilst Ryuoo seems popular with the locals, it’s mostly devoid of gaijin. Perhaps it’s the lack of English signage about the resort or that it’s a fraction hard to get to compared to the higher profile Nagano ski resorts. Either way it’s really good news for foreigners looking for powder or a genuine Japanese experience. Now that the Shinkansen goes through from Tokyo to nearby Iiyama (only 15km away), Ryuoo is likely to become easier to get to and more popular, so head there soon before it becomes swamped with all the powder punters!

The name “Ryuoo Ski Park” could be a little misleading, and on arrival to Ryuoo you could be forgiven for wondering whether this is a snowboarders-only resort (a way of getting back at those resorts that only allow skiing!) because most visitors are on boards. There’s a rich culture of snowboarding at Ryuoo because it was one of the first “ski” areas to allow snowboarding, and the big airbag is also a drawcard. If you’re a two planker don’t fear; you’re allowed to ski at Ryuoo.

Ryuoo is less of a destination resort and more of a spot to visit as a day trip or as part of a multi-resort tour.

Kitashiga Ryuoo Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Like many other Japan ski resorts, Ryuoo is somewhat small-ish with only 15 courses (aka piste trails). It’s a long skinny resort with a vertical drop of 1,080 metres (850-1,930m), which is substantial by Japanese ski resort standards.

Ryuoo Ski Resort has 3 vertical sections. The Valley base area is characterised by beginner snowboarders getting wet bums. The middle Kiotoshi area is for intermediate and advanced riders and is serviced by a ropeway (cable car). The top section, Skyland, offers spectacular views on fine days, and the mellow terrain is ideal for confident beginners (beginners need to download the ropeway). The official trail stats are beginner 35%, intermediate 40%, and advanced 25%. There are also a couple of terrain parks that are suitable for beginner and intermediate riders.

Powder hounds are lured to Ryuo for the Kiotoshi section. On-piste there are a couple of ungroomed courses, one with a maximum pitch of 39 degrees that often develops bumps. The real action is in the nearby trees. With just a little bit of traversing, a myriad of fabulous steep treed lines can be accessed.

The Ryuoo ski resort has 13 lifts including 2 quad chairs, lots of doubles (“romance chairs” as the Japanese call them), 2 single chairs (anti-romance), and an old ropeway that is super romantic because you generally pack in there like sardines. Unfortunately, riding the ropeway is rather clunky. It generally takes about 8 minutes up but only leaves every 20 minutes (in true Japanese style, just because!) and you can’t get into the cycle unless you’re a fast rider. And sometimes on weekends when it’s busy with lots of sardines, you might have to wait for the next cable car.

Where is Kitashiga Ryuoo Ski Park?

Ryuoo is located on the slopes of Mt Ryuo in the Yamanouchi region, about 37km northeast of Nagano in the northern part of the Nagano Prefecture. It’s about 10km from the town of Yudanaka (a 20 minute drive) not far from the snow monkeys.

Accommodation

The base area is purpose built and includes lots of slopeside hotels and minshuku (Japanese inns) that are ski in ski out. Many of these are rather basic and some are downright dodgy looking.

Ryuo Park Hotel ($$-$$$) is located in a ski-in location. The hotel either has Japanese rooms with shared bathroom (onsen bath) or Japanese/western combo rooms with a private bathroom.

Hotel North Shiga is located in front of the ski area and offers Japanese style rooms. The hotel has various facilities including an onsen and a buffet restaurant.

Otherwise you could stay in Yudanaka or stay in Nozawa Onsen accommodation or Shiga Kogen accommodation and do day trips to Ryuoo.

Ski Resort Facilities

The ski resort is quite family friendly but it’s unlikely to attract too many foreign families. There’s child care, kids ski school (in Japanese), and lots of activities such as a snow park, tubing, snow rafting, banana boating, and snowmobiling

The base area has a couple of eateries including a Subway, a retail shop, and a rental shop that has some equipment that looks like it’s from the 90s. Many of the hotels have their own rental equipment too, but don’t hold high hopes for the quality of it.

Some of the hotels have onsens or there’s one at the base of the mountain.

Summary of Pros and Cons to Ski Ryuoo

Pros

  • Ryuoo Ski Park has pretty good elevation, so the snow quality is generally pretty fluffy, especially up top.
  • The beginner terrain is very good and has nice progressions.
  • The terrain serviced by the ropeway is fantastic for strong advanced riders, and there’s unlikely to be much, if any, competition for the fresh powder.
  • The views from the Sora terrace at the top of the ropeway are pretty special.
Cons
  • Don’t go to Ryuoo looking for nightlife (actually don’t go to most Japanese ski resorts!)!
  • Like many other non-mainstream Japanese ski resorts, there is not enough terrain variety for more than a day or two.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Not much English is spoken at Ryuoo, so it’s a great spot to experience the real Japan.

Tours That May Include Ryuoo

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Epic Honshu Buffet (Skiers Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SKI ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,691
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional ryokan (Japanese hotel) and food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure!
More
Epic Honshu Ski & Snowboard Progression DETAILS
SKI & SNOWBOARD GUIDED INSTRUCTION
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,691
EARLY BIRD: Book before Sept 30 and get 5% off displayed price
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced
Learn to ski and ride deep powder with more confidence whilst checking out some of Honshu's ski areas away from the masses of foreigners. Outside the skiing and snowboarding, experience an area rich in culture and history.
More
Epic Honshu Buffet (Snowboarders Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SNOWBOARDING ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Riding | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,691
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder riding where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional hotel and food, and you have the perfect Japanese snowboarding adventure!
More
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Ryuoo here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
Hakuba Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from HAKUBA
For PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on Hakuba day tour, group of 5 (price displayed is per person however full tour price is 5 X that price).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 621 USD 621
10% discount for tours Feb 12-18 & during March
10% off tours Feb 12-18 and during March
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area, you can't go past a day or more of a guided ski or snowboarding adventure. The area (and also other nearby resorts) is huge and the best skiing is actually outside of the resort boundaries which should only be accesses with a guide. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
More
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Ryuoo here

Ski lodging & accommodations
Hosted Ski Tours & Multi-Resort Safaris