Tazawako4 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Japan Ski Tour Tohoku Area

Lake Tazawa Ski Resort
Lake Tazawa Ski Resort
Tazawako Japan
Tazawako Japan
Tazawako Ski Resort
Tazawako Ski Resort
Powder on tap!
Powder on tap!
Tazawako Ski Resort Japan
Tazawako Ski Resort Japan
Great tree skiing
Great tree skiing
No competition for freshies
No competition for freshies
Lake Tazawa Photo: Tohoku Tourism
Lake Tazawa     Photo: Tohoku Tourism
Powder on-piste
Powder on-piste
Slopes near the base are wide open
Slopes near the base are wide open
The pro shop specialises in backcountry gear
The pro shop specialises in backcountry gear
The pro shop also sells "standard" ski gear
The pro shop also sells
The base building is reasonably modern
The base building is reasonably modern
Fresh powder on-piste
Fresh powder on-piste
Face shot heaven!
Face shot heaven!
The smile says it all!
The smile says it all!
Lake Tazawa in the background
Lake Tazawa in the background
"Nipple" onsen!
Tazawako is a great ski area for powder hounds
Tazawako is a great ski area for powder hounds
Dumping with snow at Tazawako
Dumping with snow at Tazawako

Tazawako

Tazawako Ski Resort

The Tazawako Ski Resort in the Akita Prefecture is mostly a locals’ ski area that barely registers on the Japan ski tourism radar. And considering Tazawako Japan is definitely off the beaten track, you won’t have to beat off other feisty powder hounds to get to the freshies. Tazawako is a spot where you can get cultural immersion as well as powder submersion!

Tazawa-ko (Lake Tazawa) Ski Resort overlooks the beautiful blue Lake Tazawa, which is the deepest lake in Japan so it doesn’t freeze during winter. You can either enjoy the scenery and look at the mirror lake or just focus on being in the powder room of Tazawako sans a mirror!

Even though the Tazawako ski area is the largest in Akita, it’s a reasonably small resort, so it’s best visited for just a day or two as part of a sojourn of the Tohoku area.

Tazawako Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Tazawako has 100 hectares of piste terrain with 13 courses and 608 metres of vertical (578-1,186m). The 6 lifts are mostly slow, and in addition to 4 pair chair lifts, there are 2 covered quad chairs that are a saviour on foul weather days.

The piste terrain has an even split for ability levels, although some of the black runs are groomed and not that steep so they’re ideal for strong intermediate riders. Quite unusually for a Japanese ski area, the resort also leaves lots of areas ungroomed, so on a powder day you don’t have to necessarily head off-piste. There are some steep-ish runs, but this is Japan after all so don’t get too excited about finding Jackson-Hole-esque steeps. The Mizusawa Champion Course is the steepest of the runs and hits 38 degrees at one point.

Tazawako has some great off-piste terrain and the fun police (ski patrol) often turn a blind eye to off-piste skiing. There are open tree areas as well as some rather tight tree areas that will test your manoeuvrability skills. Above the ski resort from the top of Mt Komagatake is some nice backcountry for those wanting to skin or snowhoe up on fine days.

Tazawako Snow & Weather

It’s snows a mighty lot at Tazawako, although not even Ullr the snow god or Chione the snow goddess knows how much falls. Like some other ski areas in the region, there can be big winds and the weather can get rather disgusting. You might need to keep your itinerary a little flexible.

Where is Tazawa-ko?

The Lake Tazawa Ski Resort is at Mizusawa Onsen, 11km northeast of Semboku (sometimes spelled Senboku), and 44km west of Morioka. Tazawako is in the far eastern part of the Akita Prefecture, not far from the Iwate Prefecture.

Access to Tazawako is easiest if you have a car or are on a multi-resort tour (see below).

Accommodation

There is no village at the base of the ski area, although there are a few accommodation options just down the road. There are also hotels near Lake Tazawa and ryokans at a couple of onsen villages in the nearby hills. See the Tazawako hotel page for more information.

Ski Resort Facilities

Tazawako has pretty good amenities for a small ski resort, and a reasonably modern base building. There is a big cafeteria that serves up an amazing variety of food that’s pretty special and good value for money. It’s definitely not just your average Japanese ski resort cafeteria fare. There is also a mid-mountain eatery for light meals and great lake views (weekends only).

Other facilities and services include ski school (Japanese only) and equipment rentals. There is also a children’s play area and child care for ages 2-6, although for some reason it’s only open in the afternoons.

The pro shop on the cafeteria floor sells a mish mash of backcountry gear and outerwear, and rents out avalanche safety equipment.

Activities

The pro shop also runs a backcountry guiding services, where you can either get up the hill under your own steam or go snowcat skiing.

The area is renowned for its onsens and many of the hotels and ryokans in the area have their own hot spring baths. Nyuto Onsen is probably the most famous, which is about 7km away from the ski area. “Nyuto” literally means “nipple” and it’s not because many of the onsens in the area have mixed bathing! It’s named Nyuto due to the shape of a nearby mountain, and don’t fear about the mixed bathing because the Nyuto Onsen water is renowned for a milky white appearance that’s not transparent!

Summary of Pros and Cons of Tazawako Japan

Pros

  • There are very few foreigners that go to Tazawako (except for a few Koreans looking at where the Iris drama show was filmed!), so particularly on weekdays, the fresh powder lines will be all yours for the snorting.
  • The tree skiing is pretty good!
  • The views across Lake Tazawa are pretty special; that’s of course if the weather is fine.
  • Everything is rather inexpensive.
  • There are some great onsens nearby.

Cons

  • Some of the lifts operate in slow motion.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective

  • “Inclement” would be an understatement to describe the frequent weather during winter, but you don’t get big dumps of snow from fine weather!
  • It’s a bit difficult to get there via public transport, but this helps keep the crowds away.
  • This place provides an unadulterated Japan ski or snowboard experience. Don’t expect westernised concepts such as après ski or glitzy apartments (with Australian power points like they have in Niseko!) or much spoken English.
Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Frontier Explorer DETAILS
GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN HONSHU
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
From price based on twin-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,639 USD 2,639
To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions.
Book before Sept 30th to get 7% discount off advertised price
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are looking for an adventure away from the masses where you will experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder then this tour could be the one you are looking for. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu.
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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 1,888
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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Tohoku Powder Tour DETAILS
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK ROAD TRIP
Customisable Guided Tohoku Tour
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
Enquire Enquire
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Tohoku skiing and snowboarding is all about heading to ski resorts that most people have never heard of, where there are freshies galore in the off-piste areas. With this Tohoku ski tour you can work with the guides to customise your own private powder adventure.
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Tazawako here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
Hokkaido - Honshu Expedition DETAILS
HOKKAIDO & HONSHU GUIDED BC TOUR
12 Nights | 11 Guided Ski Days
From price based on twin/triple-share.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 4,086
10% off advertised price. Must book via Powderhounds.com and pay deposit by June 15th 2017.
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This ADVANCED+ ski and snowboard tour starts with 4 days in the Southwest of Hokkaido and then heads south to Honshu where you will ski or ride some of Tohoku's epic hidden gems. The tour includes some ski touring / split boarding (or snow shoeing) but you don't necessarily need to have any experience in this area.
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See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Tazawako here

Tazawako Hotels

Aoni Sanso ($$$)
Hotel Green Hills ($$$)
Hotel Morinokaze ($$$-$$$$)
Resort Hotel New Sky ($$$)

Nearby Ski Resorts

Appi Kogen
Geto Kogen
Hachimantai
Shizukuishi