Tenjindaira - Reviews

Perfect Ingredients for a Powder Hound Destination

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
09/08/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    January
She's a beauty! Skinning up the ridge Plenty of tasty terrain Nearby onsen Lucky from Tenjin Lodge is one lucky dog!
The avalanche of positive hype about Tanigawadake Tenjindaira in Gunma is well justified. Tenjin has all the perfect ingredients for the ideal powder hound destination: huge amounts of snow; great quality snow; steeps with plenty of variety from trees to big mountain alpine terrain, some of which is ridiculously gnarly and only for demi-gods; a fast ropeway; hike to terrain; and freshies and face shots galore. It almost sounds too good to be true! Tenjindaira is superb for experienced skiers and snowboarders who love plenty of powder and challenging terrain. Steep and deep is somewhat of a rarity in Japan, but Tenjin has it in spades.

As to be expected for such amazing attributes, the mountain also has some limitations and you have to be lucky to hit it just right. Massive snowfalls usually only come from big weather, and Tanigawadake is no exception. During the peak of winter, disgusting blizzards arrive in full force. It snows, it blows, and the lifts are often closed because it’s exposed. There are nearby ski resorts that may provide an alternative, but otherwise you’ll just have to be patient and wait for all the elements to line up for the perfect day.

Also to be expected for such steep terrain and abundant snowfall, avalanches are a problem. As an example, Avalanche Gully aka Tenjin Bowling Alley, is called that for good reason.

If you don’t want to head into the backcountry or sidecountry of Tenjindaira, the ski resort can be fun especially when there’s no one around, but it will probably only provide entertainment for advanced riders for a few hours.

Tenjin currently receives the perfect amount of visitors - enough to keep the resort/ropeway open (and not go bankrupt like some of those former “secret” ski areas) but not too many that you can’t easily get fresh powder.

You can see our Japanese ski resort ratings to see how we rate Tenjin versus other Japan ski areas.

I think I'm turning Japanese!

BC Powderhound
08/03/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February
Wow, just amazing. Tenjindaira met my very high expectations as a Powderhounds top 5 favorite!

It's not easy to get to, and you should avoid it at all costs if you're into nightlife or base village amenities like hotels, shopping and amenities (ramen and beer is possible though). However, if you're looking for POW, surprisingly great steeps, and are willing earn your turns - look no further. This place is absolutely incredible.

You'll spend your entire day riding the ropeway - aka the one and only gondola. On paper, the gondola is technically intended to take passengers up to a very small and limited area serviced by two-seat chairs that I'm guessing were sold off by Midwest "resorts".

The real way to use the gondola - and roughly half its riders do - is to lap the amazing side country at Tenjindaira. The only negative about the gondola is the monster walk required once you exit the off-piste dump out near the road. It's about a 5 brisk minute walk back to the ropeway station plus another 5 minute walk once inside through the myriad ramps and hallways of the decrepit ropeway station. I was literally jogging in my ski boots in order to maximize my rides though because the POW was THAT GOOD!! After maybe 10 runs, you'll grow tired of this routine though.

There's a huge area on the trail map called the "Forbidden Zone". It's basically side country directly next to the resort boundary that they'd rather not have an avalanche incident in, so they decided to just call it forbidden. Despite the scary name, it's all very poachable. Just be somewhat discrete. I never saw a patroller. Even better, however, is the terrain to the far right (looking up the mountain) between the resort boundary and Tenjindaira peak. It's a playground full of steep trees, a few fun roll-overs, and unbelievably pristine POW.

Lift tickets are a whopping $35, laughable when you think that Vail robs people of $200 to wait in 30 minute lines to ski rocky groomers. The base takes credit cards, which is nice. There's a bus you can take from Minakami station up to the ropeway for ~$5.

To clarify the scary comments about Doai station. Doai has two platforms. One is at ground level, and the other is near the center of the earth. The one you get off at depends on your direction of travel. If coming from Minakami (most likely), dress in shorts because you're headed deep underground. Frankly, don't do it. Just take the bus from Minakami. If by some strange chance you are travelling in from the Korea-side of Japan, feel free to get off at Doai. You will still need to walk up a hill for 15 minutes to reach the ropeway though.

Interestingly, you'll probably see more mountain climbers than skiers or boarders at Tenjindaira. Climbing Tenjindaira peak is very popular. Chances are, you won't even see the peak due to the perpetual snow storms. But if you do, it is climbable AND even skiable. Care should be taken as the mid-section narrows into some very slideable and narrow chutes. Avy gear is an absolute must in all the side country here. I didn't realize this until it was too late to try, but there's a wide open powder field near the top of Tenjindaira that is very doable where I saw a few tracks that angled back down to the ridge in order to avoid the more dire-looking avy-prone chutes. If you're up for the climb to the top, this looked like an amazing option and I wish I had noticed it earlier.

Japanese Alpine

Olivier
21/09/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February
So my brother and I went to Tenjindaira (aka Tenjin) for 3 days of skiing. We had looked at the reviews from PowderHounds and it looked like Tenjin had steeper and more alpine terrain than the rest of the region, which is what we wanted. To be safe, we took the guided backcountry tour package and boy did we NOT regret that decision. Having an expert guide with us (Kieren, who also owns the only lodge closest to the slopes) to show us the best spots and more importantly point out the dangerous areas was really invaluable. And seriously, the comments were right, it is an alpine terrain, you don't want to go venture around in that huge bowl without expert advice. Temperatures go up and down quickly in that area, and some of these super smooth, untouched spots can slide in no time...
I think it's important to stretch that to enjoy that tour, you need to be an expert skier, very confident with deep pow, tight trees and fast pace.
Kieren is on snowboard but really that makes no difference if you're only skiing. He is a pro, and such a nice guy, passionate, and always laid back...
The lodge is pretty comfy too, and you'll definitely meet good people there.
My reco is to go there if you're a hard core powder hound, with no kids, because frankly the whole point of going there is the backcountry. Be prepared to go to a nearby resort (Hodaigi) if conditions are too windy up Tenjin, which is nice too. (video if you're interested)

Powder Hound Paradise

William Demarest
19/02/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    February
Wow. Powder houd paradise, that is if you are a true powder hound. If you are looking for a 4 star lodge with deluxe accommodations then you are not a true powder seeking warrior and this is not for you! This lodge (Tenjin Lodge) and guiding exceeded my exceptions. Food is great, beer is even better at the lodge. Tenjin skiing is amazing, deep and steep! The owners will go above and beyond to make your experience unique and amazing.