Powder Odyssey - chase the powder in Northern Honshu
The Tohoku ski resorts offer plenty of fresh powder
The Tohoku ski resorts offer plenty of fresh powder
Ski Tohoku for plenty of powder!
Ski Tohoku for plenty of powder!
Zao Onsen Japan
Zao Onsen Japan
Tohoku has plenty of onsens
Tohoku has plenty of onsens
Nekoma: one of the Bandai ski resorts
Nekoma: one of the Bandai ski resorts
Zao Onsen Japan
Zao Onsen Japan
Geto Kogen: a powder magnet
Geto Kogen: a powder magnet
Onsen at Geto Kogen in Iwate Prefecture
Onsen at Geto Kogen in Iwate Prefecture
Experience the real Japan
Experience the real Japan
Tohoku skiing features plenty of powder
Tohoku skiing features plenty of powder
Tazawako Akita Prefecture
Tazawako Akita Prefecture
Gran Deco: one of the Mt Bandai ski resorts
Gran Deco: one of the Mt Bandai ski resorts
Minowa: one of our favourite Tohoku ski resorts
Minowa: one of our favourite Tohoku ski resorts
Face shots galore with Tohoku skiing and snowboarding
Face shots galore with Tohoku skiing and snowboarding
Zao Ski Resort Tohoku Japan
Zao Ski Resort Tohoku Japan
Very little competition for the fresh powder
Very little competition for the fresh powder
Tree skiing galore in Tohoku
Tree skiing galore in Tohoku
Zao Japan
Zao Japan
Tazawako scores lots of snowfall
Tazawako scores lots of snowfall
Appi Kogen: secret powder
Appi Kogen: secret powder

Tohoku

Tohoku Skiing and Snowboarding

If you’re a powder hound who wants to get off the beaten track of international skiers and snowboarders, where there is very little English spoken and cultural immersion (and onsen immersion) is at an all time high, and there are abundant freshies that are easily accessible, Tohoku skiing or snowboarding is for you! By skiing in Tohoku, you can experience the real Japan and satisfy your appetite for riding fresh powder.

The best way to get the most out of Tohoku is to go on a multi-resort tour and sample lots of the Tohoku ski resorts and chase the conditions. Contact us if you would like some advice on tours around Tohoku.

Tohoku Ski Resorts

Tohoku is the region in northern (northeast) Honshu, the main island of Japan. Tohoku consists of 6 prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima which is east of Niigata Prefecture and northeast of Gunma.

What is common to many of the Tohoku ski resorts is that there are very few westerners (if any at all) and no-one riding off-piste, so there are fresh powder lines galore. And some of the Tohoku ski areas are so deserted mid-week that it almost feels like your own private ski resort! Much of the Tohoku skiing and snowboarding is at resorts that are small, have minimal advanced piste terrain, and only have enough off-piste terrain variety for one day of riding, but when you have a van, a guide and a driver, you can sample lots of different resorts.

Off-piste riding may be considered taboo at some of the resorts, but with care and discretion you’ll be rewarded with abundant freshies in the trees.

Ski Areas Near Morioka and Mt Iwate
There is a collection of ski resorts in northern Tohoku in the Iwate Prefecture including Shizukuishi, Hachimantai, Appi Kogen, and Geto Kogen.

Geto Kogen receives ridiculous amounts of snow – it’s a powder magnet. It has great well spaced tree skiing off a series of ridges. This is one of our favourite powder skiing destinations in Japan.

Shizukuishi has a Prince Hotel at its base and is very typical of a Tohoku ski resort: small, nice tree skiing, and a nice onsen.

Hachimantai Shimokura is small and has great side-country if you can appear invisible.

Appi Kogen is an upscale resort (with some westerners) with amazing groomed runs, but barely anyone rides off-piste (because it’s not allowed) so it’s worthy of a visit for at least a day.

Tazawako (in the Akita Prefecture) is another of our favourite Japanese powder skiing spots. 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!

Yamagata Prefecture
Further south in the Yamagata Prefecture is Zao Onsen. Zao Onsen is a reasonably mainstream ski resort that attracts some gaijin but they don’t tend to ride off-piste, and other pluses include that it’s an onsen town and there are spectacular snow monsters (when there is visibility).

Mt Bandai Ski Resorts
Further south, the imposing Mt Bandai in the Fukushima Prefecture is surrounded by a variety of ski resorts. These ski resorts can be a little busy on the weekends with locals, although the Japanese generally won’t be any competition for the freshes in the off-piste areas. The Bandai ski resorts are mostly rather small and have some nice tree skiing.

Minowa is our favourite powder skiing resort in this area.

Alts Bandai is a well known ski resort (by the Japanese, not by international skiers generally) with well developed facilities. The terrain is pretty typical of a Tohoku ski resort.

Grandeco is mellow in many places and with a little exploring there are some steeper lines.

Inawashiro has amazing tree skiing but only when the powder is fresh because it’s mostly south facing. The town of Inawashiro can be a good spot to use as a base to explore the Bandai ski resorts.

Nekoma has a good range of off-piste and sidecountry terrain.

Aomori Prefecture
The most northern prefecture, Aomori, has various ski areas, with the most famous being Hakkoda, which is an amazing backcountry-type ski area that is serviced by a ropeway. Hakkoda absolutely gets dumped on with snow which is a major pro, but the associated con is that the weather can be brutal and the ropeway closed when the big blizzards come in. To get the most out of the backcountry of Hakkoda, you may wish to visit in late February or March. Hakkoda is 135km north of Appi Kogen, so it’s a decent drive.

Aomori Spring is a nice resort for tree skiing and to get away from the hordes that populate the high profile Japanese ski resorts.



Mt Bandai Ski Resorts

Alts Bandai
Gran Deco
Inawashiro
Minowa
Nekoma

Yamagata Prefecture

Zao Onsen

Iwate Prefecture

Appi Kogen
Geto Kogen
Hachimantai
Shizukuishi

Akita Prefecture

Tazawako

Aomori Prefecture

Aomori Spring
Hakkoda