Table of Contents
- [Aomori Prefecture] Enjoy one of the longest runs in the country at the “Hakkoda Ski Resort”
- [Iwate Prefecture] “Geto Kogen Resort" features tours with different levels of difficulty
- [Yamagata Prefecture] "Zao Onsen Ski Resort," where you can ski on vast fields of frost covered trees
- [Miyagi Prefecture] “Mountain Field Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park,” a popular snow park that attracts many beginner snowboarders
- [Akita prefecture] Enjoy powder snow on wide slopes at “Tazawako Snow Resort”
- [Fukushima Prefecture]"Hoshino Resorts NEKOMA Snow Park & Resort," an undiscovered and unexplored area with fantastic powder snow
- Lots of dynamic ski slopes! Enjoy backcountry skiing in the Tohoku region this season
[Aomori Prefecture] Enjoy one of the longest runs in the country at the “Hakkoda Ski Resort”
The Hakkoda Ski Resort has one of the longest runs amongst the Tohoku ski resorts offering backcountry tours. The amount of snowfall is one of the highest in the country, and the resort usually records heavy snowfall every year enough so your feet will get buried. Although there are times when snowstorms can be so severe that they obscure visibility, the backcountry trails offer an overwhelming experience of pristine natural beauty.
It is a unique slope with so much untouched nature that even the regular course has many ungroomed snow zones. The highlight is the view of the frost-covered trees that fill the horizon. The best time to see them is usually from January to February, when you can enjoy the exhilarating feeling of skiing on fresh snow as you glide through trees. The long season is also appealing, with backcountry tours available from December until around May the following year.
Take the ropeway to the summit! A variety of dynamic tours are available
One of the best things about Mt. Hakkoda is that it takes only 10 minutes to reach the Summit Station via the Hakkoda Ropeway. Most of the routes spread around Hakkoda Ski Resort are accessible from the Hakkoda Ropeway Summit Park Station, making it easy to get to wherever you want to go.
While many backcountry tours involve walking up to your destination with heavy equipment on your back, the ropeway takes you up to 1,314-meter elevation in one ride. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, it may be possible to ski twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Some tours offer bus transportation on the way back, so you can relax on your way back. This is a great choice for those planning a backcountry trip prioritizing easy accessibility.
With a professional guide, you can feel safe even in areas of heavy snowfall
In the harsh natural environment of Hakkoda Ski Resort, it is extremely difficult to determine the best snow conditions. The best route selection must be made based on taking all conditions into consideration, including poor visibility due to high winds and snow conditions. It’s convenient to take a backcountry tour guided by a professional who knows Mount Hakkoda inside and out.
Depending on the number of participants, their skill level, and the plan for their stay, the guide will suggest the best route. Even beginners to backcountry skiing can participate safely, as they will be carefully instructed on everything from precautions to the basics of how to ski. Even on backcountry trails in untouched wilderness, you can rest assured that you are in good hands with an experienced professional.
[Iwate Prefecture] “Geto Kogen Resort" features tours with different levels of difficulty
"Geto Kogen Resort" is one of Iwate Prefecture's most famous powder ski resorts. The large slopes spread out in heavy snowfall areas and offer 14 unique courses. With a Kids' Slope, a variety of restaurants, rental facilities, a day-care center, and a natural hot spring at the ski center, this is a great ski resort for families.
While it offers beginner's slopes with many gentle slopes, it also has an extensive range of ungroomed snow courses and tree-run areas that will appease even advanced skiers. The tree run area is divided into 10 courses, each with different characteristics and thrilling natural terrain. The tree run area is so popular that many fans come back to visit every year.
In recent years, it has become a favorite for tree runs!
The main attraction of Geto Kogen Resort is its large variety of tree-run courses! Due to the shape of the slope, with many courses branching off from the summit through the forest, it is one of the best and most versatile tree runs in Japan. In recent years, the course has continued developing, with many new courses with different characteristics and difficulty levels now available.
The variety of difficulty levels is also one of its selling points, with 4 difficulty levels ranging from beginner to very advanced, with a total of 10 courses. The beginner level is an easy but challenging course that even children beginner skiers that use snowplow turns can try. It is designated as an area where free rescue is available, allowing you to develop your skills safely and securely. The course is very popular among beginners because it is easy to practice, and you can move on to the more challenging courses once you get used to it, or return to the beginners' course if you need more time.
The highest course is a steep, long run with rugged terrains! It is the ultimate tree run, where even experienced skiers can enjoy a challenging run.
A variety of tours with experienced guides are available for beginners
We recommend participating in tours, including backcountry tours, if you want to enjoy abundant snowfall and powder snow during the winter season. Experienced guides will accompany you and suggest the best spots depending on snowfall and weather conditions. You can enjoy a luxurious powder run while taking in the vast scenery.
The backcountry tour also offers gear rental and training for beginners. If you participate in the “Introductory Backcountry Tour,” you can learn how to check for safety. It’s a great opportunity to learn new things, even if you’ve gone backcountry skiing before! You can either let the guides teach you or brush up on your skills in the tree run area. Geto Kogen Resort is a special place where you can spend your time freely any way you like.
[Yamagata Prefecture] "Zao Onsen Ski Resort," where you can ski on vast fields of frost covered trees
The vast Zao mountain range straddles Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures. “Zao Onsen Ski Resort” is located on the Yamagata side of the mountain. With a total area of more than 300 hectares, the ski area is of an unprecedented scale and is one of the largest in the Tohoku region. It has many slopes and courses, and it is so large that it is impossible to visit all of them in a single day.
The resort offers many backcountry tours to enjoy the “Juhyo” Snow Monster fields and powder snow. There are plenty of steep slopes with powder snow perfect for advanced skiers and beginner areas where you can take your time practicing. There are also plenty of ways to spend your time after skiing, including walking around the Zao hot spring village and touring local sightseeing spots. It is a historic ski resort that you should visit at least once when you visit the Tohoku region.
The views in the harsh winter months are breathtaking! Enjoy a spectacular course with a view of the frost-covered trees
One thing you definitely don’t want to miss at Zao Onsen Ski Resort is the luxurious long glide overlooking the field of frost covered trees. Yamagata Zao is famous for “juhyo,” its rounded snow-covered trees, which are so overpowering that they are called “snow monsters.”
The most famous course is the "Zange Zaka/ Juhyogen Course," a long 8,000 meter run from the summit. Arrive at the Jizo Sancho Station via the "Zao Ropeway Sanroku Line" and "Zao Ropeway Sancho Line" from Yokokura slope. The course is lined with countless huge snow monsters, making for an exhilarating experience! You will be impressed by the spectacular views.
Everything from tree runs to beginner tours
Yamagata Zao, a cluster of mountains, offers various backcountry zones. You can enjoy a variety of powder runs, including the complex terrains in the Sanpoukojinsan area and the tree run area with beeches and Sakhalin firs. There are areas where skiing conditions are only suitable in spring, so you can change locations and enjoy a long season.
For first-time visitors to Yamagata Zao, we recommend the "Backcountry School" and "Powder Session" programs for beginners to learn how to ski on its unique terrains. You can steadily improve your skills by choosing less difficult courses on the slopes or in the sidecountry to practice.
For a more challenging and thrilling run, join the "Special Tour," which offers the highest difficulty level. It is a demanding tour with steep slopes, complicated terrains, and rugged, long hikes, but you can ski one of the best runs that you can only experience in Zao during the harsh cold season.
After backcountry trekking, relax at Zao Onsen
An essential part of Yamagata Zao is the famous Zao Onsen, which has a history of 1,900 years. Zao Hot Spring Village spreads out at the foot of the Zao Onsen Ski Resort, and you can enjoy hot springs, delicious cuisine, souvenirs, and sightseeing for a satisfying after-ski experience.
There are three public bathhouses, three footbaths, and five non-overnight hot spring facilities in Zao Hot Spring Village, so you can enjoy different hot spring baths even during extended stays! If you purchase the “Yumeguri Kokeshi,” a ticket to tour the hot springs, you can also visit the hot springs in the surrounding inns and hotels. Right up with viewing the snow monsters of Yamagata Zao, it is one of the best parts of visiting the ski resort.
Address: Zao Onsen, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata Prefecture
Zao Onsen Tourist Association Official Website
[Miyagi Prefecture] “Mountain Field Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park,” a popular snow park that attracts many beginner snowboarders
"Mountain Field Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park" is one of the best backcountry areas in Miyagi Prefecture. The slopes are located from the foot to the middle of Mt. Katta, which is approximately 1,600 meters above sea level. It features a variety of easy-to-ski beginner courses and other courses where you can enjoy long runs. Located inland, Miyagi Zao offers the finest dry powder snow conditions.
From the "Atomi Gate," the highest point on the slopes, which can be reached by lift, take a snowmobile to the icefields deep in the wilderness of Miyagi Zao! The area can only be accessed through exclusive tours and has the ultimate powder snow. A wide variety of activities are available, including backcountry skiing, walking around snow monsters, snowcat tours, winter mountaineering courses, and tours of snow-covered Okama crater caldera lake.
A variety of tours to choose from depending on your experience
Most backcountry tours usually start from the "Atomi Gate" at the top of the slopes. There are many places on the slopes where you can view rime ice and snow monsters and enjoy powder runs with spectacular views. On the Miyagi Zao side you can see sharp, rough, and masculine frost-covered trees.
Experienced professionals accompany guided tours, so feel free to choose the right course for your level. The experience program provides detailed instructions on how to carry your snowboard on your back, how to put on snowshoes, how to identify the line of the runs, and basic knowledge of avalanches and safety precautions. All the climbing routes have relatively gentle slopes, and many are paved routes, making them easy for beginners.
A wide range of tours are available, from the "Experience Program," which takes you up to the summit in a Snowcat and down to the slopes, to the "Step Up Course," where you can hike up and ski again. Popular with those making their backcountry debut and those who wish to improve their skills further.
Snowcat tours make it easy to get around in the snow!
The secret to the popularity of Sumikawa Snow Park is its "Wild Monster" snowcat, which provides easy access to the summit. All vehicles are heated, and the huge caterpillars allow visitors to go through areas with heavy snowfall. Each car can accommodate up to 30 people, and the advantage is that you can reach the summit without hiking, even in bad weather, and choose from a variety of routes.
In the bitter cold season, snowstorms can blow in at minus 10 degrees Celsius, so it is nice to have sufficient heating. This convenient feature is not limited to only backcountry skiers; you can also ride the snowcat to view and explore the snow monsters on snowcat tours. Even if you visit with a group of different skill levels, you can each take a different tour so everyone can have fun.
[Akita prefecture] Enjoy powder snow on wide slopes at “Tazawako Snow Resort”
Tazawako Snow Resort offers luxurious lake skiing with a panoramic view of Lake Tazawa. It prides itself on its wide and scenic courses spreading over Mt. Akita-Komagatake. Lake Tazawa can be seen below the slopes and is the deepest cobalt-blue lake in Japan. In addition to enjoying spectacular views of the lake from every course, there are a wide variety of slopes, from gentle slopes to ungroomed snow courses, so it is perfect for your skiing debut.
Backcountry tours are offered in the form of courses chosen according to snow and weather conditions among the mountains surrounding Lake Tazawa. There is a full range of tour programs, including the "Hike Up" tour, which allows you to easily experience mountaineering and backcountry skiing in half a day, and "Private Tours," in which you can freely choose your favorite points to ski. If you select an area with clear skies, you can enjoy a great lake view while climbing.
Lots of luxurious courses with spectacular views of the lake!
The main backcountry areas vary from Mt. Akita-Komagatake, Mt. Moriyoshi, Mt. Chokai, and Ura-Iwate. You can choose from various unique tours, including dynamic courses that plunge down to Lake Tazawa, highly challenging courses where you can experience the rugged natural terrain, and tree runs surrounded by tranquil nature.
Each course has different characteristics, so you will be happy to find different scenery and enjoyment each time you visit. The beautiful views may spark your adventurous spirit, entice you into challenging yourself thinking, "Next time I want to go to the mountain on the opposite side!" Backcountry equipment can be rented, so you can plan to enjoy the backcountry trails in addition to the regular ski trails. The wide range of ways to enjoy the backcountry is one of the selling points of this area.
After the tour, relax in the hot springs & enjoy the local cuisine
Relax in the hot springs to heal your cold, tired body after backcountry skiing. Akita Prefecture has many hot spring resorts, so there are plenty of ways to spend your time after skiing. If you are looking for an accessible hot spring, head to Tazawako Kogen Hot Spring Village. There are hotels and inns that are conveniently located near ski resorts and near the entrance to the Mt. Akita-Komagatake Trekking Course, making it easy to go sightseeing in the area.
Akita Hachimantai Hot Spring Village offers unique hot spring inns where you can experience “Touji,” traditional therapeutic bathing in hot springs with cloudy baths and box steam baths. If you want to visit an unexplored hot spring resort, we recommend Nyuto Hot Spring Village, located deep in the mountains. You can enjoy a hot spring resort with spectacular winter scenery and visit seven different inns to try different hot springs. The restaurants in each hot spring town and tourist spot offer local dishes including kiritanpo (rice cake) hot pot and Hinai Jidori chicken, a local breed of chicken. Spend a relaxing time with winter dishes that are sure to warm you up.
Tazawako Kogen Hot Spring Village
Address: Komagadake, Obonai, Tazawako, Semboku-shi, Akita Prefecture
Tazawako Kogen Hot Spring Village Official Website
Nyuto Hot Spring Village
Address: Obonai, Tazawako, Semboku-shi, Akita Prefecture
Nyuto Hot Spring Village Official Website
[Fukushima Prefecture]"Hoshino Resorts NEKOMA Snow Park & Resort," an undiscovered and unexplored area with fantastic powder snow
“Hoshino Resorts NEKOMA Snow Park & Resort'' is packed with fun-filled activities. Located on the northern slope of Mt. Nekomadake in Urabandai, the heaviest snowfall area of Fukushima Prefecture, it is famous for its outstanding powder snow during the long season. The number of activities available is exceptional, with everything from powder slopes that can be enjoyed first thing in the morning to ski pole slopes and a wide variety of obstacles.
Backcountry skiing around NEKOMA Snow Park & Resort and the Urabandai area is very popular among skiers because they can enjoy the vast slopes all to themselves. The abundant snowfall provides many opportunities to experience fresh snow, which is another major selling point. There are also a variety of comfortable tours available that use the lifts at NEKOMA Snow Park & Resort to enter the backcountry from off-course trails.
Enjoy authentic snowy mountaineering adventures and tree runs
Backcountry skiing around Mt. Bandai is done in the traditional way, climbing up the snow-covered mountains wearing snowshoes. The guides will carefully teach you about winter mountaineering, putting on and taking off your equipment, and finding the best entry point. You can also start with a "sidecountry tour," which allows you to ski areas not too far from the slopes.
The exhilaration of sliding down a pristine slope from the summit is exceptional! The difficulty levels range from intermediate to advanced, and there is a lot of complicated natural terrain, but that is why you can enjoy thrilling runs that you cannot typically experience elsewhere. In particular, the tree run through the rime ice-covered trees is an impressive course that you don’t want to miss. Visit Nekoma's slopes to experience the luxury of being covered in powder snow.
Pros offer well-thought-out courses, so snowboarders can feel safe
Nekoma's backcountry tours are so addictive that once you get hooked, you will want to come back again. Experienced professional guides support your safety. They can also select appropriate points and slopes from a snowboarder's perspective, so both skiers and snowboarders can have a satisfying experience.
It's also nice that there are a variety of programs for different difficulty levels. There is a wide range of options, from the "Basic Snow Mountaineering Course," which is a must for beginners, to the "Sidecountry Half-Day Experience Course," which is easy and fun, to tours where you can take on more challenging courses depending on your level. You will receive a detailed lecture, so it is recommended for your backcountry debut.
Lots of dynamic ski slopes! Enjoy backcountry skiing in the Tohoku region this season
This time, we have introduced six famous ski resorts in the Tohoku region where you can enjoy backcountry skiing. The abundant snowfall allows you to enjoy powder runs, and the spectacular views of the mountain ranges and rugged natural terrain make for a one-of-a-kind experience. The area is also appealing for its hot spring towns, local cuisine, historical sites, and other tourist attractions. We encourage you to try backcountry skiing at ski resorts in the Tohoku region this season.
[Note] Pricing information and schedule is correct at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. Please check the official website before your trip.
Related ski resorts
Hakkoda Ski Resort Aomori Prefecture
|Longest run distance||5,000 m|
|Maximum gradient||30 °|