With an average snow base of more than 4 meters per year, combined with runs as long as 7km which flow with the mountains natural form, Hakkoda offers skiers a thrilling, deep powder experience. The resort features 5 courses; 3 groomed and 2 ungroomed, however like Asahidake (LINK) the field consists of a single ropeway and is more a powder mountain than a proper resort. The area is made up of a series of eight mountains and is known for its backcountry powder ski and snowboard potential, as well as its high volume of snowfall and little crowding. Hakkoda also features the unique “Snow Monsters” forming a breathtaking scenic backdrop and is only one of a handful of mountains which produce this feature.
Situated in Iwate Prefecture’s Hachimantai National Park, Appi Kogen has been an established resort since its development in the 1980s. Known for its long slopes and a vertical drop of 805m, much of the resort is north-facing, minimising direct sunlight and results in better snow for longer. The quality powder, allows for an extremely enjoyable experience, with the resort providing in-boundary powder areas, as well as backcountry and guided tree ski tours. With quality services, including an English Assistance Centre, the area is also extremely accessible, located only 3.5 hours away from Tokyo via bullet train and bus.
Geto Kogen, located west of Kitakami City in Iwate Prefecture, offers some of the best quality powder on Japan’s mainland of Honshuu. Geto is known for its unpredictably bad weather, which on the flip side, always means tons upon tons of powder; an average of 15m per season and a record 6.5m across 3 months in 2014. It offers 17 courses and 430m of vertical, with 5 lifts including 2 gondolas and a hooded quad lift. As of the 2016 season Geto has opened 3 new Advanced Plus courses making the most of the area’s tree runs and thick powder. With little overcrowding combined with fantastic tree runs down a series of short ridges, almost endless powder and minimal shrubbery, Geto is the perfect hidden gem resort for any powderhound.
Once the venue for the 1993 Alpine World Ski Championships, Shizukuishi Ski Resort in Iwate prefecture allows for a fun ski holiday without the worry of overcrowding. On top of the 13 available courses, as of the 2015-16 season the resort has started a CAT Tour service which lets you take advantage of the fresh and deep powder.
One of more traditional ski resorts in Japan, Zao Onsen Ski Resort offers both an established skiing area and a large number of famous Onsen hot springs. Hidden within the mountain ranges of Yamagata, Zao Resort is the largest single ski field in Japan, at 186 hectares, and has 15 slopes and 12 courses suitable for all skill levels. The longest run available stretches almost 10 km in length. The likelihood of overcrowding is low, which means more chances for a fresh powder run. On top of the excellent powder conditions, one of the key features that sets Zao apart from other resorts are its ‘Ice Monsters’. These Ice monsters form when the dry seasonal winds from Siberia collide with the trees atop the mountain and freeze. These majestic natural formations alone are enough to draw, not only ski and snowboard enthusiasts, but national and international tourists. Night tours and Illuminations of the Ice Monsters are also a highlight of the resort and offer something to look forward to once the sun goes down.
Sumikawa Snow Park
Alts Bandai is very much a hidden gem and offers amazing, virtually untouched powder. With some of the best terrain and snow quality, it’s a powder hound paradise. With heaps of freedom, and a large ski field to match there is plenty of backcountry and tree runs to explore, and with little crowding, particularly on weekdays, there is sure to be more powder just for you.