The Aomori Spring Ski Resort (formerly Naqua Shirakami Ski Resort) is well and truly off the radar of most international skiers and snowboarders who head to Japan in search of powder and a cultural experience. Unlike the high profile Japanese ski resorts that are over-run with westerners where fresh tracks disappear within an hour and any cultural experiences are heavily diluted, Aomori Spring Resort is the real deal. Aomori Spring (Ajigasawa Resort) provides a quintessential Japanese skiing experience and is ideal for hungry powder hounds looking for a powder fix.
Aomori Spring is probably not a destination ski resort in its own right, but it’s worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s in the vicinity of the renowned Hakkoda
, and a trip to Aomori Spring could be particularly good for stormy days when the weather is too brutal at Hakkoda and/or the Hakkoda ropeway is closed.
Aomori Spring Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Like many other Japanese ski resorts, Aomori Spring Resort is not particularly large with 525 metres of vertical (396 – 921 metres), 15 courses, and 4 lifts (plus an additional lift that’s only used for events). One of these lifts is a gondola and there are 2 hooded quad chair lifts which are ideal for the often snowy conditions.
The Aomori Spring ski area consists mostly of mellow groomed slopes and the trail stats are 50% beginner, 40% intermediate and 10% advanced. The steepest on-piste slope is only 30 degrees, which is unlikely to get your heart racing if you’re an expert!
As with the majority of Japanese ski resorts, the real terrain for advanced and expert riders is off-piste in the trees, and there are plenty of trees at Aomori Spring and no competition for the abundant fresh powder. The summit of Mount Iwaki is 700 metres of vertical above the lift-serviced terrain, so there are plenty of backcountry skiing opportunities for those keen to earn their turns.
The Aomori Spring Resort (Naqua Shirakami) also has a good terrain park and a big half pipe (open late January to mid March) which is a bit of a rarity in Japan.
Aomori Spring Snow
Aomori Spring receives copious amounts of snow but the resort doesn’t boast about it so who knows exactly how much snowfall there is. If the nearby city of Aomori is anything to go by which receives 13 metres of snow each winter (the most of any Japanese city), then up in the hills it can only be huge amounts!!
The top of Aomori Spring is about 400 metres lower than Hakkoda so the snow quality isn’t quite as dry, but the upside is that it’s not as wind affected. The ski slopes of Aomori Spring are mostly north facing which also keeps the snow in pristine condition.
Where is Aomori Spring Resort?
Aomori Spring Ski Resort sits on the northern flank of Mount Iwaki near Ajigasawa Town in the Aomori Prefecture, the most northerly prefecture of the Tohoku
region and Honshu Japan. The ski resort is 54km southwest of Aomori City.
Having a car provides the most flexibility to visit Aomori Spring and other Tohoku ski resorts
. The Aomori Spring Resort phone number for GPS navigation is 0173-72-1011.
Or it is possible to get the train to the Ajigasawa train station on the Gonou line, and then there are complimentary transfers to the resort if pre-arranged. Or for hotel guests there are transfers between Shin-Aomori train station and the hotel.
The Hakkoda ski area
is 66km to the east of Aomori Spring, whilst Appi Kogen
is 133km to the southeast.
Aomori Spring Hotel
There is no village at Aomori Spring with the only on-mountain accommodation being the ski-in ski-out Rockwood Hotel
. This upscale hotel has lovely western style rooms, an amazing onsen including an outdoor hot spring bath, and a few great options for dining.
The ski resort has reasonably well developed amenities and services including two equipment rental shops and private ski and snowboard lessons with an English speaking instructor. In addition to the hotel restaurants, there is a ramen eatery that overlooks the halfpipe and Mos Burger.
There is a very good kids’ play area that includes tubing, an air trampoline and mini snowmobiles.
Summary of Pros and Cons
- There is negligible rivalry for the fresh powder in the trees.
- The region scores plenty of snow and Aomori Spring has a northerly aspect which is favourable for the snow quality.
- The resort offers nice views of the sea when the weather is nice.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- The ski area is not big enough to provide adequate variety for a long multi-day stay, but it’s worth visiting as part of a tour of Tohoku.
- There is no nightlife but this is typical of 95% of Japanese ski resorts.
- It takes a lot commitment to travel to Aomori Spring. The bonus of this is that very few gaijin visit, so you can have plenty of fresh tracks and a genuine Japanese cultural experience.
- The resort is very family friendly (for the locals) and has nice beginner runs, but is unlikely to be popular with international families.