Appi Ski Resort Japan
At Appi Kogen ski resort in Japan it’s a case of “Don’t Worry be Appi”! There’s no need to worry because Appi Kogen is one of the best quality ski resorts in Japan and has been labelled the St Moritz or Aspen of Japan.
The Appi Ski Resort Japan was developed in the early 1980s in the peak of the economic boom, and is a fairly quintessential Japanese bubble era ski resort. The Appi Ski Resort features a grand glitzy hotel and lots of first-class facilities and services. Appi Kogen caters very well to discerning skiers and boarders who are happy to pay a little more for a quality experience.
Appi Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The 282 hectare Appi ski area is below the tree line and has 21 slopes and 828 metres of vertical. Appi Kogen is very proud of its long runs with 12 of the 21 runs being longer than 2km, and the longest being 5.5km. These lengthy runs are well renowned for the pure fall line skiing they offer – perfect for some major schussing at Mach 1.
The grooming is a highlight of the Appi Ski Resort. It’s obvious that the groomed runs are a strong point of the resort considering that they measure the amount of snow fall AFTER they’ve smoothed it down!
At first glance you’d think that powder skiing is not Appi’s forte, but on further inspection, hidden behind the façade of the groomed runs is some fantastic powder riding. They leave quite a few runs ungroomed, and even though tree skiing is officially banned, off-piste and sidecountry skiing is possible with a lot of discretion.
In keeping with the upmarket status of the Appi Ski Resort, the lift system is reasonably well developed which includes 2 gondolas and 3 high speed hooded quad chairs, and there are also 13 dinky double chairs. Snowboarders are excluded from riding one of the slow lifts, but otherwise they have the run of the mountain.
Appi Kogen Snow
Powder hounds will also be kept ‘appi because the resort does well in the snowfall stakes with an average of 8 metres of “aspirin powder” per season (after it’s squashed down!), and most of the slopes are north facing which is advantageous for the snow conditions.
Where is Appi Ski Resort Japan?
The ski resort is located at latitude 40 degrees north in the western part of the Iwate Prefecture of the Tohoku region of Japan. This is the northern part of the island of Honshu, about 580km north of Tokyo.
From Tokyo the easiest way to travel to Appi Kogen
is via train and bus. The Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka takes about 2 to 2.5 hours. From Morioka there’s another train to Appi Kogen station (60 minutes) and then a 10 minute bus ride to the ski resort. Alternatively there is a bus that goes directly from Morioka Station to Appi.
If you have a car or are on a multi-resort tour, there a few other ski resorts in northern Tohoku for powder hounds.
Whilst not as distinctive as the yellow Portillo Hotel
(in Chile), the golden tower of the Appi Grand Hotel
is a major feature of the landscape at Appi Kogen. This grandiose hotel is only steps away from the slopes and offers a range of quality hotel accommodation options as well as restaurants and extensive facilities.
Other Appi Kogen accommodation
includes slopeside villas which provide a more casual form of hotel accommodation. For the more budget oriented, Appi has a pension village about a kilometre away from the ski resort.
Culture and Language
Appi is a resort in the conventional sense, and it doesn’t have a village or town per se. Consequently Appi Kogen might be somewhat lacking in its ability to provide a traditional Japanese cultural experience (relative to places such as Nozawa Onsen
or Myoko Kogen
), but considering that there are very few international tourists at Appi, you’ll certainly be immersed in new age Japanese culture and the local customs.
Don’t worry if you don’t speak fluent Japanese. Appi Kogen caters really well to English speaking visitors with lots of English signage and English menus in the restaurants. They also have a fantastic English Service Centre with bilingual hosts who can assist with any queries before you arrive or during your stay, and the English concierge service at the Appi Grand Hotel is particularly impressive. At Appi you’re not likely to have many lost in translation moments!
Summary of Pros and Cons
- Appi provides an excellent ski resort experience. Overall it’s a very high quality ski resort with superior services and facilities and some good lift infrastructure.
- The groomed slopes are a highlight.
- Appi Kogen is not over-run with westerners and some English is spoken across many parts of the resort.
- The range of restaurants and food is fabulous.
- The ski-in ski-out Appi Grand Hotel provides the ultimate in convenience and service.
- Appi is very family friendly. Apart from the many beginner slopes, Appi has a child specific ski area, child care, snow play areas, and a few other activities.
- Somewhat rare for a Japanese ski resort, Appi offers group ski and snowboard lessons with English speaking instructors (ages 7+).
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- Very limited nightlife (as with most other Japanese ski resorts unless they’re westernised).
- The Appi Ski Resort is medium sized, but this is relative to other Japanese ski resorts, and there’s potentially not enough terrain variety for intermediate ability riders and above, for stays of more than 4-5 days.
- If you’re looking for self-contained accommodation (apartment, house), there are only a couple of options.
- Appi is a resort with all the bells and whistles. There is no town or village to stroll around like you’ll find at Nozawa Onsen or Niseko.
- Off-piste and sidecountry skiing is prohibited so there’s the risk the patrollers will pull your lift pass if you leave the piste. The upside for those that can do it very discretely is that there’s very little competition for the freshies. Some of the deep powder skiing may make you a very appi chappy!
- Fair weather and lots of snow don’t go hand in hand. The upside is that it snows a lot at Appi but the downside is that blizzard conditions are somewhat common.
Tours That May Include Appi Kogen