World Nomads Travel Insurance
Our Terrain Ratings
 Beginner
 Intermediate
 Adv. on-piste
 Off-piste
 Slackcountry
 Expert
 Extreme
 Tree skiing
 Snow
 Freshies
 Uncrowded
 Lifts
 Terrain park
 Powderhound
powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Lifts & Terrain

Kagura Ski and Snowboard Terrain The combined Mt Naeba ski area is rather large in comparison to other Japanese ski resorts, and the Kagura skiing and snowboarding in its own right is rather sizeable with 27 runs and 21 lifts.

The vertical drop is the longest in Japan at 1,225 metres, but only one small part of the ski area has continuous vertical, and most of the Tashiro and Kagura zones only have about 300 metres of vertical drop. The vertical is also somewhat misleading because it makes the assumption that the top lift is always open and that there is adequate snow cover to be able to ski down to the base of the Mitsumata ropeway.

Kagura skiing has three distinct zones: Mitsumata; Kagura; and Tashiro.

Mitsumata is just a small area with four lifts (as well as the ropeway up from the car park). The area has a few green and red (intermediate) runs, but it’s mainly used as a thoroughfare for Kagura.

Kagura is the middle part of the ski resort and also the highest. The zone includes 6 lifts and runs for all ability levels and has the best tree skiing, off-piste skiing and backcountry access. Kagura also features the thigh burning Kagura gondola beginner course.

Across to the south is Tashiro, the largest of the ski areas with 10 lifts (as well as the ropeway up from the Tashiro station car park). The terrain consists mainly of beginner slopes as well as a couple of red and black runs. This area is the closest to Naeba and has the interconnecting Naeba-Tashiro Gondola (the Dragondola).

Mt Naeba: Interconnection with Naeba Kagura and Naeba are interconnected via a super long gondola that takes 20 minutes, the Dragondola. Unfortunately the Dragondola only runs from 9am to 3:30pm, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the time if travelling between the two ski resorts. If you need to head back to your Naeba accommodation, be aware that it can take an intermediate skier or boarder about 75 minutes to get from the top of the Mitsumata ropeway to the Dragondola on the other side of Kagura ski resort. Thankfully the routes are incredibly well sign-posted in English (and with dragon signs!).

Kagura Lifts Kagura has some modern fast lifts. In addition to the Kagura gondola there are five speedy quads, four of which have hoods which are well appreciated on windy days. At the other end of the spectrum are lots of double chairs; some that run at snails pace.

Lift capacity on the upper slopes is usually never a problem and Kagura is largely uncrowded, but getting up from the car parks can be problematic. The Mitsumata station is the closest to Yuzawa so many Kagura and Naeba visitors park there. Even if they pack people into the ropeway (cable car) like sardines, the capacity is still somewhat limited. Long queues may develop, especially on weekends and in early and late season when other ski resorts are closed.

The top chair, the Kagura pair lift no. 5, is THE lift for powder hounds. It is only open from the start of January, and due to its elevation it commonly goes on wind-hold when the weather is disgusting.

Lift Tickets You can buy a common lift ticket for Mt Naeba (ie Kagura and Naeba ski resort). An adult ticket for just Kagura is a little cheaper. It’s also possible to purchase one time tickets for the ropeways, the gondola or the lifts.

Kagura Snow and Weather Conditions Kagura has a rep for getting lots of snow with an average of about 10 metres per season, and typical wind and storm patterns tend to dump more snow on Kagura than Naeba. The moisture content of the falling snow may be a little greater at Kagura, but the top of Kagura sits a fraction higher than Naeba and Kagura has a better aspect, so the snow quality in the end is probably comparable. Many of the slopes in the Kagura zone are north to northeast facing, whilst the Tashiro slopes are so favourable for snow quality.

Considering the significant vertical drop at Kagura, the snow conditions vary significantly. During warm spells it can get very sloppy down low, and commonly the ski out to the Mitsumata carpark is closed due to lack of snow cover.

Kagura has a tendency to be windy, but hey this seems to be a common pattern amongst Japanese ski resorts!

For the Beginner Kagura is ideal for confident beginners with kilometres and kilometres of trails on which to cruise. Beginners can even head over to Naeba because the interconnecting trails are green. Subsequently Kagura scores 5 out of 5 from us for the beginner terrain. Nevertheless the beginner terrain is not absolutely perfect because many of the trails are dark green and there are limited runs that are really mellow. First timers are probably better off starting at Tashiro where there are an abundance of green trails including a few really easy ones.

Beginners in particular should pay close attention to the trail map (and the many signs), or it could be easy to get lost considering the abundance of trails.

Intermediate Skiing at Kagura Low end intermediates will be happy cruising on many of the green runs. Otherwise intermediates may get bored very quickly and may prefer to head across to Naeba.

Terrain Parks Kagura has two terrain parks: a small beginners’ park at Tashiro with a wave, small kickers and easy boxes. Over at Mitsumata is another park which is more designed for advanced riders. It mainly consists of a line of jumps and that’s about it.

Advanced & Expert Skiing - On-Piste Kagura only has a handful of black piste runs. These aren’t particularly steep (a maximum gradient of 32 degrees), so the main challenge becomes the size of the moguls.

Like many Japanese ski resorts, there’s very limited terrain to get experts quivering in their boots and Kagura is definitely not couloir country. Hopefully the powder in amongst the trees will keep experienced riders very happy.

Off Piste Skiing Kagura

Kagura has a few roped off areas and warning signs to discourage off-piste activity, but the patrollers are very tolerant of off-piste riding albeit at the risk of the rider. The Kagura zone has the best off-piste skiing because it has sufficient pitch and adequately spaced trees. The peak chair is not open in inclement weather and it’s not open until early January.

Sidecountry and Backcountry Kagura

The top chair lift also provides gated accessed to some fantastic tree skiing and alpine terrain. For sidecountry/slackcountry, a short to long traverse will provide a variety of lines that drop back into the ski area at different points.

Or if you want to earn your turns, one option is to skin/snowshoe up to the top of Mt Kagura-mine (pronounced “meenay”); an elevation gain of about 180 metres.

Kagura has a good backcountry gate system whereby you have to complete a registration form regarding the equipment you have, and provide a phone number (and ring ski patrol by 3pm). The gate is manned and it only open if your beacon is working.

Kagura Ski Season Kagura has a long ski season, in part due to the high elevation. The season typically lasts from late November to late May in the Kagura and Mitsumata areas, and from mid December to early May in the Tashiro area.

Ski Tours
Ski Lodging & Accommodations
 
  • Kagura Piste Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    620 – 1,845 (1,225)
  • Average Snow Fall
    10  metres
  • Lifts (23)
    2 cable cars
    1 gondola
  • Ski Hours
    8:00am - 5:00pm
    late Nov - late May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 27
    Longest run – 6 km
    Advanced - 20%
    Intermediate - 35%
    Beginner - 45%
  • Lift Prices (Day 15/16)
    Adult - 4,700 yen
    Child - free