Marunuma Kogen3 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Wagner Custome Skis

Marunuma Kogen Ski Resort
Marunuma Kogen Ski Resort
Marunuma Kogen is good for groomer skiing
Marunuma Kogen is good for groomer skiing
Marunuma Kogen Gunma
Marunuma Kogen Gunma
Mount Nikko-Shirane "Cable Car"
Mount Nikko-Shirane
Looking at Marunuma Kogen from Oze Iwakura
Looking at Marunuma Kogen from Oze Iwakura
Piste skiing at Marunuma Kogen
Piste skiing at Marunuma Kogen
Mt Nikko-Shirane
Mt Nikko-Shirane
At the top of the gondola
At the top of the gondola
Base facilities
Base facilities
Nice pitchy groomed run
Nice pitchy groomed run
Marunuma Kogen Ski Resort
Marunuma Kogen Ski Resort
Marunuma Kogen Katashina
Marunuma Kogen Katashina
Malnuma Kogen
Malnuma Kogen
Marunuma Kogen is ideal for beginners to intermediates
Marunuma Kogen is ideal for beginners to intermediates
The gondola runs the full vertical
The gondola runs the full vertical
Marunuma Kogen
Marunuma Kogen
Malnuma Kogen Ski Resort
Malnuma Kogen Ski Resort
Marunuma Chalets
Marunuma Chalets

Marunuma Kogen

Marunuma Kogen is aptly called “kogen” (ie highlands) because it has a top elevation of 2,000m, but whilst the Marunuma Ski Resort looks very good on paper, tree skiing fiends are likely to be disappointed because there is negligible off-piste skiing. Marunuma Kogen (also known as Malnuma Kogen) is ideal for day trips from Tokyo for beginner to intermediate riders who want to do hot laps on pristine groomers.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Marunuma Kogen

Pros
  • The high elevation contributes to high quality snow, and it’s renowned as a great spot to go early or late in the season.
  • Marunuma Kogen has some lovely wide groomers and the gondola is very efficient.
  • Any gaijin are likely to be few and far between.
  • It’s a pretty resort, because unlike many Japanese ski resorts, there are evergreen trees and Mt Nikko-Shirane looks intriguing.
  • Lift ticket deals are inexpensive.
Cons
  • The trees are happy growing very very close to each other, so you can forget tree skiing.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Marunuma Kogen is an easy drive from Tokyo and there are day bus trips from Tokyo, so on weekends there can be lift lines for the gondola.

Marunuma Kogen Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, Marunuma Kogen isn’t particularly big. The ski area has 13 courses, most with a colour name, across 610 metres of vertical (1,390 – 2,000m).

A large gondola runs the full vertical of the Marunuma Kogen ski resort. The ski resort calls it a cable car even though it’s a gondola, and it’s also used by pedestrian tourists who head to the top to throw snow in the area, just like on the Marunuma poster. The ski resort also has 1 single chair and 7 double lifts, one of which is detachable, and not all the lifts seem to be operational all the time.

The official trail stats of 30% beginner, 50% intermediate and 20% advanced underestimate the amount of beginner terrain and overstate the amount of intermediate terrain. And top-to-bottom runs can be a bit tedious for intermediates because the trail is interrupted by a few sections of beginner slope. There are a few black runs that are mostly moguls, although the Gold Course off the single chair may be groomed.

Tree skiing is mostly untenable, with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees that grow in very close proximity to each other. In a few places it looks tasty, but there are fences to inhibit entry, and it’s likely you’d get treed out anyhow. And the peak above the ski resort is very rocky, so you can forget that too.

Marunuma Kogen Snow

Relative to the ski resorts closer to the coast, Marunuma Kogen doesn’t get inundated with snowfall, but the snow volume is still respectable relative to many parts of the world and there are lots of snow guns to top up the natural snow. The snow quality is generally excellent due to the high elevation and the northwest orientation, which also contributes to a long season.

Where is Marunuma Kogen?

Marunuma Kogen sits on the distinctive looking Mount Shirane (2,578m), which is the highest peak in north Kanto. It’s located 193km NW of Tokyo in the Gunma Prefecture close to the border with Tochigi, and during winter the ski resort is the end of the road on Route 120 (Nihon Romantic Highway) which usually travels through to Tochigi.

The village of Katashina is 13km away which is home to other ski resorts such as Oze Iwakura, Oze Tokura and Katashina Kogen (which is not aptly named).

There are shuttle buses from Jomo Kogen Train Station (52km away) to Marunuma Kogen, whilst from Tokyo there are day trips available via tour bus.

Driving is the most common mode of transport and it’s about 50 minutes drive from the Numata Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway. The telephone number for GPS navigation is 0278-58-2211 but keep an eye on the route because near Katashina our GPS wanted to take us on a very long detour. The road up to Marunuma Kogen is very steep and windy and has various avalanche tunnels. Parking on the weekends attracts a fee.

Marunuma Kogen Accommodation

The Marunuma Chalets sit on the slopes, and below the ski resort are two small pension villages with pensions such as The Regent House. As Marunuma Kogen isn’t really a multi-day destination, most people stay in Katashina or at Oze Iwakura so they can sample a few Katashina ski resorts.

Katashina Hotel Listings

Ski Resort Facilities

Marunuma Kogen has various restaurants on-mountain, although they may not all be open. The eatery at the top of the gondola is small, whilst the cafeteria at the base is the main event when it comes to eating. We ordered a katsu curry which was mega sized and made us feel like we were in the USA.

Otherwise the ski resort has the usual line up of amenities for a non-westernised Japanese ski resort including a kids’ park, snowsports school (in Japanese), equipment rentals, rest areas and an onsen. And thankfully there’s a special changing zone for the Tokyo bus tours that arrive en masse.