Tangram3.5 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    75%
Powder Odyssey - chase the powder in Northern Honshu

Tangram is very good for adventurous powder hounds
Tangram is very good for adventurous powder hounds
Tangram Ski Circus Japan
Tangram Ski Circus Japan
Powder skiing Tangram Japan
Powder skiing Tangram Japan
Fun in the trees at Tangram Ski Circus
Fun in the trees at Tangram Ski Circus
Amazing views on fine days
Amazing views on fine days
Tangram Ski Circus
Tangram Ski Circus
One of the beginner runs down to the hotel
One of the beginner runs down to the hotel
Tangram is reasonably small
Tangram is reasonably small
Tangram snowboarding
Tangram snowboarding
Tangram Hotel
Tangram Hotel
Tangram Ski Circus
Tangram Ski Circus
A sneaky tree run
A sneaky tree run
The base area of Tangram Ski Circus
The base area of Tangram Ski Circus
Tangram ski resort is good for intermediate riders
Tangram ski resort is good for intermediate riders
Tangram Japan
Tangram Japan
Wide open slopes near the base
Wide open slopes near the base
Many of the slopes are north facing
Many of the slopes are north facing
Tangram Japan
Tangram Japan
Tangram day lodge
Tangram day lodge
Off-piste skiing Tangram
Off-piste skiing Tangram

Tangram

Tangram Ski Circus is a ski resort that is very “Japanese”, not just because it’s located in Japan or that it’s strangely called a “circus”, but because it is somewhat typical of Japanese ski resorts that are not highly frequented by westerners. In a country that is overly zealous with its safety considerations and risk aversion (even though lots of Japan ski resort chair lifts have no safety bars!), Tangram ski resort has a strict policy that bans off-piste skiing and riding (outside of a dedicated gladed area). The patrollers will pull your pass in a heartbeat if they catch you.

This uptight approach to off-piste skiing is in stark contrast to the inter-connected and liberal Madarao ski resort, which is a mecca for powder skiing fiends.

Tangram Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The ski resort sits on the northwestern flank of Mt Madarao which is not a particularly high mountain, so there’s no big top (nor are there any clowns!) at the Tangram Ski Circus. It’s a fairly small ski resort with 520 vertical metres (800 – 1,320 metres), only 15 trails, and 5 lifts (2 quad chairs, 3 double chairs).

Tangram is inter-connected with the Madarao Kogen Ski Resort towards the top of the mountain, and a handful of extra yen will score you a dual resort lift pass.

Tangram Ski Circus has various trails for confident beginners (that are closer to intermediate trails). There are a few short red (intermediate) courses, and a handful of short black runs that won’t entertain advanced riders for very long.

Off-Piste Skiing Tangram

Thanks to some gentle encouragement from Madarao, Tangram has opened up a special tree skiing zone that’s either side of the black run on the lookers’ left of the ski area. The trees have been gladed and off-piste skiing is permitted in this area.

Elsewhere around the resort, despite the scarcity of roped off terrain and “do not enter” signs, the ban on off-piste riding definitely exists. Tangram has some very tasty looking off-piste terrain including some widely spaced trees with rocks to launch off, and these treats are there to taunt you because it’s a little difficult to hide in these areas. However there are other areas with tighter trees, and those with the technical skills who can be very very quiet will be rewarded with untracked north-facing powder.

Where is Tangram Japan?

The Tangram Ski Resort is located on the border of the Nagano and Niigata Prefectures, 14km southeast of Akakura Onsen (the main village of the Myoko Kogen ski resorts). Whilst it is possible to travel to Tangram via train and bus, it’s easiest to get there if you have a rental car or are on a tour with a guide to drive you (see below regarding tours).

Of course it’s also easy to get to Tangram via Madarao. Whilst inter-connected with Madarao via the upper slopes, the two base areas are about 5.5km away via road.

Tangram Accommodation

There is no village at Tangram, with the base area primarily consisting of the large ski-in ski-out Hotel Tangram. The hotel provides western style hotel rooms, restaurants, an indoor swimming pool, and open air onsen.

Other options are to stay in Myoko Kogen accommodation or “next door” at one of the Madarao hotels or pensions. The towns of Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen near the snow monkeys could also be used as a base to visit Tangram.

Ski Resort Facilities

The base area has a large cafeteria, a lounge, ski and snowboard rentals, a small ski shop selling accessories, and a large souvenir store.

Tangram is very family friendly (for Japanese speaking children) with a kids’ park, child care facilities, and ski school with Japanese speaking instructors only. Tangram also offers snowmobiling for both little kids and big kids.

Summary of Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Tangram is a great adjunct to Madarao Kogen and the two ski resorts combined are a decent size (by Japanese standards).
  • The terrain is well suited to low end to mid level intermediate riders.
  • The ski resort is not crowded and it doesn’t get hit hard on a powder day because it’s mostly frequented by beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
  • Even though it’s not a high elevation ski resort, the snow quality is generally fantastic thanks to its northerly aspect.
  • The ski area affords great views of Mt Myoko and Lake Noriji on fine days.
Cons
  • As a stand-alone ski resort, the terrain is rather small.
  • Whilst very family friendly, the ski resort doesn’t cater particularly well to English speaking families.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • The patrollers (aka pow police) are super strict and anal about off-piste riding, except in the new gladed tree zone. In the other tree areas, for those who can appear invisible, there are fresh tracks galore.

Tours That May Include Tangram

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Nagano Niigata Explorer DETAILS
HOSTED & GUIDED ROAD TRIP
10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing/Riding | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,797
Book & page deposit by 31st Oct and take AU$200 off the advertised price.
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Based in Myoko Kogen, enjoy Honshu's rich culture and visit up to 8 ski areas including Myoko (5 ski areas), Nozawa Onsen, Kurohime, Shiga Kogen (18 inter-connected ski areas), Madarao, Tangram & a few other secret spots
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Nagano Snow Tow DETAILS
HOSTED & SELF-GUIDED ADVENTURE
7 Days | 6 Nights | Up to 6 Ski Areas
From price based on dorm-style rooms (2-4 per room).
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese yen not including consumption tax 8%.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,496
Book and pay deposit prior to C.O.B. November 30, 2016 and get 14.7% off the advertised price.
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Take the hassle out of organising your powder adventure to Nagano & Niigata (Honshu Japan) next season by joining one of these great unguided tours. You still have the freedom to do your own thing at the ski areas but all of the logistics are taken care of.
More
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Tangram here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Epic Honshu Buffet (Skiers Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SKI ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional ryokan (Japanese hotel) and food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure!
More
Epic Honshu Buffet (Snowboarders Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SNOWBOARDING ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Riding | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder riding where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional hotel and food, and you have the perfect Japanese snowboarding adventure!
More
Madarao Ski & Snowboard Clinics DETAILS
SKI & SNOWBOARD PROGRESSION CLINICS
3 or 5 days | Madarao ski resort
From price based on 3-day package per person.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 910
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
This package is ideal for skiers & boarders looking to take their POWDER skiing & riding skills to new heights. Whether it be a quick 3-day brush up clinic or a 5-day powder blaster clinic or something in between, Action Snow Sports will ensure you meet your goals. Also includes instructional days at other resorts.
More
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Tangram here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
Alps to Coast Package DETAILS
HAKUBA & MYOKO BC ADVENTURE
10 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin/triple-share room (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,948
Ability: Advanced, Expert
The HAKUBA ALPS are the ultimate when it comes to steep alpine terrain in Japan and the MYOKO KOGEN area receives some of the highest snow falls in Japan. This tour takes in the steep & deep alpine backcountry terrain of the Hakuba Valley and the deep POW around Myoko.
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Hakuba Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from HAKUBA
For PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on Hakuba day tour, group of 5 (price displayed is per person however full tour price is 5 X that price).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 607 USD 607
10% discount for tours Feb 12-18 & during March
10% off tours Feb 12-18 and during March
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area, you can't go past a day or more of a guided ski or snowboarding adventure. The area (and also other nearby resorts) is huge and the best skiing is actually outside of the resort boundaries which should only be accesses with a guide. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
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Nagano-Niigata Local Secrets Tour DETAILS
GUIDED POWDER ADVENTURE
6 Nights | 5 Days Riding / Skiing | Nagano Niigata
From price based on twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,112
Book & pay full amount of tour by Aug 31, 2016 and receive a 10% discount on the advertised price.
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Ski/ride with local guides who have grown up in the Nagano Niigata region & experience the "Local Secret Stashes" (at up to 3 ski areas) that the average tourists don't know about. This 7 day tour is based in Madarao includes accommodation, breakfast, most dinners, guiding, lift tickets & transport to other ski areas.
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See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Tangram here

Ski Tours
Ski Lodging & Accommodations