Tangram3.5 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    75%
Wagner Custome Skis
Japan Ski Tour Tohoku Area

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, or there are a couple of schedules per day for a shuttle bus between Narita Airport and Tangram with Nagano Snow Shuttle.

Or it's 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 for a group of 6.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 3,157
Ability: Advanced to 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
More
Nagano Freeride Tour DETAILS
HOSTED & GUIDED TOUR
9 Nights | 6 Days Riding
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 2,155
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Head off the beaten path and ride at some of the lesser known resorts around Nagano. Improve your riding with the daily guiding sessions, with plenty of opportunity to ride superb powder in the trees.
More
The Legendary Roadie DETAILS
HOSTED & GUIDED ROAD TRIP
11 Days | 10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing
From price based on twin-share, standard package.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions.
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Experience Japan powder like no other on this legendary road trip where you will visit up to 8 resorts in 3 prefectures; Nagano, Gunma & Niigata! Join a tour as a solo traveler, couple or small group. Max 6 spots per tour so get in quickly!
More
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Tangram here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Nagano Ski Buffet DETAILS
GUIDED SKI ADVENTURE (SKIERS ONLY)
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on quad-share room at Hostel Aibiya with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,191
To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions.
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, traditional Japanese accommodation and authentic Japanese food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure!
More
Nagano Ski & Snowboard Progression DETAILS
SKI / SNOWBOARD GUIDED INSTRUCTION
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on quad-share dorm room with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,191
Book & pay deposit by June 30 & get 5% off advertised prices
Ability: Intermediate to Strong Intermediate
Learn to ski and ride deep powder with more confidence or improve your on-piste technique whilst checking out some of Nagano's fabulous ski areas away from the masses of foreigners. In addition to the skiing and snowboarding, experience an area rich in culture and history.
More
Nagano Snowboarders Buffet DETAILS
GUIDED SNOWBOARD ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Riding | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on quad-share dorm room with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,191
To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions.
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Combine deep untracked powder riding where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional hotel and food, & you have the perfect Japanese snowboarding adventure!
More
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Tangram here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
Alps to Coast Tour DETAILS
HAKUBA & MYOKO BC ADVENTURE
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin 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 2,631
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15
Ability: Advanced to 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 backcountry tour takes in the steep & deep alpine terrain of the Hakuba Valley and the deep POW around Myoko.
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Myoko Deep Tour DETAILS
MYOKO BC ADVENTURE
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin 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 2,631
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15 2017
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
The MYOKO KOGEN area receives some of the highest snow falls in Japan. This tour takes you to the deep backcountry and sidecountry terrain of Myoko and surrounding ski areas.
More
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 121
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15 2017
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry or sidecountry. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
More
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Tangram here