Appi Kogen Ski Resort Terrain

Appi Kogen Ski Resort Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    620 – 1,304 (684)
  • Average Snow Fall
    8  metres
  • Lifts (7)
    1 gondola
    3 quads
  • Ski Hours
    8:30am - 4:00pm
    early Dec - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 19
    Longest run – 5.5 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 30%

Appi Ski Resort Terrain

The Appi Kogen Ski Resort receives abundant snowfall and considering the many runs to suit various ability levels, Happy Appi is very happy indeed! A major strong point of Appi Japan is the grooming, and the resort places a lot of pride in manicuring the slopes. The Appi Ski Resort is also shrewd enough to know when to stop grooming. Thankfully they don’t groom right out to the sides of the piste, and they leave a few runs ungroomed.

Appi Japan is a medium sized resort by Japanese standards, but it’s rather small compared to many Canadian, US or European ski resorts. As is somewhat typical of a Japanese ski resort, the runs at the top are steeper than at the base. Black runs at the top transform into red (intermediate) runs which then change into green runs. The only problem is that in some areas, the lifts run the full vertical, so beginners can’t actually access the green runs without first going down a red or black run, and advanced skiers have to meander along painfully long green trails. 


Appi has 6-7 lifts that operate during peak season: a gondola; 3 quad chair lifts; and 3 pair lifts. The Sailer 2nd lift only operates in blizzard conditions if other lifts are on windhold, whilst the Vista Quad may only operate on weekends or when the resort feels like running it. During the fringes of the season, only the gondola and 3 lifts run.

The Appi Kogen Ski Resort used to have many more lifts, and due to ageing infrastructure, these have been streamlined down such that the key lifts remain, although now you mostly must ski the full vertical of the resort which becomes rather repetitive.

Appi Japan can experience lift queues on the weekends, especially at the gondola, but weekdays are usually fine.

Night skiing no longer operates at Appi.

Snowcat Appi

The Nishimori lift was recently retired due to a series of mechanical problems that could not be rectified, which has shrunk the lift-serviced terrain.

The Nishimori slopes are now serviced by a snowcat. On weekdays, general ticket holders can use the snowcat for an additional charge per run. And on weekends you’ll need to take out a second mortgage for the Black Pass to get access to the snowcat. On busy days, you might need to queue for the snowcat. Yes it seems strange that they’ve closed a lift and replaced it with an inefficient uphill “lift” and then charge you more for the inconvenience.

However if you’ve got the budget for it, then this is a fabulous way to get fresh tracks. The sidecountry that can be accessed from the top of Mt Nishimori is fantastic and now it’s less tracked than it used to be, which is why quite a few people just skin or hike up Mt Nishimori.

Lift Tickets

Standard adult lift tickets are up there as some of the most expensive in the country, which is in keeping with Appi trying to market to discerning guests.

But wait there’s more. You can pay extra for a Gold Pass which gives you priority lift queue access. And for many more yen you can buy one of the limited number of Black Passes on weekends and holidays. This gives you snowcat access, first tracks access to the gondola an hour before everyone else, and other benefits such as food court priority lane and seat, and access to the Mountain Top Cafeteria.

There are a couple of other Japanese ski resorts that have priority queue passes, but Appi has taken it another step and really created a niche in the affluent powder market. Whilst opinions on this model are divided, it’s worth noting that the cost of a weekend Black Pass is about the same as a standard day pass at many high profile US ski resorts.

Appi Kogen Snow and Weather

It snows a lot at Appi Kogen, particularly in January and early February when the powder can be rather tasty. The statistic for the average snowfall per season is cited as 8 metres, but the true amount is more than that because Appi records the amount of snowfall each day after they’ve squashed it down with the grooming machine. Only in Japan!

Appi sits in a snow corridor, and whilst a few other nearby ski areas may not have much snow (e.g. Hanawa, Tayama), Appi always seems to have double to triple the amount of snow. The quality of the Appi powder is generally better than the Nagano and Niigata area, but not quite as dry as Hokkaido powder, although when we’ve visited on a couple of occasions the snow has been divine! The precipitation is picked up from the Sea of Japan, and as the storms pass by the Hakkoda area, much of the moisture is dropped on the snow monsters (the ice caked trees). By the time the weather hits Appi, the snow that falls is dry. Well that’s a nice theory anyhow!

Many of the slopes are north facing, which keeps the snow in reasonable condition. Slopes to the lookers’ left are a little more east facing so the snow quality isn’t quite as good. Occasionally the lower elevations get icy and become Crappi Appi. And thankfully the snowmaking facilities are generally only used in December to get the season started.

When big storms come through, the lifts go on wind-hold occasionally, although the gondola in particular seems to cope surprisingly well with wind.

Appi Skiing for the Beginner

The beginner terrain is fantastic. Unlike some other Japanese ski resorts where the green runs are dark green or the slopes are completely flat thereby requiring some skating, the pitch at Appi is ideal. The runs near the accommodation and resort centre are appropriately mellow, and confident beginners can tackle the Yamabato course. The only downside for beginners is that some of the great terrain is inaccessible without first going down a black or red run. What were they thinking?!

Intermediate Ski and Board Terrain

Appi Kogen has some really good intermediate terrain, but once again the unusual layout of the lifts prevents intermediates from accessing a major proportion of the red runs unless they are prepared to go down a black run first. Thankfully some of these black runs are groomed so confident intermediates will enjoy schussing down these long runs.

Appi is a great place for intermediates to learn to ride powder, either on the sides of the runs or on the ungroomed runs. There are also several magic forest courses that are targeted at kids, but these are also a good spot for adults to practise little turns.

Terrain Park

Like many other Japanese ski resorts, Appi has abandoned the half pipe concept but has retained a mid- sized park. The terrain park has a several kickers, rails and boxes for beginners and intermediates.

Appi Skiing - Advanced

Appi has some good on-piste black runs. A fave is the long Second Sailer run that has a maximum pitch of 34 degrees. It’s bliss on a powder day or a mogul field if it hasn’t snowed in a while.

For advanced riders, the real fun can be found in the off-piste and slackcountry.

Appi Off-Piste Skiing

Appi has very much changed its approach to tree skiing over the past decade, from a resort where off-piste skiing was heavily policed to a progressive ski area that allows it. Appi Kogen Ski Resort has some dedicated tree skiing areas where the trees have been somewhat gladed, so whilst you need to be competent, you don’t need to be an expert at tree skiing. Elsewhere around the ski area, the off-piste has a little more vegetation and technical trees, and it’s mostly the shrubbery that may limit free flowing turns if the tide is low.

The Appi tree skiing has some similarities to Rusutsu (minus the crowds) whereby the off-piste is relatively safe. It would be difficult to get lost, there are no nasty big gullies, and avalanche risk is minimal. Of course, the risk is never zero and you could run into a tree, so only go in there with the right skills and a risk assessment. What sets Appi apart from Rusutsu is that there aren’t the abundant day trippers from Niseko, so you’re much more likely to find some fresh snow, especially in the tighter trees. Appi also seems to get less tree bombs because it has lots of skinny trees.

Appi Sidecountry & Backcountry

Whilst the off-piste areas are easy to navigate, the same cannot be said for the sidecountry areas where it’s definitely possible to get a little lost.

Our fave backcountry is that accessed off Mt Nishimori, whether you access it via snowcat or under human power. Close to the ski area are short steep pitches and lots of open beech trees. The chances of revelling in the steep and deep are very high, and the powder is this area is absolutely superb due to the aspect and elevation. The main exit pops out near the elbow of the Yamabato, whilst those with good route-finding nous can push out much further into the sidecountry to get fresh lines, and exit a little further down.

The Appi sidecountry on skiers’ right is quite extensive, if the Vista Quad chair is running. It mellows out but is usually untracked because it requires some good way-finding to egress back to the ski area, or you’ll need a car pick up from the base of the former ski area.

Appi Kogen Ski Resort Season

Appi Japan enjoys a very long season from early December to early May as a result of the bountiful snowfall, the north facing slopes, and careful grooming. The best powder is on offer in January and early February. If you prefer sunny days go to Appi in March, but be aware that from the end of the March onwards, some parts of the resort are closed and the activities and transport options scale back significantly.

See the when to ski in Japan page for general information on the pros and cons of travelling to Japan at different times of the season.