Gunma Ski Resorts

Classic Gunma snow
Backcountry skiing in Gunma at Tanigawadake
Minakami Houdaigi Ski Resort Gunma
The highlight of Gunma skiing
Oze Iwakura: one of the best Gunma ski resorts
Minakami Houdaigi Ski Resort Gunma
Ski Gunma: Oze Iwakura
White World Oze Iwakura Gunma
Looking at Marunuma Kogen in Katashina Gunma
The mighty Tanigawadake Tenjindaira
Nice terrain off Tanigawadake
No shortage of steeps at Tanigawadake in Gunma
Gunma snow is typically low in moisture content
Manza Onsen
Backcountry skiing Gunma

Gunma Ski Resorts

Ski Gunma

Gunma Prefecture is located in the northwestern part of Kanto on the main island of Honshu. There are more than 20 Gunma ski resorts, and despite their proximity to Tokyo and ease of access for weekend warriors, Gunma skiing and snowboarding has been relatively undiscovered by the gaijin. The Gunma Prefecture is bordered by Nagano to the west, Niigata to the north, Fukushima to the northeast & Tochigi to the east. It’s a very mountainous prefecture, with the exception of the southeast and central areas, hence its proclivity for skiing.

Pros & Cons of Gunma Japan

  • Whilst many of the domestic skiers and snowboarders play on-piste at the Gunma ski resorts, the off-piste zones attract very little skier traffic.
  • Gunma is home to one of the best Japanese ski areas for powder hounds, Tenjindaira.
  • The Gunma snow quality is generally very dry.
  • You’re highly likely to experience Japanese culture aplenty considering the low numbers of foreigners.
  • If you want to put together a few areas on a Gunma ski trip, you’ll need to have a car because shuttle services and public transport between ski areas is rudimentary.
  • Gunma is very mountainous and lots of roads are closed during winter. It’s not as easy as you’d first think to combine lots of Gunma ski resorts on a safari, even though the ski areas may be very close as the crow flies.
  • Some of the Gunma ski areas are very small, mellow and at low elevation (as is the case across most of the prefectures).
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Gunma is reasonably close to Tokyo.

Gunma Ski Resorts

The ski resorts in Gunma are mainly concentrated in the north and northeast regions of the prefecture in the Minakami and Katashina areas, and over to the west of Gunma in Kusatsu.

Minakami Gunma

There are 10 Minakami ski resorts and like the other Gunma resorts, they are relatively undiscovered by international skiers and snowboarders. The onsen town of Minakami is very close to a major highway interchange which makes for easy access, and Minakami is also close to the town of Yuzawa in Niigata and the dozen or so Yuzawa ski resorts.

For backcountry enthusiasts, your main goal is Tanigawadake Tenjindaira, which we rate as the best ski area in Japan for powder hounds, but the weather can be ferocious, which is what you’d expect for a super snowy big mountain. For weather days there are a few Plan B powder chasing destinations within driving distance that can be explored as part of a Tenjindaira Backcountry Tour.

One of these is Minakami Houdaigi which has some lovely tight steep tree runs.

Nearby Minakami Kogen Ski Resort, Minakami Kogen Fujiwara Ski Resort, and Okutone Snow Park (“Uncle Tony’s”) are well suited to those looking for mellow slopes.

Katashina Gunma

The town of Katashina has a handful of ski resorts. They are all located a fair way off major highways and weekend traffic on the routes to get there can be heavy.

Our favourite of the Katashina ski resorts is Oze Iwakura which was a bit of surprise package. Marunuma Kogen was also a bit of a surprise package for us, but in a not so good way. Also nearby is Oguna Hotaka.

Other Katashina ski resorts are at lower elevation and include Katashina Kogen (skiers only), Snow Park Oze Tokura and Oguna Hotaka.

Agatsuma Area - Western Gunma

In the western part of Gunma near the border with the Nagano Prefecture (and Shiga Kogen in Nagano) are Manza Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen. As the names would suggest, these are onsen towns and their main strength would be the onsen and not so much the skiing and snowboarding.

And in the zone between Agatsuma and Katashina near Numata is the Kawaba Ski Resort. Kawaba has some good off-piste and backcountry opportunities, but the aspect is quite sunny so you need to pick your days.

Gunma Snow

Gunma snow can often be a bit drier than in Niigata and Nagano because it is located further from the coast, and as to be expected, this is associated with lower snow volumes. Many of the Gunma ski resorts sit in the snow shadows of big mountains around Yuzawa including Tanigawa-dake (where Tenjindaira is located), and the moisture is sucked out of the storms before they hit Gunma. This is often referred to as kara kaze (empty wind).
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