Houdaigi Lifts & Terrain


Houdaigi Lifts & 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)
    830 – 1,400 (570)
  • Average Snow Fall
  • Lifts (7)
    2 quad chairs
    5 double chairs
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - earlyApril
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 16
    Longest run – 2.6 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced -30%

Houdaigi Ski Resort

It seems rather cliché, but the Minakami Houdaigi Ski Resort has got a little bit of terrain for everyone including beginners, intermediates, mogul mashers, steep tree huggers, and backcountry aficionados. Perhaps the only thing the Houdaigi ski area is lacking is mellow easy tree skiing.

Instead of the usual Japanese ski resort layout of runs being cut fall-line down the face of a hill, Hodaigi Ski Resort (or sometimes spelled Houdaigi) feels like the top of the runs come sideways off a ridgeline, so some of the runs have interesting cambre and twists.


The lift infrastructure is adequate considering the size of the ski area and the low number of visitors, especially on weekdays when it feels rather deserted. Two of the lifts are detachable and hooded quad chairs, whilst the mainstay of Hodaigi is fixed-grip pair lifts. There is also a magic carpet near the main base area.

Lift Tickets

Lift passes are reasonably priced and attract a small discount on weekdays. In addition to day passes, you can purchase 5 hour, 10 hour or 20 hours passes to be used across multiple days.

Minakami Houdaigi Snow

Gunma snow can often be a bit drier than in Niigata and Nagano because it is located further inland, and the Houdaigi snow is no different. And this Minakami ski resort has decent elevation and good slope orientation, which generally keeps the snow in shipshape condition.

Being on the Gunma side of the mountains, the weather tends to be a little better than across in Niigata, although this is possibly accompanied with less precipitation. The average snowfall per season statistic for Hodaigi is unknown, and it’s likely that it receives less than the Yuzawa ski resorts because it sits in the snow shadow of the big Tanigawa-dake.

The upside is that Minakami Hodaigi is relatively sheltered from the wind and inclement weather so it doesn’t generally suffer from lift closures, and the hooded lifts are a welcome respite when it is a little windy and frigid.

Beginner Skiing Houdaigi

Beginners have 30% of the trails at Hodaigi Ski Resort, which provide adequate variety. Above the main base area are two wide fall-line trails that are perfect for beginners, and so long as it isn’t the weekend, they are usually not too busy. The next progression is to head down the narrower trail to the quiet bottom lift and do loops.

For ski and snowboard group lessons with an English speaking instructor, check out the Tenjin Guides Learning package.

Intermediate Riding and Skiing Houdaigi

Many of the red trails are rather steep relative to your average Japanese ski resort intermediate run, and they don’t tend to have perfect fall-line, so those progressing between beginner and intermediate level may have a little difficulty unless you’ve got an instructor to show you the easier runs.

Mid to upper level intermediates should have fun on the interesting pitchy groomers, but like many other Japan ski resorts, there aren’t that many runs and boredom could set in.

Terrain Park

Houdaigi ski Resort has a small terrain park that usually includes a kicker or two, boxes and rails, and is mostly targeted towards introductory park riding.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste

Black runs make up 30% of the trails, which sounds like a lot, but with only 16 courses overall, advanced skiers and snowboarders may find the handful of mogul runs a bit tiresome after a while. On the plus side, a few of the black runs are steep enough to provide a degree of challenge.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

The top double chair provides some awesome trees and those off the hooded quad lift are also really good, although those to the skiers’ left require some gully negotiation. The Houdaigi tree skiing is mostly for experts, not those relatively new to tree skiing, because much of the terrain is steep. The tree spacing is also mostly tight although someone’s possibly snipped a few trees here and there. If only they’d snip some of the horrific vines engulfing the trees which provide a tripping hazard!

A few areas are fenced off, but mostly the resort discourages off-piste skiing with signs to warn you that you’re entering an off-piste area or crossing the ski area boundary. Most people interpret these signs as a ticket to ride, but you’ll probably want to be rather discrete because Houdaigi is a reasonably conservative ski resort.

Houdaigi Sidecountry & Backcountry

Houdaigi offers some lovely sidecountry with a great aspect, nice trees, and varying pitches. The main sidecountry requires a short hike for ingress and a long traverse out for egress. On a powder day snowboarders may require poles or a skier friend to set a track.

Houdaigi is also a gateway to backcountry skiing opportunities above the lifts, with lines that funnel back into the resort. The aspect is far superior to backcountry skiing from ski resorts on the southern flank of Mt Hotaka.