Kawaba Ski Resort

Kawaba Ski Resort

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Central Powder Odyssey Tour, Gunma & Aizu areas

Minakami Ski Resorts

Minakami Houdaigi

Katashina Ski Resorts

Marunuma Kogen
Oguna Hotaka
Oze Iwakura
Oze Tokura
Kawaba Ski Resort in Gunma is a popular day trip destination for Tokyoites to ski or ride the groomers and play in the terrain parks. Kawaba is also a gateway to some nice backcountry hiking and riding.

Pros and Cons of Kawaba Ski Resort

  • Kawaba has a few terrain parks and a banked slalom park.
  • It is only a 2 hour drive from Tokyo.
  • Kawaba Ski Resort offers good off-piste, sidecountry and backcountry skiing opportunities.
  • The lifting capacity is very good for the size of the ski area.
  • The piste runs can get very congested, especially on weekends.
  • Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, it’s not a very big ski area.
  • There is no on-mountain accommodation.
Pro Or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • This is not one of those westernised Japanese ski resorts where everyone speaks English.

Kawaba Ski and Snowboard Terrain

On paper, whether that be the trail map or the mountain statistics, Kawaba Ski Resort seems tiny. In reality, it’s not miniscule but just small. Like many other Japanese ski resorts, the magnitude of the base building dwarfs the size of the ski and snowboard terrain (the building is so big it’s called a “city”!). Kawaba has 580 metres of vertical (1,290-1,870m), 10 named trails, and 5 chair lifts (3 quad lifts, 1 triple, 1 double).

Like the majority of Japanese ski resorts, Kawaba sits below the treeline and offers tree lined trails as well as a few highway-wide courses. The official trail stats are beginner 20%, intermediate 20%, and advanced 30%, although the latter may be a slight exaggeration because none of the piste terrain is particularly steep.

Off-piste wise, there are many zones that have a lot of shrubbery, whilst further up, evergreens predominate and the trees under Lift A are particularly tasty. Expect to see some funny extreme danger signs at the entrances to the best off-piste and sidecountry skiing. If you want to head backcountry, fill in a form with ski patrol (good luck with that if your Japanese is subpar!).

Kawaba Snow

Like a lot of other Gunma ski resorts, the snow often falls very dry and Kawaba Kogen is definitely in the highlands and the decent elevation also contributes to good snow quality. Part of the reason for the dry snow is that big mountains such as Tanigawadake suck the moisture out of the storms before they hit Kawaba, which also means that snow volumes aren’t as high as they are at Nagano and Niigata ski resorts closer to the coast.

The slopes at Kawaba are mostly southwest facing, so once the sun comes out after a snowfall it doesn’t take much for the snow quality to diminish.

Where is Kawaba Gunma?

Kawaba is located on the southwestern flank of Mt Hotaka in the northeast part of the Gunma Prefecture.

Kawaba Ski Resort is 11km north of the town of Kawaba (meaning the “place of the rivers”) and near Numata.

Driving is the easiest way to get to Kawaba and it’s only 16km off the Numata Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway. If you don’t want to drive the last part on the windy and potentially snowy road, there are free shuttle buses that depart from the Michi-no-eki Kawaba Denen Plaza, but then you’d miss out on the opportunity to park in the multi-storey car park of Kawaba City!

There are also limited buses from Jomo Kogen Station and Numata Station, and bus tours from Tokyo.

Kawaba Accommodation

There is no on-mountain accommodation at Kawaba, with most visitors day tripping to the ski resort from Tokyo. The little town of Kawaba and surrounds have a small number of options for ryokan accommodation.

Kawaba Ryokan Listings

Or if combining Kawaba Kogen with other Gunma ski resorts you could stay in Minakami hotels (27km away) or Katashina hotels (35km away).

Ski Resort Facilities

It’s common for the size of the base facilities to be out of keeping with the size of ski areas in Japan, and the Kawaba City is a classic example. This massive building has car parking and the upper levels house all the ski resort amenities and connect with the slopes. Your eating needs are well looked after with a crepe shop, an ice cream shop, other fast food joints, and cafeterias. Other facilities include a souvenir shop selling the all important confectionary gifts, a couple of retail ski and snowboard shops, and an equipment rental shop. There are multiple snowsports schools, but none that cater to Anglophones.

Near Kawaba City is a kids’ snow park which is serviced by a covered magic carpet conveyor.

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Central Odyssey
7 Nights | 6 Days Guided Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
The ultimate pilgrimage to the Aizu Region & Gunma Prefecture to satisfy your appetite for powder, Japanese cuisine & genuine Japanese culture, far away from the sheep that go to the mainstream ski resorts. Gunma is the new frontier of powder gem ski resorts in Japan.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,063
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Kawaba here