Kawaba Ski Resort

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Kawaba Ski Resort Gunma
Kawaba Ski Resort Gunma
Kawaba has a handful of groomed runs
Kawaba has a handful of groomed runs
Kawaba offers access to abundant backcountry
Kawaba offers access to abundant backcountry
How many pairs of skis can you spot?
How many pairs of skis can you spot?
Kawaba City - multi-storey car park
Kawaba City - multi-storey car park
Multi-storey car park at Kawaba Resort
Multi-storey car park at Kawaba Resort
Kawaba City has extensive amenities
Kawaba City has extensive amenities
A large cafeteria is just one of the food offerings
A large cafeteria is just one of the food offerings
Kawaba City is a large building at the base of the resort
Kawaba City is a large building at the base of the resort
Kawaba Resort has lots of options for dining
Kawaba Resort has lots of options for dining
Indian restaurant in Kawaba City
Indian restaurant in Kawaba City
Kawaba Resort
Kawaba Resort
Extensive snowboard rental equipment at Kawaba Japan
Extensive snowboard rental equipment at Kawaba Japan
Kawaba Resort is mostly frequented by snowboarders
Kawaba Resort is mostly frequented by snowboarders
A quiet moment on the beginners run
A quiet moment on the beginners run
Ryokan Kinshuusanso Kawaba
Ryokan Kinshuusanso Kawaba
Ryokan Kinshuusanso has Japanese or western style rooms
Ryokan Kinshuusanso has Japanese or western style rooms
The food at Ryokan Kinshuusanso is exquisite
The food at Ryokan Kinshuusanso is exquisite
Ryokan Kinshuusanso Kawaba
Ryokan Kinshuusanso Kawaba
Rooms at Ryokan Kinshuusanso have a private open air onsen
Rooms at Ryokan Kinshuusanso have a private open air onsen

Kawaba Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Kawaba

Kawaba3.5/51
Kawaba3.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
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Central Powder Odyssey Tour, Gunma & Aizu areas

Minakami Ski Resorts

Minakami Houdaigi
Tenjindaira

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. Kawaba Ski Resort could readily be included on a road trip of Gunma ski resorts because it’s not too far from the Katashina ski resorts and the Minakami ski resorts such as Houdaigi and the famed Tenjindaira.

Pros and Cons of Kawaba Ski Resort

Pros
  • Kawaba Resort is only a 2 hour drive from Tokyo.
  • Kawaba Ski Resort has great off-piste terrain. Only a tiny amount of the off-piste is officially kosher, although the approach to off-piste riding is slowly evolving.
  • Kawaba provides access to some nice backcountry terrain.
  • The lifting capacity is very good for the size of the ski area.
  • The upper reaches of the ski resort provide nice eye candy including views to Mt Asama and even Mt Fuji.
  • This may sound like a strange pro, but the multi-storey car park is pretty impressive. Wish we had one at our local ski hill!
Cons
  • Despite the ski area being a decent size, there are only a handful of groomed runs which can get very congested, especially on weekends.
  • Kawaba is mostly frequented by snowboarders, and a lack of proper snowboard culture and etiquette makes the slopes pretty unsafe, especially considering that there is only one run that returns to the base 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 Kawaba Ski Resort seems miniscule, whether that be via the trail map or the mountain statistics. It’s also small in reality with respect to the piste, whilst the overall ski area is quite large so there is plenty of off-piste terrain. 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.

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 50%, and advanced 30%, although the latter may be a slight exaggeration because none of the piste terrain is particularly steep. Kawaba has a couple of terrain parks and a banked slalom park.

Off-piste wise, there are zones that have a lot of shrubbery and there are also better spaced trees, and the trees under Lift A are particularly tasty even though you might see some funny extreme danger signs at the entrances. Across the rest of the resort, off-piste riding is strongly discouraged without necessarily being prohibited, and they seem to be slowly coming around to the idea of utilising the resort’s best assets.

Kawaba Snow

Kawaba doesn’t get whopping amounts of snow like some of the big name Japanese ski areas, but the snow volumes are still very respectable. The upper 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 or a melt-freeze cycle to set in.

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 little town of Kawaba (meaning the “place of the rivers”) and 19km from Numata.

Unless you’re just doing a day trip from Tokyo, you’ll need a car to get to Kawaba and to your accommodation, unless of course you’re on a multi-resort guided tour.

Kawaba Accommodation

There is no on-mountain accommodation at Kawaba, with most visitors day tripping to the ski resort from Tokyo. The surrounding area has a small number of options for ryokan accommodation. You may wish to get meals included in your stay because there are negligible options for restaurants in the town of Kawaba. Otherwise you might be getting meals at 7-Eleven!

The Powderhounds have stayed at Ryokan Kinshuusanso, which is 13km from the Kawaba Resort. This stunning ryokan has Japanese tatami rooms or rooms with western beds. Best of all, the rooms have a private open-air onsen bath that overlooks the hills. The meals are absolutely exceptional.

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, an Indian restaurant, other fast food joints, and a massive cafeteria. Other facilities include a souvenir shop selling the all important confectionary gifts, a snowboard retail shop, and an equipment rental shop. There are multiple snowsports schools, but none that cater to Anglophones.

Kawaba Resort offers a “Fast Track Tour” which is probably supposed to be a “First Tracks Tour”, in a pimped out snowcat which takes you to the top of the resort before the lifts open. “Awesome – cat skiing” I hear you say, as you conjure up thoughts of untracked powder. Alas, it’s not proper cat skiing because all it involves is riding down a groomed run. Zzzzz….

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Central Odyssey
GUIDED SAFARI - AIZU & GUNMA
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.
AUD 2,990
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Kawaba here
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