Minakami

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Minakami Gunma is well known for its onsen
Minakami Gunma is well known for its onsen
Downtown Minakami Gunma
Downtown Minakami Gunma
Minakami has various restaurants
Minakami has various restaurants
Feasting at Daruma in Minakami Japan
Feasting at Daruma in Minakami Japan
Minakami offers a nice Japanese experience
Minakami offers a nice Japanese experience
Minakami Hodaigi Ski Resort
Minakami Hodaigi Ski Resort
Tanigawa Onsen
Tanigawa Onsen
Ryokan at Takaragawa Onsen
Ryokan at Takaragawa Onsen
Minakami Houdaigi Ski Resort Gunma
Minakami Houdaigi Ski Resort Gunma
Tenjindaira Tanigawadake - the Minakami ski area for powder hounds
Tenjindaira Tanigawadake - the Minakami ski area for powder hounds
Hiking up Tanigawadake
Hiking up Tanigawadake
Tenjin Lodge is the ideal Minakami lodging for powder hounds
Tenjin Lodge is the ideal Minakami lodging for powder hounds
Takaragawa Onsen in Minakami
Takaragawa Onsen in Minakami
Minakami restaurant
Minakami restaurant
Minakami Gunma Prefecture
Minakami Gunma Prefecture
Tenjindaira Ropeway
Tenjindaira Ropeway
Skiing down Tanigawa-dake near Minakami
Skiing down Tanigawa-dake near Minakami
Minakami Japan
Minakami Japan
Snowboarding at Minakami Hodaigi
Snowboarding at Minakami Hodaigi
Powder skiing Minakami Houdaigi
Powder skiing Minakami Houdaigi

Minakami

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Myoko Kogen Powder Packages
Wagner Custome Skis

Minakami Gunma

Japan Minakami is a mountainous town in Gunma Prefecture that makes an ideal base for a skiing or snowboarding trip. Being relatively close to Tokyo, the various Minakami ski resorts are frequented by Tokyo-ites on weekends, yet it has escaped the attention of most international skiers and snowboarders. Fresh tracks at the ski areas are relatively easy to come by and Minakami Gunma has minimal western influence, delightfully not much English is spoken, and it’s retained some traditional Japanese charm. Minakami is also highly regarded for its onsen, some of which are located within old ryokan where you can fully immerse yourself in the hot springs and traditional culture.

Where is Minakami?

Minakami is located in the northern part of Gunma Prefecture of Honshu, with the Niigata Prefecture just to the north and the town of Yuzawa (snow country) reasonably close by. It is just 160km northwest of Tokyo.

Minakami Ski Resorts

The Minakami region has various ski resorts ranging from little ski areas ideal for beginners up to ski areas that provide access to gnarly big mountain skiing and riding.

Tenjindaira is a small ski area located on the flank of the mighty Tanigawa-dake (1,977m). The main attraction for advanced and expert powder hounds is the sidecountry and backcountry of Tanigawadake. We rate Tenjin as a top spot in Japan for powder hounds, but like other big mountains you must be a little patient for the snow and weather conditions to line up. Raging snowstorms can dump a lot of snow. Luckily there are plenty of Plan B Minakami ski areas for when the weather closes the ropeway.

Minakami Houdaigi is a very satisfactory bridesmaid to Tenjin. Houdaigi (or sometimes spelled Hodaigi) has some lovely tight steep tree runs in-bounds and some steep sidecountry. It also has some ideal slopes for beginners and intermediates.

Okutone Snow Park (aka Uncle Tony’s) is a decent all-rounder for piste skiers and snowboarders, but it has less on offer for powder hounds. Snow quality is often reasonable due to its north to northwest facing slopes.

White Valley is a dinky little ski hill (they might even play yodelling music over the loudspeakers) that’s affectionately known as “Little Tenjin”. It’s ideal for storm skiing and riding mornings where most of the upper hill is left ungroomed. It’s popular with powder chasing locals, and due to its small size, the fresh powder doesn’t last too long. On fine days the snow quality can diminish quickly due to its west to southwest facing aspect.

Minakami Kogen Ski Resort is a nice ski resort for beginners. Whilst it has some steeper slopes, the base area is a golf course during green season, which gives you a bit of an indication of the pitch of the hill.

 Minakami Ski Resorts

Drive from Minakami Top Elevation (m)  Lifts  Courses Max Piste Gradient
(degrees)
 
Akasawa  25.5km SW  1,050  3  3  35
Houdaigi  15km NE  1,400  6  16  40
Minakami Kogen  18km NE  1,248  4  11  32
Minakami Kogen Fujiwara  16.5km NE  1,000  3  9  37
Norn Minakami  7.5km SW  1,220  4  6  30
Oana (closed)  3.8km NE        
Okutune  6km NE  1,180  7  10  33
Tenjindaira  9.5km N  1,500  5  10  34
White Valley  3.4km NW  1,030  2  5  35

From Minakami it’s also possible to sample other nearby ski resorts. The town of Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture is just 32km drive to the northwest and is home to various ski resorts including Naeba, Kagura and Gala Yuzawa. A little further north (officially in Minamiuonuma) are more ski areas such as Joetsu Kokusai and Hakkaisan.

Katashina is another town in Gunma which is also a hub for ski resorts such as Oze Iwakura and is 45km drive to the east.

Other Gunma ski resorts to the west such as Kusatsu Onsen, Manza Onsen and Palcall Tsumagoi are a bit too far away for a day trip from your base in Minakami.

Snow

Gunma snow (aka Gun-powder) is typically drier than the snow of the Nagano and Niigata ski resorts further to the west. Whilst lots of precip is dumped on Tanigawa-dake (and the Tenjindaira Ski Resort), some of the Minakami ski resorts to the southeast sit in slight snow shadows. Whilst snow volumes around Minakami are not as great as snow magnets like Myoko, Hakuba and other northern Nagano ski resorts, the amount of snow per season in Minakami is usually quite respectable.

Minakami Hotels

There are lots of options for Minakami accommodation. Powder hounds will want to stay at Tenjin Lodge near Tenjindaira. The lodge offers backcountry guiding packages that include the accommodation, transport, and guiding at Tenjin and other ski areas. Tenjin Lodge also offers lessons packages with with English speaking instructors.

You can stay in downtown Minakami Onsen where there are Japanese hotels that sit along the gorge of the Tone River. Or a little out of town are hot spring villages with ryokan where you can get your full Japanese on.

Minakami Hotel Listings

Food & Nightlife

If you’re staying at a ryokan, you may choose to dine at your hotel and enjoy a Japanese multi-course dinner post-onsen. Or downtown Minakami has various restaurants that range from yakiniku eateries to pizza. A few restaurants have an English menu whilst at others you’ll enjoy practising your Japanese language skills and/or using google translate and google lens.

If you’re looking for vibrant nightlife, you might be in the wrong town.

[AdListings collection="Japan" category="Minakami" subcategory="Restaurants"]

Bars

[AdListings collection="Japan" category="Minakami" subcategory="Bars"]
Tours That Might Visit Minakami

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Tenjin Guides Learn To Ski
LEARN TO SKI PACKAGES
from 2 days/nights
Ability: Beginner to Intermediate
This package is ideal for those wanting to learn to ski or snowboard away from the masses and at the same time not having to break the piggy bank. Packages are CUSTOMISABLE from 2 days including instruction, lift tickets, lodging, breakfast, dinner, transport & can be optioned up with rental equipment and clothing too.
Price p/p From price based on 2 nights/days; quad-share tatami room for travel all season (group 4) including lessons, lift tickets, breakfast, dinner & transfers to ski areas.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 394
View Details
 
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Minakami here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours
ADVANCED BACKCOUNTRY TOURS
Fully guided - from 3 days/nights
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This tour is for hard-core skiers and boarders wanting to ski & ride some of the deepest and steepest terrain in Honshu Japan. Whilst some of the terrain is accessible by lift, there will be a degree of hiking / touring involved. Snowboarders will require either a split-board or snow shoes....
Price p/p From price based on 3 nights/days; twin-share tatami room for travel in January and February 2024.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 830
View Details
 
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Minakami here
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