Houdaigi Lifts & Terrain

Houdaigi Lifts & Terrain


  • Vertical (m)
    830 – 1,400 (570)
  • Average Snow Fall
    unknown
  • 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%
It seems rather cliché, but the Minakami Hodaigi 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 Hodaigi 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 (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.

Lifts

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.

Minakami Hodaigi Snow

Gunma snow can often be a bit drier than in Niigata and Nagano because it is located further inland, and the Hodaigi 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 Hodaigi

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 reasonably devoid of other novices. 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 Hodaigi

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 Parks

Minakami Hodaigi has a couple of terrain parks that are mostly targeted towards introductory park riding, although sometimes they have decent sized kickers set up.

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 Hodaigi 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!

Backcountry

Hodaigi offers a little sidecountry off the top lift and also some backcountry skinning opportunities above the ski resort that funnel nicely back into the resort (with good route finding).