Miyagi Prefecture

Miyagi Prefecture

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Skiing in Miyagi

Whilst skiing in Tohoku is well renowned amongst powder hounds, snowboarding and skiing in Miyagi is often considered the poor cousin of Tohoku. Whilst Miyagi skiing may not match the scale or reputation of more popular Tohoku ski areas, it can still provide some fun for adventurous souls if you keep your expectations in check. If you’re in the region, it may be worth heading to a few of the Miyagi ski resorts for a low-key uncurated ski experience where the costs and crowds are low, and there is no frenzy to elbow other powder hunters aside.

Where is Miyagi Prefecture?

Miyagi Prefecture is located in the Tohoku region of Honshu Japan. The Pacific Onsen sits on the east coast of Miyagi, whilst the Yamagata Prefecture is to the west, Iwate Prefecture is to the north, Fukushima Prefecture to the south, whilst Akita Prefecture sits on its northwest corner.

The capital city of Miyagi, Sendai, is 370 km northeast of Tokyo.

Miyagi Ski Resorts

There are only 10 ski resorts in Miyagi, which are mostly located in the western part of the prefecture. They typically have basic infrastructure with mostly slow lifts, and are small ski areas that are worthy of a day of exploring, but not a multi-day stay.

 Miyagi Skiing & Snowboarding at Select Resorts
Miyagi Ski Resort Top
Elevation (m)
Vertical (m)  Lifts  Courses Max Gradient
(degrees)
 
Primary Slope
Orientation
 Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park  1,400  300  3  9  35  NE
 Miyagi Zao Eboshi Resort  1,346  700  6  10  35  E
 Miyagi Zao Shiroishi Ski Resort  1,146  300  4  12  38  E to SE
 Onikoube  1,055  715  6  8  34  N to NE
 Miyagi Zao Shichikashuku  1,000  460  3  6  37  NW
 Spring Valley Izumi Kogen  959  272  4  12  36  E to NE
 St Mary  950  500  5  5  30  NE
So as to not suffer from geographical embarrassment with respect to the name “Zao”, note that the Zao Mountains straddle both the Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures, and despite being a collection of mountains they are sometimes referred to as “Mount Zao”. Zao is also a town in SW Miyagi that is 35km southwest of the city of Sendai. It has a few ski resorts nearby that have “Miyagi Zao” in the name so as not to confuse these ski areas with Zao Onsen over in Yamagata Prefecture.

Ski resorts near the town of Zao:
  • Miyagi Zao Eboshi Ski Resort is 20km to the northwest of town. This is the largest ski resort in Miyagi (but don’t get too excited!) and it has a gondola, a quad chair and a few double chairs. Tree skiing and sidecountry opportunities are limited unless you wear your snow camo outfit.
  • Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park is 20km northwest of Zao town. There is a guiding service that does various backcountry ski tours and snowshoe tours above the ski area with snowcat shuttle assist.  
  • Miyago Zao Shiroishi Ski Resort is 21km to the SW of Zao town. The upper third of the ski areas has some pitch and tree skiing opportunities. Further afield there is snow monster viewing, some backcountry touring zones, and snowcat shuttles.
  • Miyagi Zao Shichikashuku is 42km to the southwest in the SW corner of the prefecture. This is another one of those Japanese ski areas where the operation of the top lift is very hit and miss.
  • Zao Onsen Ski Resort in Yamagata is to the northwest of Zao town and is 60km by road in the summer, but the road is closed during winter.
Onikoube Ski Resort is near the onsen town of Naruko near Osaki City in the NW part of Miyagi Prefecture. Onikoube is a small resort that’s cheap and cheerful and has mostly meandering slopes, some good upper intermediate terrain and a little bit of lift-accessed tree skiing, and great backcountry terrain when the snow is abundant.  

Miyagi Snow

Statistics are not cited for snow volumes for the ski resorts in Miyagi, but it’s likely that they receive modest amounts relative to some of the west coast Tohoku ski areas. To the west, Yamagata is thought to be one of the snowiest prefectures in Japan. It’s likely that the typical storms drop plenty of snow on the Yamagata mountains and most of the moisture has petered out by the time the storm gets to Miyagi.

The upside is that the Miyagi snow that falls is dryer and better quality powder. However in the sub-alpine regions you may find a lot of rime due to high winds and freezing rain, which is how those snow ghosts form on the Zao Mountains. Scary!
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