Mt Norikura Ski Resort

Mt Norikura Ski Resort
Mt. Norikura Ski Resort Nagano
Mt Norikura Snow Resort
Fresh lines on-piste
The facilities are simple but adequate
Mt Norikura Nagano
The advanced runs are not particularly steep
Mt Norikura Ski Resort
Mount Norikura Ski Resort
An uncrowded day at Mt. Norikura
The gateway to the backcountry above the resort
Most of the infrastructure needs a good lick of paint
Norikura Kogen
A simple cafeteria
Classic cafeteria fare
Prawn tempura for lunch
Mt Norikura cafeteria
Alpine Inn Mizushiro Norikura Kogen
Alpine Inn Mizushiro - pension in Norikura Kogen
Breakfast room at the Alpine Inn Mizushiro

Mt Norikura Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Mt Norikura

Mt Norikura4/52
Mt Norikura4 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
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The Mt Norikura Ski Resort sits on the flanks of Mount Norikura (Norikura-dake), the third highest volcano in Japan. Norikura means “riding saddle” and the mountain supposedly looks like a horse saddle, but you might need a lot of sake to be able to visualise this.

Mt Norikura Snow Resort in Nagano is located near Matsumoto so you could combine a couple of days at the ski resort with sightseeing at the Matsumoto Castle as a tack onto some time at Hakuba, but don’t confuse Mt Norikura Ski Resort with Hakuba Norikura Ski Resort (which is also in Nagano Prefecture). Or a visit to Mt Norikura Snow Resort might be on the cards if it’s raining in Myoko or Hakuba and you need to get to a higher elevation ski resort like Mt Norikura.

Mt. Norikura Ski Resort is one of those ski areas that would probably appreciate your support. With its ancient lift towers and dilapidated amenities, it feels like the ski resort might not be around for too much longer without an income injection.

Pros and Cons of Mt Norikura Ski Resort

Pros
  • The ski resort has decent elevation and a mostly northeast facing aspect to maintain good snow quality.
  • Mt Norikura Snow Resort is a reasonable size for a Japanese ski resort.
  • The ski area offers a small amount of nice off-piste and sidecountry, whilst Mount Norikura offers plentiful backcountry skiing options.
  • It is renowned for low skier traffic, and foreigners are few and far between.
  • The area provides a variety of hot springs.
Cons
  • The amenities are rather dated.
  • Other cons are quite common with smaller non-westernised ski resorts in Japan:
    • The ski terrain for advanced-plus riders is boring without fresh snow
    • There is zero nightlife
    • There is a very limited choice of evening dining options
    • Besides skiing and snowboarding and having an onsen, there are no other activities
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • This is an off the beaten track ski resort where English is not widely spoken.
  • It takes some effort to get to Mt Norikura Ski Resort, which helps to keep the gaijin crowds away.

Mt Norikura Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Mt Norikura Ski Resort is a decent size compared to many other Japanese ski resorts, with 8 lifts, 20 courses, and 510 metres of vertical drop (1,490 - 2,000m). Of course, Japan ski resorts are not renowned for being large, so the terrain might only keep you entertained for a day or two.

The official trail stats are 40% beginner, 45% intermediate and 15% advanced. The beginner slopes are delightfully gentle and wide, the intermediate slopes are well groomed, whilst the advanced slopes are not particularly challenging and the maximum gradient is only 33 degrees.

What’s not typical for a Honshu ski resort is that you can pretty much ski anywhere off-piste without ski patrol trying to chase you in the deep powder on their narrow slalom skis (which is always fun to watch!). There is a bit of off-piste and sidecountry but keep your expectations on the down low when it comes to pitch or length. The backcountry above the resort is extensive and offers both treed and alpine terrain.

Where is Mt. Norikura Snow Resort?

Blue Resort Norikura Ski Area sits in the Hida Mountains on Mount Norikura (Norikura dake). The mountain is on the border of Gifu & Nagano Prefectures, whilst the ski area itself sits in the Nagano Prefecture. Norikura Kogen is a little village at the base of the ski area that has some hot springs (Norikura Kogen Onsen).

Mt Norikura Ski Resort is 43km southwest of the city of Matsumoto, and 106km southwest of the city of Nagano.

Norikura Kogen Accommodation

Norikura Kogen is a large sprawling village with hundreds of lodgings that mostly rely on summer and autumn trade from the many tourists that go on bus tours up to the summit of Mt Norikura.

There are a few hotels that sit right at the base of the ski area, whilst other Norikura Kogen hotels are a short distance away.

The Norikura Kanko Hotel (aka Yamayuri) is a 2 minute walk from the closest lift, whilst Guest House Raicho is a 5 minute drive away (shuttles are offered).

The Powderhounds have stayed at Alpine Inn Mizushiro, a cosy pension with spartan rooms and shared bathrooms. The accommodation is very economical and meals can be provided. The hosts speak English, provide exceptional service, and are absolutely delightful.

Norikura Kogen Hotels

Or alternatively you could stay in Matsumoto City and drive up for the day.

Matsumoto Hotels

Ski Resort Facilities & Activities

The ski resort has adequate amenities, although they are very dated. Even the equipment rental shop speaks volumes for the bubble era with its abundance of retro rear-entry boots. The ski school offers private lessons in English if you pre-book these.

Your dining requirements are well looked after with a large cafeteria at the base along with a few eateries dotted along the trails.

There is a tubing area and kids’ play park, yet undoubtedly you’re not heading to Mt Norikura to go tubing!

In addition to the many onsen at the hotels and a few public onsen, there is the Shirahone Onsen about 10km away from the ski area, which is famous for its white water (Shirahone means “white bones”).

Restaurants

For evening dining there are only a few options Norikura Kogen restaurants, and you’d probably need to self-drive or ask your accommodation provider to drive you there. Most people have meals at their hotel or pension.
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