Lifts & Terrain

Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    1,490 – 2,000 (510)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (8)
    2 quad chairs
    1 triple chair
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - late Mar
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 20
    Longest run – 5 km
    Beginner - 40%
    Intermediate - 45%
    Advanced - 15% 

The Mt Norikura Snow Resort isn’t your average Japanese ski resort when it comes to its contours. Whilst it does sit on the large volcano of Mount Norikura, the actual ski resort sits a fair way down the mountain and it doesn’t have the quintessential terrain shape of a ski resort on a small conical volcano. The bottom of the Mt Norikura Ski Resort has intermediate and advanced terrain, the beginner terrain sits in the middle and there is a downhill section as you head towards the summit, whilst the uppermost lift services intermediate and advanced terrain. The lack of consistent downhill fall line throughout the resort means that off-piste and sidecountry lines are short-lived, and you need to keep a close eye on navigation so you don’t get gullied out.


The lift infrastructure at the Mt Norikura Snow Resort is rather antiquated and amongst other inadequacies, could do with a good lick of paint. The ski resort has 8 lifts comprised of 2 quad chairs, 1 triple, and 5 pair lifts.

Mt Norikura is renowned for being very cold and it often gets a lot of wind, so if you’re commuting there for the day, it would pay to check which of the lifts, if any, are operating.

Lift Tickets

Lift ticket prices are pretty average for Japan (which equates to very cheap compared to North America, New Zealand and skiing in Australia). The ski resort has various weekday discounts so keep your eye out for super cheap lift passes for general specials, ladies day, and seniors day, and the seniors age is pretty low at only 55.

Mt Norikura Snow

Whilst Mt Norikura Snow Resort is further south than many of the big name Nagano ski resorts, the Mt Norikura snow is typically of good quality thanks to high elevation (the top lift goes up to 2,000m) and a mostly northeast aspect. Large snowfalls tend to mostly originate from storm systems from the south, unlike many of the other Nagano ski resorts that enjoy NW and NNW storms. As the latter are more frequent, Mt Norikura doesn’t typically get the same seasonal volumes of snowfall as the “big boys”.

Beginner Skiing Mt Norikura

Beginners have lots of trails to choose from and the ski area is good for progression. Most of the courses are mid-mountain and beginners can learn in peace because experienced riders only tend to move through this area when transiting between the two intermediate/advanced areas. Groups with beginners should park at one of the upper car parks, as there is no beginner terrain at the base.

For the Intermediate

Mt Norikura only has a handful of intermediate trails so intermediates would need to enjoy plenty of repetition. As to be expected for a Japanese ski resort, strong intermediates could also play on the “advanced” runs depending on the size of the moguls, because the slopes are not very steep.

Terrain Park

The ski resort usually has a couple of snow parks that are reportedly OK, but they weren’t set up when we visited.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste

One of the quad chairs provides access to an advanced run but it’s not very challenging. The top lift services a large bowl that’s somewhat mellow but at least it’s very wide so it’s easy to get fresh lines on a powder day.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

You’re unlikely to get hassled by ski patrol at Mt Norikura Snow Resort and there is a distinct lack of ropes. The off-piste and sidecountry terrain provides some mellow lines as well as steep short pitches. The off-piste generally offers short vertical because the fall-line of the mountain isn’t continuous.

The terrain to skiers’ left of the top lift is a fave with its combination of widely spaced evergreens & deciduous trees. There is a road that winds around the area so don’t get sucked into thinking this is a ski trail for egress.

Mt Norikura Backcountry

There is about 1,000 vertical metres above the top lift and extensive backcountry terrain on Mount Norikura off 23 peaks. From the top lift there is a fire trail that you can skin up to get to the alpine area.

The backcountry includes plenty of glade skiing as well as alpine, with a major bias towards mellow terrain. Despite the mostly low-angle terrain, there is definitely avalanche risk at times (an avalanche fatality occurred during the 2020 season) so the usual precautions apply.