Naeba Lifts & Terrain

Naeba Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Naeba Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    900 – 1,789 (889)
  • Average Snow Fall
    6  metres
  • Lifts (12)
    3 gondolas
    4 high speed quads
  • Ski Hours
    8:00am - 9:00pm
    mid Dec - mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 24
    Longest run – 4 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 30%

Naeba Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Naeba ski resort is a place where there are more power lines than powder lines. The mountain that rises up steeply from the Prince Hotel is rather dramatic, but the views are somewhat overtaken by the presence of the gigantic ugly power lines that sit smack bang in the middle of the ski resort. And as for the powder lines, off piste and sidecountry skiing is possible, but the groomed runs are more of a feature of Naeba.

The highlight of Naeba is the size of the resort. By Japanese standards it is quite large (but it’s tiny by North American standards), and when combined with the adjoining Kagura ski resort, it offers lots of terrain and lifts. Naeba also offers a long vertical (by Japan standards) of 889 metres, although only the central part of the ski area offers continuous vertical.

The bottom half of the ski resort is really wide and has largely beginner and intermediate slopes. Further up the mountain the piste terrain funnels into a narrow sub-alpine area and becomes much steeper than the lower half. When you look at the mountain looming up it looks really steep and it dwarves the hotel towers. It’s not “North American steep” although the maximum gradient of one of the black runs is supposedly 40 degrees.

Naeba is a very popular resort so the lower slopes can get very busy, but the upper slopes are fine and it’s generally OK on weekdays. And thankfully there are many lifts that run from the base, so lift lines are usually not a problem. 


Overall Naeba has very good lift infrastructure by Japanese ski resort standards, but the quality of the lifts is mixed. There are 4 high speed quad chair lifts, some with hoods, along with some old slow double lifts (romance chairs). Top of the pops are the two long Prince gondolas that whizz most of the way up the hill, although the Gondola #1 only seems to operate on weekends.

The Naeba-Tashiro Gondola, aka the Dragondola, connects the base of Naeba ski resort with the Tashiro area of Kagura. At 5.5km long it even beats the Whistler Peak to Peak (at 4.4 km) and it used to be the longest ski gondola in the world. The Dragondola only runs between 9am and 3:30pm, so you won’t get to Kagura for first tracks. The scenic trip takes 20 minutes each way and if there’s only a few people around, they sometimes run it at a slower speed, earning it the nickname of “drag-on-dola”!

Mt Naeba Lift Tickets

You can buy a common lift ticket for Mt Naeba (ie Naeba and Kagura ski resort), which costs a little more than a Naeba-only pass.

Lift tickets are discounted for Seibu Prince Club members.

Other lift ticket configurations include 2 hour and 5 hour passes and afternoon/night skiing tickets.


Kagura is generally a much quieter ski resort than Naeba. Many of the piste runs are green, and beginners can tour along kilometres and kilometres of trails. Kagura only has a few black piste runs, but it has a very relaxed approach to off-piste skiing and the top lift in particular offers some fantastic off-piste and backcountry riding.

Naeba Snow and Weather

The average snowfall per season is only 6 to 8 metres which is much lower than most other Niigata ski resorts (see the snow stats). Naeba receives less snow than neighbouring Kagura (10 metres). Typically storms blow over Kagura first and dump lots of snow. Naeba then gets the “left-overs”. The upside for Naeba is that the snow is often a fraction drier than Kagura, although the top elevation is a little lower so the snow quality is not as well retained. However the top elevation of Naeba is significantly higher (about 800 metres) than that of many of the other Yuzawa ski resorts (see the Niigata snow statistics for elevation comparisons).

Naeba has a tendency to be windy and some of the upper areas are really exposed leading to the lifts going on wind-hold.

For the Beginner

Naeba has an abundance of beginner terrain, although some of it is a bit steeper than your average green run. On weekends you may have to share it with lots of other people considering Naeba’s proximity to Tokyo.

Most of the greenhorn terrain is at the base of the mountain in front of the hotel. There is also a green trail towards to the top which requires egress via a gondola download.

Intermediate Naeba Skiing

Naeba has some groomed intermediate runs that are long and great for cruising. Some of the red runs are rather steep and perfect for testing the edges. The ski resort doesn’t provide the variety you’d typically find in North America, but by Japanese standards, most intermediates will be kept pretty happy for a few days.

For the Kids

For the little kids there is the fenced off Pandaruman area that is serviced by a couple of magic carpets. Naeba also has an indoor area for whipper snappers to learn to ski.

Terrain Parks

Naeba caters pretty well to the shredder with a banked slalom course, and a beginner and intermediate slopestyle park with kickers, boxes and rails.

Advanced Skiing

Naeba has various black runs that are designated as “powder fields”, which essentially means they are not groomed. They are often covered in moguls, or powder covered moguls. Splash Bowl is the steepest run and only opens when conditions are primo. The Takenokoyama Peak Slope at the top of the mountain is the next most difficult run, perhaps in part because the amazing views are so distracting!

Off Piste Skiing and Boarding

The popularity of off-piste skiing and riding at Naeba has been increasing. Naeba has a history of a very strict policy to prohibit off piste riding. The patrollers are now becoming more lenient but you’ll still find ropes, fences, and warning signs. Some of the ropes around the top lift are sensible because it’s avalanche prone, and the patrollers have a rather passive approach to avo control, so take care.

The top lift offers access to some big mountain terrain, and because of the sparse vegetation there are lots of potential powder lines. One of the limitations is that the top lift is often not open, perhaps because there’s a puff of wind, or one can only assume that they’re “doing” their passive avalanche control!

Some other parts of the mountain aren’t so good for off-piste riding because the vertical isn’t continuous and there are various dead zones.


Naeba offers some good steep sidecountry if you’re equipped with avalanche safety gear, backcountry knowledge, and route finding experience. Or you can head out on a guided tour of the Naeba sidecountry.

Naeba Ski Season

The Naeba ski season runs from mid December to early April, although Naeba usually doesn’t get adequate snow coverage until early January to be fully operational. Be aware that some of the facilities at the Prince Hotel such as restaurants don’t fully ramp up until peak season, and the Dragondola to Kagura doesn’t operate during the fringes of the season.