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
    7 high speed quads
  • Ski Hours
    8:00am - 9:00pm
    mid Dec - mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 22
    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 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 39 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 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 45 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 12 lifts that run from the base, so lift lines are usually not a problem.

Lifts

Overall Naeba has very well developed lift infrastructure, but in addition to fast lifts there are lots of slow old double lifts (romance chairs). Top of the pops are the two long Prince gondolas that whizz most of the way up the hill, and there are several fast quad chair lifts, some with hoods.

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) as the longest ski gondola in the world. The Dragondola only runs between 9am and 3:30pm and the scenic trip takes 20 minutes each way (unless there are only a few people around and then they might run it at a slow speed), so a day over at Kagura will only be a reasonably short one.

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 guests of the Naeba Prince Hotel.

Other lift ticket configurations include passes for night skiing or one time passes for the Dragondola and the two Prince gondolas.

Kagura

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.

Night Skiing Naeba

At Naeba the night skiing isn’t just for kids and beginners. The illuminated area also includes intermediate runs and bumps runs, so some hot skiers use it as an opportunity to provide an exhibition to the folks watching the night skiing from the restaurants.

Naeba Snow and Weather

The average snowfall per season is only 6 metres (the average of Japan ski resorts listed on Powderhounds.com is 11 metres). 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.

Naeba has a tendency to be really windy and some of the 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 but there’s no egress except for a red run.

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 couple of days.

For the Family and Kids

The trail map designates a family zone out the front of the Prince Hotel where the runs are the mellowest. 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 snowcross course, a terrain park with kickers and rails, as well as a specific park area for over 20s – no little grommets allowed.

Advanced Skiing The statistic of 30% for advanced runs is a little deceiving as there are only 5 black runs at Naeba. A couple of them are really short and they are typically mogul covered. The Takenokoyama Peak Slope at the top of the mountain is the most difficult run, perhaps in part because the amazing views are so distracting!

Off Piste Skiing and Boarding

Not many people go off-piste so this is of course advantageous to powder hounds that do! 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 to indicate that your lift pass will get pulled. 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 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. However there is a bit of nice sidecountry (ie outside resort boundaries) to the skiers’ left of the resort.

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.