Nekoma Terrain

Nekoma 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)
    700 – 1,338 (638)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (13)
  • Ski Season
    early Dec - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 33
    Longest run – 3 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 30%

Nekoma Mountain Terrain

The Nekoma Mountain Resort is modestly sized compared to international ski resorts, despite being the amalgamation of Alts Bandai and Nekoma Ski Resorts. Both sides of the Nekoma Ski Resort have shrunk somewhat over the years. On the Alts side (the south side), the western section of the resort is now snowcat accessed, whilst the eastern portion was gondola serviced, which is no longer. The north side (formerly Urabandai Nekoma) has also seen a reduction in chair lifts and terrain, and it now has 11 courses.

Due to the ease of access of Nekoma Mountain Resort from Niigata City and Tokyo, the ski area scores big crowds on weekends and holidays, which mostly hang on the frontside of the mountain near the base. The limited lift capacity doesn’t always handle the crowds particularly well. Conversely on weekdays, the mountain is usually very quiet. 


The recent years have seen lots of changes in lift operations.

The north side had 8 chair lifts not too long ago, including a hooded fast quad and a fast triple hooded chair which provided easy access to some great trees, along with a single chair. Now only 5 old pair lifts remain, which are ageing and dilapidated. The Deep Cat chair isn’t open all the time, and it’s not always clear why it lies unmoving.

The south side has shrunk a lot. Not too long ago there was a gondola, but it’s been retired. The mainstay of the resort are double chairs, and like the north side, lift operations have not been reliable. Case in point is the Frozen chair which often seems to be frozen.

Night skiing is only held on Saturday nights and the evening before consecutive holidays, in a small area on the south side.

On the good news front, there is a new pair lift at Nekoma Mountain that connects the two sides. Unlike most chair lifts in Japan, the north-south lift is a fair way off the ground.

Nekoma Snow

The Bandai ski resorts are not particularly high, so whilst the snow quantity and quality are generally good, it’s usually not the super amazing powder that Japan is famous for and recent seasons have been rather fickle.

The snow on the south side can be highly variable. Formerly known as ALTS, it wasn’t short for “altitude”. It was an abbreviation for Aer, Lux, Terra, Sol (air, light, earth, sun) and with its mostly southerly orientation there is a lot of light and sun, which can impact the snow quality. The 2023-24 season was a shocker that saw it closed for parts of the season due to negligible snow.

As to be expected, the Nekoma snow quality on the north side is far superior due to its aspect, and the Deep cat zone also has a little more elevation.

Nekoma Ski Season

The low elevation and aspect also lead to a relatively short season (late Dec to late March or early April) on the south side.

Nekoma Mountain on the north side has a longer season and is usually open from early December to early May.

Beginner Skiing Nekoma

The north side has a free magic carpet for novices to use. The next step up is the beginner trail serviced by the Friendly Cat.

The south side has more offerings for beginners. You can start on the aptly named First Chair, although with a blue run feeding into it from above, beginners mix with faster riders which can result in mayhem at times. A snaking beginner course comes off the White Valley chair, and the next two chair lifts across also have a beginner trail.

Nekoma Skiing & Riding – Intermediates

Nekoma Mountain is well suited to intermediate riders and it has some quality groomed blue runs and easy black runs. Like a lot of other Japanese ski resorts, you’ll need to enjoy repeating the same runs over and over.

A few of the intermediate runs have been merged with lots of park features.

Terrain Parks

The piece de resistance of Nekoma Mountain is probably the terrain parks. Surprisingly it no longer sports a half pipe, but there are oodles of jumps and hits to keep the physiotherapists in business. There are usually a handful of terrain parks set up that include beginner to intermediate hits, step-up parks, a banked park, and a global park with a mega kicker that seems to be mostly only open to pros.

Advanced Skiing Nekoma

Thirty percent of the trails are classified as advanced, however there’s no need to start plans to make an extreme skiing video, because the black runs are not particularly steep. What’s scary about these runs is that they are typically a mess of moguls.

Unfortunately like some other Japanese ski resorts, you may find a black run or two closed due to the presence of a crack. Rather than using other techniques to control avalanche risk, they just close the run. The mind boggles.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Advanced riders will want to head off-piste into the trees. On the south side, the off-piste zones include reasonably spaced trees that are rather short before they pop back out onto a run. Off-piste lines are slightly steeper than the piste, and other than the occasional creek, they are pretty easy to navigate.

The north side offers a good range lines in the off-piste areas (ie within resort boundaries) that are sweet but short before they mellow out, as well as some nice lines in the sidecountry (ie just outside the resort boundaries).

Unlike many Japanese ski resorts that have become progressive and now allow tree skiing, Nekoma has had some difficulty in ridding itself of its conservative approach and there are some old-timers that may still police the official stance. It’s best to play it safe and remain discrete and pick your ingress and egress appropriately. Definitely don’t ski under the operational lifts, but with care you should be able to play on the old lift lines and in amongst the really well spaced trees. A bonus is that most people stay on-piste, so there should be fresh lines on offer.

Backcountry Skiing

The acceptance of going outside the resort boundaries seems to have improved, and the resort feels this is OK if you have the right experience and equipment and/or a guide and if a mountaineering notification form is submitted. Short hikes up provide some bowl skiing and longer fall-line tree skiing, and there is also some great lift-accessed backcountry.