Tazawako Lifts & Terrain


Tazawako 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)
    578 – 1,186 (608)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (6)
    2 hooded quads
    4 doubles
  • Ski Hours
    9am - 4:00pm
    mid Dec- early Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 13
    Longest run – 3 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 30%
    Advanced - 40%

Tazawako Japan - Ski & Snowboard Terrain

The Tazawako piste terrain has a lot of similarities to your average Japanese ski resort. The Tazawako ski area is small with only 100 hectares of slopes and 13 courses. There’s a supposed even spread of terrain for different abilities, and the black terrain isn’t particularly challenging. Tazawako piste skiing really fits into the cookie cutter for Japan ski resorts.

What sets the Tazawako Ski Resort apart from many of its Honshu counterparts? Perhaps there’s a little more easy-to-find tree skiing inside the resort boundaries, and the ski patrollers don’t seem to mind if you head off-piste. The Tazawako ski area usually doesn’t have that many powder hunters chewing up your freshies relative to the big name ski areas, so there are often fresh powder lines. The side-country is difficult to navigate, so a guide would be handy, and the backcountry above the resort is delicious on those rare fine days.


Tazawako Japan only has a small fleet of lifts. The mainstay of the lifts is 2 hooded quads, which are a godsend for the oft windy conditions. The quad chair near the day lodge can develop lift queues with what seems like a million school kids, and unfortunately the staff do nothing to ensure that people are grouped into 4s.

There are also 4 double (pair) chair lifts. The Kuromoriyama pair lift that services a mellow black run is only open on weekdays in the morning, but you and your mates may have tracked out the powder on-piste by then. The top chair (Ginrei 3) is a slow double chair with no safety bar, and it can be brutally cold on yucky weather days.

Lift Passes

Like a lot of Tohoku ski resorts, lift passes are reasonably priced and additional savings can be made for seniors over 60 or with a 5 hour pass. There are also single ride tickets. Credit cards are accepted for lift ticket purchases.

Tazawako Snow

It snows a tremendous amount at Tazawako, but in true Japanese style they don’t bother to measure it and/or boast about it. The powder quality is generally very good (but not quite as divine as Hokkaido powder). Low temps and slopes that face mostly west to northwest aid snow quality, as does a decent elevation. The top elevation (1,186m) is similar to other nearby resorts such as Geto Kogen, Hachimantai Shimokura and Shizukuishi.

Due to the frequently windy conditions the snow can be wind affected and there can be perilous wind drifts for low vis days where you may score some involuntary air time.

Skiing Tazawako – Beginners

Tazawako has decent skiing and snowboarding for beginners. The trails near the base are incredibly wide open and beginners can also head up higher to explore another couple of courses.

For the Intermediate

There are only a handful of runs that are officially rated as intermediate, although the groomed black runs are suitable for intermediate skiers and snowboarders too and offer some speedy turns.

The Kokutai red course offers beautiful views across the lake on fine days, whilst the IRIS run is popular with some tourists because a scene of the Iris Korean drama show was filmed there. Whoop-dee-doo!

Tazawako is a nice spot for intermediates to learn to ride powder. Firstly there can be a lot of powder on the groomed runs, and they also tend to leave a wide strip of ungroomed snow either side.

Terrain Park

Tazawako Ski Area usually has a few mini parks set up for different ability levels, with hits such as kickers, banks and rails. If you’re a serious park rider, this is not the spot for you.

On-Piste Advanced Skiing Tazawako

There are only 4 black runs, which are mellow relative to black run ratings elsewhere in the world and 3 of them are usually groomed.

To the lookers’ left of the resort is the Kuromori-yama course that is a lot of fun on a powder day (maximum gradient of 33 degrees). It faces southwest so once the sun comes out it might not be quite as much fun, although the lift’s only open in the morning anyhow. This zone was also the site of a Mogul World Cup.

The Mizusawa Champion course has a gradient of 25 to 38 degrees and is left ungroomed and is reasonably long, but that’s about where the Tazawako on-piste fun finishes for advanced riders.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

For Japan, we define “off-piste” as any zones off the marked trails that are inside the resort. From any insurance perspective, this is usually considered out of bounds, and if you’re not with a guide you need to take self responsibility.

Tazawako Ski Area has one official tree course between the Genrei Course 2 and Kokutai Course where the trees are nicely spaced. It’s a small area, so as to be expected it gets tracked out quickly. Elsewhere there are various trees that are easy to navigate without any heinous gullies, and there’s nothing too steep, but the Tazawako ski area probably isn’t the place for those new to trees because some are tight-ish in places.


The sidecountry (ie lift-accessed backcountry) is definitely not for those new to backcountry riding as it requires well developed skills, and not just with respect to the skiing or riding. And as with any backcountry skiing, if you’re not with a guide, you’ll need to undertake your own risk versus benefit analysis.

The small strip just to the skiers’ left of the ski resort is relatively low risk, so long as you don’t drop off the ridge. Drop off the ridge onto the solar aspect and you’ll be heading onto sketchy slopes and down to a river if you don’t quickly traverse.

Skiers’ right sidecountry has a better aspect and it is also high consequence terrain that is difficult to manage. It offers lots of gully terrain traps, fun open glades and tight trees, culminating in an egress that can be evil. Some lines may require a short bump up out of the drainage.

Tazawako Backcountry

When the weather clears up, the Tazawako backcountry offers some beautiful sub-alpine and alpine terrain. You’ll need to submit a climbing plan but it’s probably best to do this with ski patrol and also let others know of your intentions. The usual process is via local council and you can do it via snail mail, which sounds incredibly dubious with respect to its effectiveness.

Tazawako used to have snowcat accessed backcountry skiing, but it appears that this is no longer in operation.

A vague backcountry map outlines some particularly dangerous zones that are above and to skiers left of the backcountry gate at the top of the Genrei lift #3.

Another backcountry touring route is to start at Alpa Komakusa (Arupa Komakusa) at the former Tazawako Kogen ASSL ski area (closed in 2006) and head up towards the Komagatake Line. Peaks include “Man Mountain”, “Mistress Mountain” and “Woman Mountain”. The latter was mad about the affair and erupted in the early 70s! You can hear more about the folklore from one of the locals guides at Tazawako Camp, or if you want to undertake less conservative touring and lines, there are other options for Tazawako guiding.