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%
The Tazawako Japan on-piste terrain has a lot of similarities to your average Japanese ski resort. It’s 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. Better yet, the Tazawako ski area tends to be devoid of powder hunters chewing up your freshies, so there are copious fresh powder lines! The side-country is also reasonably easy to navigate (although a guide would be handy) and the backcountry above the resort is delicious on those rare fine days.

Lifts

Tazawako Japan only has a small fleet of lifts. The mainstay of the lifts is 2 hooded quads, which are a godsend for the often windy conditions. If other lifts are closed due to feral wind, the quad chair near the day lodge can develop lift queues with what seems like a million school kids.

There are also 4 double (pair) chair lifts. The Kuromoriyama pair lift that services a mellow black run is only open on weekdays until 10:30am, 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.

If you haven’t frozen your bits off during the day, the Mizusawa double chair is open for night skiing for beginners.

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), because the ski resort sits behind a big volcano to the east so some moisture is lost before the powder falls. Low temps and slopes that face mostly west to northwest also 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, although it’s 142 m lower than the top of Appi Kogen.

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. Wheeeee! It can be bloody freezing at Tazawako, so pack your puffer jacket in case you need it.

Tazawako Skiing for the Beginner

Tazawako has decent skiing and snowboarding for beginners, although it’s unlikely to attract the attention of international travellers. 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 black runs are really suitable for intermediate skiers and snowboarders too.

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.

On-Piste Advanced Skiing Tazawako

There are only 3-4 supposed black runs, which are mellow relative to black run ratings elsewhere in the world.

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 until 10:30am anyhow.

The Mizusawa Champion course is left ungroomed and it’s reasonably long, but that’s about where the Tazawako on-piste fun finishes for advanced riders.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Advanced and expert riders will want to spend most of their time off-piste, and there is enough terrain variety for a couple of days. Just to the right of the top chair are some nice trees that are tight-ish in places to provide some challenge.

The sidecountry to the left of the ski area provides some amazing tree skiing which ranges from open glades to tight trees. Parts of this area can still be accessed if the top chair is closed.

Backcountry

When the weather clears up, there is beautiful sub-alpine and alpine terrain above the ski area. If for some reason you haven’t brought your avalanche safety gear, it’s possible to rent it from the ski shop in the day lodge. They also offer backcountry guiding services and snowcat rides.