Head there with Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours
Tanigawadake Ropeway
Tenjindaira Ski Resort
Tanigawadake is an impressive looking mountain
Sidecountry powder
Skinning up Tanigawadake
Tanigawadake Ropeway takes you up to the ski resort
A fabulous Minakami restaurant
Plenty of great dining options in Minakami
Tenjindaira Ski Resort has a few chair lifts
At the top of Tanigawadake
Tanigawadake offers some superb terrain
Lucky from Tenjin Lodge is a lucky dog!
Takaragawa Onsen is one of the largest outdoor onsen in Japan
Snowshoe tour to near the base of Ichinokura
Hiking up the ridge to the peak
The powder is often sublime
Kieren from Tenjin Guides
The terrain includes big alpine bowls
Skinning up to the peak with Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours


Readers Ratings


Tenjindaira3.5 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
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Tanigawadake Tenjindaira Ski Resort

The Tenjindaira Ski Resort has been somewhat of a well kept secret relative to the sea of high profile Japan ski resorts. The Tanigawadake Tenjindaira Ski Resort is a mouthful, so it’s not surprising that the locals just call it Tenjin.

Tenjindaira is renowned for receiving massive amounts of snow! Tenjin daira in the ancient Japanese language means “powder paradise”. OK maybe that’s not quite truthful, but “tenjin” does mean a “sky or weather god”. And Tanigawadake Tenjin certainly gets the weather in full force – all that snow doesn’t come from fine weather!

Meanwhile the Tanigawa-dake backcountry that’s easily accessible from the Tenjin Ski Resort is simultaneously famous and infamous. There is a huge range of backcountry terrain ranging from mellow trees to super steep chutes and cliffs. The legendary mountain offers snow porn at its best, and associated with the avalanche of hype about the terrain are well….. avalanches. The risks are high and one of the main lines, Nishi Kurosawa aka Tenjin Bowling Alley or Avalanche Gully, is very aptly named!

Pros and Cons of Tenjin

  • A major attraction is the easy access to the backcountry that has lots of terrain variety, much of which is steep.
  • Tenjindaira is blessed with a lot of Japow and it’s generally of great quality thanks to elevation and a favourable aspect.
  • The combination of steep big mountain terrain and big snowfalls is somewhat rare for Japan skiing and snowboarding. If your trip coincides with fine weather, you’re in for a treat!
  • The ski resort is good for beginners, unless of course it’s a deep powder day!
  • Tenjin’s a fabulous place to get away from the hubbub and hordes of the high profile ski resorts.
  • Tenjin is notorious for its nasty weather in the height of winter. If the weather hits in full force, you’re relegated to the tiny ski resort, that’s of course if the lifts are running.
  • The lifts are often slow to open after a big dump, but just relax, the powder aint going anywhere.
  • There’s negligible on offer if you’re not a beginner or hardcore backcountry rider.
  • If you hate deep powder, don’t go here (actually stop reading this website!)
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Besides the skiing and snowboarding, there’s not much to do except have an onsen, go snowshoeing, and have a quiet beer at the lodge.

Tenjindaira Ski and Snowboard Terrain

After heading up the Tanigawadake ropeway (gondola) you get to the actual Tenjindaira Snow Resort, which is very small. It only has 9 courses, some of which are groomed, and 3 pair lifts. The middle lift at Tenjin Flat as the name suggests, offers novice terrain. One of the lifts services one intermediate run, whilst the other chair lift offers an ungroomed bowl for strong intermediate to advanced riders. The official trail stats are 30% beginner, 40% intermediate and 30% advanced, but you can pretty much ignore the statistics because they mean very little!

Beginners and intermediates will need to download the ropeway/gondola at the end of the day, whilst others can use the ungroomed slope that heads down into the valley (unless avi risk is high).

Most people don’t come to the Tenjin Ski Resort to ride in the little ski area; they come to check out the amazing sidecountry and backcountry. The chairlift of joy takes you to a ridge where the world is your oyster, either to drop down into the north facing birch trees that are powder laden, or to head up into the big alpine mountain terrain. This is not backcountry for newbies. There’s often avalanche risk and the propensity for the weather to rapidly change also results in incidents. You need a guide as a bare minimum.

Where is Tanigawadake Tenjindaira?

Tenjin Ski Resort and the associated Mt Tanigawa are located deep in the Joetsu National Park. The base of the Tanigawadake ropeway is 9km north of the town of Minakami (in far north Gunma) and 40km by road southeast of Yuzawa (Niigata Prefecture) and its many ski resorts.


There is no on-mountain accommodation at Tanigawadake Tenjindaira. Tenjin Lodge is the closest lodging to the ski area; about 800 metres down the road from the ropeway building. The simple, reasonably priced rooms are either Western or Japanese style, with hot water available in a shared bathroom. Other bonuses of staying here are that the owner can provide guiding, and they rent out ski and snowboard equipment, including backcountry safety gear.

Otherwise you can stay in the town of Minakami, with various hotels to choose from. Clos by is the very high quality Ryokan Tanigawa with its beautiful Japanese rooms, onsens and the option of fine kaiseki dinners.

Or you could stay at the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku, which is 5km away from Houdaigi Ski Resort and 17km northeast of Tenjindaira. This old ryokan is located at the very famous Takaragawa Onsen (one of the largest outdoor hot springs in Japan) and offers very traditional Japanese style tatami rooms.

Minakami Accommodation Listings


In the evenings most people choose to dine at their ryokan or lodge. Or you could drive into Minakami town where there is a good range of very authentic Japanese izakayas and restaurants (don’t expect any English to be spoken). Or if you need an English menu and a western feed, La Biere Pizza in Minakami has pretty good wood fired pizza in a cute setting.
Tours That Include Tenjin

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

The Legendary Roadie
11 Days | 10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Experience Japan powder like no other on this legendary road trip where you will visit up to 8 resorts in 3 prefectures; Nagano, Gunma & Niigata! Join a tour as a solo traveler, couple or small group. Max 6 spots per tour so get in quickly! Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share, standard package at Lodge Aibiya.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,246
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 Early bird special: 5% off listed prices if you book before 31 July 2020
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Tenjindaira here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Tenjin Guides Learn To Ski
from 2 days/nights
Ability: Beginner to Intermediate
This package is ideal for those wanting to learn to ski or snowboard away from the masses and at the same time not having to break the piggy bank. Packages are CUSTOMISABLE from 2 days including instruction, lift tickets, lodging, breakfast, dinner, transport & can be optioned up with rental equipment and clothing too.
Price p/p From price based on 2 nights/days; quad-share tatami room for travel all season (group 4) including lessons, lift tickets, breakfast, dinner & transfers to ski areas.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 539
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Tenjindaira here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Gunma Niigata Explorer
6 Nights | 5 Guided Days | Private Groups
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Chase the powder around the Nagano and Niigata Prefectures where there are sooooo many ski resorts and backcountry areas to choose from. This tour has the flexibility to pick the best area on any given day & from there you'll explore the backcountry with a lead and tail guide.
Price p/p From price based on a twin/triple share room (price displayed is per person) for sample itinerary with 5 people in group.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,000
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Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours
Fully guided - from 3 days/nights
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This tour is for hard-core skiers and boarders wanting to ski & ride some of the deepest and steepest terrain in Honshu Japan. Whilst some of the terrain is accessible by lift, there will be a degree of hiking / touring involved. Snowboarders will require either a split-board or snow shoes....
Price p/p From price based on 3 nights/days; twin-share tatami room (group 3) for travel in January and February 2020.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 856
View Details
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Tenjindaira here