Skiing in Tohoku Japan

The Tohoku ski resorts offer plenty of fresh powder
Ski Tohoku for plenty of powder!
Zao Onsen Japan
Tohoku has plenty of onsens
Nekoma: one of the Bandai ski resorts
Zao Onsen Japan
Geto Kogen: a powder magnet
Onsen at Geto Kogen in Iwate Prefecture
Experience the real Japan
Tohoku skiing features plenty of powder
Tazawako Akita Prefecture
Gran Deco: one of the Mt Bandai ski resorts
Minowa: one of our favourite Tohoku ski resorts
Face shots galore with Tohoku skiing and snowboarding
Zao Ski Resort Tohoku Japan
Very little competition for the fresh powder
Tree skiing galore in Tohoku
Zao Japan
Tazawako scores lots of snowfall
Appi Kogen: secret powder

Skiing in Tohoku Japan

Tohoku Skiing and Snowboarding

If you’re a powder hound who wants to get off the beaten track of international skiers and snowboarders, where there is very little English spoken and cultural immersion (and onsen immersion) is at an all time high, and there are abundant freshies that are easily accessible, Tohoku skiing or snowboarding is for you! By skiing in Tohoku, you can experience the real Japan and satisfy your appetite for riding fresh powder.

The best way to get the most out of Tohoku is to go on a multi-resort tour and sample lots of the Tohoku ski resorts and chase the conditions.

Tohoku Ski Resorts

Tohoku is the region in northern (northeast) Honshu, the main island of Japan. Tohoku consists of 6 prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima which is east of Niigata Prefecture and northeast of Gunma.

What is common to many of the Tohoku ski resorts is that there are very few westerners (if any at all) and no-one riding off-piste, so there are fresh powder lines galore. And some of the Tohoku ski areas are so deserted mid-week that it almost feels like your own private ski resort! Much of the Tohoku skiing and snowboarding is at resorts that are small, have minimal advanced piste terrain, and only have enough off-piste terrain variety for one day of riding, but when you have a van, a guide and a driver, you can sample lots of different resorts.

Off-piste riding may be considered taboo at some of the resorts, but with care and discretion you’ll be rewarded with abundant freshies in the trees.

Ski Areas Near Morioka and Mt Iwate
There is a collection of Iwate ski resorts in northern Tohoku including Shizukuishi, Hachimantai, Appi Kogen, and Geto Kogen.

Geto Kogen receives ridiculous amounts of snow – it’s a powder magnet. It has great well spaced tree skiing off a series of ridges. This is one of our favourite powder skiing destinations in Japan.

Shizukuishi has a Prince Hotel at its base and is very typical of a Tohoku ski resort: small, nice tree skiing, and a nice onsen.

Hachimantai Shimokura is small and has great side-country if you can appear invisible.

Appi Kogen is an upscale resort (with some westerners) with amazing groomed runs, but barely anyone rides off-piste (because it’s not allowed) so it’s worthy of a visit for at least a day.

Okunakayama Kogen is a small unknown ski area with a liberal approach to off-piste skiing and riding.

Tazawako (in the Akita Prefecture) is another of our favourite Japanese powder skiing spots. Tazawako Japan is definitely off the beaten track, you won’t have to beat off other feisty powder hounds to get to the freshies. Tazawako is a spot where you can get cultural immersion as well as powder submersion!

Ani is also in the Akita Prefecture and a little further afield. Ani offers some great tree skiing and sidecountry for those with route finding nous or a guide.

Yamagata Prefecture
Further south in the Yamagata Prefecture is Zao Onsen. Zao Onsen is a reasonably mainstream ski resort that attracts some gaijin but they don’t tend to ride off-piste, and other pluses include that it’s an onsen town and there are spectacular snow monsters (when there is visibility).

Aizu Ski Resorts
Further south, the imposing Mt Bandai in the Fukushima Prefecture is surrounded by a variety of ski resorts that are part of the Aizu region. These Aizu ski resorts can be a little busy on the weekends with locals, although the Japanese generally won’t be any competition for the freshes in the off-piste areas. The Bandai ski resorts are mostly rather small and have some nice tree skiing.

Minowa is our favourite powder skiing resort in this area.

Alts Bandai is a well known ski resort (by the Japanese, not by international skiers generally) with well developed facilities. The terrain is pretty typical of a Tohoku ski resort.

Grandeco is mellow in many places and with a little exploring there are some steeper lines.

Inawashiro has amazing tree skiing but only when the powder is fresh because it’s mostly south facing. The town of Inawashiro can be a good spot to use as a base to explore the Bandai ski resorts.

Nekoma has a good range of off-piste and sidecountry terrain.

Aomori Prefecture
The most northern prefecture, Aomori, has various ski areas, with the most famous being Hakkoda, which is an amazing backcountry-type ski area that is serviced by a ropeway. Hakkoda absolutely gets dumped on with snow which is a major pro, but the associated con is that the weather can be brutal and the ropeway closed when the big blizzards come in. To get the most out of the backcountry of Hakkoda, you may wish to visit in late February or March. Hakkoda is 135km north of Appi Kogen, so it’s a decent drive.

Aomori Spring is a nice resort for tree skiing and to get away from the hordes that populate the high profile Japanese ski resorts.

Tohoku Ski Tours

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Frontier Explorer
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow, and also experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder on this Tohoku tour. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu. Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room occupancy for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,967
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 Early bird special: 10% discount off listed price until Aug 31
Tohoku Yuki
8 Nights | 7 Days Skiing | Up to 7 Ski Areas
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
This hosted & guided road trip travels to the northern reaches of Tohoku and includes off the beaten track powder areas such as Zao Onsen, Tazawako, Appi Kogen, Geto Kogen, Aomori Spring & Hakkoda.
Price p/p From price is per person based twin/-share for 2021 group tour
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen inclusive of tax
*Display price may vary slightly due to fluctuation in exchange rates.
USD 3,432
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Northern Powder Odyssey
7 Nights | 6 Days Guided Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Get off-the-beaten track in Northern Tohoku where there are abundant lines of fresh powder and negligible foreigners! Visit Northern Tohoku ski areas you've probably never heard of before and immerse yourself in the Japanese culture.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,063
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit TOHOKU Region here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Central Iwate looking at Amihari & Iwate Kogen from Shizukuishi
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are heading to the Iwate & Akita regions these PRIVATE guiding trips will maximise your Tohoku powder experience. Minimal 4 days. In-resort powder hunting, lift-access sidecountry & backcountry touring options. Resorts include Shizukuishi, Geto Kogen, Tazawako, Ani, Hachimantai, Amihari & Appi Kogen.
Price p/p Displayed based on 4 days per person if 3 in a group 1-3 People: ¥55,000JPY flat rate per day plus tax 4-5 People: ¥65,000JPY flat rate per day plus tax 4-6 People: ¥55,000JPY flat rate per day plus tax
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Displayed price may vary slightly due to currency fluctuations
USD 682
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit TOHOKU Region here

Cat Skiing Tours

Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Score yourself some Hachipow with 2 days of Hachimantai cat skiing. Share the cat skiing slopes with only 7 others! Add a couple of days of Hachimantai cat skiing to your Iwate itinerary or make it your main reason to head to the region. Share
Price p/p Price per person for 2 days cat skiing & 2 nights at Mountain Hotel twin-share accommodation. Base currency in Japanese yen.
USD 1,395
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 10% discount on listed prices if you book before Aug 30
See all Cat Skiing tours that visit TOHOKU Region here