Yamaboku Ski Resort 


Yamaboku Ski Resort 

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Keep the Yamaboku Ski Resort in Nagano under your hat. Formerly Yamada Bokujo (Yamada Ranch), the Yamaboku Wild Snow Park is a little ski area with decent elevation that’s reasonably deserted relative to many other Nagano ski resorts. It’s not that wild as the name would suggest, but it’s also not just mellow slopes either. Yamaboku is good for a day trip from Yudanaka or other nearby destinations, or for a couple of days if you want to get away from it all and enjoy tranquil onsen soaking.

Pros and Cons of Yamaboku Ski Resort

  • There is barely anyone there so it’s easy to get fresh mellow powder lines.
  • Yamaboku is in close proximity to various onsen.
  • Lift passes are cheap.
  • Yamaboku has snowcat tours to access additional terrain.
  • It’s a very small ski area so it’s unlikely to capture the attention of powder hounds for very long.
  • The lift infrastructure is rather primitive.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • It’s a bit clunky to get there by public transport so you’ll need a car, which is part of the reason it’s not patronised by many gaijin.
  • Yamaboku Nagano offers a slice of the real Japan and a delightful opportunity to get away from the busy westernised ski resorts. English isn’t widely spoken and undoubtedly meals at your lodging will involve plenty of fishy items.

Yamaboku Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The main part of the Yamaboku Wild Snow Park is called 1st stage which is diminutive and has only 16 trails, 274 metres of vertical (1,500 - 1,774m) and 3 dinky lifts (2 double chairs, 1 pizza box single chair), and one of the lower chairs doesn’t always operate.

As is common with Japanese ski resorts, the beginner and intermediate trails are in the lower half of the Yamaboku ski area. The courses are mostly wide, not all are groomed, and there aren’t many trees relative to most Japanese ski resorts. The steeper trails are serviced by the single chair which includes a double black piste. Before you get too excited about a challenging run, it’s not actually that steep (maximum of 38 degrees for one moment) but probably just rated double black because it’s narrow and drops between the trees.

There’s also an unofficial trail (Takochi Course) that runs a ridiculous 13km from the top of the 3rd chairlift down to Yamada Onsen.

The 2nd stage of Yamaboku is considered a private area for guiding for a small number of pre-booked people on the weekends. The terrain is reasonably low angle and is accessed via snowcat from the top of the 3rd chair lift. The 3rd stage is above the lifts and spreads from 1,774m up to 2,075m to the summit of Kasaga-dake, which is for ski touring, splitboarding or a cat tour.

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Yamaboku Snow

The snow at the Yamaboku Ski Resort is similar to that of Shiga Kogen and the elevation of the resort is reasonably high. The slopes are mostly west facing.

Where is Yamaboku Wild Snow Park?

Yamaboku Ski Resort is located on the south west flank of Kasagadake in Takayama Village. It’s 32km east of Nagano City in the Nagano Prefecture. Yamaboku is located near Shiga Kogen and it’s only 11km by road from the Kumanoyu ski area of Shiga Kogen in summer, but the road’s not open in winter.

Yamaboku Accommodation

There are several lodging options within 5 minutes walk of the ski area, and the very cool looking Redwood Inn is located at the base of the ski area, just a 2 minute walk to the lifts.

Or you could stay in the lovely Yamada Onsen village which is 8.5km from the ski area (about 15 minutes drive). The Yamada Onsen lodgings are beautiful historic ryokan with stunning onsen baths and exquisite meals. There are no evening restaurants in the village so you’ll need to include the pricy meal packages with your accommodation or BYO food.

Yamada Onsen Accommodation Listings


The ski resort has very basic facilities available. There is no resort-run cafeteria or day lodge, but rather a few independently run eateries that are very small. BYO equipment because the rental gear is really basic.

Services include a specific telemark ski school, backcountry guiding and snowshoe tours.

The area also provides plenty of opportunities for onsen soaking.
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