Madarao Ski Resort

Madarao Ski Resort

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Madarao3.5 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
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Madarao Ski Resort

Powder hounds that are skiing in Japan should check out the Madarao Ski Resort. Madarao Kogen Ski Resort has excellent ingredients as a powder skiing destination. The area is renowned for average snowfalls in the realm of 10 to 13 metres per season, there is some very good tree skiing and reasonably steep bowls, and off-piste skiing is permitted. Madapow disease is very contagious so it’s no surprise that Madarao is no longer an undiscovered treasure and is gaining a little in popularity.

Madarao Mountain Resort (formerly Madarao Kogen ie Madarao Highlands) is located between Myoko Kogen and Nozawa Onsen, so it’s easy to ski at Madarao as a day trip from either of these ski resorts. Alternatively visit Madarao Mountain Resort as a destination resort for a few days.

Pros and Cons of Madarao Japan

  • Powder, minimal crowds and great tree skiing where you can revel without ski patrol chasing you – what more could a powder hound ask for?
  • Madarao Ski Resort have gladed many of the trees and cleared out some of the shrubbery.
  • Madarao is very family friendly particularly if you stay at the Madarao Kogen Hotel, and lift tickets for children under 12 are really cheap.
  • The Madarao Kogen Hotel is conveniently ski-in ski-out, and has good facilities.
  • The Madarao hotels provide great value for money and there are good accommodation options for those travelling on a shoestring budget.
  • Madarao finds a great balance between catering for English speaking guests without being westernised.
  • On fine days there are impressive views of Mt Myoko and surrounds.
  • The cute town of Iiyama is close by, where you can explore little temples, go for dinner, and generally enjoy some non-touristy Japanese culture.
  • Madarao is close to various other Nagano ski resorts and Myoko, so if you have a car, Madarao makes a great base to chase plenty of powder.
Potential Cons
  • The village is reasonably small and the après scene is rather limited. Restaurant and bar choices are slowly growing (with the influx of westerners buying up property), so at least there are a few options for quiet nightlife.
  • Madarao ski lessons in English are mostly offered in a private format which cost more than group lessons. There are some opportunities for group lessons, but you have to pre-book in advance.
  • Like most Japanese ski resorts, the Madarao ski area is not very large (even when considering the Madarao Tangram combination).

Madarao Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Relative to other Japan ski resorts, Madarao would be considered mid-sized. The Madarao Ski Resort is below the treeline and has 31 piste, 13 official tree courses, 15 lifts, and a vertical drop of 440 metres (910 – 1,350m).

The top of the Madarao ski resort is interconnected with Tangram Ski Circus (only in Japan would they call a ski resort a circus!) which you can access with a combined lift pass. Tangram adds another 15 courses, 2 official tree courses (plus some “naughty trees”), and 5 lifts to the Madarao Tangram line-up.

For Madarao itself, the trail statistics are 30% beginner, 40% intermediate and 30% advanced. The Madarao ski resort is well suited to beginner skiers and snowboarders and is OK for intermediates. There are also some ungroomed black runs that commonly provide egg-carton shaped moguls, and a small terrain park.

Advanced riders can also play in the trees, some of which are very widely spaced due to glading. The terrain in combination with a liberal approach to off-piste riding is leading to its good reputation amongst powder hounds. These off-piste pitches are reasonably steep, but there’s nothing over 40 degrees or gnarly slopes that will scare the pants off experts. Madarao Kogen also has some good sidecountry and backcountry terrain.

Madarao Snow

Madarao Ski Resort has a reputation for offering some really good powder (known as Madapow!), and its northerly aspect is an obvious advantage for the quality of the snow. The top elevation is lower than some of the other Nagano ski resorts, but the modest vertical is a bonus for the quality of the snow at the base area.

Where is Madarao Kogen?

Madarao Kogen is located 38km northeast of the city of Nagano in the north eastern part of the Nagano Prefecture, close to the Niigata Prefecture. Madarao is situated 11km west of the town of Iiyama. Madarao is close to the Myoko Kogen ski resorts, Nozawa Onsen and various other Nagano ski resorts.

To get to Madarao from the Tokyo Narita airport, you’ll first need to catch two trains to Iiyama. From the Iiyama train station, there are buses or taxis to Madarao Kogen. Or from Haneda or Narita Airports you can get a bus to Madarao Kogen with Nagano Snow Shuttle. See our Madarao travel page for more transport information.

Madarao Kogen Hotel and Accommodation

The main Madarao accommodation is the Madarao Kogen Hotel, a ski-in ski-out hotel that sits perched up on one of the main beginner slopes. The Madarao Kogen Hotel has western and Japanese style rooms, and the hotel has various facilities including cafes and restaurants, child care, ski rentals and hot springs (indoor and outdoor onsens).

Other Madarao Kogen accommodation options in the village include various hotels, lots of inexpensive pensions, lodges and a few apartments/houses.

You can search for Madarao accommodation here and book on-line.

Ski Resort Facilities & Activities

Madarao Kogen has various ski resort facilities including daytime cafeterias, a ski shop, equipment rentals, and a couple of small ski schools with instructors that speak English. Kids are very well catered for with a snow park with tubing and sledding, inexpensive child care, a kids room in one of the cafeterias, and other kids’ activities.

Otherwise a wander around nearby Iiyama can be interesting to look at the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

There are a limited number of Madarao restaurants and a few bars, and as is common with most Japanese ski resorts, any nightlife is very subdued. It’s worth heading down to Iiyama at least one night to gain additional restaurant choices.
Tours That Include Madarao

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!
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 3,101
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Pow Pow Japan Tour
Cultural Ski & Snowboard Adventure
Ability: Beginner to Expert
Ski Japan's famous powder in conjunction with a rich cultural experience on this hosted tour. The tour is hosted by a local Japanese person who speaks fluent English; whilst the focus of the tours is primarily snow sports, you will experience the culture, food & festivities beyond the normal ski/snowboard adventure.
Price p/p From price based on 8-day sample itinerary, twin-share room (group of 6).
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,685
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Myoko to Hakuba Backcountry
8 Nights | 9 Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This lift assisted backcountry tour takes in Myoko, Nozawa Onsen & Hakuba & is ideal for advanced to expert backcountry skiers and split boarders. These 3 areas are known for deep snow & epic tree skiing. Join as a solo, couple or small group; max 8 guests per tour.
Price p/p Price per person based on 2024 tours
USD 4,699
View Details
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Madarao here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Nagano Powder Chaser
3, 4, 5 & 6 Nights | 2, 3, 4 & 5 Days Skiing/Boarding
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
Don't let a lack of time, budget or resort knowledge hold you back from a ski/snowboard trip in Nagano this winter. Experience many of Nagano's best ski areas with guides who have an intimate knowledge; based in the culturally rich town of Yudanaka. Tours can be CUSTOMISED for 3 nights or more. Share
Price p/p From price based on 3-night stay at Lodge Aibiya (2 days skiing/boarding) in a twin share room with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 881
View Details
 5% off price for tours booked between 1st March and 15th April 2023
Nagano Ski/Board Progression
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Intermediate to Strong Intermediate
Learn to ski and ride deep powder with more confidence or improve your on-piste technique whilst checking out some of Nagano's fabulous ski areas away from the masses of foreigners. In addition to the skiing and snowboarding, experience an area rich in culture and history. Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room with shared bathroom.
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 2,731
View Details
 Take 10% off prices for tour bookings between 10th March and 6th April 2023
Nagano Ski Buffet
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, traditional Japanese accommodation and authentic Japanese food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure! Share
Price p/p
USD 2,731
View Details
 Take 10% off prices for tour bookings between 10th March and 6th April 2023
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Madarao here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Guided Powder Tours
Single & Multi-Day Tours
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Explore the massive ski area of Shiga Kogen or another nearby ski area including Nozawa Onsen, Madarao & Kijimadaira. Ride Shiga offer backcountry, sidecountry & touring options. Get away from the crowds & find your secret powder stash.
Price p/p *based on per person in a private group of 3 for a full day tour.
base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
Displayed rates might vary to actual due to exchange rate fluctuations.
USD 116
View Details
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Madarao here