I’m going to jump right into it: 6 Reasons to Go Skiing in Fukushima this winter!
1) Access from Tokyo
Some of Fukushima main ski resorts can be reached in just 2.5 hours by train (shinkansen and local) & bus
2) Long Ski Season
Being the third largest prefecture in Japan makes for a varied climate across Fukushima Prefecture – this means Fukushima Prefecture’s ski season is comparitively long, lasting up to the end of April in some regions!
3) Powder Snow
Sheltered by mountains, Aizu region’s inland location blesses its ski slopes with low humidity and a high snow quality that is fine and dry, which is comparable to that of the top-class snow in Hokkaido.
4) Have the Slopes to Yourself
Fukushima’s ski resorts are yet to be widely discovered by international tourists. You can enjoy skiing in Aizu without feelings like you’re at just another international tourist resort.
5) Close to Sightseeing Destinations
Many ski resorts are located in or near Bandai, Inawashiro, Oku Aizu and Minamiaizu Areas, which are close to some of Fukushima’s most impressive sightseeing spots including Tsuruga-jo Castle and Tadami River No.1 Bridge Viewpoint.
6) Good deals for international tourists
Great deals available to international tourists until the end of March 2019, such as cheap ski passes (you can get a 1-day pass for free if you’re between 19 and 24 years old!) and cheap car rentals. See Aizu Ski for more information.
See Aizu Ski’s website for an easy-to-understand map of all the ski resorts in Fukushima Prefecture, which are centered in the Aizu area.
Fukushima’s Ski Resorts
Hoshino Resorts’ Alts Bandai, Hoshino Resorts’ Nekoma, and Grandeco Resort are 3 of Fukushima’s most popular ski resorts amongst international tourists. They each have their own English websites, but here’s a little summary:
Hoshino Resorts’ Alts Bandai
- English Homepage: https://www.alts.co.jp/en/
- No. of Ski Courses: 29
- Level: Suitable for all levels
- Getting There:
- 1.5 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo to Koriyama Station.
- Then a 50 minute train to Bandai Station on the Ban’etsu West Line.
- Free 20 minute shuttle bus from Bandai Station to Alts Bandai (Dec 22 2018-Mar 31 2019) leaving at 9:30 / 10:50 / 11:45. This shuttle bus needs to be booked in advance
- There are also buses from Koriyama Station to the resort.
Hoshino Resorts’ Alts Bandai is the biggest resort in Fukushima Prefecture’s Aizu region, boasting 29 ski courses which provide great skiing and snowboarding for all ages and abilities. Alts Bandai is located on the slopes of Mt Bandai, and is split into two main skiing areas.
The northern area is known as Nekoma Bowl and home to the more advanced ski courses; the lack of sunlight the area is exposed to meaning that the snow is not compacted and therefore offers a challenging ride to more experienced skiers.
Another interesting feature of Alts Bandai is the chance to ride a snowmobile to the top of a slope closed off during the week. If you take the snowmobile to the top, you’ll be able to ski down over one week’s worth of soft, untouched snow! (You have to book in advance).
Hoshino Resorts’ Nekoma
- English Homepage: https://www.nekoma.co.jp/en/
- No. of Ski Courses: 10
- Level: Beginner to Advanced
- Getting There:
- 1.5 by shinkasnsen from Tokyo to Koriyama Station.
- Then a 50 minute train to Inawashiro Station on the Ban’etsu West Line.
- A free shuttle bus from Inawashiro Station to Nekoma Resort leaves once a day between Dec 22 2018 and 31 Mar 2019. (Need to book in advance)
Nekoma Resort, located close to Alts Bandai, is known for the incredibly micro-fine, powdery quality of its snow. The micro-fine powder snow is made possible because of how cold the area gets; often reaching -15 degrees in winter. Nekoma Resort’s northern slope is shaped liked a funnel, which helps stop the snow from becoming icey.
Nekoma Resort, like Alts Bandai, is operated by Hoshino Resorts, so visitors holding a ski pass for Alts Bandai will also be able to utilize the slopes and gondolas at Nekoma Resort. There is also a free shuttle bus between these two ski slopes which are perfect for skiiers who want a bit of variety.
- English Website: https://www.grandeco.com/english/snow.html
- No. of Ski Courses: 7
- Level: More aimed at beginners
- Getting There:
- 1.5 hours by shinkansen from Tokyo to Koriyama Station.
- Between Dec 8 2018 – Mar 31 2019, a bus leaves for Grandeco once a day from Koriyama Station (1300 yen per person). This bus takes 1 hour 40 minutes.
- Between Dec 1 2018 – Apr 9 2019, 4 free shuttle-buses leave for Grandeco Resort daily from Inawashiro Station. The last bus leaves at 14:30. Inawashiro Station is a 45-50 minute train ride from Koriyama Station on the Ban’etsu West Line.
Unlike the 2 Hoshino Resorts’ ski resorts, Grandeco has lengthy, uninterrupted ski runs rather than having a number of gondolas split ski runs into many ski courses.
There are a few routes aimed at experienced skiiers, but most of the slopes at Grandeco are gentle, making it perfect for families, those just starting skiing and those, like myself, that have totally forgotten how to ski at all.
Grandeco is also one of the ski resorts in Fukushima Prefecture where it is not unheard of for slopes to remain open until Golden Week at the end of April.
News: (January 11 2018)
Non-Japanese guests at a number of hotels & B&Bs in Urabandai Area this winter can enjoy 50% discounts on a range of snow activities including ski lift passes for use at Hoshino Resorts Nekoma & Gran Deco, snow shoe trekking tours & smelt fishing! The conditions:
- You must stay at one of a select list of hotels & B&Bs listed on the snow activity page linked below
- You need to show your passport (non-Japanese passports only)
- You must fill out a survey after the snow activity you take part in
- Share your experience on social media!
Alts Bandai, Nekoma Resort and Grandeco Resort are all located close to one another, and are neighbours to many more of Aizu area’s ski resorts. Fukushima is full of amazing winter scenery and there are many spectacular views to be seen from Fukushima Prefecture’s many ski resorts.
The number of slopes, difficultly level, and range of non-skiing snow activities (i.e. toboganning, snowmobiling etc) depends on the resort, so make sure to check out the Snow Japan website for information to help you compare resorts.
To give you an idea of the feeling of a few of these ski resorts, I’ve gathered some photos of a variety of Fuksuhima’s ski resorts, which I’ll list below along with the name of the ski resort. Check out their location on the map below too!
This area is near Lake Inawashiro & Aizu-Wakamatsu City
Listel Ski Fantasia
Nihonmatsu Shiozawa Ski
Oku Aizu Area
Near Enzoji Temple & Tadami River No. 1 Bridge Viewpoint
Fairyland Kaneyama Resort
Near Hinoemata Onsen & Ouchi-juku
Aizu Kogen Nango Ski
Aizu Kogen Daikura Ski
Aizu Kogen Takatsue Ski
For up-to-date information on all the ski resorts in Fukushima, including information on how to reach them and on prices etc, please see Snow Japan’s website here.
Thank you for reading my blog, and I look forward to reading your comments!
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