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Hotakasan Above the Clouds

Flanked on all sides by ski resorts,  Hotakasan rises high above Minakami and pierces through the clouds. From the peak you can gaze down into Numata to the south or over

Hakodateyama Ski Resort

Want to ski on top of natural snow in Kansai with stunning scenery? Try Hakodateyama Ski Resort in Shiga, one of the closest ski resorts to Kyoto and Osaka, just 2 hours away, making it perfect for a day trip.


Nestled deep in the mountains that border Gumna and Niigata, the town of Fujiwara is the winter gateway to several ski resorts in the area. Most people pass through this sleepy little area on their way to Hodaigi or Minakami Kogen ski resorts. Perhaps the most famous tourist attraction in the area, Takaragawa Onsen (the largest co-ed outdoor onsen in Japan) is also close by. The large lake that borders the lower slopes of town is formed by the Fujiwara dam, which is one of many controlling the flow of the Tone river, whose waters make it all the way to Tokyo and out into the Pacific Ocean.

Naeba Ski Resort

Taking a break from our usual snowboarding turf, my friend and I decided to check out Naeba Ski Resort. Just on the other side of the mountains from where I live, Naeba occupies a sleepy corner of Yuzawa in Niigata prefecture. Most of the year this area is pretty desolate and relaxed, with the occasional hiker passing through. Come winter though, it explodes in a sea of white excitement. Multiple ski resorts host thousands of skiers and Snowboarders who drive in from all sections of Japan. We had the good fortune of spending two great days riding under perfect blue skies.

Tenjindaira Ski Resort

When all of the other Minakami area ski resorts are tracked out and you're forced back on to groomed slopes, there is one resort that still has fresh powder. Rapidly changing weather patterns and high velocity northern winds from Niigata are both a blessing and a curse for Tenjindaira ski resort. Although this resort gets a great deal of snow, bad weather leaves near zero visibility, and high winds often close lift access. As a result, days after storms pass, there is still fresh lines to be had. There is also a huge area of backcountry possibilities, making this a local favorite.