The Sendai area is home to the largest population in Tohoku but sadly most of the big mountains for snowboarding are in Yamagata or Iwate. Spring Valley, is just the kind of small mountain getaway that is perfect for getting out of the city and playing in the snow without having to make major plans or drive for more than a couple hours.
Mt. Izumigatake, the home of Spring Valley, is about 40 minutes by car from downtown Sendai. If you don’t have a car, Spring Valley is 40 minutes by bus from the furthest North subway station (Izumi-chuo). There is one bus at 7:15AM and the next bus isn’t until 10:20AM. On special holidays there is only one bus in the morning at 8:45AM. Bus fare is ¥900 one way.
Spring Valley will never fool any one into thinking that it compares to Happo-one, Zao-Onsen or Appi-Kogen. That is one of the best things about the resort though, it's not trying to be a fancy ski destination. It’s a small mountain measuring just under 1,000 meters at its highest point. There are twelve total runs and a few diamond runs but most of the mountain is easy going. The place is small enough where a half day wont feel like waste because you weren't able to hit the whole mountain. It's just large enough to not get bored. There is a good mix of runs but none of them are really steep with 36° being the steepest slope.
Variety is not what you pay for at Spring Valley and the view from the top isn't anything special either but boarding or skiing for the view is like fishing because you like the ocean. Spring valley is reasonably priced for both rentals or if you brought your own equipment. In peak season a lift ticket plus full rental runs ¥4,500. A ski school and kids park are at the base of the mountain and there is a small snow park for tricks and jumps if you like falling down a lot.
There is snow making equipment on the mountain and depending on the season and low elevation it may require some fake snow to maintain good snow depth. Historically, the area gets its best snowfall from February to March if you're a stickler for fresh natural snow. Another benefit of its low elevation is that temperatures are not too crazy, medium to light weight gear is all that's needed for Spring Valley.
There are bigger resorts, there are steeper resorts and there are nicer resorts. Spring Valley is a local's place that seems like a well kept secret. It's inexpensive, its convenient (if you have a car) and it is snowy. What more could you ask for a quick getaway from the big city?
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Andrew is the Co-owner and Co-Editor in Chief of easydistance.com which specializes in adventure stories, ESL teaching, cooking and arguing with his wife about syntax. “An easy distance, do you call it? It is nearly ﬁfty miles.” “And what is ﬁfty miles of good road? Little more than half a day’s journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance.” – Jane Austen Andrew Kehoe is originally from Sacramento, CA. He has a degree in Government from California State University Sacramento, is TESOL certified and is currently teaching English at two different junior high schools in Japan. Andrew spent 8 years working in marketing after college for a large Fortune 500 company. Andrew is an avid sports fan, video game nerd, tech wiz (sort of), fashionista, indie movie lover, loves eating Shenandoah’s cooking, reader of Cormac McCarthy, barely functioning musician and poet. http://easydistance.com/