We were going to write about the Top 10 best things about Madarao Mountain Ski Resort but it’s just TOO GOOD so we’ve whittled it down to the Top 25…
1. It has average snowfalls of 10-13 metres a season (of dry fluffy powder)
With such high snowfall most visitors see massive falls. It's not unusual to wake up to a 40cm dump ready for you to go out and play.
2. Its just 2 hours (via bullet train) from Tokyo Station to the ski lifts
Tokyo really is a hop skip and a jump away. You can even courier your bags up to the mountain from the airport so you don't have to drag them around
3. Its smack-bang in the middle of 7 other excellent “day-trip” ski resorts
Madarao is surrounded by seven amazing ski resorts that are only 25-30 minutes away by the Snowball Mobile. Some of the resorts are virtually unknown and some are popular. They all make great day trips if you can tear yourself away from the joy to be had on Madarao.
4. Its rated the best value for money resort by snow experts Powderhounds
Because it is... If you are in Japan to experience quality snow, great food, quirky Japaneseness and amazing terrain you just can't get better value.
5. 60% of resort runs are left un-groomed (aka powder heaven)
That is not a typo... The Madarao team is seriously committed to ensuring you get the best snow of your life. They still have fantastic groomers for those that want to partake in perfect corduroy but they leave so much of the mountain for the powder junkies that you are pretty well guaranteed fresh lines.
6. It has a unique bowl-shape for easy friend and family-finding
Madarao is not difficult to navigate. That said there is heaps of great areas to be discovered for those that take the time to look. We still haven't seen the whole mountain.
7. Off-piste and tree runs are permitted (even encouraged!)
Amazingly the lift company has facilitated the use of the tree runs. It's pretty well unique to Japan and the world. No confiscated lift passes here if you go into the trees.
8. The tree runs are gladed (small trees/shrubs removed)
Madarao Mountain Resort has gladed some of the tree runs so people of all levels can experience the joys of tree riding. It has opened up massive areas of the resort so it feels waaaaay bigger than it other wise would be. There's plenty to explore here.
9. The groomed runs are wide, plentiful and dotted with great cafes
In true Japanese style the groomers are pretty well perfect. The high quality of snow and the pitch combine to ensure people who are after groomers will not be disappointed.
10. It has a range of steep bowls, off-piste pitches and 440m of vertical
The terrain in Madarao is varied and can best be described as super fun. 440m of very doesn't sound like much but when you combine it with the vast amount of tree runs, powder bowls, back and side country and the tree runs it makes for such a fun mountain with heaps to do.
11. It has the “magic mix” of 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced
There is literally something for everyone. When we first came to Madarao we had 9 people in our group ranging from absolute beginner to expert and everyone had a blast.
12. It boasts 30 runs (longest 2.5km, 35km total), serviced by 15 lifts
The lift system is cleverly laid out with virtually no traversing required to get from one side of the mountain to the other.
13. Its connected to Tangram Ski Circus with another 15 runs and 5 lifts
Tangram opens up bucket loads more terrain and some of the steepest tree skiing on the mountain. Tangram is fully on board with the attitude to tree skiing so no confiscated lift passes here either.
14. It has one of the best summit views in Japan, easily accessed by lift
Stunning views over Lake Nojiriko all the way to the ocean are enough to take your breath away. Plus you end up doing an incredible powder run back down to the bottom.
15. It has some of the best fall line lift-accessed backcountry in Japan
So much of Madarao and Tangram is pure fall line skiing. This is just such a nice change from so many other ski resorts. Your turns feel so right and you don't have to cut the fun short to traverse to the next lift.
16. It offers English-speaking lessons, tours and backcountry guides
The English speaking ski schools are excellent and can teach all levels. there are group and private lessons available and the fantastic 9:30 am to 3:30 pm kids lessons. They range all over the mountain and have the best day while the adults get to do their thing. Fun for all!
17. The FreeRide Park has plenty of jumps, boxes, rails, waves and kickers
The park normally starts taking shape towards the middle or end of January and is maintained by some seriously obsessive riders and skiers who live to jib.
18. The Kids SnowPark has tubes, sleds, magic carpet, igloo and warm shelter
Madarao really caters well to the little ones. The have the fun stuff and the begginers slope is a perfect pitch for learning and is nice and wide so there are no real crowds on it.
19. Tangram Kids Park also has mini snowmobiles and a tube carousel ride
Who doesn't wanna scoot around on snow mobiles?
20. It has Adventure Courses for families to try their first powder tree runs!
Madarao has created some very easy tree runs with plenty of spaces so everyone gets to have fun in the trees. A great place to learn and build skills to love trees.
21. It has a Beginner Snowboard run (away from all those pesky pro skiers)
Snowboarders travel across the hill in avery different way to skiers when learning. We like this a lot.
22. Kids under 12 can get a 3-DAY pass for only ¥3,500 (about AUD$40)
It's just such amazing value... That's less than ¥1200 a day. It feels like it's too good to be true but it's the real deal.
23. There is REAL Allpress espresso coffee available at several outlets
This is obviously a must. it's just not a holiday if there is no good coffee. COFFEE!
24. There are great onsens in town (and day tours to other superb onsens)
The Onsen at the Madarao Kogen Hotel is an indoor/outdoor onsen that looks down the ski mountain. We also run tours to Maguse Onsen which is a ridiculously stunning traditional Onsen with views down the valley towards Iiyama.
25. There are plenty of off-mountain activities, tours and day-trips on offer
Madarao is perfectly located to explore cultural and natural activities like Snow Monkeys, the sake brewery, soba cooking class, paper making, snow shoeing and a whole host of other great activities