An incredible 60% of the terrain is left ungroomed meaning Madarao turns into an incredible powder playground. For those that want to breeze through perfect groomers there are excellent runs as well for all levels.
For the more advanced skiiers and boarders Madarao Mountain have thinned out (gladed) a stack of tree runs meaning more of the mountain is accessible to for incredible tree skiing all season long. Imagine and entire mountain of skiing rather than just a handful of runs. It makes Madarao a deceptively huge place to explore.
Madarao has a whopping average snowfall of 13 metres and has 15 lifts, 30 trails and two ski resorts on one pass Madarao and Tangram Ski Circus (Yes you read that right).
Madarao is perfectly located smack bang in the middle of a ring of excellent ski resorts Myoko Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Kijimadaira, Ryuoo Snow Park and Togari Onsen making it the perfect base for the most amazing ski trip in Japan.
Because we run tours to all of these resorts it gives you a huge amount of variety that is just 25 minutes from Madarao... That is of course if you can tear yourself away from the waist deep powder in the trees at Madarao.
Madarao also has some of the best fall line lift accessed back country anywhere in Japan. Madarao has excellent English speaking guides that can take you into these areas and show you that there is truly a heaven on earth.
Can you tell we love Madarao?
Snowfall: 4 cm's
Min: -12°c / 10°f
Max: -7°c / 19°f
Wind: 23 km/h
The lift system is expansive and the mountain is heaps of fun.
Myoko should definitely be on the itinerary for every ski holiday to Japan.
The area is made up of the following ski resorts...
Akakura Kanko Resort (7 lifts)
Akakura Onsen (14 lifts)
Ikenotaira Onsen (6 lifts)
Myoko Suginohara (5 lifts)
Seki Onsen (2 lifts)
Like Nozawa Onsen, Myoko has become a major international destination. It has a great english speaking ski school and really good rental gear. It can feel a little westernized but with this comes western comforts. If you are looking for a totally Japanese experience take a look at some of the other ski resorts. If you want a really easy holiday this is the spot.
Snowfall: 4 cm's
Min: -13°c / 8°f
Max: -8°c / 17°f
Wind: 25 km/h
Nozawa has old world charm mixed with modern Japan. There are 5 public onsens for relaxing weary bones after a day of skiing the excellent snow.
Most of the accommodation is in the village of Nozawa Onsen so there is a bit of walking and a travelator to get up to the ski run.
The mountain has long cruisy runs characterized by wide open groomers. Nozawa Onsen suits beginners and intermediates really well. It is a busy ski resort that can get really busy especially on weekends where lift queues can be 20-30 minutes. If you can visit here during the week or out of school holiday times the crowds are smaller.
You can find some really nice areas of tree skiing but they do get tracked out pretty quickly. If you are into tree skiing and untracked runs head to Madarao as Nozawa does not condone tree skiing across most of the resort and they will confiscate passes if they catch you.
Snowfall: 4 cm's
Min: -15°c / 5°f
Max: -10°c / 14°f
Wind: 28 km/h
It is definitely really fun and is a great option for a day-trip.
Also if you like long groomers this is the place to come. Think Nozawa without the crowds and a lot smaller.
Kijimadaira also has some of the steepest terrain in the Northern Nagano region.
You need to pick your days here as it doesn't receive as much snow as some of the other ski resorts but when it is on it is really on.
An excellent resort for snow boarders who desperately crave entry into the white room. On the right day snorkels are mandatory especially in the steep sections.
The resort is nowhere near as crowded as Nozawa Onsen so makes a great alternative if you are prepared to explore a little.
Snowfall: 0 cm's
Min: -10°c / 14°f
Max: -6°c / 21°f
Wind: 19 km/h
Ryuoo Ski Park is one of those Japanese ski resorts that are hidden away from view, off the beaten track with very difficult access for Western Travellers. As a result it has an authentic Japanese feel that we absolutely love. It has bucket loads of amazing terrain and excellent areas for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers and boarders.
Ryuoo stays quiet on weekends compared to Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen so it makes an excellent alternative. At Snowball Chalet we run guided tours from Madarao to this diamond in the rough.
Ryuoo has some of the most stunning views in the area and looks straight at Madarao and Myoko in the distance. On a clear day you can see the Sea of Japan too.
Ryuoo get's more snow than basically anywhere else in the region. It is not unusual to get 20-40cm extra with every storm cycle so needless to say you will be in Powder heaven just about the whole time especially if you are keen to explore.
Keep in mind there's no English ski school on the mountain and the accommodation here feels like it is frozen in time in 1989.
They don't always open the whole resort so it is definitely worth checking before making the trip because if the middle section of the resort is closed it limits the skiable area significantly.
As the crowds descend on Nagano's ski resorts on the weekends it pays to get off the beaten track and Togari Onsen is high on the list with excellent snow and super fun terrain...
Togari get's plenty of snow and is little known so it ticks the boxes. With a decent vertical it has more than enough to ensure you get the powder turns you deserve.
The resort is divided into two sections. The top has some really fun fall line powder courses and the bottom has expansive runs down rice paddies with little terraced drops.
There is no English speaking ski school here and good rental gear is very limited.
Togari does face the sun so mornings are best and you definitely want to come here when the temps are cold and the snow is snowing.
On warmer days caution needs to be exercised as there are slides occasionally and you should not go off the open courses. You definitely shouldn't go off course unless you have avalanche training and all the gear including beacons, shovel and probe at the least... We ride with Black Diamond Jetforce Airbags here.
Snowball Chalet will run day tours from Madarao here when the snow conditions are just right... Can you tell we love this place?
Snowfall: 4 cm's
Min: -10°c / 14°f
Max: -5°c / 23°f
Wind: 22 km/h
The heavy snowfalls of Japan's snow country are caused by moisture-laden clouds bumping up against the mountains along the backbone of Honshū and releasing their moisture under the influence of westerly winds blowing off the continent or down from Siberia. As a result, the region includes some of the world's snowiest spots at the same latitudes!