Skiing and Snowboarding in Central Japan
By Ben Huffman. Posted on March 14, 2014
Chubu (central Japan) is famous worldwide for its snow and ski resorts. The Chubu region played host to the 1998 Winter Olympics, which took place in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The ski/snowboard season in central Japan lasts from mid-November until the last weekend of March. Some ski areas extend their services beyond this period, depending on the elevation and snow conditions. The typical price for a lift ticket ranges from 3,000 to 4,500 yen. All ski resorts offer equipment rentals, and most offer ski clothing as well. You can sometimes save money if you have your own boots, but this is more of an exception than a rule.
One of the best ways to enjoy a day of skiing is to take a tour bus from Nagoya Station. There are a number of ski packages offered by travel agencies, such as Meitetsu Kanko, that typically range between 4,000 to 8,000 yen. The base package usually includes a lift ticket and round-trip service to and from the ski resort.
Although the larger resorts typically have more runs, the quality of service is good almost everywhere you go. My suggestion is to choose the less-well-known ski resorts on the weekends and save the popular resorts for the weekdays. At the more popular resorts, like Meiho and Takasu, lift lines can take up to 20 minutes, and you can add an extra hour to your travel time. Overall, central Japan has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the country, and there is a multitude of snow parks to choose from. Here are a few of the ones I have been to:
Takasu Snow Park, Gifu
Takasu Snow Park is one of the biggest parks in the area with 12 different courses. Its longest course measures 4,800m making it one of the longest runs in Japan. Moreover, it caters to snowboarders wishing to improve their half pipe skills.
Meiho Ski Resort, Gifu
Meiho boast a 5,000 m trail that can be tackled by skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
Fukui Izumi Ski Resort, Fukui
Fukui Izumi Ski Resort is a small but enjoyable snow park with six runs that is popular with snowboarders.
Ontake 2240, Nagano
Ontake 2240 in Nagano has fewer runs that Izumi, but the runs are a bit longer and the snow is a little better, depending on the time of year.
If you have a chance to visit the Chubu region during the winter months, I highly recommend hitting one of the many ski resorts in this area. You can't go wrong with any of them.
Benjamin David Huffman is a Korean American student attending Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development (GSID). Previously, he worked for the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) here in Nagoya, Japan, as well as, the World Bank and local government in the United States. In his free time, Ben enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends and spending time with his family.