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”Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort” has a super long, oblong-shaped course for beginners
The first place on our list is the ”Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort”, which is located in the Hakuba area in Nagano Prefecture. The Hakuba area has the largest slopes, and naturally the courses are quite wide.
Over 80% of the courses are aimed at beginners and intermediate skiers. They’re especially popular among beginners who are skiing for the first time and families who want to have their children practice. Since the slopes spread out laterally, each course is quite wide - so much so that you probably won’t find another ski resort in Japan with slopes that are this wide.
The average degree of incline for the main Kane-no-naru-oka slopes is a mere 8 degrees. The course width is a non-standard 1,200 meters plus - a lifesaver for beginners. The “Karamatsu” and “Oya-no-hara” slopes have long course runs of 1,000 meters, and their average degree of incline is only 7 degrees up to a maximum 10 degrees, so beginners can feel at ease. Intermediate level skiers can handle all of the courses at the ski resort, as they all have a low level of difficulty.
As there aren’t any courses with high levels of difficulty, there aren’t many advanced skiers at Tsugaike Kogen - so there’s no need to fear skiers that might come barreling down at high speeds.
One of the attractions of the resort is being able to try out a variety of courses by taking the long distance gondola lift, which is a straight shot to the top of the slopes. It’s no exaggeration to say that these slopes are “beginners’ heaven”.
Access to the resort is a little inconvenient: it’s around 90 minutes from Hokuriku Shinkansen Nagano Station by bus, or a 20 minute bus ride from the JR Oito Line Minami-Otari Station - however there is no other ski resort packed with this many slopes with beginner-oriented elements. Those who want to practice a lot and improve their skills should even make it an overnight weekend trip.
”Iwappara Ski Resort”: plenty of gentle slopes for beginners
The next one accessible from the greater Tokyo metropolitan area is ”Iwappara Ski Resort”, conveniently located in the Echigo-Yuzawa area. This ski resort has a main slope that stretches up to a maximum width of 600 meters. Almost all courses have gentle slopes, which is an ideal environment for beginner skiers to learn the basics.
The average degree of incline for all courses is a very mild 10 degrees, without bumpiness, and the slopes have a perfect level of difficulty where you can ski smoothly just by standing up. At the same time, since there is virtually no course for advanced skiers, these slopes should be thought of as mainly for practice. In the event that you go in as a group along with other people at different levels of ability, advanced skiers will likely soon become bored.
At first glance there appear to be few ski lifts, but the layout of the slopes is quite straightforward, so the current capacity is more than sufficient. In any case, this specialized ski resort is the place to go to for those that are looking to ski on a nice wide slope.
It’s a community-based ski resort not only for skiers from the Kanto area, but also popular with the locals as a place to practice. It has convenient access from Echigo-Yuzawa Station by bus (10 min), and is also well-suited for day trips.
”Tambara Ski Park”: 5 degree slopes for super beginners
Our final resort introduction is “Tambara Ski Park”, which is particularly popular among families. The average degree of incline for the “Family Course”, which is recommended particularly for children’s practice, is only 5 degrees. The course is nearly flat so the slopes are ideal for young beginners making their debut.
In total there are 8 types of courses. The longest run is 2,500 meters, providing absolutely ideal specifications for beginners. The courses also offer a lot of variety: there’s the “Challenge Course” which offers exhilarating runs through the trees, and the “Forrester Course” for enjoying long turns, so once you’ve mastered a certain level, there are plenty of attractive courses to try out.
Snow quality is quite good for this area, but weather can tend to deteriorate. Definitely take measures to withstand the cold.
Advanced skiers may be somewhat disappointed, but intermediate level skiers should be able to handle and enjoy almost all the courses with no difficulty. For this reason, these slopes can be enjoyed even in groups.
Ski lifts stretch across the compact slopes, so it’s easy to get around between courses. In general, it’s an ideal ski resort for beginners and children to practice on. With access via the 50-minute free shuttle bus from Joetsu Shinkansen Jomo-Kogen Station, its position as a ski resort accessible within 2 hours from greater metropolitan Tokyo is a huge plus.
Take time to practice and polish your skills!
That brings us to the end of our introduction of ski resorts particularly recommended for beginner skiers. Each can be easily accessed from the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, and they can be easily incorporated into sightseeing plans. You will be hard-pressed to find slopes meeting the needs of beginners to this degree anywhere else in Japan.
The number of ski resorts that you can enjoy increases as your skill level improves, and you’ll eventually be able to select the ski resort of your preference without worrying about the level of difficulty. As you become accustomed to skiing, you might be inclined to venture further out into other snowy worlds!
Pricing information and schedule may not be up to date and are subject to change without notice. Please check before your trip.