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2018.02.22

Yamaboku Wild Snow Park’s Fields of Powder

Yamaboku Snow Park Stage 1

Yamaboku Wild Snow Park is hidden away in the back of Takayama Village, a lovely hamlet outside of Nagano and Suzaka cities. Built with the aspiring backcountry skier in mind, it has three stages which acclimate skiers and boarders to the snowy wilderness. Each stage brings more powder, steeper slopes, and beautiful vistas.

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The first stage is Yamaboku’s regular skiing area. The resort is more or less bowl-shaped with three lifts serving its thirteen courses. Of Yamaboku’s courses, 70% are ungroomed powder runs, many of which interconnected offering an unlimited number of lines to take down the mountain. Aside from two steep expert runs, the rest of the first stage caters to intermediate and novice skiers, but the powder is fun for people of all levels.

The second stage ventures off the resort and into the adjacent snowfields. There are several gates along the edge of the first stage bowl that enter the second stage. The fields of powder extend as far as the eye can see, eventually connecting with the groomed Takochi course. For an extra 1,000 yen, you can taste the sweet powder of the second stage while riding down the Takochi course, or you can join a private tour for 5,700 yen. A shuttle bus and café await skiers at the end of the run.

The third stage is all the way up Mt. Kasagatake, offering thrilling backcountry experiences for advanced skiers and boarders. The third stage is only open to guided tours, which usually operate in February and March.

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My friend and I decided to try Stage 2, which includes the 13km Takochi course and wide open powder fields. There are several entrances to Stage 2 along the ski resorts forest trail. Other skiers stop to look at the wide-open fields, wondering where the tracks eventually lead. When we reached the entrance for the first run, we didn’t see a single track at our gate, enjoying knee-deep powder all the way to the cat trail. From there, there were a number of a powder shortcuts that intersected with the cat trail. We saw a few tracks through them, but otherwise we were completely alone in the forest. We passed a few uninhabited cabins and a frozen waterfall on our way to the bottom.

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After some exhilarating powder runs, it’s time for lunch. My personal favorite restaurant here is the Miharashi Chaya, which makes cheese from the cattle that graze here in summer. Aside from typical Japanese resort options like ramen and katsu, they offer a delicious and hearty baked cheese curry. If you’re still not full, you can have finish off your meal with a homemade cheesecake and coffee brewed with Takayama’s mineral water.

One of the best parts of skiing here, aside from the non-existent crowds and abundant powder, is the variety of hot springs along the road back home. There’s nothing like a nice hot spring bath after a long day of skiing, and the steamy springs around Takayama village are great. I recommend trying a bath at Shichimi Onsen for its high mineral content, or a bath at Taki no Yu if you’d like to bath with your male and female friends (it’s one of Nagano’s rare mixed onsen).

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Megumi no Yu at Shichimi Onsen, just a few minutes by car from the ski resort.

While resorts like Hakuba Cortina have been completely overrun with snow-thirsty boarders who lap up every last bit of the fluffy stuff before you can blink, Yamaboku is a hidden gem with powder for everyone.

Yamaboku Wild Snow Park Details

  • Hours
    Weekdays 9:00 to 16:30
    Weekends 8:30 to 16:30
  • Takochi Course
    December 30th to April 1st, 2018
  • 2nd Stage
    January 6th to March 21st, 2018
  • 3rd Stage
    February 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th
  • Lift Tickets

    Ticket Type Adults Children
    One Day 3,600 2,600
    Half Day (Morning or Afternoon) 2,600 1,600
    One Day + Takochi Course 4,600 3,600
    Half Day + Takochi Course 3,600 2,600
  • Access
    Yamaboku Wild Snow Park is a 45-minute drive from the Suzaka Higashi-Nagano IC exit. For train users, take the Nagano Dentetsu train to Suzaka Station and change to the Yamada Onsen line bus. At Yamada Onsen, take a shuttle bus to the ski resort. (The shuttle bus operates on weekends and holidays, first bus leaves Yamada Onsen at 9:50 and the last bus leaves Yamaboku Snow Park at 16:55.)
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bguardia
bguardia

Originally from Maryland, USA, I’ve been living and working in Nagano since 2012. After teaching English for a few years I moved onto the Nagano Prefecture Tourism department to help introduce more of Nagano to the world. I love the mountains here and enjoy skiing, hiking, and bouldering in my free time. There’s nothing quite like a day in the mountains followed by a relaxing dip in the hot spring with friends! (アメリカのメリーランド出身で、2012年長野県に引っ越しました。数年英語の先生として働いたけど、去年から長野県庁観光部に入って、より多くの人々に長野の良さを知って頂けるように努めています。長野県の山々が大好きで、暇な時はスキー、ボルダリング、登山などをやっています。山で遊んだ後の、友達と入る温泉はまた格別です。) 【長野県在住/20代/男】