Akita Ski Resorts

Akita Ski Resorts

Japan Ski Tour Tohoku Area
Wagner Custome Skis
The Akita Prefecture sits in the northern part of the Honshu Island of Japan in the Tohoku region. Akita sits south of the Aomori Prefecture, west of the Iwate Prefecture, north of Yamagata Prefecture, whilst the small SE triangle of the Akita Prefecture abuts Miyagi Prefecture.

Snowboarding and skiing in Akita is not on the radar for most international tourists, yet at least a couple of the Akita ski resorts are ideal for intrepid powder hounds due to abundant snow volumes. Akita faces the Sea of Japan and it’s exposed to big storms that drop the motherlode of snow on the ski resorts. The winter storms also bring ferocious winds which sometimes shut some of the upper lifts.

Akita Ski Resorts

Akita skiing and snowboarding consists of 20 ski areas that are mostly just visited by the locals, and other than two or three resorts, it’s questionable as to whether they’d ever attract the attention of out-of-towners. They are mostly dirt-cheap old-school ski resorts that are small in nature. Of the 20 ski resorts in Akita, 17 have a top elevation of less than 1,000 metres (14 ski resorts have less than 700 metres of uppermost altitude) and 15 of the Akita ski resorts are pee wee sized with only 1 or 2 lifts.

Tazawako is probably the most well known Akita ski resort. It is located in the far eastern part of the Akita Prefecture, only 44km west of Morioka in the Iwate Prefecture. Subsequently Tazawako is often included on road trips of the Iwate region. Pros for powder hounds include lots of snow, reasonable off-piste and sidecountry tree skiing, and backcountry above the resort for those rare fine days.

Tazawako Accommodation

A major up and coming powder hound destination is Ani. Ani is a unicorn ski resort that has the unique combination of bountiful snow, decent tree skiing, and negligible crowds. It’s ideal for powder hounds willing to put in a small amount of work to access the best terrain. Ani is located in the northern part of the Akita Prefecture and 114km northwest of Morioka.

In the vicinity is Akita Hachimantai, which is really close to the border with the Iwate Prefecture on the northwest flank of Mt Hachimantai. Pros are very low crowds and a top vertical of 1,200 metres, whilst a major detractor is the small size of the mostly mellow ski-jo with only 220 metres of vertical and one double chair lift. Akita Hachimantai is only open on weekends unless you book it as your own private ski resort.

Jeunesse Kurikoma is much further south and almost 2 hours south of Tazawako. It’s closer to Geto Kogen (in the Iwate Prefecture) which is about 1.5 hours away. Size wise it has 13 courses and 4 lifts, although one of the lifts operates on a hit and miss schedule. The top elevation is only 770m but on the plus side for snow quality, the aspect is mainly northwest. The top double chair offers some steep-ish piste and an area of trees that is small but sweet.

Travel

The Akita Airport and Odate-Noshiro Airport (Akita North Airport) are two regional airports that receive direct flights from Tokyo Haneda Airport. However as it’s unlikely that you’d visit just the Akita ski resorts and not combine them with a road trip around Iwate and/or Aomori, there are more likely gateway airports into the region.

The Akita ski areas are not well connected with public transport, and having a rental car is ideal for flexible travel.
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