Okutadami Maruyama

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Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort
Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort
The ski resort is located near Lake Oku-tadami
The ski resort is located near Lake Oku-tadami
Okutadami Maruyama Niigata
Okutadami Maruyama Niigata
Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort
Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort
The nearby dam infrastructure is substantial
The nearby dam infrastructure is substantial

Okutadami Maruyama

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Okutadami

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Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort in Niigata is famous for receiving a huge amount of snow, so much so that during the peak of winter it closes because it’s not feasible to keep the access road open. Oku-tadami Maruyama enjoys a quasi-long season that usually extends from late November to early May, if you exclude the mid-season closure period of early/mid January to mid/late March.

Pros and Cons of Okutadami Maruyama

Pros 
  • It goes without saying that the massive amounts of snow are a huge pro.
  • It’s a good spot to hit up during the fringes of the snow season when other ski resorts are closed. Okutadami is particularly renowned for its spring skiing.
  • Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort has good park riding in spring that includes decent sized jumps and a pipe.
  • The ski resort offers some good tree skiing, especially in the sidecountry.
  • On fine days, the vistas across the lake and mountains are rather spectacular.
Cons
  • Okutadami Maruyama is a small ski area with respect to its piste offerings.
  • Due to its small size, it can sometimes seem crowded on spring weekends.
  • The lift infrastructure is rather primitive.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • It’s a bit of a pilgrimage to get there and the access road is long, narrow and windy.

Okutadami Maruyama Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Oku-tadami Maruyama Ski Resort is on the small size, with only 10 courses and 507 metres of vertical (735 - 1,242 metres). It has 5 double chair lifts, although think of it as 3 lifts servicing the terrain, because two sets run in parallel to another lift.

Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, the trail statistics are 40% beginner, 30% intermediate and 30% advanced. The maximum gradient of one of the black runs is 37 degrees, and the long spring season enables the moguls to really develop, which are fun when they’re soft and heinous when it’s icy.

Between the official courses are some short tree runs that seem kosher. The sidecountry to skiers' right is where the real tree skiing action can be found, which includes some steep pitches, and the drainage feeds back to the in-bounds terrain. That’s of course if you don’t get overly excited and end up down near the dam wall.

The terrain park features are usually a highlight of the resort, and the abundance of snow makes it easy for them to form large jumps and a pipe. A small park is also built for beginners.

Okutadami Maruyama Snow

The ski resort is renowned for receiving really heavy snowfalls. It seems that there is no official measurement of the snow accumulation, yet one local cited 19 metres of snow in the 2014-15 season. When it re-opens after the mid-season closure, the snow depths are significant and the staff have to wade in to dig out the buried lifts and buildings. It’s a shame that skiers and snowboarders miss the peak of winter when the snow quality would be primo, because whilst the snow volumes last well into spring, the spring snow is usually not the powder that Japan is well known for.

The slopes have a good aspect to aid in snow retention. The upper slopes are mostly north facing, and they swing around to the northeast then east facing at the base.

Where is Okutadami Maruyama?

The ski resort is hidden up in the mountains in the Niigata Prefecture at the north end of Lake Okutadami near the dam, right near the border with the southwest corner of the Fukushima Prefecture. It is 72km northeast of the town of Yuzawa and 33km southeast of downtown Uonuma.

Driving is the best way to get there because public transport doesn’t get you very close. There are free shuttles to the Urasa train station and Koide station on weekends. From Urasa the shuttle takes 1.5 hours, and it gets you there mid-morning. If driving from Tokyo, it’s about 250km, and you come via the Kan-etsu Expressway to the Koide Interchange. Route 352 takes you to Route 50 which is the Oku-tadami Silver Line road. This access road is about 22km long, of which 18km is formed by 19 tunnels that keep you on your toes.

The phone number for GPS navigation is 025-795-2750.

The car park attracts a fee on weekends.

Accommodation

At the base is the Nature College Green School, offering basic accommodation in Japanese washitsu rooms, along with half board. There are also a few lodgings down on route 352, or you may choose to day trip to Oku-tadami from Yuzawa or Minami-Uonuma accommodation.

Facilities

The ski resort has a few daytime eateries, a kids play park, ski and snowboard equipment rentals, and snowsports school (in Japanese).
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