Getting To Tenjindaira

Getting To Tenjindaira

Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours
Wagner Custome Skis

Where is Tenjindaira and Mount Tanigawa?

Mt Tanigawa at an elevation of 1,977m, sits on the border of the Niigata and Gunma Prefectures in Honshu Japan, right in the path of a blast of weather systems. The Tenjindaira Ski Area sits on the southeastern flank of Tanigawa-dake which is serviced by the Tanigawadake Ropeway. The ropeway base building is in Gunma, 10km north of the town of Minakami and 40km by road southeast of Yuzawa (Niigata Prefecture) and its many ski resorts.

Train to Tenjindaira

It’s possible to get to Tenjindaira via train. From the Minakami train station (see Japan Navitime for route options to get there) there are irregular buses to the ropeway station (25 minutes), or you can get picked up if you’re staying at Tenjin Lodge.

The Doai train station is much closer, only 700 metres from Tenjin Lodge and 1.5km from the Tanigawadake Ropeway station and there are local buses between the station and ropeway building. However you’ll need to think very carefully before deciding whether you want to arrive at Doai Station. Firstly trains to Doai are not that regular and don’t go well into the evening. Train routes from Tokyo may go via Echigo-Yuzawa (which is fine) or via Minakami (which is NOT fine). The latter platform is way underground and for some stupid reason they didn’t put in a lift (Japanese engineering ingenuity at its finest!), and there are 486 steps to climb up. To makes things worse it’s a feral humid place, and if you have luggage you’ll be cursing your head off with some particularly crafty swear words.

We do however recommend visiting the train station at some stage during your stay, because it’s a fabulous tourist attraction!!

Driving to Tenjindaira

If you only plan to ski or snowboard at Tenjin Ski Resort (and are prepared to sit around waiting out any storms) and stay at Tenjin Lodge and/or join Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours, then you’ll get by without a car.

Otherwise having a rental car could be advantageous if you want to explore other nearby ski areas by yourself, have the flexibility to visit Minakami restaurants, visit local onsen, and/or stay in accommodation other than Tenjin Lodge.

The phone number of the Tanigawadake Ropeway for GPS navigation is 0278 – 723575. Amusingly a section of road between Minakami and Doai plays a tune. It’s an old Japanese tune, although it sounds more Russian if you drive a little faster. Either way I don’t think you’ll be able to Shazam the song!

The parking at the Tanigawadake Ropeway station attracts a fee, which seems ludicrous for a little ski area in the middle of nowhere.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

Nearby ski resorts include:
  • Okutone Snow Park is 10km southeast – 10 minute drive
  • Houdaigi Ski Resort is 17.5km to the east (near Takaragawa Onsen) – 20-30 minute drive.
There are also other Minakami ski resorts.

It is only 40km by road from Tenjin to Yuzawa in the Niigata Prefecture. There are loads of Yuzawa ski resorts to choose from, although those of most interest to powder hounds are probably the furthest away: Kagura (49km away); and Hakkai-san (73km).

Travel to these resorts may be included on a Tenjindaira Backcountry Tour with Tenjin Guides.