Yudonosan Yamagata

Yudonosan Yamagata

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Yudonosan Yamagata

Yudonosan Ski Resort is a little family ski area in Yamagata Prefecture. Mt Yudono aka “You Don’t Know” is famous for its snow walls and half pipe known as “R” amongst some Japanese snowboarders, and Yudonosan is R Heaven. Like too many financially challenged Japanese ski areas, Yudonosan is another ski resort where the top lift has been retired, which has shrunk the terrain significantly. The remaining terrain is mellow, yet there are some short pitches in the trees for powder hounds to have fun for half a day. 

Pros and Cons of Yudonosan

  • Yudonosan is one of the snowiest ski areas in Japan.
  • A few of the slopes have bordercross type walls, and in addition to jumps and a half pipe, it’s incredibly popular with snowboarders and park hounds.
  • The You Don’t Know courses are good for beginners to entry level intermediates.
  • This is a locals’ ski hill that offers a nice Japanese skijo experience.
  • It provides a good starting point for ski touring up Yudono-san.
  • This is a very small ski area.
  • It’s mostly too flat for powder hounds.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Lift passes are cheap, and for those of us with two X chromosomes, it’s super cheap mid-week. Ladies’ days are Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Yudonosan only has short tree skiing lines which wouldn’t entertain you for very long, but freshies last a while.
  • It’s not close to any major ski areas and it takes commitment to get there, but being way off the international radar has its rewards.

Yudonosan Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Yudonosan Ski Resort is small and has just 170 metres of vertical (530 to 700 metres). There are 10 official courses, although 2 of these are the terrain park and half pipe.

The ski area has only 2 double fixed grip chair lifts, one of which was renewed and lengthened in recent years. A lift previously existed above the current ski area, but sadly has been left to rot.

Yudonosan Ski Area has a long beginner trail with a couple of forks. There are a handful of mellow intermediate trails that have lots of banked walls. There is also a short “advanced” run that supposedly hits 35 degrees, but we don’t recall anything that steep, or perhaps there was just so much snow that it felt fairly flat!

There is usually a half pipe from early January onwards, and a snow park with jumps, and the banked walls of the courses are also popular.

The Yudonosan ski lifts can be used as initial access to ski tour up Yudono-san, and if the weather is good, head up to the Mt Yudono Shrine, that’s of course if it’s not buried in snow.

Yudonosan Snow

This is an incredibly snowy part of Japan due to its proximity to the coast and there being no major mountains to block the precipitation. Mt Gassan is just to the southeast, and this is possibly the snowiest mountain in Japan, so it’s no surprise that Yudonosan Ski Area often has a snow base of 3.5 to 4.5 metres by February.

The top elevation is not very high, although there are some Yamagata ski fields with an even lower elevation, but the northwest aspect and frequent top ups help to keep the snow quality reasonable.

The Yudonosan season typically goes from early December to late March.

Where is Yudono-san?

Yudonosan Ski Area and the corresponding mountain are located in the NW part of the Yamagata Prefecture, adjacent to Mt Gassan. The ski area is officially in Tsuruoka City, with the actual city being 29km to the northwest.

You’ll need a car to get there and the telephone number for GPS navigation is 0235-54-6450. The ski area is about 10 minutes drive from the Yamagata Expressway Yudonoyama I.C. and 20 minutes from the Tsukiyama I.C.

Ski areas nearby:
  • Mt Gassan Ski Area is 30km by road to the southeast, which only opens from spring onwards.
  • Taranokidai is 25km by road NW of Yudonosan. It’s a one lift, low elevation ski area.
  • Haguroyama is 36km by road to the north. It is even smaller than Yudonosan and is close to the Haguro Shrine and the stone steps that go past the renowned 5-storey pagoda.
  • Asahi Shizenkan is 67km southeast – this ski area has a little bit of appeal for powder hounds.


There are some basic pensions nearby or hotels in Tsuruoka City.

Gassan Pole Pole is 21km to the southeast of the ski area, which makes a great base to explore the Gassan area with Gassan Ski. Gassan Pole Pole has lovely cottages and you can get meals included. 

Ski Resort Facilities and Services

The ski area has a day lodge at the base with a cafeteria with the usual Japanese ski resort fare. It also has Indian curries with naan bread.

There are snowsports lessons available in Japanese, and equipment rentals from another era. Outside is a smoking shack if you want to inhale your own smoke along with everyone else’s!

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Gassan Cat & Zao Tour
Customizable From 2 Nights
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
This short adventure tour incorporates a day of guided resort skiing at Zao Onsen & a day of snowcat backcountry access skiing/riding plus night skiing at a secret local resort that only opens at night! You will be guided by local English speaking Japanese guides who will provide an authentic cultural experience.
Price p/p Sample price is based on 3-night package, twin-share (2 in group).
Base/invoice currency is JPY
Displayed price might vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations.
USD 1,536
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Yudonosan here