North of Tokyo and southwest of Sendai in Yamagata Prefecture, the Zao Snow Park ski area has 27 courses spread over 305 hectares that are served by 42 lifts with a maximum vertical descent of 880m. The Zao Snow Park has nine distinct lift zones that are spread over two sides of the mountain. It has some of the steepest slopes in the region. This lesser known area is considered by Japanese riders as a snowboarding heaven. This is a family-friendly resort surrounds a very traditional village and is well-suited for beginners and intermediates since there are few steep runs. It is well known for its wide runs that are often lined by wild snow covered trees, called snow monsters or ghosts, formed by the often freezing rains - the locals call them juhyo.
At Zao Snow Park, off-piste freeriding is discouraged but tolerated. The best powder can actually be found on the lower glades and best ridden on the weekdays to avoid crowds. The average snowfall is on the order of 12m with most of it in February and March. There are two terrain parks called Dragon Park (beginners) and Boarders Paradise Park (advanced).
To reach the snowboarding at Zao Snow Park from Tokyo, take the train to Yamagata train station (2.5 hours). Then, use the public bus to the resort (45 minutes). Overall, the resort is located 390km north of Tokyo. While in the large cities, make sure to use an ATM there since they can be quite hard to find at the resorts (especially ones accepting international ATM cards) and credit cards are rarely accepted.
Overall, Zao Snow Park is the 18th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 21 snowboarding resorts in Japan.
Local Contacts: Zao Snow Park 0224-87-2610; Japan National Tourism Office (+81) 3-3201-3331.
Best Season: Jan-Mar
Average Difficulty: Moderate
Luxury Loding: Chikusenso Mt Zao Onsen Resort
Reference Source: click here http://www.zao-sumikawa.jp/
GPS: 38.134725, 140.495417
Date Published: 3/3/2016
Date Updated: 1/14/2019
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