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Skiing in Japan – Charmant and Akakura resorts!

Finally I got to go skiing in Japan! This year was a bit warmer than usual, so it took a while for enough snow to fall for the ski resorts to open. But they finally opened and my friend invited me to go skiing!

Charmant Ski Resort!

My friend and I woke up at the crack of dawn (6 am) and after a quick breakfast, hit the road. We picked up a friend of hers and then drove along the ocean for a bit as we headed to Charmant, the ski resort. A rainbow stretched over the ocean and it was a beautiful sight. The 3 of us are all surfers so we lamented about the lack of waves. At Charmant, we met up with two more friends. Everyone but I was snowboarding and had their own snowboards, so I headed over to rent some skis. It was a little pricey, 3500 yen. Then, luckily, with my friend's coupon, the lift ticket was 2500 yen rather than 4000 yen! The day started out gorgeous. We had a crazy good view of the surrounding mountains, and we could even see the ocean!

But as the day went on, it started snowing and visibility soon disappeared completely. It was scary skiing down a mountain in complete whiteness. There was only one route with some slaloms down the side of the mountain. The rest were just straight down. I definitely preferred the slaloms. I found the routes a whole lot easier than in the US and Canada. They were big and wide with minimal hills and no patches of ice or random rocks. And definitely powdery.

Charmant Hiuchi

1821 Nishihiyama, Itoigawa, Niigata

Amazing food on the ski slopes!

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the top of the mountain and I got to eat my favorite food, ikuradon. It’s basically fish eggs over rice. It was super cheap for a ski resort, only 900 yen!

Then we headed back out for more skiing. At one point we raced down the mountain as fast as we could. I’d never skied this fast before, so my stomach was in my throat the entire time. It was scary but I wanted to keep up with my friends. It turned out we’d gone so fast, the sole of one of my friends's snowboarding boot ripped clean off!!

My friends had also brought their snow skateboards and decided to give them a whirl. I’d never seen anything like them before! It was literally a skateboard on a ski. And they had a leash you attached to your butt and then you rode them down the mountain. It looked super hard. But by the time we’d gotten to the bottom (we only started from halfway up), they had gotten the hang of it, it seemed! I was impressed.

The next resort - Akakura

The next day we headed to Akakura. Akakura had a less warm-vibe than Charmant of the previous day. Charmant is more frequented by locals, so everyone is friendly and excited to talk to you about skiing in their area. Akakura is very touristy and was flooded with foreigners. I heard so much English! Some friends had snow scooter things which were really cool to see. They were like bikes on skis and looked really hard to ride. Akakura had a large gondola as the main lift. It could fit 4 people inside, so we all took it together a few times. Inside, you got an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. It fogged up a few times and got hard to see, but mostly we were able to see the beautiful scenery.

Another cool part of Akakura were the jumps. There were some sections with ramps that we practiced jumps on. I’d never done jumps before so it was a really cool experience. There was also a mogul course that we all did and I hated. And, like Charmant, backcountry sections which I didn’t really like at first, but soon got the hang of. The backcountry sections are far kinder than those in the US. The rougher ones are all blocked off. Which made sense because no one here wears a helmet like everyone did in Montreal when I skied on the double black diamond courses there. There also is no shape and color rating here like in the States and Canada. Just “easy” and “difficult.” The difficult wasn’t difficult. Maybe like a blue square in the US. Nothing I skied was black diamond level, which was disappointing. After a while we stopped on the side of one of the routes for crepes. They were overpriced, but warm and delicious. Then it was back to skiing until the place closed!

Akakura Onsen Ski Area

Sekiyama, Myoko, Niigata

I was actually sick with a cold this entire trip, and all the activity caused my cold to last an extra week. But it was totally worth it! Please if you ever visit Japan in the winter, make sure to try skiing or snowboarding! Japan has some of the best powder in the world!!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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