Zao Onsen

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Resort Summary
Resort Name Zao Onsen
Location Yamagata
Resort Altitude 1736m
Winter Season
Terrain Overall:
Beginner:
Intermediate:
Advanced:
Lift System
Highest Lift 1661m
Lowest Lift
Vertical
Longest Run
Avg Snowfall
Terrain Parks
Snow Sports
Facilities
Nearest Town Yamagata
Lift Pass
Adult 5 Day $
Adult 1 Day $
Child 5 Day $
Child 1 Day $


Overview 

Zao Onsen is particularly well known for two things. Firstly as a hot spring resort as the name suggests and secondly for the

Juhyo or 'Snow monsters' that appear every winter on the upper slopes. It is a large fairly spread out resort with plenty of

intermediate cruisy terrain.

Location

Yamagate prefecture, about 45 mins by bus from Yamagata city.

Pros

The hot springs are very nice. The snow monsters are interesting to see and there is plenty of cruisy terrain.

Cons

Not all that much steep terrain. A number of flat spots in some of the transition areas which won't suit snowboarders.

Contacts

Phone: PLEASE EDIT

Fax: PLEASE EDIT

Postal: PLEASE EDIT


Planning

Getting There

Catch the Tsubasa Shinkansen from Tokyo to Yamagata city. Runs about once an hour and takes a bit under 3 hours. Then catch

Yamako Bus outside station from bus bay 1. These also run about once an hour and take about 45 mins. Zao Onsen is the final

destination. Cost (2009) is Y980 one way.

Accommodation

On Mountain

There are many hotels, ryokans and pensions and lodges. Many are resort hotels which generally mean they will have outdoor

onsens and will be expensive, but if you have a group of around 4 sharing a japanese style room it may work out to be

reasonable. The village and resort is quite spread out with many lift access points. There are some ski in / ski out places,

but generally wherever you are it will only be a walk of around 5 mins or less to the nearest lift. The main issue is finding

a with english web page. The ones generally listed on the hotel booking site will be the more expensive resort hotels. One very nice place and good value is Miuraya Ryokan. Very traditional Ryokan with excellent japanese meals served in your

room. They have an english page on their website. The owners do speak a little english, although find it easier in the

written form.


Off Mountain

It would be possible to stay in Yamagata city in say a business hotel and just do a day trip using the bus. But then you

would miss out on the Onsens. And Zao is worth visiting for a few days.

Lift Tickets

You can get 4 hour tickets as well as 1, 2, 3 or 4 day tickets. Accomodations will usually have discounted tickets, so make

sure you ask them about this. eg. discounted 3 day pass was Y11700 in Feb 2009. These tickets are exchanged for Ski Data

cards at the lift office with a Y500 deposit which you get back via a vending machine when you have finished. These are

credit card size so can fit in your wallet inside you jacket which the sensors can easily detect.

Ski School

There are plenty of ski schools. Each little area seems to have one and they are usually busy teaching school kids. Don't

know if there are any english speaking instructors.

Equipment Hire

There are a number of places in the village at the base of the lift stations.


Resort Facilities

Getting Around

Generally by foot. Hotels, Shops, lifts etc will generally be within 10-15 walk of the bus station. Some hotels will pick you

up from the bus station by arrangement, otherwise taxi.

Parking

PLEASE EDIT

Activities

Sightseeing

Firstly there are the onsens. Resort hotels will have indoor and outdoor ones. There are also public ones including a public

foot bath. Worth a walk aroumnd the village to check out the springs.

Then there is the onsen shrine which is at the top of the steps above the main city street.

And of course the Juhyo (Snow Monsters) at the top of the mountain. To get there either ride the no 1 Ropeway from the bottom

and then the no. 2 to the top. Alternatively if you are starting from the left side of the resort, get to the Paradise area

and ride the no. 17 lift and ski the trail to the no. 2 ropeway. From the top if it is fine you can walk to the summit (about

10 mins) and amomgst the rime-encrusted trees.

Dining

There are a number of hotels and restaurants but generally people have dinner at their accomodation.

Bars & Entertainment

There are a few bars but these are generally fairly quiet during the week. Possibly busier on the weekend.

Shopping

There are lots of souvenier shops. A speciality of this region is wood carving and in particular Kokeshi dolls. And like

everywhere else in Japan there is always plenty of packaged confectionary.

Children

PLEASE EDIT


Ride Guide

Beginner Areas

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Groomed Runs

Most of the resort is well groomed.

Off Piste

Off piste is fairly limited. Skiing in the trees is not allowed, although there are a few possibilities.

Out of Bounds

PLEASE EDIT

Cross Country

There is a 5 km langlauf course.

Parks & Pipes

Don't appear to be any.

Bumps

Only on a few runs. There were some in the Chuo area.

Powder Zones

PLEASE EDIT

Sheltered Runs

PLEASE EDIT

Night skiing

There are 2 areas open for night skiing. 1. Uwanodai - lifts 5, 6 & 7. 2. Yokokura - lifts 23, 26 & 27. Cost is around Y2000. The pensions will have discount vouchers.

Snowplay

There is a track where you can ride big snow tyres. From memory this was around the Paradise area by lift 20.


Other

Weather

The peak can get very windy at times.

Geography

PLEASE EDIT

History

PLEASE EDIT


Resources

[1] Ski area website including trail map in english [2] Train timetable [3] Yamagata - Zao bus timetable (japanese) [4] Miuraya Ryokan


Maps

PLEASE EDIT