“…unforgettable scenery, hot springs and powder snow…”
Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort is one of Japan’s vintage snow resorts, famous for its combination of rare, unforgettable scenery, abundant hot springs and powder snow.
It was established in 1925 soon the birth of skiing in Japan, and has gradually expanded to cover an area of more than 300 ha in Yamagata Prefecture’s Zao Mountain Range.
The slopes near the 1,660 m summit of the resort are home to its ‘ice monsters’ – conifers covered in ice crystals that expand to form wildly abstract shapes. Riding through them on the ten kilometre run from top to bottom is one of the resort’s biggest highlights, and they are illuminated with beautiful colours at night for major events, festivals and other parts of the season.
There are 12 courses and 14 slopes in total to be enjoyed at Zao, ranging widely from gentle beginners’ slopes to FIS approved racing courses, and the resort is family-friendly with a kids park and childcare facilities.
The high-altitude Paradise Slope offers a great combination of courses for all levels, with the challenging Yokokura-no-kabe wall for experts, and mellower, open sections for beginner and intermediate riders. The slope is surrounded by Zao’s ice monsters, and is open until early May – a true paradise for skiing and snowboarding.
And of course, no snow holiday at Zao is complete without a soak in one of the nearby village’s famous hot springs.
Zao Onsen, Yamagata-shi
Travelling Times to Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort Tokyo: 3 hrs (train), Osaka: 5 hrs (train)