Hiroshima isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of skiing in Japan. We’re a long way from the Nagano Alps, and even further from Hokkaido, but people do go skiing in the Prefecture or just over the border in Shimane. There are a number of options, varying widely in snow cover and quality of runs and facilities, some fifteen or so ski areas in total. Some, though, are better avoided. Here’s a quick rundown of several of your best local choices. Equipment rental and instruction are available at all the facilities listed below.
This is probably the most popular ski resort in the region and is located a short distance outside Hiroshima Prefecture, in the charming town of Ohnan in Shimane Prefecture. For more information about Ohnan itself, there’s a great article here. Mizuho Highland has two main areas, with a total of thirteen runs ranging from an easy 500-meter route to the 2600 meter red/green Chestnut run. For more skillful skiers and snowboarders, there are three black diamond runs. Along with the lodge at the summit and the facilities around the gondola at the base, you’ll find an array of dining and cafe options, as well as equipment rental and a shop selling used gear where you may be able to score a good deal. There are also play zones for children and a “Snow Park.”
It takes a little over an hour to reach Mizuho from Hiroshima by car. A better option, though, might be the buses leaving from Hiroshima Station, outlined below.
Address: 6242-19 Ichigi, Ohnan-cho, Ochi-gun, Shimane-ken, 697-0631
Hours: Ski runs scheduled to open from December to April, but this may change at either end due to snow conditions. Hours are 8:00 to 17:00
Access: If you’re driving, take the Hamada Highway and exit at the Mizuho Interchange. The park is about two and a half kilometers from the interchange, with plentiful signage.
Alternately, you can take one of the two buses running between Mizuho and Hiroshima Station.
The Snow Liner leaves on weekdays at 8:55, also picking up at Hiroshima Bus Station (3rd flr of the Sogo Department Store Building) at 9:10. It returns from Mizuho at 17:00, arriving back at the station at 18:45.
The Snow Express is a weekend bus, leaving Hiroshima Station at 7:35 on weekends and national holidays, and departing Mizuho for Hiroshima at 17:00. Both buses require reservations made three days in advance. Priced at ¥2500 for adults, and ¥1250 for children. Discounted ski passes are available as part of a package. To book seats, call 082-207-0001
This ski park in Kita Hiroshima is the largest in Hiroshima Prefecture and gets high marks in some quarters for both its size and the quality of the snowboard and ski instructors. About an hour and a half from downtown Hiroshima by car, the resort also has a kid’s snow park and sledding area for children (and adults) who aren’t ready for the higher slopes. On the mountain itself, there are six courses, with lengths up to 2800 meters. There have been a number of complaints from travelers about lift coverage and the transitions between routes, but in the middle of the season the snow is some of the best to be found locally, and unless you’re an expert you’re unlikely to exhaust all the available routes in a hurry.
Geihoku Kokusai Ski Resort
Address: 19 Nakaso, Kitahiroshima-chō, Yamagata-gun, Hiroshima-ken 731-2432
Hours: Ski runs scheduled to open from December to mid-March. Hours are 8:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, 7:00 to 17:00 on weekends and national holidays.
Access: Chugoku Expressway to Togochi Interchange, Route 191 to Route 11, Route 11 to Route 186, Route 186 to Geihoku Kokusai Ski Resort. Not as hard as it sounds, but you’ll probably be glad you used your navi.
Limited English site: https://snow.gurunavi.com/guide/htm/r0921ens.htm
If you opt for Osorakan, you can say you’ve skied the highest mountain in Hiroshima, as well as the prefecture’s oldest ski resort. Osorakan Snow Park in Akiota-cho is limited to four runs, but they’re favorites with local skiers and snowboarders, with stunning views from the top that take in the Japan Sea on clear days. The snow cover is also generally natural and deeper than at other local resorts, and the trails range from quite challenging near the summit to relaxed and meandering near the base. Ski-in/out minshuku and local inns are also plentiful for those looking to stay the night. Finally, a number of people have singled out the children’s slope and play area near the main base lodge as especially fun.
Just be careful how you come (see access below) because car navigation systems have a tendency to send you on a harrowing, single-lane track through the mountains.
Osorakan Snow Park
Address: 740-1 Ooaza-Yokogou, Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun, Hiroshima-ken
Hours: The resort usually opens in early December. Call to make sure. Hours are 8:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, 6:50 to 17:00 on weekends and national holidays.
Access: The resort is about 18km from the Togouchi IC exit on the Chugoku Expressway. From the Togouchi IC exit head north on Route 191 and use Prefecture Road 252 to approach the base. Check the website for the approved route map. Please note that car navigation systems may send you on a shorter, but dangerous mountain route. The resort base is about 13 kilometers from the turnoff onto 252.
As6673 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons