Five Reasons Why You Need to Visit Madarao Japan This Winter - Kuma Lodge

Five Reasons Why You Need to Visit Madarao Japan This Winter

Madarao is one of the true hidden gems of the Japanese Alps. Largely undiscovered by Western snow tourists – Madarao offers everything from deep powder, family friendly fun, empty ski runs, cheap lift passes, culinary delights and a truly authentic Japanese experience.

  1. Epic Snow: World class snow, dual mountain ‘Powder Pass’ to access Madarao Mountain Resort & Tangram Ski Circus on one lift pass.
  2. Fantastic Tree Runs & Backcountry Riding: Madarao claims the most official tree ski runs of any Japanese Resort, and has easy access to untouched back and side country terrain.
  3. Traditional Japanese Village & Great Dining: Madarao village retains a peaceful, authentic Japanese atmosphere to relax and enjoy quality dining after a big day on the slopes.
  4. Easy Access: It is only two hours from Tokyo Station to the ski slopes in Madarao, and the mountain’s central location offers easy access for day trips to other quality ski areas like Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen.
  5. Allround Family Fun: Madarao is quite possibly the best family ski resort in Japan with a host of great facilities for young children and quality riding conditions for big kids and parents.

Epic Snow:

Every winter – Mt Madarao is blessed with 10-13m of fresh ‘MadaPow’ – the light, fluffy variety that true powderhounds hunt the globe for. Madarao Mountain Resort, together with its neighbour Tangram Ski Circus offers some of the world’s best skiing conditions. Simply put it is an absolute powder mecca – for a whole range of winter activities.

Madarao rates as one of the best resorts in Japan on – with an overall score of 4.5/5. Madarao locked in top scores for cost, family friendliness, snow quality, access to advanced terrain, tree skiing and off-piste riding.

powderhounds madarao japan

powderhounds madarao japan

The Powderhounds crew sampled the MadaPow in December 2017 and said “it seems like a sin to say this, but there was almost too much snow! It was like the best heliskiing ever, for just the cost of a lift ticket!”

Key Madarao Statistics:

  • 440m vertical drop on the Madarao side, and 520m of vertical on the Tangram side.
  • The whole mountain has 27 total runs and 21 modern chairlifts.
  • A massive 60% of runs are left ungroomed for epic MadaPow.
  • 13 official tree courses – the most in Japan.
  • Resort staff glade the trees in the summer months to keep off-piste terrain perfect for riding.
  • The mountain is mostly frequented by beginner and intermediate Japanese locals – leaving most of the powder completely untouched!
  • Great beginner and intermediate terrain at the base of the mountain.
  • Very affordable lift tickets – Adults from about $26 AUD per day when purchased through Kuma Lodge.

Fantastic Tree Runs & Backcountry Riding:

Madarao holds the official title of having the most tree skiing runs of any Japanese resort. Advertising 13 official tree trails, Madarao & Tangram offer something somewhat unique in Japan which is known for its conservative approach to out of bounds skiing.

madarao japan skiing

madarao japan snowboarding

Madarao Resort spend considerable time each “Green Season” glading the trees and opening up new courses to improve the available terrain and continue to make it safer to enjoy.

There is great untapped potential for backcountry skiing and snowboarding at Madarao. The bowl shape of the mountain and the fact that the summit is not above the tree line means that the avalanche risk at Madarao is much lower than other neighbouring mountains.

Kuma Lodge is just across the street from Aki’s Pub and North Nagano Outdoor Sports – run by Ex-Japanese Ski cross and Alpine Racer, Aki Kitamura. Aki knows the terrain around Madarao better than anyone else – and runs guided backcountry tours explore out of bounds terrain in the search of untouched MadaPow.

madarao japan ski trails

Traditional Japanese Village & Great Dining:

Madarao retains much of the traditional small village feel thanks to the absence of any large international hotels or hordes of young partiers looking to drink late into the night.

With an extensive array of dining options mainly of the local culinary fare, choices include but not limited to local specialties such as Japanese Curry, Shabu Shabu hot pot, Japanese BBQ, Okonomiyaki, Soba Noodles and fresh seafood including sushi and sashimi. Western favourites such as pizza, pasta, gourmet hamburgers are also readily available.

The village is easily navigated on foot and includes a delicious bakery, multiple bars open until late, boutique beer bar, a few Izakaya (Japanese pub style eateries), plus karaoke. In Madarao there is something for every taste and most options are within easy walking distance from Kuma Lodge.

Many of the locally run restaurants are in small pensione style homes, they only accept bookings well in advance and sell out quickly. Some of the best restaurants often don’t speak much English and do not advertise, so you will need our help to locate the best food experiences in Madarao.

Let the Kuma team coordinate an amazing dining experience within the village for your family or group, we can arrange every meal out, make the booking and arrange your transport to and from the restaurant.

Donguri-Tei madarao

Unjaune madarao

For more on dining in Madarao – check out the Kuma Lodge local eatery guide here.

Easy Access:

Madarao itself is incredibly easy to access with the trip from Tokyo Station to ski slopes taking about 2 hours in total. After 101 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, you’ll arrive at Iiyama Station – the delightful village that lies at the base of Mt Madarao. From the station, Madarao Resort runs a bus service to pick you up and get you to the slopes in about 20 minutes.

The Kuma Lodge staff will pick you up from the bus drop off and have you checked in at our lodge within about five minutes of your arrival! From Kuma, the ski runs are literally a stone’s throw away so you can be on the slopes right after check in.
Madarao’s central location to the Myoko Kogen snow fields area makes it easy to access a range of other world class mountains. Some of the popular areas close to Madarao include – Nozawa Onsen and the nine resorts that make up the Myoko Kogen Ski Resort.

madarao kuma lodge myoko kogen hotel

The summit of Madarao offers stunning views of the nearby Myoko Kogen ski area.

The team at Kuma Lodge can help plan your day trips to visit any of these resorts or help arrange your accommodation in conjunction with a stay with us in Madarao.

A interconnecting shuttle bus linking Madarao with Nozawa Onsen and Myoko runs daily for anyone wanting to stay in Madarao and spend a day exploring one of the neighbouring resorts. Iiyama City is a 20-25 minute drive from Kuma Lodge and is a recommended day trip, here you’ll find a vast array of restaurants, bars, temples, and other cultural adventures. A shuttle bus runs throughout the day linking the two towns or we can help organise a private vehicle for groups.

Wants some more information? Check out Kuma’s Concierge Service or how to get to Madarao.

Allround Family Fun:

Kuma Lodge is so well positioned for a family holiday, whether you require a member of our team to babysit your children in-house (we have a large basement games room with Netflix, ping pong and other games), enroll them in ski school or even if you wish to play with your toddlers in the safety of a designated play area on the snow – Madarao has a tobogganing course with magic carpet lift, shovels and other toys to build snowmen, all just a short stroll from our front door. We are so close to the ski runs and ski school that our guests often go in & out of the lodge multiple times a day should the kids get cold, hungry or tired.

madarao is one of the best japanese snow resorts for children

madarao is a great family friendly japanese ski resort

As parents of young children ourselves, we understand that travelling with a family can sometimes be challenging. Our concierge style service will help with your travel planning, couriering your heavy luggage if required to/from the airport to our hotel, shopping in advance of your stay for any special baby needs or dietary requirements and of course storing your food or assisting with food prep in our commercial kitchen.

Opening this winter for the first time in Madarao will be a western style “ski school”, operating next door to Kuma Lodge at North Nagano Outdoor Sports. Aki and his team have been operating an English speaking ski tuition for many years for mainly school aged children and adults with varying levels of experience. In addition to this popular service, they will also focus on younger children with all day group lessons, allowing parents and older siblings to explore the far reaches of Madarao & Tangram and return to share lunch with their little ones.

At Aki’s they also do amazing Allpress coffee, great pizza and curry at lunch, ice cold beers to enjoy by the heaters indoors or basking in the sunshine out front watching everyone ski by. Aki runs the backcountry tours from this venue also for the more experienced family members.

After a long day on the slopes, our guests love nothing more than a soak in one of the towns public onsen hot baths, a highlight of every visit to Japan and a true cultural experience. Kids are welcome in the onsen, they offer separate areas (male and female) for privacy with Mum or Dad.

A highlight for most guests is a visit to see the famous snow monkeys, depending on your group size we can arrange private taxi minivan, group tours or join one of the official tour buses.

shaggy yak madarao

Dining at the Shaggy Yak in a traditional Mongolian yurt is a great experience

snow monkey near madarao

A short trip to visit the snow monkeys enjoying the warmth of the onsens is always worthwhile.

Check out our Kuma Lodge video for the full experience

Ready for a super happy snow time?

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