Winter is off to a warm start, but hopefully we’ll start seeing colder temperatures and lots of snow in Fukushima before our trip.
Rick (driver) & Nobuko
We can fit one more participant in the presently available 2 cars.
We could fit an additional 2 or 3 participants if another car is available with snow tires.
For the 11 to 13 January 2020 holiday weekend, Rick Weisburd and Kyoko Nomura will organize a TWMC ski and snowboard trip to ski resorts in the Bandai area of Fukushima Prefecture. This will be a car-based trip departing at 6:15 am on Saturday 11 January from Tsukuba Station. Assuming smooth road conditions, the drive (about 250 km) will take about 3 ½ hours. For now, we have 2 cars equipped with studless tires, which can accommodate a total of 8 participants. We have room to carry skis and boards. For participants who do not have their own ski or snowboard gear, we can stop along the way to rent. We should get back to Tsukuba on Monday evening 13 January.
Our plan is to visit 2 or 3 different ski areas over the 3 days depending on snow conditions. Among the many resorts in the Bandai area are Inawashiro, Alts Bandai, Grandeco, Minowa, and Nekoma. You can find detailed information about these and other Fukushima resorts here:
We have booked 2 nights for group accommodations at Bandai Lakeside Guesthouse. (includes dinner Saturday and Sunday and continental breakfast Sunday and Monday)
Our rooms can sleep 2 to 3 or 3 to 4. Toilets and ofuro are shared in separate rooms off the hallway. We stayed at the guesthouse last February and really liked it.
Expected costs/person are as follows:
About 16,500 yen for Saturday and Sunday nights in the guest house including 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts
About 5000 yen for gas and tolls
About 1000 yen trip Insurance
These trip costs could change slightly.
You will also need to buy lift tickets at each resort. The price of a full day lift ticket at Grandeco or Inawashiro is 4700 yen. For Sunday and Monday, our guesthouse is likely to be able to sell us (all of us) discount coupons for lift tickets.
Food is available for sale at the resorts, but you can save money by bringing your own lunchs.
What to bring:
Ski or snowboard equipment
Warm waterproof outerwear
Warm base layers
Warm gloves or mittens
Goggles (visibility is poor during frequent snowfall)
Boots or shoes for walking around (waterproof recommended)
Change of clothes
This trip is likely to fill up quickly. The 3 rooms we have reserved at the guesthouse could accommodate another 2 or 3 people, but participation by more than 8 would require another car with studless tires.
Skiing and boarding are inherently risky activities. TWMC and the organizers take no responsibility for any injuries that might occur. If you want to try skiing or boarding but do not have experience, then please enroll in lessons at the ski resorts; the organizers are not qualified to teach and will not be teaching. The Bandai area ski resorts are small and lessons in English might not be available.
To sign up, email Rick with your name, email address, keitai number, line id, dietary preferences (vegetarian ok), and whether you will bring or rent skis or a snowboard.
Some of our photos will be posted on the club website.
We had 2 late cancellations, but luckily 1 late addition of a skier with a snow-ready car. Two participants needed places to park, and I have space near my house so the departure was split between the 2 cars with 3of us leaving from my place in Saiki and the other 3 from Ninomiya Lawson. We met up at Tomobe service area. The drive was smooth in both directions with the highway portion taking just over 3 hours each way. Our expectations for snow were low given the warm winter, but at all 3 of the resorts where we skied, the snow was not bad at all.
A bit of fresh snow fell each evening and the skiing was very pleasant every day.
On Saturday we headed to Minowa, where the views were superb. All of the lifts we rode there are high speed. One of us suffered a fall and sprained a wrist. At the end of the second day, we visited a clinic in Inawashiro for an x-ray, which we were happy to see was negative for a fracture. Nearby on Saturday on the way to Bandai Lakeside Guesthouse we stopped at Osakaya ryokan (higaeri) in Nakanosawa onsen to bathe. This onsen is one of the most acidic in Japan, but the water was comfortable both inside and in the rotemburo (outdoor bath), which has a nice little cave in the bath. This one is a great value at 500 yen. Refreshed we headed to the guest house through fairly heavy snowfall.
Like last year, Bandai Lakeside Guesthouse was very comfortable and the dinners and breakfasts were tasty. They even allow guests to bring in their own bottles. The guest house accepts credit cards, allows groups to have people pay their share individually, and has added draft craft beer to their bar offerings. The proprietors Genta and Jun are very knowledgeable about the local region and freely offer advice about good routes and places to visit.
The guesthouse sold us discount coupons for lift tickets atGran Deco and Nekoma (3500 yen for Nihonjin and 2300 yen for gaijin [this is a special promotion by Fukushima Prefecture]). On Sunday we went to GranDeco, the largest of the 3 ski areas we visited.
One of their upper lifts was not open, but we had access to two long expert runs on the upper part of the other side of the mountain. Again the views were excellent and the lifts fast with few lines most of the day. On Monday (Coming of Age Day), 2 members went snowshoeing around Goshikinuma. The skiers dropped them off at the hike starting point and they walked back to the guest house to return the snowshoes and then walked to our meeting point, Urabandai Kyukamura where we all enjoyed the onsen before hitting the road for the drive home. The skiers continued up the road from Goshikinuma to Nekoma ski area. The day started cloudy and foggy, but the sun poked through and there were occasional excellent views. Nekoma’s lifts are slow, but it was not crowded and many of the runs are challenging. Again, we enjoyed excellent skiing. Urabandai Kyukamura also was a very pleasant onsen. Entry is only 600 yen for those with a Kokkumin kyukamura point card, which can be prepared on the spot.
Overall, everyone had a great time. I booked Bandai LakesideGuesthouse for a similar trip next year (9-11 January 2021) on what is the only 3-day weekend next winter. I am already accepting signups; email me offlist if you want to join. Also, if any of you are in the Urabandai region for more thana day and need a place to stay, I highly recommend booking this guesthouse.