The most northern ski slope in Honshu, Mount Kamafuse is a minimalistic ski resort that doesn’t warrant a special pilgrimage to visit, but if you are local to the area, it can become an excellent daily escape from the business of life.
Kamafuse is considered a family resort for the people of Mutsu but offers little in the ways of accomidation that you’d expect from larger resorts. Despite it’s small size, there are several chatlets for overnight stays and a few restaurants at base level to include a cafeteria in the lodge. Ski rentals are available across from the ticket office.
There are 5 parking lots staircased in the mountain on the road up, but the most I’ve ever seen full was the first two (furthest up) There is also parking available in front of the tennis court that is not in use during the winter.
Across from the second parking lot (again second from the top, and are numbered as such) there is a childrens sledding area. I have not explored this area in great depth because it is seperate from the rest of the mountain and I have no children but every day I go there is a good crowd of mothers and their children with plastic sleds. There is also what seems to be a seperate lodge beside it to rest, eat and use the bathroom.
After a short or long hike up (depending how far down you parked) you’ll find the ticket office on the left side of the road as a separate building from the lodge, but right next to it. A sign is to the right of the ticket office with prices and a map of the mountain.
Many options are available, more than I have seen at other resorts. A 1 time ticket,, 2, 4 and 8 hour tickets are all available as well as a season pass of course.
The main lodge, called センターハース (Center House) by the vinyls on the window faces the mountain and surprisingly offers everything except a water fountain. There is seating for 120 people as well as vending machines, lockers, bathrooms, changing rooms, and a fire place, which I have yet to see in use. The cafeteria is currently not in use this season according to a sign, but a frozen food vending machine was set in place in lieu of, offering gyoza, rice and a few other decently filling foods for about 300Y. Once making a choice, it spits it into the microwave and heats it up for you. Itadakimasu!
In front of the lodge proper are racks for your gear and on a busy day they will be completely full and you may have to stick them in the snow along the fence.
Once you’re ready to head up, the first lift (Technically the second lift according to the map) is about 20m from the equipment racks and sports a nifty automatic gate and conveyor that is slightly awkward to get used to. When you’re cleared to enter, the arms open and you slide down and onto the treadmill. It’ll run you forward until the next lift scoops you up. The lift takes about 7 minutes to reach the top and offers a good preview of the first slopes layout. On the far right, a snow park can be seen, although it leaves much to be desired. Sporting two box rails and two kickers, it manages to give those park rats a taste without traveling too far from home.
On the left closest to the lifts you’ll catch the chatlets and the old decomissioned ski jump. Would that it was still in use! A 40m ramp and huge landing pad, but it has vines and rust growing all over it and a big do not enter sign on it.
At the top of the first lift (Second) the, second lift (first) is a short 20m away and will take you to the top of the mountain. While the bottom lift, is a two seater, the top lift is a precarious one seat lift. If you brave the climb, its another 7 minutes until exit. If you have a long snowboard, be sure to pay attention to the lift posts as my 166cm came precariously close to hitting one.
As you go up, you’ll have a great view of the other two courses. The one to the left and closes to the lift remains ungroomed for the length of the season due to the natural contours of the mountain. This side I tend to call the powder side due to the great accumulation it gets. If you go down to far, you’ll miss the cut through to hit the lift again, but I have seen some skiers shoot to the bottom and trek back up. If you’re a snowboarder, I wouldn't risk it., and just be sure to dart over when you need to.
The right side course remains groomed and I would consider it the most difficult course based on the angle of the slope. You can stick to the side near the trees (going down the slope on the left) or dip into the bowl which is not groomed. Both come together at the bottom where you can hop back on the top lift or ride the rest of the way down the mountain.
At the exit of the top lift, there is no ramp, only a flat platform, so you need to be sure to get out of the way before the seat takes you out. There is plenty of room for a few people to strap in, then go down the shoot that puts you on the slope. The chute has little room for error, so you need to be careful or you’ll fall off the slope and it’s a pain to get yourself back over.
The best part of the entire resort in my opinion is the amazing view of Mutsu Bay. Because of the location (this is a southern facing slope) you get a beautiful scene of the bay and the "axe handle" of Shimokita. On a good clear day you can make out the wind turbines of Mutsu Yokohama as well as Cape Shiriyazaki. Tsugaru Strait is barely visible and I think I can see the shadow of Hokkaido as well. More often than not you'll be looking at the bay or will have it in your eyeline on the ride down. While not the same as a big mountain range, it's very relaxing and unique to the area
The beginner slope, or main slope is very wide and there are many contours and ways down and even on a busy day it’s incredibly spacious, short of at the top where people mingle.
I've been visiting Kamafuse since opening week and although the weather across Japan hasn’t been great this winter, the base cover has been good and enjoy spending a few hours every other day here.
If you ever find yourself this far north in mainland Japan (highly unlikely!) and visit Shimokita Penninsula in the winter, then Kamafuse is a great (and the only!) snow resort to enjoy.
From January, 2014 To 30 January, 2014
Snow condition on visit:
Between 55 and 85cm of base varying with the wildly varying weather this season.
Things I liked:
Proximity to home- This resort is 5 minutes from my place Great staff Amazing view Good mix of groomed and powder runs Combination of very steep runs and somewhat flat for everyone
Things I didn't like:
No water fountain. Seriously? Bring your own refreshment or pay for a vending machine drink. No off piste opportunities.