Seki Onsen is a small resort in the Myoko area, with a very friendly feel to it and a pretty solid group of local riders. The whole resort has only 2 lifts and they turn pretty slowly, but the lifties are really funny older guys who like to joke around and make small talk.
I have visited Seki Onsen about six or seven times over the years, always during peak season and always when the place seems to have been smashed by snow that didn't really seem to fall anywhere else in the Myoko area. Seki is one of those places that seems to always be getting snowed on during peak season, which is why it consistently reports massive numbers on the daily accumulation. They aren't kidding either, the place gets nuked!
Because of the massive snow the place gets, I've yet to go on a day where the upper lift opens on time. The number of staff at the resort is small and all hands seem to be on deck digging out that top lift after the bottom one gets turning. I have even been once when the bottom lift was still being dug out at opening time! The locals were all pitching in with shovel work to get things moving, which was a cool thing to see. Only in Japan I guess.
The resort itself doesn't really have any groomed runs off the top lift. There are a couple of flatter semi-groomed courses off the lower lift, but I haven't actually ever seen it groomed. They pretty much seem to leave the resort as is on powder days, so the lower part gets pretty chopped up by the afternoon. I guess they do some grooming after the resort closes maybe?....
The main attraction at Seki Onsen is the side country terrain, riders right off the top lift. This is a steep, fairly tight tree section which leads in to big gully running parallel to the resort and curving left at the bottom, almost back to the bottom lift station. After a track has been put in you can ride pretty much right back to the lift. The first section is steep and fast with many entry points and lots of different lines available. There are all sorts of boulders, pillows, small to medium drops and other terrain features in this area. The trees get a little tighter towards the gully, but you can pretty much charge the whole section full speed after you get a feel for the place. It gets a little choppy in the gully after a few hours, but if you are systematic and keep dropping in a little lower from the top lift, you can minimize the time spent in the gully and get really nice lines for most of the day back there.
Seki also has a little mini park set-up at the bottom with a wide box, long rail and a couple of small kickers. Fun for a while but nothing special. In the afternoon the locals often set up picnic chairs in this area and session it with beers. Happy days :-)
The 'Taube Restaurant' at the base of the resort is pretty good and reasonably priced. They have the usual Japanese ski resort food and super friendly service. I don't usually stop for lunch on a powder day, but Seki has a really laid back and casual feel to it so I always stop at Taube for curry when I visit.
Seki Onsen is not for everyone, but if you like small, friendly resorts with ridiculous amounts of powder and steep, deep tree lines then I'd recommend Seki for sure. On weekends the place usually gets tracked out by lunchtime and you have to pay 500 yen for parking. On a weekday the place feels pretty empty and you can get really good powder laps almost all day long. The drive can be a little sketchy when it is really puking, but it is easy to get to off the highway or off route 18.
I'll be back for a day or two during the 2015/2016 season for sure :-)
No specific date.
Snow condition on visit:
Things I liked:
Huge amounts of powder, friendly staff, friendly locals, more traditional feel than most resorts.