Izuna Kogen is a small, local ski hill, about 35 minutes from downtown Nagano. The Shore family have bought seasons passes here because of the short drive. On a clear day, you can look up from downtown, and see pretty much all of the runs on Izuna - there's 6 or so of them, spanning all ability ages. The more difficult side of the mountain has some great pitches, while the beginner side is almost ideal for learning. All
35 cm of fresh snow! It's almost unfair to review a mountain under those conditions...
I first skied Madarao five years ago. It was my first introduction to Japanese skiing, and despite what I felt were some shortcomings (old, double and triple chairs; no off trail allowed) I liked it even so. Since then there have been some great improvements - another detachable quad, and the tree runs! (More on them later)
Having won one of the Snow Japan draws, I was eagerly waiting for a decent day to head on up to Sugadaira. The forecast for Saturday was for mixed sun/cloud and a bit of wind, so....packed both Shore-lets in the car, and off we went. After a 30 minute detour caused by a snow-closed road ( who thought too much snow could be a bad thing?) we arrived at Sugadaira, and were greeted by bluebird skies, and lighter winds
A late start due to a few domestic tasks at home (gotta keep the spousal appreciation units up, if I'm going to get Fridays off to ski!) so I rolled into the nearly empty base parking lot at about 10:30. No line at the ticket office (and they take VISA!!) and the straight onto the 'Noah' gondola for a ~ 10 minute ride to the top. Looked at the map a few times on the way up, and