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NECK posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryAkakura Kanko, Myoko. – April 5th, 2013. Thanks Snow Japan for sending me these 2 tickets for anywhere in Myoko in your last giveaway of the season! Also, congratulations on the new site. Layout is great and easy to navigate. So here is my review for Akakura Kanko in Myoko. I waited to use the tickets until April, so I could take my brother who was visiting from England. It was his first time visiting Japan and his first time snowboarding in almost 3 years. Living in southern Nagano city, I almost always ride in Hakuba and Otari. I have done a fair few days in Suginohara over the last five seasons, plus a few days ‘snorkelling’ in Seki, but other than those two resorts I haven’t ridden much in Myoko at all. It was my first ever visit to Akakan, and I chose to go there as it was basically the only resort still operating on weekdays in April. I took the day off from school on Friday, April 5th and drove from Nagano city to Myoko on the highway. A reasonable 850 yen with the ETC. Pulled up to Akakan mid-morning and it was already 15 degrees. Basically t-shirt weather, but opted for a shell over the t-shirt just to be safe. Being greeted with blue skies and an almost empty car park was nice. Much nicer than being at school! As it was a weekday and the resort was on spring operations, there were only two lifts running. That was more than enough to provide us with plenty of giggles for the day. The gondola and the quad serving the park were our only options, so we lapped them from 11 am until around 3:45 pm, only stopping for a light lunch around 1 pm. My first impressions of the place were good. The massive parking lot is right at the resort base area, so no need to walk for miles to get to the ticket window or gondola station. My brother needed to rent some boots, but the kind guy at the rental shop next to the ticket counter gave him some for half-day rates. A bargain at only 1000 yen! I exchanged my free passes at the counter for the Akakan paper lift tickets. The staff all seemed really friendly and keen to make small talk and hook us up. Maybe they were just happy we were there, as the base area was basically empty. The gondola is a six-seater and was moving at full speed, as there was no wind. The quad was moving quickly too, and I love the ‘bubble’ cover to keep you cosy on windy days. It was hot and sunny so we didn’t need it though. I would say that in total, there were less than 30 people (including us) on the mountain all day. It was really empty and the guys running the lifts didn’t check our tickets once all day! I guess they are a bit more on it during peak season. We did a couple of top to bottom cruisers on the gondola to get the legs in. Nice slushy spring conditions for the top two thirds of the course, but the last stretch was more like glue, so had to b-line it from the mid-run hotel to the base area to avoid unstrapping. Still good fun though. Spent pretty much the rest of the day lapping the park quad. My brother isn’t much of a park rider, but he did well considering he hadn’t ridden in three years and was out there with one of my boards and some rental boots! The park at Akakan is really good, and spring conditions with slushy landings make for the best park days. There is basically one long line through the park, consisting of small to mid-sized kickers, which were well shaped and well maintained. Towards the end of this line there were a few box and rail items, but nothing too full on. About half way down the park, before the rail section, you can veer left to finish the line with two bigger kickers. They seemed nice but the landings seemed a little short for their size. We didn’t ride them at all. I am not sure if the park layout is different during peak season, but I wouldn’t be riding it then anyway. If you are into riding powder lines and tree lines then it looks like Akakan may have some nice terrain above the top chair during peak season. That chair wasn’t running so hard to tell for sure, but it looks like you can hike along a ridge curving around above the top chair. If I go back to Akakan next season I will check it out for sure. As with most of the resorts in Myoko though, almost everything seems to be south facing. Solar radiation would take it’s toll on these lines I’m sure. We had lunch at the restaurant just below the top of the gondola. It was the only place open on the mountain and the food was cheap and pretty good. I got a sukiyaki type bowl for 850 yen. It was nice and we ate lunch out on the balcony terrace. Nice views of the mountains to the south and a perfect place to take in some rays. We spent a good 30 minutes at this restaurant and left very satisfied. My overall impression of Akakan is that it is great if you are a park rider. We couldn’t really get a proper feel for the resort, as we basically rode the same two runs all day, but I would say the groomed runs would suit mainly beginner to intermediate riders and skiers. The lifts are modern and the staff friendly. I would recommend this resort due to its proximity to the highway exit and massive parking area alone. I would definitely consider going back next season, but would rather go during peak season with someone who knows the terrain to show me some of the side country and powder lines. Thanks for the tickets Snow Japan. We had a great day! Neck.
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