Biwako Valley is a small ski area with only 8 trails but it is actually pretty good in my opinion.
The entire ski area was open and there was a lot of snow in the trees. Yes the trails are short but if you read the mountain stats you shouldn't be surprised or disappointed. I went on a Friday so it wasn't very crowded. I'm sure the weekends would get very crowded though. There is only one annoying flat spot that is at the bottom of the beginner run that you will take from the gondola. You need to traverse the flat area to get to the lift that takes you up the treeless area of the mountain. Personally I thought the short tree lined ski trails were the most pleasing. I ended up doing laps on the fast lift that is directly across from the gondola. The views from Biwako Valley are spectacular. Bring your camera! I ended up using my cell phone for photos but I wish I brought my Nikons.
Ok now, backcountry. I think there is potential for some nice lines in the hills around the ski area. I was surprised at the amount of snow which was more than sufficient. It doesn't seem to be a very avalanche prone area though there are some spots that might require some diligence. There is another defunct ski area just to the northwest of Biwako Valley that I saw on Google maps that looks interesting. Next year when I have a car I will be exploring more of this area's backcountry. This season I'm pretty much confined to the piste and slackcountry. I will update this review as necessary.
Oh yeah.....the half-pipe looks pretty nice and there was a decent terrain park as well if that is your thing.
From 24 January, 2014 To 24 January, 2014
Snow condition on visit:
Packed powder with occasional icy patches. The trees in between trails had about a meter of snow that has developed a thin crust.
Things I liked:
The views! Snow conditions Fast lifts (except for one slow double chair)
Things I didn't like:
The damn music! (again) The one flat spot
Authentic Japan experience