Oku Ibuki seemed to be the most popular resort in Kansai on the 30th, there was really no need for the nav system in the car. Just follow all the cars with skis/boards on the roof, they all headed there.
Once there the car parks gave an indication on how popular this place was. Arriving at 8:00am there were already about 750 cars there. (Based on carpark capacity, I didn't count. Total carpark capactiy is 1800)
From the lower carparks there is a covered moving walkway up to the bottom of the base area, however to get back down it's a bit of a walk down a lot of stairs. Once off the walkway it's an uphill walk to the ticket office directly ahead, Restaurant to the right, and ski hire to the left.
Uphill walks are a feature at Oku Ibuki, from the top of lift 8 to the bottom of lift 9 is a short, but steep uphill, then from the top of 9 to the bottom of 10 is another uphill, though not as steep. Obviously “Resorts for Dummies” isn’t a best seller around here.
The tickets here are electronic, with a 500 yen deposit. (Remember to factor in the time to get your deposit back if you are leaving at a busy time)
There are 9 lifts laid out in a slight V shape, 3 taking you up the left side to approx 1,045m and 6 on the right side taking you to approx 1,250m. On the day we were there the top lift wasn't operating and the next lift down was only taking you halfway up it's normal run.
A number of the 12 courses, mainly advanced runs were closed, it appeared lack of snow was the problem, along with some pretty big cracks in the snowpack. The courses themselves are well set out, and it's easy to get from one side of the V to the other. There didn't appear to be any off piste opportunities, in the areas that were open. However looking up the mountain there appeared to be places, but they would have to be accessed off the top the mountain, which would need lift 10 to be running all the way to the top.
I'm not sure if it was because of the large numbers of people, many who appeared to be beginners, but the lifts not only ran quite slow, but often stopped. On all the lifts I went on 2 the was min number of stops per lift, one ride had 6 stops.
The Restaurant serves up some very good food, all chosen and paid for at two ticket machines. So you either need a bit of Japanese, or just take a punt based on the pictures. There is a little shop inside the restaurant selling the usual collection of gloves, hats etc in case you left something behind. The toilets have to be the cleanest I've seen anywhere for a long time, although the same can't be said for the ones on the slopes.
Small kids have there own little area, with a covered magic carpet and bouncy blow up play things.
All in all a nice resort, very crowded on a public holiday, so maybe better to try a week day. Seemed very popular with beginners. (It also gave me one of the best laughs of last year, three girls in high heels attempting to walk up to the base area from the covered walkway, 200 metres of snow in high heels, magic or should that be tragic, to watch)
From 30 December, 2013
Snow condition on visit:
Hard packed snow, a bit icy in places
Things I liked:
Well laid out, except for the walks too and from lift 9 Good variety of runs Nice food at the restaurant