My first review, and I'd like to dedicate it to charming little ishiuchi maruyama - so far the only skijo my timid beginner better-half has requested by name to return to - and for the third year in a row we have returned.
Now let me just start off with a big disclaimer - the skiing here is actually not that great.The slopes are average, the elevation low, the terrain uninspiring, the lifts are slow and laid out poorly, transport is somewhat a pain, the snow is just as good at any other yuzawa resorts, and there really isn't much unique on offer on or off the trails. Seriously, if you are a powderhound looking only to shred, don't bother.
But if you are taking along someone who is just getting their ski legs steady, isn't super enthused about lapping the hill non-stop, but would rather do some cruisy runs and then chill for a bit in the lodge, then this is the perfect hill.
First - the hill is pretty much all cruisy - beginner/intermediate level runs from bottom to top - so the trail map is not at all intimidating. Second - between the cruisy sections lies a heap of little cafes and restaurants - and not your typical faceless ski-jo curry cafeteria, but actual small businesses, run by real people, all doing their own thing, and doing it with pride. Its charming as hell.
It was the first place that really motivated my beginner skier to go and explore the hill from top to bottom, just to check out what little cafe lies around the next crest, comfortable in the fact that she is never far from a place to chill if and when she gets tired.
Its even got one or two sad looking abandoned buildings, for those looking for mt to granview levels of charm. (just kidding, nothing can possibly compare...)
Its such a contrast, compared to all these ultra commercial bubble-era ski-jos (especially Gala - ironic that they are connected at the top and share a ticket). They may have all the glitz, glamour, and convience, but none of the soul.
So in summary, visit ishiuchi to experience a little hill that tries to give you its best with what its got, while keeping true to that feeling of a family business that refuses to sellout.
From 04 March, 2014
Snow condition on visit:
Things I liked:
Things I didn't like:
Base is a little too dead at night, preferred to stay in yuzawa for lodging and food options and just bus/ski over for the day.