I'd never been to Akakura Kanko before, but thanks to a SJ giveaway I decided to give it a whirl with my fellow SJ Forums lurker, Neck.
Kanko was always somewhere I'd wanted to go after reading the entry for it in The World Snowboarding Guide. Their description made it sound epic, with pillow lines and steep trees... Yet, in all my +10yrs of riding in and around Nagano Prefecture, I'd never heard whisper of the place...
We rocked up a day or 2 after the last decent snowfall, and it was bright bluebird with a minimal queue for the gondola -good start.
Once near the top of the resort, we scoped out a little tree run parallel with a lift and dove in. On exiting, the ski-patrol were spotted and Neck had his lift pass torn -strike one apparently. Get another and you're off! That didn't bode well as we'd planned on exploring the off piste as much as possible.
We took the top lift up to try and scope out some more slackcountry where the ski-patrol wouldn't spot us, but low-and-behold, there was a 'Backcountry Access Gate'! Was not expecting that! Having all our backcountry gear on us (as always) we jumped in and followed the hundreds of tracks down. Wow. Some really fun terrain! Chutes, trees, pillows, drops, everything! Only problem was the lack of pow to enjoy them! That whole allocated 'backcountry' area is pretty large with lots of nice terrain, plus it conveniently spits you back out on the resort lower down, a few hundred meters from the lift. So hot-laps are a definite go here.
Late morning rolled on, and in our search for pow, we strapped the boards to our packs and hiked the ridge up from the 'Backcountry Access Gate'. The route is well established, and plenty of other folk had the same idea as us. It took around 40mins to reach the top ridge and we were greeted with a fantastic view of Mt. Myoko and the ancient crater surrounding it. From here we dropped in and had fantastic powder with well spaced trees, that met up much lower down with the designated 'backcountry' area.
Kanko also has a reasonable park area with 2 sets of jumps -by that I mean 2 lines of around 4~5 jumps each of varying size. Plus a box or 2...
Access was easy from the I.C. and I will definitely be returning on a pow day this coming season!