Having spent the weekend in Fukui city, I decided to visit nearby Ski Jam Katsuyama on the Monday. The biggest resort in the region, I had read that it gets busy at the weekends, especially with people travelling up from Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya, but this wasn't an issue on this day and I was keen to check out a new resort in an area that I don't know so well. Access from Fukui is an easy and relatively cheap, 1-hour bus ride costing 5,900Yen. That includes a day pass and avoids having to pay the expensive toll road fee. Buses leave Fukui station at 07:50 and 09:20 (and leave the resort at 16:30), and you buy tickets from the ticket office in advance. The office opens really early so you can do that on the day though you might not want to leave it that late if going on the weekend.
The ski resort itself is divided into 3 parts. In ascending order these are the "Variety Site", the "Fantasy Site" and the "Illusion Site". You have to pass through each area to get to the next so, as mentioned in the previous reviews, this means that it takes quite a while to ride the 4 lifts you need to get up to the top of the resort and arguably the best area. This wasn't so much of a problem on this occasion as it was a beautiful, bluebird day (which the locals told me only happens once or twice a month) and I was happy to check out each area in turn, and to stop, admire the views and take photos with my friends. However, I might feel a bit differently if it was a full-on powder day and I was keen to get up to the top. & why would you want to go there? Well not only does it have the highest elevation but also some easily-accessed tree runs either side of the quad lift. There are 2 quads lifts accessing that area but only lift B was running on this day - I don't know if that is always the case. The area also has it's own restaurant ("Beech Terrace" - which serves good katsu-curry!) so there is no need to waste time by going all the way back down to the base area for lunch or the toilet. I also saw some interesting-looking lines through the trees from and to the left of the 3rd link lift, the "Illusion triple", which I would be keen to check out if I went there again.
The groomed runs were in good condition in all three areas, though the lower slopes got noticeably slushier and heavier as the day wore on. As mentioned in other reviews, there are some flat sections (linking the three areas and elsewhere) that boarders may need to unstrap and skate on to negotiate, which could be annoying, especially for beginners. Actually, one of the previous reviewers said this resort was definitely for beginners and I would have to disagree with that. Whilst the base area is more beginner-friendly, the higher areas are less so and with the flat areas to deal with as well, I would say that the resort is more suited to intermediates, though advanced skiers/riders can also have fun on the steeper top runs and in the trees. There was also a fairly good-looking park for the freestylers, not that I used it.
Overall I had a great day at Ski Jam. It was more of a social ski with friends, accompanied by great weather which made for some stunning views. I had no problem with the lift system though I'd no doubt have a different impression on a busy weekend with poorer visibility but I'll definitely go back again if I'm in the area. & Katsuyama itself is worth a visit, with its dinosaur museum and the tallest castle in Japan.
From 16 February, 2015 To 16 February, 2015
Snow condition on visit:
A decent amount of recent snowfall meant good conditions on-piste, with 10-30cm off-piste, though the unusually sunny weather made things heavier-going in the afternoon.
Things I liked:
The views; the Illusion Site, the Beech Terrace katsu-curry; easy access from Fukui.
Things I didn't like:
Nothing really, though I can see that the lift system and flat sections could be annoying.