The weather leading up to this trip was a little worrying. My original pan was to head to Dynaland on this day, but due to a freezing level of over 1500m and rain on the forecast I decided to head for higher ground. With Ontake still closed and a free ticket thanks to SnowJapan, I decided to check out Mt. Ñorikura. The forecast at Norikura was for 24cm overnight. I think that forecast was one of the most accurate forecasts I've ever seen. Luckily we didn't get rain the night before just the 24cm of fresh heavy snow.
The lifts started to operate at 8:30 and by 9:15 all the lifts were operating. It was a lovely morning with few people on the slopes. The snow higher on the mountain was still in good condition, the warmer weather didn't have much of an impact on it all. On the lower slopes it was evident that there had been warmer weather with the new snow being somewhat heavy. The bottom of the mountain was serviced by a pair lift which I would imagine would cause congestion on weekends however this lift seems to service mainly ungroomed advanced courses. These runs were a lot of fun with the new snow and few people. After scoring a few runs of first tracks on the lower slopes I went looking for what else the mountain had to offer. After taking a quad lift I found where everyone else had been boarding in the morning. The top of the mountain is an ungroomed paradise. I can see why people would come here on powder days. I did a few laps of the top finding leftover powder stashes and generally having a fun day riding. For lunch I decided to head down from the upper slopes to a lunch house near the park. I was a little hungry so I went for the omori curry rice. This was by far the biggest curry rice I've ever had and it left me feeling unable to move from eating too much. After lunch I did some slow runs to warm up after my massive lunch. I spent most of the time riding the mid and bottom third of the mountain. There was a great variety of courses and different terrain. I managed to keep boarding all afternoon until last lift. I'm not sure how I had the energy to continue all day, but I think it had something to do with the amazing tunes the skijo was playing. I'm not sure of the exact CD but I'm pretty sure it was something like the best hits of the 90s. Some people may have found this music annoying but I loved it. Listening to songs I hadn't heard for 20 years was somewhat refreshing. Highlights were songs like Scatman, and Jump by Kris Kross.
After rocking out on the lifts and boarding all day there was one thing left to do, head to the onsen. As soon as you arrive at Mt. Norikura it is obvious that there is an onsen nearby. There is a strong sulfur/egg smell around the skijo. The onsen was relaxing enough, but the smell was a little overwhelming for my liking. If you do visit this onsen make sure you don't wear expensive clothes, my woolen icebreaker base layer still has the smell of onsen two weeks later.
Mt. Norikura, although a bit of a hike from the highway, is well worth the effort on a snowy day. If you are looking for somewhere new to try its worth the journey and easy to spend a day exploring all this place has to offer.