Yesterday my brother and I went to Nozawa ski jo, it was the first time for both of us and somewhere I had wanted to go for sometime.
The weather was good, and although it did snow lightly from time to time, it also remained fine and quite sunny for long periods too, and with no wind felt very warm even at the very top it was not cold.
Compared to my area it was warm, I am used to much colder conditions so it felt rather spring like, but the snow was good and remained good for most of the day.
It looked like they had had about 15-20cm of new snow fall the day before, so not as much as I was expecting especially after reading the reports, but still more than enough and better than the rubbish we have had this year, except from around mid January when we had that nice 60+cm dump.
Nozawa yesterday looked like it did here in January, and I could see that they had not had much snow this year. There were no snow high snow walls anywhere, the highest probably being around 50cm to maybe 1 metre in some places.
The resort had a good coating of snow including the trees which looked very nice with snow covering them.
One of the steep courses was closed due to lack of snow, in fact dirt was showing all over the course.
Most everywhere else was fine, but I did notice the odd thin patch and dirt just starting to show through, but just the odd spot.
The courses varied from packed snow to chopped snow and on the edges and just off the edges soft pow about shin deep.
If you went into the trees the snow was deeper, some spots knee deep, so fats would have been better than my carvers, but it was fun chopping the pow.
We stuck to the red and black courses most of the time, although we did some of the greens so we could get in as much terrain as possible.
Even though it was just my brothers third time out boarding he got on better on the steeper stuff than the flat, he kept stacking his board on the flat stuff but mostly kept on it on the steeper soft stuff which he seemed more happy with and suited me too, because I was able to do the steep stuff and not just have to stick to the green runs.
The Challenge 39o course was nice and with good pow, making for some nice zigzag turns, it was only short but well worth it. Some of the other black courses where either un-groomed at the top or well chopped which made for some really fun riding.
We both also really liked the skyline course and liked how you could just hop over the edge to the black courses to give some nice challenging riding. We enjoyed the resort and both agreed it would be nice to go back there.
There is also a nice selection of restaurants with various foods including a lot of western foods for those who don't want Japanese.
A few things that were not so good is the signage, absolute shite!
They have a nice map that shows all the courses, including the numbers for the various courses and all except a few runs don't have the numbers that are on the map.
You follow a sign to one of the courses you want to do, and it may point left with the number, you follow that then further down it splits up into two directions with no numbers or any course name leaving you wondering were you actually are.
Once you get use to the stupid layout it becomes easier for someone who had never been there before the signs suck big time.
The other thing I could not believe the amount of gaijin there, WTF! While I would expect a few it felt more like I was skiing in America or Canada than Japan and when we stopped for lunch everyone in the restaurant were foreigners.
Down in the village in the evening was not much better. Now while I know I am a foreigner in Japan, I am used to going to resorts that have little or no foreigners, and that is actually the way I like it.
As for terrain, while Nozawa has some nice terrain and plenty big enough, I think fro top to bottom it is about 10k and on the way you can ride various terrain, it still for me does not beat Madarao, that is still my favourite resort by far and I have been to a lot.
While I feel Nozawa is bigger it has too much flat stuff as well and once you have done one black course you have really done them all, same with the greens. I think the red courses offered more variety in that sense.
Because two of the black courses near the bottom that actually connect back to the base were closed it pretty much meant that no matter where you went down you could not avoid ending up on fairly long stretches of green courses, which neither of us wanted, something I don't think I have seen so much of at other resorts.
I know the bottom has the greens, but usually most of it can be avoided and only short bits need to be skied, but at Nozawa that is not the case.
Conclusion a nice resort with good snow, even on a crap year like this year and with some nice deep and steep terrain as well as some very nice scenery. It is also a resort that is good fun no matter what your level.
The food was also quite good and not extortionately expensive either.
I would go there again for sure, it is more than big enough to keep you interested for the day and has enough steep stuff to keep me busy and I really like some of the views.
If they could sort out the dumb arse sign system the it would make it even better.
But given a choice of resorts, I will pick Madarao over Nozawa or Hakuba, come to that.
One thing that wins over other resorts I have been to is the village, I really liked Noazawa onsen village it is a very pretty quaint little place with some very nice, albeit rather hot onsen.
Actually the onsen we went to O-yu was very nice and I think it was something like 60 or 65oC, it burns when you get in, but if you don't move once your in it feels really great and you feel really relaxed afterwards to.
I do highly recommend a dip in one of Nozawa's onsens.
I will go back there, and would like to go back another year when they get proper amounts of snow to compare, also I want to try some of there other onsens too.
From 02 March, 2016 To 02 March, 2016
Snow condition on visit:
The snow was good and plentiful, although not huge amounts.
Things I liked:
The snow and the steep terrain as well as the Skyline course