Zao Onsen (Yamagata City, Yamagata)

Zao Onsen
蔵王温泉
(山形県 山形市)
Planned season: Friday 18th December 2020 until early May 2021
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Latest report posted at 7:53am on Friday 17th April 2020
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Zao Onsen is a large-scale ski and snowboard resort located about 16km to the south east of central Yamagata city in Yamagata Prefecture. In terms of area for an individual ski resort, it is the largest in Japan. Zao Onsen is actually both the name of the traditional onsen hot spring village nestled high up above the city and also the ski and snowboard resort. Many of the base ski lifts and courses are within walking distance from the main village with a lot of ski-in ski-out accommodation available. Zao Onsen has a long history, first opening in 1925 with the first ski lift being installed in 1951.

Zao Onsen is one of the most well-known ski and onsen resorts in Japan and famous for the juhyo ‘snow monster’ (or ‘ice monster’) formations that can be found on the trees on the mountain during the peak winter season. Juhyo can only be found on a limited number of mountains in Japan. This beautiful natural phenomenon makes for spectacular scenery and is one of the reasons why many people visit Zao Onsen each season. The Juhyo near the top of the Zao Ropeway are lit up in the evening during the peak season, with that Ropeway operating for sightseeing purposes (dates shown below).

The FIS Ladies' Ski Jump World Cup has been held annually at Zao Onsen in mid-January.

Yamagata Prefecture is located in the south-west part of Tohoku with the west coast facing the Sea of Japan. The boundaries of Yamagata Prefecture are all mountainous with Niigata Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture to the south, Akita Prefecture to the north and Miyagi Prefecture to the east. The ski and snowboard ski hills in Yamagata range from very small one-lift local hills to the biggest individual ski resort in Japan (Zao Onsen) and are spread across the Prefecture.

The Mountain

1660m
880m
780m
38"
26
9000m
41
20%
40%
40%
Skiers
60%
ropeways Ropeways gondolas Gondolas quad lifts Quad lifts triple lifts Triple lifts pair lifts Pair lifts single lifts Single lifts other lifts Other
Boarders
40%
3 1 5 3 28 1 0

Zao Onsen Course Map

Click on the below image for a larger map
Course Map Small

Zao Onsen Snow Depth Statistics

Official snow depth numbers from the current season and previous season
December January February March
20/21
season
19/20
season
20/21
season
19/20
season
20/21
season
19/20
season
20/21
season
19/20
season
1st - - 1st - 30cm 1st - 80cm 1st - 120cm
2nd - - 2nd - 40cm 2nd - 90cm 2nd - 120cm
3rd - - 3rd - 40cm 3rd - 90cm 3rd - 120cm
4th - - 4th - 40cm 4th - 90cm 4th - 120cm
5th - - 5th - 40cm 5th - 90cm 5th - 120cm
6th - - 6th - 40cm 6th - 110cm 6th - 120cm
7th - 45cm 7th - 40cm 7th - 110cm 7th - 120cm
8th - 45cm 8th - 40cm 8th - 110cm 8th - 120cm
9th - 45cm 9th - 40cm 9th - 110cm 9th - 120cm
10th - 45cm 10th - 40cm 10th - 120cm 10th - 115cm
11th - 40cm 11th - 40cm 11th - 120cm 11th - 100cm
12th - 40cm 12th - 40cm 12th - 120cm 12th - 90cm
13th - 40cm 13th - 40cm 13th - 120cm 13th - 90cm
14th - 40cm 14th - 40cm 14th - 110cm 14th - 90cm
15th - 40cm 15th - 40cm 15th - 110cm 15th - 85cm
16th - 40cm 16th - 40cm 16th - 110cm 16th - 85cm
17th - 40cm 17th - 40cm 17th - 100cm 17th - 85cm
18th - 40cm 18th - 40cm 18th - 100cm 18th - 95cm
19th - 40cm 19th - 40cm 19th - 110cm 19th - 95cm
20th - 40cm 20th - 50cm 20th - 110cm 20th - 95cm
21st - 40cm 21st - 60cm 21st - 110cm 21st - 95cm
22nd - 40cm 22nd - 60cm 22nd - 110cm 22nd - 95cm
23rd - 40cm 23rd - 80cm 23rd - 110cm 23rd - 90cm
24th - 45cm 24th - 80cm 24th - 120cm 24th - 90cm
25th - 40cm 25th - 80cm 25th - 120cm 25th - 90cm
26th - 40cm 26th - 80cm 26th - 120cm 26th - 90cm
27th - 40cm 27th - 80cm 27th - 120cm 27th - 90cm
28th - 40cm 28th - 80cm 28th - 120cm 28th - 90cm
29th - 40cm 29th - 80cm 29th - 120cm 29th - 90cm
30th - 40cm 30th - 80cm 30th 30th - 90cm
31st - 40cm 31st - 80cm 31st 31st - 90cm

Previous Statistics

Zao Onsen Facilities

School
School
Ski School: Available Snowboard School: Available
Ski and snowboard lessons are available at Zao Onsen. 
Rental
Equipment Rental
Ski Rental: Available Snowboard Rental: Available
Ski and snowboard equipment rental is available.
Ski and snowboard wear rental is also available. 
Children Facilities
Children's facilities
There are a number of places in base areas for sledging and general playing in the snow. 
Park Information
Park information
There are snowboard park areas on the Nakamori and Chuo areas of Zao Onsen. 

Zao Onsen Season & Opening Times

Typical season is from Early December until Early May
October November December January February March April May June July
                                                           
Daytime
Daytime
Weekends and holidays Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
Weekdays Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
Nighta
'Nighta' (night skiing)
Weekends and holidays Yes
Weekdays Yes
Opening information
Opening information
The lifts at Zao Onsen are normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm during the daytime. Nighta, when available, is from 5:00pm until 9:00pm.

Nighta in the Uwanodai area is scheduled daily from 26th December 2020 until 6th March 2021 and then 13th, 19th and 20th March 2021.

Nighta in the Yokokura area is scheduled for New Year (26th December 2020 until 3rd January 2021); and also on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 8th January and 6th March 2021.

The Zao Ropeway opens in the evenings on the below dates for 'Light Up' sightseeing purposes - to go and see the Juhyo monsters (note: not for skiing or boarding). There is an extra charge for this night time operation - 3,000 yen for adults and 1,500 yen for children (return):

December 2020: 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st
January 2021: 1st-3rd, 8th-10th, 15th-17th, 22nd-24th, 27th-31st
February 2021: all days apart from Tuesdays

Zao Onsen Lift Ticket Charges

Adults Child
Elementary School age & under
Older Child
High School age
Senior
60 years & over
1 Day 5,000 yen 2,500 yen 4,400 yen 4,400 yen
2 Days 9,600 yen 4,800 yen 8,500 yen 8,500 yen
3 Days 14,100 yen 7,100 yen 12,600 yen 12,600 yen
4 Days 18,400 yen 9,200 yen 16,400 yen 16,400 yen
2 Hours 3,200 yen 1,600 yen
4 Hours 4,000 yen 2,000 yen
Season 10 Hours 13,000 yen
Season 10 Days 39,000 yen
Nighta (5pm-9pm) 2,400 yen 1,200 yen
Season Ticket 65,000 yen 31,000 yen 37,000 yen 60,000 yen
Lift Ticket Information 2020-2021 Season lift tickets

The hourly tickets are valid from the time of purchase and can also be used for nighta.

The Season 10 Hour ticket can be used in units of 1 hour over the season and can be used for nighta.

A 500 yen returnable deposit is required for lift tickets.

Early and late season ticket discounts are available (before 18th December 2020 and after 22nd March 2021).

Ski-kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day) is 23rd, 24th, 30th, 31st January 2021; 11th, 23rd, 28th February 2021; 6th, 7th, 20th, 21st March 2021. On those days, a 1 day ticket is 1,000 yen for children.

---

The Zao Ropeway opens in the evenings on the below dates for 'Light Up' sightseeing purposes - to go and see the Juhyo monsters (* not for skiing or boarding). There is an extra charge for this night time operation - 3,000 yen for adults and 1,500 yen for children (return):

December 2020: 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st
January 2021: 1st-3rd, 8th-10th, 15th-17th, 22nd-24th, 27th-31st
February 2021: all days apart from Tuesdays

'Nightcruising' is where you are taken up in a cat and that costs 4,500 yen per adult and 3,800 yen for children. On the following dates:

December 2019: 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st
January 2020: 1st-3rd, 8th-10th, 15th-17th, 22nd-24th, 27th-31st
February 2020: all days apart from Tuesdays

Getting to Zao Onsen

By public transport
Train
Train
16.4km from Yamagata Station on the Yamagata Shinkansen line
13.6km from Zao Station on the Ou Honsen Line
16.4km from Yamagata Station on the Ou Honsen Line
Transport Information
Information
The main Yamagata Station, a stop on the Yamagata Shinkansen line, is about 18km from the resort and a 40-45 minute or so bus journey. Bus shuttle services are available from Yamagata Station and Sendai Station.

>> More information on getting to Zao Onsen by public transport

bus
Bus
There is a bus service to Zao Onsen from Yamagata Station.
By Car
Car
11.4km from the Yamagata Kaminoyama IC on the Tohoku Chuo Expressway
17.1km from the Yamagata Zao IC on the Yamagata Expressway
Nearest national route: Route 13 (11km away)
Nearest prefecture road: Prefecture Road 21
Direction
Direction
Zao Onsen resort is located to the south east of Yamagata City. Those travelling by car from the Sendai or Tokyo regions will likely arrive via the Tohoku Expressway and then onto the Yamagata Expressway, coming off at the Yamagata Zao IC which is just over 11km from the resort. There are a few roads going up from Yamagata to the ski resort - if you use the most direct from Yamagata Zao IC, a part of the road (Nishi Zao Kogen line) is a toll road. From Route 13 to the west the two roads going up the mountain are Prefecture Roads 21 and 14.

>> More information on getting to Zao Onsen by car
Parking
Parking
There are numerous car parks around the base of Zao Onsen. Some are free and some require a charge.

More Information

Visit official website
(link opens in a new window)
Address
Address
Zao Onsen
Yamagata-shi
Yamagata-ken
990-2301
Telephone
Telephone
023-694-9328
Course Map Small
Zao Onsen
Resort Spotlight
Resort Spotlight
2020-2021 UPDATES
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(Updated 9th November 2020)

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