Zao Onsen (Yamagata City, Yamagata)

Zao Onsen
(山形県 山形市)
Planned season: Saturday 11th December 2021 until Thursday 5th May 2022
'Zao Now' daily report
Independent and exclusive snow and weather reporting from Zao
Latest report posted at 7:41am on Wednesday 5th May 2021
Official snow depth Daily updates during snow season

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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

ropeways Ropeways gondolas Gondolas quad lifts Quad lifts triple lifts Triple lifts pair lifts Pair lifts single lifts Single lifts other lifts Other
2 1 4 2 22 2 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
1st - - 1st - 120cm 1st - 150cm 1st - 165cm
2nd - - 2nd - 120cm 2nd - 150cm 2nd - 160cm
3rd - - 3rd - 120cm 3rd - 160cm 3rd - 160cm
4th - - 4th - 120cm 4th - 160cm 4th - 160cm
5th - - 5th - 120cm 5th - 160cm 5th - 160cm
6th - - 6th - 120cm 6th - 170cm 6th - 155cm
7th - - 7th - 120cm 7th - 170cm 7th - 150cm
8th - - 8th - 140cm 8th - 170cm 8th - 150cm
9th - - 9th - 140cm 9th - 175cm 9th - 150cm
10th - 20cm 10th - 140cm 10th - 180cm 10th - 140cm
11th - 20cm 11th - 140cm 11th - 180cm 11th - 140cm
12th - 20cm 12th - 140cm 12th - 180cm 12th - 140cm
13th - 20cm 13th - 140cm 13th - 180cm 13th - 140cm
14th - 40cm 14th - 140cm 14th - 170cm 14th - 150cm
15th - 50cm 15th - 140cm 15th - 165cm 15th - 150cm
16th - 70cm 16th - 140cm 16th - 165cm 16th - 150cm
17th - 95cm 17th - 140cm 17th - 160cm 17th - 150cm
18th - 95cm 18th - 140cm 18th - 180cm 18th - 150cm
19th - 95cm 19th - 145cm 19th - 180cm 19th - 145cm
20th - 100cm 20th - 145cm 20th - 180cm 20th - 145cm
21st - 100cm 21st - 145cm 21st - 180cm 21st - 145cm
22nd - 100cm 22nd - 145cm 22nd - 180cm 22nd - 140cm
23rd - 100cm 23rd - 145cm 23rd - 180cm 23rd - 140cm
24th - 100cm 24th - 145cm 24th - 180cm 24th - 130cm
25th - 100cm 25th - 140cm 25th - 180cm 25th - 120cm
26th - 100cm 26th - 140cm 26th - 170cm 26th - 120cm
27th - 100cm 27th - 140cm 27th - 170cm 27th - 115cm
28th - 100cm 28th - 130cm 28th - 170cm 28th - 115cm
29th - 100cm 29th - 130cm 29th - - 29th - 110cm
30th - 100cm 30th - 140cm 30th 30th - 100cm
31st - 110cm 31st - 150cm 31st 31st - 100cm

Previous Statistics

Zao Onsen Facilities

Ski School: Available Snowboard School: Available
Ski and snowboard lessons are available at Zao Onsen. 
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
Weekends and holidays Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
Weekdays Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
'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.

Night skiing in the Uwanodai area is scheduled daily from 25th December 2021 until 27th February 2022 and then 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th March 2022.

Night skiing in the Yokokura area is scheduled for 25th-26th December 2021, 29th December until 3rd January 2022); and also on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 7th January and 5th March 2022.

Zao Onsen Lift Ticket Charges

Adults Child
Elementary School age & under
Older Child
High School age
60 years & over
1 Day 5,500 yen 2,800 yen 4,800 yen 4,800 yen
2 Days 10,800 yen 5,400 yen 9,600 yen 9,600 yen
3 Days 15,900 yen 8,000 yen 14,200 yen 14,200 yen
4 Days 20,800 yen 10,400 yen 18,500 yen 18,500 yen
2 Hours 3,500 yen 1,800 yen
4 Hours 4,500 yen 2,300 yen
Season 10 Hours 14,000 yen
Season 10 Days 43,000 yen
Night (5pm-9pm) 2,400 yen 1,200 yen
Season Ticket 68,000 yen 33,000 yen 39,000 yen 63,000 yen
Lift Ticket Information 2021-2022 Season lift tickets

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

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

From the 2021-2022 season, a returnable deposit is NOT required for lift tickets.

Early and late season ticket discounts are available (until 17th December 2021 and after 22nd March 2022).

Ski-kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day) is 15th, 16th, 29th, 30th January 2022; 11th, 23rd February 2022; 12th, 13th, 26th, 27th March 2022. On those days, a 1 day ticket is 1,000 yen for children.

Getting to Zao Onsen

By public transport
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
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

There is a bus service to Zao Onsen from Yamagata Station.
By 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
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
There are numerous car parks around the base of Zao Onsen. Some are free and some require a charge.

More Information

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Zao Onsen
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Zao Onsen
Resort Spotlight
Resort Spotlight
Updates to 2021-2022 season information on these individual ski areas listing pages are ongoing. All information will be manually checked and updated. Some official information from ski areas becomes available earlier than others, so not all our data can be updated simultaneously. The ongoing process will continue through December 2021.

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Lift system 69
Apres ski 42
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