Don't worry ... ski 'Appi!
In a remote location on the north of Honshu Island is one of the best ski resorts in all Japan, rarely visited by anyone other than the Japanese. This is a large(ish) purpose-built resort, with a first class infrastructure, excellent facilities and grand accommodation. It’s one hotel, one mountain, one resort ... but don’t let this put you off! The powder snow is particularly outstanding, the long groomed trails are second-to-none in all Japan, it’s refreshingly free of other Westerners, the hotel is welcoming and very comfortable and it’s all so ... convenient! Appi really has a certain charm, and families are particularly ‘appi’ here due to the exceptional customer service, well groomed trails, dedicated children's ski areas, snow park, child care and English-speaking ski school.
Skiing in Appi Kogen
At Appi, you’ll find wide, long pistes – there are 21 recognised trails, many of which are over 2km long, the longest being almost 6km. This is fall line skiing at its purest, the corduroy immaculate and hidden behind the façade of the groomed runs are some fantastic powder stashes - they leave quite a few runs ungroomed. There are two gondolas and three high-speed hooded quad chairlifts, meaning on a cold day you get up the hill quickly and warmly, and then they also have another 13 double chairlifts.
You are in powder heaven at Appi. It may have taken the locals a long time to realise this, but they're slowly coming around - head off-piste and the rewards are other-worldly. Whilst it still may be 'frowned upon' by the patrollers, the inbounds area around Nishimori has superb tree skiing and no hiking is required to get back to the lifts. Indeed, as long as you are not flaunting yourself you'll find fresh lines to be realised in the deep stuff all over the mountain - most stay on-piste here....and more fool them. And the quality of the powder here is absolutely outstanding, the perfect result of altitude, aspect (north facing) and a lack of other powder-seekers.
In Appi Kogen they know to give a powder-hungry public what they want - reasonably steep runs, left ungroomed...and all in-bounds. The Yamagara run on Mount Nishimori is a classic and the longer Sailor (2) piste is often equally epic.
A carvers paradise, with long runs cut through the trees from top to bottom. And those ungroomed blacks offer just the right amount of challenge for those intrigued by the possibilities presented by powder. A rapidly-improving intermediate we recently skied with in Appi simply described the whole experience as "bucket-loads of powder fun", choosing Appi Kogen as his favourite resort of all in Japan. a great place for intermediates to learn to ride powder, either on the sides of the runs or on the “light powder runs”
Is there a finer beginner slope in all Japan than Shirakaba?...low down, groomed to perfection throughout the day, gentle and without suprise. Once you've mastered this, then gorgeous Yamabato beckons - from top to bottom (over 5 km), but mellow and stunningly pretty.
All told, this is a great mountain for tentative first steps, with the lower slopes characterised as being wide, empty and sheltered from the winds. The personal attention lavished on you from the friendly ski school will have you progressing in no time.
Brilliant. Just that...'brilliant'. So much to go at and very few other people taking your lines.
In Appi you are 100% resort bound - the large hotel at the base is also where you eat dinner, grab a beer, enjoy an onsen, take a swim in the pool, sink cocktails and then sing karaoke until the early hours...etc. It's a good job it's a fine hotel, really. The restaurants within the hotel are varied - five main options, with an international choice along with high-quality Jaanese cuisone - and all are good. Very good, actually.
Actually, there are a few options to escape - the hotel runs a shuttle bus to a local town (Hachimantai) and this provides a welcome change for one night. However, it's not essential and most are happy with what the Appi Grand has to offer.
Appi Kogen is incredibly well suited to children. The little kiddie winks can learn to ski in the dedicated fenced off kids’ area. The area is serviced by magic carpets and attracts a small fee. The park also has lots of play features and other activities for kids.