I had the chance to join a friend in Noheji for a trip to Makado Onsen. While small, the resort is still larger than Kamafuseyama (hard not to be) with more courses and lifts.
The weather was pretty crappy early morning with heavy winds and heavy snow, but by the time we were ready to head out, most of it settled down and made for decent weather the rest of the day.
The lodge itself is very large and has all the ammenities. Many vending machines, large cafeteria with many menu options (vending machine for food tickets) gift shop and even a dessert shop. They offer millitary discounts as well, so it isn’t surprising to see airmen and their families from Misawa AFB here. I myself scored 400Y off for a 4 hour ticket.
Makado has a good mixture of slopes available in a close area. They offer lessons for skiers and snowboarders as well, though I’m sure it’s only in japanese. As you exit the lodge towards the slopes there are two lifts. The right lift services two beginner slopes. The one on the far left (as you look from the lodge) is the most gentle, and even with a freshly waxed snowboard, I found it hard to enjoy it at the slow speeds I could get.
The lifts are very low to the ground and will catch your highbacks as a boarder. The lift personnel pushed my highbacks down for a me a few times befoer I realized what they wanted me to do. Two of the lifts don’t even have safety bars as well.
The left slope is slightly more steep, but again as a beginners slope I found it less than enjoyable. It is good to know that there are easy slopes to start with though here.
On the left side, the lift services two steeper longer courses, as well as bringing you up to access the third lift. The two courses available at the top of the left lift are steeper and more enjoyable for intermediate/advanced riders. The furthest left has slalom poles for practice, and the middle run starts out very steep before fanning out between the two lifts.
If you choose to go towards the third lift, you leave to the left and ride down a small slope. It intersects the long, forest course path so be careful when going for the lift.
The third lift takes the longest going deeper into the mountain betwixt the trees but is the most enjoyable for the scenery and being the longest when going all the way down to the lodge. We spent most of the day running the forest course over and over, and only going the full course back to the lodge a few times for lunch, etc.
The coverage of snow was weak at best with a 60cm base. The friend I went with said this was the worst conditions they ever had here, and chalked it up to the poor snow season this winter. Despite the lack of fresh powder, the runs were still sufficient to enjoy, as we did.
During lunch time, I had some pork ramen (600Y) which was sufficiently filling.
I didn’t get a chance to experience the far left course with the slalom poles because there were some JSDF Army guys practicing cross country sking, but it looked like it had the most coverage. Maybe because it was closed off that the coverage remained.
Makado Onsen doesn’t actually have an onsen, but a few miles down there is one which is always enjoyable after a day of riding. The resort is also much closer to civilization not being on the Shimokita Penninsula, which makes it more likely those in the area would make it here. The resort is about an hour from Aomori City.
Depending on where you are in Aomori Prefecture I’d reccommend Makado as a worthwhile trip (say within an hour of you) however within decent distance, Hakkoda is available if you are confident and prepared enough. If you are traveling with family though, Makado is a great compromise.
From 29 January, 2014 To 29 January, 2014
Snow condition on visit:
60cm of base, groomed slopes. No powder except for the very edges of the forest course. Icy in some areas.
Things I liked:
Long 2000m scenic forest course
Things I didn't like:
Lack of good powder No off piste Slow lifts
Families & children