Zao Onsen is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan, providing an amazing skiing or snow boarding experience.

Zao Onsen ski resort extends to 15 different slopes and 12 courses, not only experts but also beginners are pleased with the variety, You can ski from one side of the mountain to another on a 10km downhill course at altitudes of 800m . Servicing these slopes and courses there are 4 gondolas and 35 lifts that can transport your to next destination.At the top of the mountain, you can meet the famous ice monsters.

Zao, located on the Yamagata-Miyagi prefectural border, is a mountain park centered in the Zao Mountain Range.
How to get there
From Tokyo Narita Airport: 4.1 hours by train & bus
From Tokyo City: 3.1 hours by train & bus
From Osaka Itami Airport: 2.1 hours flight & bus
From the closest airport (Sendai Airport): 90 minutes by bus

From Narita Airport, you will take the Narita Express train to Tokyo Station and change to a bullet train for Yamagata. Commonly and most reasonable way is to use a JR East Pass. From Yamagata, you will take a bus that will take you directly to Zao Onsen.

Mountain Statistics 
Ski Season: December to April
Summit Elevation: 1661 meters
Snowfall Average: 16 meters
Longest Run: 10 km
Vertical Rise: 881 meters
Numbers of Courses: 26
Number of Lifts: 3 Ropeways, 1 Gondola, 37 chair lifts
Terrain: Beginner: 40%, Intermediate: 40%, Advanced: 20%


Zao Trail Map   Click link to PDF file  Zao Weather  Click link to Snow

Ice Monsters (Juhyo)
Another distinguishing feature of this resort is their famous Ice Monsters (called Juhyo in Japanese), which are Conifer trees thoroughly coated by snow and ice. Juhyo-gen Course is the most well known course at this ski resort as it is the only ski resort in Japan that allows you to ski up close to the Ice Monsters.  The prime Ice Monster season is from January through to the beginning of March. At night you can ride the Ropeway cable car to the top of the mountain and view the Ice Monsters at night, illuminated by coloured lights during the season.

Spring water contains acid, sulphur, iron, aluminium, sulphate, chloride and it is said to heal various injuries and ailments including cuts, burns and skin conditions. The Onsen water is strongly acidic and you need to take off rings, watches, necklaces, and any other metal items before bathing.

Restaurants & Nightlife
Almost all accommodations serve Japanese style dinner and some serve Western and Chinese. There are several Izakaya, Mongolian Lamb BBQ, Pizza and Pasta Restaurants and more. Yamagata prefecture is known for its great food and wine. Everything in the resort is in walking distance and if you would like to go out to Yamagata city, you can easily get there by taxi. Average costs between ¥800 to ¥ 1800 per meal and from ¥600 per drink.

If you are after some cultural experience, you can go on a day trip to a local art museum or ancient temples. Warabenosato Gallery is a very unique museum full of arts and crafts in a relocated 200-year-old residence and traditional rice warehouses that are art pieces themselves. Yamadera is the name for small temples in the steep mountain area, you can see all of them as you climb over 1000 steps made of stones which lead you to the very top. A famous Japanese haiku poet, Basho Matsuo, loved the view from these temples and left great poems inspired by the beauty of north east Japan.