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Zao Onsen

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Zao Onsen is a decent sized ski resort by Japanese standards, with 42 lifts, gondolas and ropeways. It is a great resort for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders with long, wide, mellow runs. The resort offers a selection of beginner and intermediate slopes across the mountain, often with the option to take either one. The best learners area is at the base of the Yokokura Slope as it is usually well protected from the elements. 

There isn’t a great deal of advanced terrain and skiing off piste is not encouraged however also not overly patrolled.  At the top of the resort you will find the famous ‘Snow Monsters’ from late Dec to early March. The snow monsters form from a combination of strong winds and cold water droplets forming on the trees to create unique shapes. There is a cable car to the top of the mountain for skiers and sightseers to view the snow monsters and the stunning views of the mountain ranges. 

The lift infrastructure is individually owned and therefore hasn’t been well thought out, skating is often required to get across to a particular area, not ideal for snowboarders.  There are a number of ski schools however only private lessons are offered in English.

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