Every year, Jared and I travel to Urabandai with a group of my work friends. Why? Snow! Urabandai is located within the highlands of Mount Bandai, and despite its high elevation and good snow conditions, Urabandai’s three ski resorts (Grandeco, Nekoma and Alts Bandai) remain relatively uncrowded. It’s why I consider the area one of Japan’s best kept secrets (shhhhh).
Where to Stay
We always book rooms at the homey Bandai Lakeside Guesthouse. Most of the bedrooms are located on the first floor with big windows that offer views of the beautiful outdoors. The onsen-style bath is perfect for winding down and resting sore muscles after a long day of skiing. A mudroom is ideally located next to the lodge entrance so you can hang your wet jackets and store your snow gear. The common area is located upstairs. Its big L-shaped couch and long dining table are perfect for games and conversing with friends and family, but the best part of the common area is its massive windows that look out onto the scenic backyard and frozen lake.
What really sets this lodge apart is its customer service. They offer divine meals—free breakfast and a Japanese-style dinner for just ¥1,500 (around $15). If you have dietary restrictions, simply let the lodging staff know in advance as they’re very accommodating. They also offer local craft beer for all the beer lovers out there. You can purchase discounted ski tickets at the lodge. Simply pick up your tickets at the lodge, get to the slopes and ski; no waiting in line for lift tickets necessary. Don’t speak Japanese? One of the lodging owners speaks English! In fact, this lodge is one of the most foreign-friendly places we’ve every stayed at in Japan.
Grandeco is ideal for rookies as it includes a gentle slope for first timers and a long, leisurely green run. Intermediate and advanced riders will appreciate the black diamond run that provides stunning views at the top and eventually merges into a fun, treed intermediate run. The resort also offers a kids snow park for the little ones and a small terrain park for freestyle enthusiasts.
With its steep slopes and high-quality snow, Nekoma is perfect for intermediate to advanced riders. Best part is that this resort is never crowded. In fact, on weekdays, you can easily feel as if you’re the only skier there! This park also offers an extensive terrain park.
Hoshino Resorts Alts Bandai
Alts Bandai is a haven for freestyle riders as it offers FIVE terrain parks! New to parks? Try your hand at the park for beginners, or skip out on the jumps and tricks, and enjoy the variety of runs available at this expansive resort. The perfect ski destination for riders of all levels.
You don’t have to be a ski or snowboard enthusiast to enjoy Urabandai. The area offers plenty of other activities like hiking, kayaking and sight-seeing. So get a breath of fresh air and relax at Urabandai!