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The Resorts

The Manza Ski Resort is owned and operated by the Prince Hotel Group and it is most certainly a hidden gem when it comes to Japanese ski resorts. It is located in the central Japanese alps, relatively close to Shiga Kogen. It is still a relatively small resort, with 9 courses that are serviced by 5 gondolas which really adds to its boutique, and somewhat authentic, feel. Beginner skiers and snowboarders might be a little too overwhelmed by some of the runs at Manza, the courses are really set out for intermediates and advanced skiers. There is an even 40% split between intermediate and advanced courses, with beginners getting only 20% of the action.

The runs at Manza are immaculately groomed and the Panorama trail and the Animal Forest run link up for a really nice experience for the beginners, though that is about as much reprieve that you will find as a beginner skier or snowboarder. For intermediate powderhounds, the Manzayama tree run provides something a little bit different, whereas the Manzayama trail is a great place to pick up a bit of speed and get the heart rate pumping. Lastly, advanced skiers and snowboarders have several options, the most popular is the Kuroya ungroomed zone for its untouched powder.

Resort Facts

  • Start Season: Mid December
  • Season End: End of Mar
  • Night Skiing: Yes, 8pm
  • Max Elevation (m): 1,994
  • Vertical Rise (m): 348
  • Difficulty (beg/int/adv): 20% / 40% / 40%
  • Longest Course (m): 2,000
  • No. of Courses/Runs: 9
  • No. of Lifts  & Gondolas: 5
  • Max Gradient: 32 degrees

Getting there

Manza is situated in the central Japanese alps which sit to the west of Tokyo, roughly 100km from the western seaboard. This location and proximity to Tokyo gives you a fantastic range of options for getting to and from Manza. Whilst Manza is not the most popular resort in the region, it has still benefited from the wide array of transportation available throughout Japan. That being said, there is really only two ways of getting to Manza. The most popular method is a Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Karuizawa and then a shuttle bus to Manza Ski Resort. This option takes roughly 2.5 hours.

The other option is a self drive. For the brave soul who wishes to rent a car and tackle the conditions to make their own way to Manza, the weather is extremely unpredictable and can produce adverse road conditions, thus we categorically do not recommend guests drive to Manza.

Tokyo to Karuizawa by bullet train - $222 per adult (5 day flexi JR East pass, 60mins)
Karuizawa to Manza by free shuttle bus (100mins)

The Snow

Manza is not in prime position to receive a plentiful dumping of high quality snow, which is reflected by its below average snowfall of 8m per year. The major contributor to this below average snowfall is the fact that it is shadowed by Shiga Kogen to the north-west. Japan’s snowfall is explained by the ‘ocean snow effect’, where cold air meets warm water, which it subsequently absorbs, and once it reaches the coastline it becomes unstable and creates a huge snow band. The unfortunate factor of this for Manza is that it usually hits Japan from the northwest and moves south. This linear path means that it must go through Shiga Kogen before reaching Manza.

However, this is not all bad news. As the system travels through Japan, dumping plenty of snow in its wake, it also sheds a vast amount of its moisture. Moisture is a key factor for bulk snow, but not that important for quality snow, which is what Manza has in droves. Manza often has deep powder that is crisp and light, which is particularly ripe for cutting some fresh lines in amongst the trees

The Onsen
Above all things, one of the finest facilities in Manza is the Onsen. Naturally sourced from Mount Shirane, the water that blesses Manza Onsen is some of the most acidic in Japan. This is said to help with conditions such as neuralgia, dermatitis, improving metabolism and aiding in blood circulation. For this reason, the pride and joy of Manza Prince Hotel is their onsen facilities. Picture yourself sitting in a piping hot outdoor bath surrounded by snow and the 3,000m peaks of the neighboring Japanese alps, stars shining bright in the night sky and at this moment in time, nothing else matters. This serenity is what Manza Prince Hotel, and the greater area of Manza Onsen, really holds dear.

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