Appi Kogen

Honshu, Japan

Appi Kogen is one of Japan’s best ski resorts, where skiers of all levels will enjoy a variety of terrain, great lifts and first-class facilities. It’s a particularly good choice for families thanks to the compact base area, services and activities for the kids, and fantastic beginner and intermediate slopes. If you strike Appi on a powder day, you may be lucky enough to experience the dry and chalky “Aspirin Powder” Appi prides itself on. Whether you’re flying down the groomers, deep in Japanese pow, or having fun with the kids, you’re highly likely to experience first hand the resort’s tagline “Be Happy in Appi”.

Scout Loves

  • The high standard of grooming and long runs makes it a fun place to cruise (and fly!).
  • Lapping the Nishimori Lift on a powder day. Short but oh so fun.
  • Plenty of activities for kids, including a Family Snow Park.
  • Highly convenient.
  • Some high-quality restaurants in the Hotel Appi Grand.

Scout Tips

  • There is no village – Appi Kogen is a purpose-built resort.
  • Although the hotel has two bars and a karaoke room, there isn’t much in the way of nightlife.
  • If there is no fresh powder, advanced skiers may get a bit bored after a few days.
  • There is no self-contained accommodation.
  • Off-piste and backcountry skiing is officially prohibited, however we didn’t have a problem finding some nice trees to ski in.

Scout Review

Appi Kogen is located in the northeastern part of Japan’s main island, Honshu, in the Iwate prefecture. Interestingly, it’s on the same latitude - 40 degrees north - as Aspen (US) and St Anton (Austria). Only 10km from the Sea of Japan, Appi benefits from being in the path of storms that, by the time they get to the resort, drop snow that’s light and dry. Hence the nickname the resort has made for its snow; “Aspirin Powder”.

Appi Kogen is typical of other Japanese resorts built in the 1980s boom (such as Tomamu, Kiroro and Naeba). It’s a purpose-built resort that features just a few, big high-rise hotels scattered around the fairly compact base area. Appi’s main buildings were designed by a Japanese architect who “aimed to create a European-style resort”. Scout struggles to see any resemblance to Europe in the bright yellow angular building that dominates the landscape, the concrete interior walls and the vast scale. But we’ll take it – the hotel is modern, has upscale facilities and dining, excellent service and is incredibly convenient to the slopes.

If after a few days you’re suffering a little from “resort fever” you can always venture into the nearby rural town of Hachimantai where there’s a great range of restaurants and bars, or into Morioka for the winter festivals. The hotel offers a shuttle on certain nights for most of the season.

Appi Kogen Skiing

At first glance of the ski map, Appi Kogen’s ski area looks fairly limited to a few long intermediate pistes. But once out there, you quickly realize the scale and quality of terrain is so much more. Appi Kogen’s ski area is 282ha/696 acres with an average run distance of 2.1km – which they claim is the longest in Japan. Indeed, the runs are very long! They’re also a good pitch with some slopes, particularly on the Second Slopes area, reaching 32 degrees. And when matched with Appi’s expert grooming, it makes it perfect for intermediates who love to cruise and advanced skiers who feel the need for speed once in a while.

Intermediates will definitely love Appi. They’ll comfortably ski most of the resort and challenge themselves on a few of the steeper runs. The style of skiing is more about lapping certain runs rather than exploring since the majority extend down from Mt Maemori.

There are a few steep runs to keep advanced skiers happy in Appi, at least for a couple of days. If there’s some fresh powder you can sneak into the trees for some face shots – though it’s generally prohibited. And while the small number of skiers and boarders who venture into the trees means that fresh tracks at lunchtime are likely, enough do it that you can get away with it if you’re careful. Just don’t ski under the lift lines.

First timers will spend most of their time on the lower mountain, on the Central First Quad that leaves from right outside the main hotel and resort center. Appi has a well-organized ski school with a few English-speaking instructors who can be requested for private lessons and are also available for group lessons. Group lessons are, however, not guaranteed in group lessons.

Appi Kogen has night skiing on a few slopes every day until 8pm. There are some good terrain-park facilities that are accessed off the high-speed express Central First Quad. Appi Kogen resort center has some good quality rentals, with the latest equipment from Salomon.

For Intermediate and advanced skiers seeking plenty of untouched powder, Appi Kogen Ski Resort now offers Cat Skiing on a nearby mountain.

Lift tickets for Appi Kogen are on the pricier side for Japanese resorts. Book an Appi Kogen Ski Package via Scout for the best deal. We can custom-build packages to suit your needs including accommodation, lifts, lessons and rentals.

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Appi Kogen For Families

Appi Kogen is a dream resort for families, particularly for those with younger children and first timers. For starters, if you’re staying at Hotel Appi Grand, you will be just steps away from the slopes, lifts and ski school. But it’s the extra facilities at Appi that make it such a good ski resort for families.

  • Private and group lessons in English from agest 7 only. English lessons for under 7 will need to be private.
  • There’s a magic carpet right outside the hotel for first timers to learn on without being bombarded by other skiers.
  • There’s a fantastic kids snow-play area right next to the hotel, with tubing, toboggans, and other fun play equipment.
  • Near the hotel is a snowshoe course with a tea house.
  • Inside the hotel you’ll find a Nature School where kids can learn about the flora and fauna of the local area and make crafts.
  • The resort has a daycare center with trained staff looking after kids aged 1-10.
  • There are dedicated areas for children in the main restaurant with toys and equipment.
  • Facilities in the hotel include an indoor pool (albeit a very hot one and there’s an extra charge) and a ping pong table.
  • The hotel and tower have larger rooms that give families plenty of space to spread out

And with plenty of dining options available right in the hotel, staying at Appi Kogen is really like staying at an all-inclusive resort (such as a Club Med) but with a little more indepence and culture. It's easy.

Appi Kogen Accommodation

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The biggest hotel at Appi Kogen is the Hotel Appi Grand. The Tower rooms connected to the hotel are the nicest in the resort. There are two other choices however they aren't quite as nice. The resort has created a lovely new onsen area in the Onsen Hotel Building.

For those not wanting a large hotel, there is a small collection of pensions and lodges a little down the hill. Read our detailed reviews for accommodation in Appi Kogen and book your lodging or Appi Kogen ski package directly via Scout.

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Resort Activities

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Despite not being attached to a town or village there are a few things to do other than skiing in Appi Kogen. There are plenty of activities for kids, as listed above in the family section.

A wonderful new natural onsen is housed in the Onsen Hotel (A shuttle bus links the different hotels). For a fee you can punch out some laps in the indoor pool at the Hotel Appi Grand or hit the small gym.

The hotel also offers three shuttle-bus excursions throughout the majority of the ski season. The first is to the nearby rural town Hachimantai to sample local restaurants and for a spot of shopping. The second takes skiers to a nearby small ski field called Shimokura – renowned for its powder, and to the Matsukawa traditional onsen. The third excursion is to the city of Morioka for the various winter festivals in January and February.

Getting There and Around

Appi Kogen is 50km north of Morioka, near the town of Hachimantai, in the Iwate prefecture.

To get to Appi Kogen from Narita you need to first catch the Narita Express train into Tokyo (1hr). From there it’s a 2hr 10min Shinkansen bullet train to Morioka. There are two options from Morioka – the first being a 50-min direct bus ride that leaves from outside the station. The second is to catch a local train to Appi Kogen Station and then the free bus to the resort.

If you’re staying at the main hotel in Appi Kogen, you will rarely use anything but your feet to get around.

If you are doing a Japanese Ski Road trip, Appi makes a great stop along with a bunch of other resorts.

When To Go

Appi Kogen is open from early December until early May. The resort has snow-making machines if the snow conditions get a bit dicey, however thanks to the resort’s north facing slopes conditions generally stay quite good. The best time for powder snow is January and February, while skiers in March enjoy some better weather.

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 1565ft / 477m Gondolas 2 Beginner 30%  
Summit Elevation 4281ft / 1305m Express Quads 0 Intermediates 40%  
Vertical Drop 2716ft / 828m Quad Chair 3 Advanced 30%  
Skiable Area 696.8ac / 282ha Triple Chairs 0      
Annual Snowfall 314in / 8m Double Chairs 2      
Longest Run 3.4 miles / 5.5km Surface Lifts 0      
Operating Hours 8.30am - 4.00pm          
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