One of more traditional ski resorts in Japan, Zao Onsen Ski Resort offers both an established skiing area and a large number of famous Onsen hot springs. Hidden within the mountain ranges of Yamagata, Zao Resort is the largest single ski field in Japan, at 186 hectares, and has 15 slopes and 12 courses suitable for all skill levels. The longest run available stretches almost 10 km in length. The likelihood of overcrowding is low, which means more chances for a fresh powder run. On top of the excellent powder conditions, one of the key features that sets Zao apart from other resorts are its ‘Ice Monsters’. These Ice monsters form when the dry seasonal winds from Siberia collide with the trees atop the mountain and freeze. These majestic natural formations alone are enough to draw, not only ski and snowboard enthusiasts, but national and international tourists. Night tours and Illuminations of the Ice Monsters are also a highlight of the resort and offer something to look forward to once the sun goes down.

As the name of the resort suggests, Zao is also a fully-fledged Onsen hot spring resort. With well over 50 throughout the village, the area is famed for its hot springs and is also a popular travel destination amongst the Japanese population. These milky-white sulphur springs are said to have therapeutic and beneficial effects on the body and provide a relaxing atmosphere to soak in during your stay.

If you’re looking for a skiing holiday, alongside an area which offers a variety of sightseeing opportunities and relaxation, then Zao may be the place to go.

Getting There

It is possible to fly into Zao through either Sendai or Yamagata airport; however it may be easier to travel by bullet train, especially if you are arriving from Tokyo. From Tokyo it takes about 2.5 hours by the Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa, to Yamagata Station where there is a free shuttle bus which runs to Zao Onsen Ski Resort. The bus ride will take about 40 minutes.

Coach and Private Transfers

Alternative modes of transfer from Yamagata Station or the airports can be arranged.

Contact us for further information about transfers

Trail Map


Village Info


The main activity, other than skiing and snowboarding are the Onsen hot springs. Hot springs range from private ones inside hotels and ryokans, to stand alone springs and public baths. Each one has a unique atmosphere and setting so making your way around the many springs on offer is a great way to spend your time off the slopes.

Night Tours through the illuminated Ice Monsters offer a beautiful way to enjoy the unique landscape. The multi-coloured lighting create an otherworldly experience that’s definitely worth a look.

The resort also has a Family Snow Park and a Snowboard Park for all those other activities off the actual slopes.

Equipment Rental

Snowboard and ski hire services are available at the rentals shops in the village. These shops are located at the base of lift stations. You can also hire snow bikes as well. Many of the hotels will also offer equipment rentals as well.

Child Care

The ‘Zao Kids Room’ Child Care Service is available in the Tourist Office.

Ski and Snowboard School

There are several schools in Zao Resort; some of which offer lessons in English and in differing formats (group and/or private). This will purely depend on the school being looked at. Children’s lessons are also available.


Various restaurants and cafes are located on and off the slopes. Food options include both traditional Japanese and non-Japanese cuisine.

Banking and Money

The post office has an ATM that accepts international debit cards.



Miyamaso Takamiya

Our long-standing Japanese style hotel is located at the highest level in the hot spring town. Our cuisine makes the best of seasonal ingredients and you can also enjoy the 24-hour natural hot spring.
5 minutes to lift.


Hotel Hammond

It’s a casual and reasonable hotel. Only 5 min walk to hot spring area, ski area. Please enjoy your stay at here.
4 minutes to lift.

Takamiya Hotel Rurikura

A resort hotel with a all-year-round view of nature.Every room is equipped with Western-style beds. Located right next to the rope way and the ski slope, it’s an ideal place to see the rime trees in winter. The hotel serves popular traditional Japanese dishes made from local Yamagata ingredients.

Takamiya Hotel Lucent

Located at the center of Zao Hot Spring, this hotel is convenient for sightseeing. You can select from a variety of room types to make your stay the most ideal for you. The relaxing outdoor bath is a popular spot to fully enjoy Zao Hot Spring.

Meitoya So

A Japanese modern inn renovated in 2017 in Zao Onsen. While keeping the atmosphere of a long-established, I tried to give a new breath to the land of Zao.

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