Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a Canadian who has never skied on Canadian soil. So shoot me! My first skiing expedition took place on the slopes of Tajima-machi’s Daikurayama Ski Resort in Minami Aizu (Fukushima, Japan). The lucky occasion was Tajima Junior High School’s annual ski trip. Equipped with the barest minimum of equipment (i.e. me and my coat), I set out with around three hundred of my closest friends and neighbours to attack the daunting slopes. Needless to say, my day got off to a slower start than everyone else’ since I had to be outfitted with ski clothing, boots, poles, and of course, the skis themselves. Once fully clothed, I trekked out with a mighty whimper, ready to meet my death. Daikurayama is quite a good resort for beginners. There are two hills that are beginner- friendly. The first one would be called a “bunny hill” back home. I was able to master it after about a day (stop laughing!!). The other hill should be left for at least your second day, since there is a steep bit at the end that requires some skill.
That being said, I tackled (inadvertently) one of the intermediate hills (which, of course, has moguls) after having only skied three times down the bunny hill — never trust the advice of your 3rd grade junior high school students!! Daikurayama is located in between Tajima-machi and Nango-mura, which are both parts of the Minami Aizu region.
Another resort in that area is Takatsue, which is in Tateiwa-mura. Takatsue has a huge chair lift that takes you up to the middle of the mountain. The lines for this chairlift are often quite long, but don’t let that daunt you. You will only have to take that lift once, when you first arrive, and after that you will probably be taking the lifts on the mountain itself. Many of the hills at Takatsue are appropriate for beginners. Often, the runs branch off into different runs of varying degrees of difficulty. You can almost always find a gentle way down.
Nango-mura also has a ski resort, funnily enough called “Nango Ski Resort”. I have never been to this on e because I have heard that it is not the best place for beginners. There is a hill at the bottom of the mountain, which everyone has to take to get back, which is not for the newly indoctrinated. Apparently, there are beginner-friendly runs above that part, but the end of your day will inevitably be spent desperately trying to negotiate your way down a practically-vertical slope. Don’t be surprised when you see the beginners take their skis off to walk down this part. Even walking it is somewhat difficult, though.
There are three other ski areas in Minami Aizu. There is one in Hinoemata-mura (Hinoemata Ski Centre), another in Ina-mura (Takahata Ski Resort), and one more in Tadami-machi (Tadami Ski Resort). I can’t comment on any of them since I haven’t yet been to any of them. I would recommend starting off with Daikurayama (which is also the easiest one to access) and then ask the locals about the other resorts. If you would like more information about skiing in the Minami Aizu area, please contact me at the Aizu Wakamatsu International Association.