When you tell people you’re visiting Appi Kogen resort you usually get blank faces, but Appi is up there with the largest in Japan. Shiga Kogen leads the way with 83km of runs, but with 45km, Appi sits in seventh place – just behind the more well-known Niseko United, Happo One, Myoko Suginohara, Hakuba, and Zao (all with 50-52km).

APPI tree run zone

APPI tree run zone. Image: APPI

Surprisingly, Appi takes first spot in Japan for black runs with 13.5km. It also has vast wooded areas to explore, Asia’s longest chairlift, on-demand cat-accessed tree skiing and a stunning spacious outdoor onsen.

After some post-Covid stagnation, Appi is back after investing in a host of new facilities and services such as the indoor kids ski training area, a new Black Pass with exclusive access, a luxury ski rental lounge and a new store in the main building stocked with high-quality skis, snowboards, boots and bindings – a rarity in Japan.

APPI Kogen

The café, lounge and gallery at the top of the gondola is exclusively for the use of Black and Gold pass holders

Lifts and terrain

Unlike other larger interconnected resorts, Appi has a simple layout and comparatively fewer lifts at 18. In fact, 90% of the hill is accessed by just two lifts, the gondola and Sailer Quad. Some of the other chairlifts only operate when the gondola is closed. The Central Quad chairlift serves the wide, fairly steep beginners area at the base and the snow park.

APPI trail map

The mountain is split into three main sections: the main area that feeds into the base and has runs for all abilities; second slopes, which are nearly always deserted as the area is not for beginners; and Mt Nishimori, the cat-accessed off-piste area on a separate peak. The shape of the hill dictates that nearly all the runs start steeper before slowly mellowing out and finishing with a flat section.

APPI Kogen

Trying out the Ruroc RG1-DX full-face helmet on a sunny day at Appi

The green Yamabato course is the easy way down and loops around, passing Mt Nishimori back to base. There’s a very short uphill bump to get to the second slopes, then you have to take Vista quad or Sailer quad to return to the top. Finding your way around at the top is a little confusing at first, but at Appi, it’s generally just one lift to the top, which is rare in this part of the world. Consequently, all the runs are long and you never feel like you’re taking pointless lifts or traversing the mountain to access other areas, which is great for snowboarders.

Hayabusa course, APPI

The 3km giant slalom Hayabusa course starts as a black from the top of the gondola before flattening out

You can visit Appi and have great fun on its endless pristine pistes (they do groom them very well) but the trees are where it’s at. There are five official tree runs and they are all different. Cruise 1 and 2 are in the centre of the resort, right under the gondola and are both reasonably pitched, 2 being mellower, while 1 is steepest at the top. There are plenty of bumps and natural features along the way and nice gaps between the trees, while these two tree runs are so wide you can pick a new route each time. When there’s fresh powder, it’s tempting just to stay here all day.

Cruise 1 tree run at Appi Kogen

Barrelling through the bumps on Cruise 1 tree run at Appi Kogen

Dragon Tail – shaped like the mythical beast’s tail – is steeper and across the fall line, so it’s more technical. It also runs alongside the unpisted 2nd Sailer Course A. Bravo is a short, easy section of forest, served by the Nishimori Cat, which also takes you to Attack – a steep, breathtaking tree run that isn’t for the faint-hearted.

The Attack tree run

The Attack tree run area is 30 hectares (or 300,000 square metres) of powder to explore

The exit can be tricky (there’s a map here), especially if you’re the first one down. It’s best to go with someone who knows the way first time. From the top, you can traverse and pick your line through the trees before joining up with the green run below. The cat is restricted to Black Pass holders on weekends and holidays, while there’s a ¥3,000 fee for each trip up for regular pass holders on weekdays, which helps keep the snow fresh. Mt Nishimori might just be the pinnacle of in-bounds tree riding.

Nishimori cat pick-up

The now-defunct chairlift station is the pickup point for the Nishimori cat

There are 14 separate forested areas to explore at Appi (and search for Appi’s famous white rabbits). These are mostly unofficial tree runs where skiing is prohibited, but the mountain has a very relaxed attitude. Stay away from the marked areas and lift lines and, unofficially, you’re free to go anywhere else within the resort boundaries (with the usual caveats about accepting responsibility for your own actions).


Appi Kogen gets around 12m of snow each season, which puts it right up there with the snowiest ski resorts in the world. Of course, with that much snow there are frequent storms and it can get windy with low visibility – but Appi still sees an average of around three fine sunny days a week in January and February as it often snows overnight.

Accommodation and Resort Services


Appi is very well served in terms of accommodation. The resort base area is interlinked with the more upmarket Crowne Plaza and InterContinental hotels, while there’s a collection of small hotels and pensions around 1-2 km from the slopes to suit every budget.

The imposing yellow tower of the Crowne Plaza hotel

The imposing yellow tower of the Crowne Plaza hotel

Plan early, as Appi is a popular resort during peak season and holidays, so it gets booked up well in advance and rooms can become more expensive. However, you can still secure a room in more basic but pleasant accommodation for around ¥15,000 a night. Most pensions offer free lifts to the slopes on demand.

Rooms at the ANA Crowne, Appi Kogen

Rooms at the ANA Crowne Plaza are spacious with easy access to the facilities

The ANA Crowne Plaza is incredibly convenient, and it’s a nice perk to be able to look out of the window and see the ski slopes in the morning. You do get the feeling that the extra money is worth it as everything is so easy.

Early morning groomers seen from the Appi Crowne Plaza hotel room window

Early morning groomers seen from the Appi Crowne Plaza hotel room window


You can catch a bullet train to Morioka and get the shuttle bus or hop on the more interesting little train from Morioka to Appikogen Station if your accommodation is willing to pick you up.

Resort Services


Appi has upgraded its offering and now has a well-stocked snowsports store and a new rental area.

APPI Kogen ski rental

Hard goods, international skiwear brands, goggles, helmets and spare parts are all available

Sports Stop Mountain Gate also mainly stocks Salomon skis and boards, but they also carry some expert models that aren’t available to rent.

The public rental area is well stocked with recent Salomon, Atomic and Armada equipment and has a very efficient queuing and payment system. A set of skis, boots and poles or snowboard and boots costs ¥6,000 per day for adults and ¥4,500 for children. You can also rent clothing, goggles and helmets, or upgrade to higher-end equipment.

The rental area

The rental area wasn’t crowded at all at opening time on a February morning

The Crowne Plaza also has a separate executive rental lounge, new for the 2023-24 season, where you can get fully kitted up with more high-end gear.

They are more set up to look after skiers and cater better to beginners and intermediates – especially for snowboarders – but this level of service is a huge step up compared to any ski resort in northern Honshu. Also, if you have big feet or you need longer equipment, ask ahead about your specific needs.

The executive lounge

The executive lounge mainly offers Salomon equipment for skiers and snowboarders

There are contactless lift pass pickup stations at the base area, which keeps queuing to a minimum. Blue passes are available online and cost from ¥7,000 per day for adults. The Gold pass costs ¥9,000 and the Black pass is ¥33,000.


Appi excels when it comes to lessons. They have 35 English-speaking instructors with plans to increase this to 50 for 2024-25. The booking system is entirely automated online and fully cancellable with seven days’ notice. There’s a whole host of different options, from private half-day lessons to group full-day lessons and day camps at various price points.

The indoor kids’ training area at Appi Kogen

The indoor kids’ training area at Appi Kogen

They also have a new indoor training centre for kids to get them up to speed before moving outside.

Attractions & Activities

Appi is one of those places where it’s best to eat dinner, dip in the onsen, then go to bed and get up for the first lift. That said, you can find some fun on weekend evenings.


The outdoor onsen at Appi is a short shuttle bus away from the base area, but it’s worth the trip with lots of space and separate bathing areas.

The huge onsen at Appi Kogen

Views of the night sky from the huge onsen at Appi Kogen. Image: appi-japan.com


Also new for 2024 are the e-snow bikes. It’s ¥3,000 for a 15-minute spin around the small track next to the gondola. It’s surprisingly good fun and I hope they expand the course next year.

E-snow bikes

E-snow bikes are great for a day when the snow’s not so good


The resort has a bar, but it’s often only open on weekends, while the InterContinental has its own bar. There are drinks available during the day at the Little Rabit cafe at the base area and from vending machines in the Crowne Plaza basement, as well as a new bottle shop with plenty of lounge space within the Crowne Plaza lobby.

Appi Kogen’s bottle shop

Whisky, Wine, Champagne and Sake are available at Appi Kogen’s bottle shop

If you’re staying away from the base area, there’s also the 19 Brew pub and Ollies Follie.


For lunch you have the excellent canteen at the base area, the Little Rabbit cafe, Terrace Cafe Brisa, and the Red House – the only on-mountain option.

The burger at Terrace Cafe Brisa

The burger at Terrace Cafe Brisa was a nice break from ramen

After 5 pm, things can get a little tricky if you haven’t reserved a table well ahead of time at one of the hotel restaurants or you don’t have dinner included at your pension (there’s a Lawson’s a 5-min drive away, which can be a lifesaver). The dining on offer is high class, but of course, it won’t suit everyone’s budget. The Japanese barbecue at Richoen was excellent.

The buffet breakfast at the ANA Crown Plaza

The buffet breakfast at the ANA Crown Plaza

Culture & Ambience

Appi is an international purpose-built resort; there’s no quaint village, temples or cobbled streets, but once you’ve been to Nozawa Onsen, or even Kyoto, you don’t necessarily need that. Instead, you get to see a part of Japanese ski culture that’s looking to the future with luxury hotel developments, English-speaking staff, incredible in-bounds terrain and a relaxed attitude to exploring the mountain. We’ll definitely be back next year.