Snowriders Australia in partnership with Madarao Resort and the Active Life Group, is seeking expressions of interest for Powder Seekers 2020;  the second in our series of regular Club Skiing and Snowboarding adventures to the Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Typical Madarao scenery

Powder Seekers 2020, taking in Madarao and surrounding resorts, is suited to families and powder hounds alike.  Madarao is the perfect family destination with gentle slopes, onsens, kid friendly western food and a kid’s adventure play area.

It is also perfectly suited to more adventurous skiers and boarders.  Apart from providing access to a huge variety of off-piste terrain in Madarao and the adjoining area, Tangram, our package includes free access to our exclusive inter-resort shuttle bus, giving you access to 6 nearby resorts, including Myoko and Nozawa. 

Because we enjoy a special relationship with the mountain, the package is heavily discounted from the accommodation, through to hire and even your lift passes*. Best of all, our partners, Active Life, offer Club Med style benefits, including COMPLIMENTARY ski lessons and an exclusive and COMPLIMENTARY guest-only inter-resort shuttle bus service, giving you access to 10 nearby resorts. That’s a lot of powder to explore. 

The package is particularly suited to first time (or return families) wanting to progress from first time or beginner stages through to intermediate (the complimentary lessons will have you skiing the powder in no time); or to experienced powder hounds looking to explore Madarao, Tangram and the surrounding Nagano Prefecture, all via the guest-only shuttle bus.

What separates us from normal providers or agents is THAT WE KNOW MADARAO. SRA staff will meet you when you arrive and be available throughout your stay, to assist, chaperone and generally make sure you’re comfortable. This includes things like getting you to your lessons, showing you the best restaurants, and even some of our secret powder spots.

Want the bottom line? It’s coming, but first, let us tell you more about Madarao.

Powder-gromets in their natural habitat

About Madarao

Located in the middle of the Nagano prefecture, Madarao is the perfect base for the more experienced riders to enjoy the region’s famous champagne powder snow, either in the Madarao Resort itself, or other nearby resorts, as serviced by Active Life’s complimentary shuttle bus.

Our accommodation is Xplore and Hakken by Active Life, Australian/Kiwi owned and newly renovated hotels just minutes walk from the chairlift.  Forget catching buses and taxis, everything in Madarao is just minutes away on foot, making everything super easy, especially with kids.

The resort has good facilities for kids. A snow festival is also held every year in February in nearby Iiyama

SRA toured Madarao in 2018 and 2019 with the kids in tow (see review here), so we are well practiced an familiar with the area and what it has to offer. Madarao is blessed with 8-10 m of snow annually and has a good variety of terrain from gentle beginner slopes, right through to black diamond tree runs.

Furthermore, unlike some Japanese resorts, Madarao actually encourages off-piste tree skiing, which is facilitated by ‘glading’ (or thinning) of the trees. This makes for unparalleled off-piste skiing, without the crowds.

Madarao is also relatively quiet, with few lift queues and no noisy night clubs; it does however have several cosy bars, perfect for après drinks and nibbles (including one in our chosen accommodation, and others throughout the Active Life Group). The resort is also close to the famous snow monkey park, accessible by coach (day trip).

The region is famous for is enigmatic snow monkeys

More details

This year we are running 2 CLUB TRIPS: one between the 13-20 January and another between the 23-30 January. Guests are free to choose their style of accommodation from comfortable family rooms with an ensuite, to double rooms with shared Onsen ablutions. Guests will be housed at either Hakken or Xplore, which are just minutes apart (about a 100 m walk).

Hakken by Active Life

The first option, Hakken by Active Life, is a cosy, 15-room, westernized lodge & located less than 2 mins walk from the Madarao ski slopes. Newly renovated in 2017, Hakken offers a unique experience for guests, blending modern western style comforts with traditional Japanese Tatami floors. Hakken, meaning Discovery in Japanese, offers guests a unique experience filled with modern comforts.

Hakken by Active Life
Hakken Deluxe Room

Xplore by Active Life

Located 3 mins walk from the Madarao ski lifts, Xplore by Active Life is one of the biggest ski hotels in Madarao Kogen Ski Resort. Newly renovated in 2018, Xplore offers guests with a choice of modern western style rooms or authentic Japanese rooms. The guest rooms at Xplore are well designed and equipped with all the comfort you will need for a comfortable stay in one of the best powder resorts in Japan. The hotel perfectly encapsulates the simplicity of Japanese design with Western comfort to ensure your stay is cozy and fun.

Explore offers budget but comfortable accommodation just minutes from the chair lift

The snow

Madarao receives about 8-10 m of snow annually, and most of that is champagne powder. If it’s piste skiing you’re looking for, Madarao has 30 ski runs with an even mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced.  However, beyond that, Madarao offers so much more than this – beyond the piste skiing is literally hectare upon hectare of off-piste skiing, including some of the best tree skiing in the world.

At Madarao, they don’t just allow tree skiing; they encourage it. Yes, many resorts in Japan have truly great tree skiing potential, but the beech trees and bamboo all too often get in the way.  Not in Madarao; here the resort maintains a program of “glading” or forest thinning, resulting in a series of totally unimpeded tree-skiing, often full of knee to waste deep powder.

The crew from SRA personally skied Madarao in Feb 2018 and Jan 2019. Both times, the resort was largely deserted especially mid-week and in the trees, and the snow was…well, simply mind-blowing. Don’t believe us, check out some of these videos below:


The bottom line [$$]

Rooms vary in price depending on whether you choose Hakken or Xplore as your hotel, and when you book. Early bird rates are now over, but luckily our package still includes 10% of for SRA guests. The discount applies to accommodation and hire (should you need it), and we are presently working with the resort to have it extended to lift passes (watch this space). Example prices (as at 3 Oct 2019) are given below. Other options available too (just ask us).

  • Accomm. option 1: JPY 93,390 [*1]
  • Accomm. option 2: JPY 269,029 [*2]
  • Accomm. option 3: JPY 245,072 [*3]
  • Accomm. option 4: JPY 101,830 [*4]

Costs include: 7 nights, breakfasts, lessons, shuttle bus, concierge. Kids under 6 stay free (check with us for prices).

  • Lift passes (~JPY 5,500/day; kids <12 JPY 2,500/day)
  • Gear hire (Skis, Boots, Poles) (~JPY 4,200/day, JPY 3,110/day kids)

Such a deal is rare and relatively new for the Active Life Group. To put this in perspective, the offer of COMPLIMENTARY lessons alone represents a saving of about JPY3,800 pp per day (or JPY15,150 a day for a family of four).

Note, if you hold a Mt Buller Season Pass, you can ski Madarao free for three days, plus score 50% off further lift passes for the rest of your trip!


  • Airfares (costs variable).
  • Japan Rail Pass (Adults ~JPY 18,000; kids ~JPY 9,000);
  • Lunch & Dinner (costs variable, but budget options available);
  • Insurances [*5]

Fine print

  • [*1] – For singles or couples. Basic accommodation in the newly renovated Xplore Hotel. Room comes with 1 x queen bed and an ensuite as standard . Max 2 people. No single beds available.
  • [*2] – Family friendly accommodation with private ensuite in the newly renovated Xplore Hotel; 1 x queen bed and 2 x single beds. Max 4 people.
  • [*3] – Deluxe accommodation with private ensuite in the Hakken by Active Life Hotel; 1 x queen bed & 1 single, or 1 x king & 1 single, or 3 x singles. Max 3 on request.
  • [*4] – Suited to singles happy to share a room. Room comes with two single beds and an ensuite as standard. These are great value at ~$AUD 100 per person per night. Max 2 people.
  • [*5] Guests intending to ski off-piste are encouraged to seek off-piste cover and carefully review the insurance T&Cs. Note, SRA staff are available to chaperone guests, but we are not qualified ‘guides’ as defined in many insurance PDSs, most of which require Guides to hold a ‘Level 2 backcountry security award’, or equivalent (see our article here on the types of insurances available, and their exclusions).
  • [*6] – Costs shown are for the 23-30 January 2020 as at 3/10/19.

Places are very limited. For further information, please don’t hesitate to send us a message via our contacts page, or send us a personal message via our Facebook page.

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