The History of Hachimantai (now Appi) Snow Resort

The History of Hachimantai (now Appi) Snow Resort

Top-Quality Powder Snow Meets a Full Century of History

Top-Quality Powder Snow Meets a Full Century of History

Japan’s history with skiing traces back to 1911.  The foundation for what would become the Appi Snow Resort of today was laid Matsuo Mine.  It was a highly successful sulfur mine, hailed as the “richest sulfur mine in the Orient,” and its prosperity trickled down into the rest of the town.

In truth, while skiing is quite popular today as a winter sport, the first big ski boom happened around 1950.  As the skier population surged, Matsuo Mine put together a small ski area, where a nationally strong team had also already gathered.  But at the time, it was not yet commercially operating as a ski area.  It was simply a reserved area for the sports athletes to use to hone their skills.

hachimantai_snow_resort_history
Skiing first came to Matsuo Mine in 1921. The rime-covered backcountry of Hachimantai served as an excellent backdrop. (Photo Credit: Matsuo Mine Archive Museum)

The first commercial ski area to open near Matsuo Mine was Ryūgamori Ski Resort on January 27th, 1952.  It attracted a lot of visitors, even international ones like American soldiers.  However, despite how wealthy the mine had become, eventually as the demand for sulfur declined, so too did Matsuo’s prosperity.  In an effort to save the business, they switched focus to a more tourism-based approach, which included skiing.  In 1962, the Hachimantai National Ski Resort opened with the very first ski lift in the prefecture.  The same year, the Hachimantai Tourism Hotel was also finished.  It was a solidly made building constructed from iron rebar; this was another first for the city, which had until then only had youth hostels and mountain huts at best.  The ability to enjoy Hachimantai’s great outdoors and come back to fully furnished lodgings only did favors for the city’s tourism industry, and visitors grew year-over-year.  However, the mine’s business only continued to wither, and in 1969 the curtain finally fell on Matsuo Mine.

Hachimantai History
In 1929, Matsuo Mine formed its first ski club. It went on in 1931 to dominate the 9th All-Japan Ski Championships in three events including the young adult ski jump. (Photo Credit: Matsuo Mine Archive Museum)
hachimantai_snow_resort_history
All-Mountain Ski Tournament Opposed Relay, Hachimantai Ski Resort, 1965. (Photo Credit: Matsuo Mine Archive Museum)

Around this same time, in the mine’s Matsuo Village (what would become present-day Hachimantai City), interest in hot springs was spurring development of the geothermal power plant.  In 1970, the East Hachimantai Onsen was founded and incorporated.  With contributions from entities like JNR (now JR), Iwate Prefecture, and the Nisshō Iwai trading company, other accommodations like Hachimantai Heights and the Rising Sun Hotel also came into being.  And in 1979, the “Hachimantai Onsenkyo” hot spring and tourist resort district was born.

Eventually in 1981, Appi Ski Resort opened for business.  During Japan’s flourishing bubble economy, Appi stickers became a popular trend on cars, and Appi’s popularity can be said to be one cause behind the region’s growth into a nationally recognized hotspot for skiing.  Today, skiers not only from all over Japan, but from overseas arrive each year in large numbers to enjoy winter sports.

Winter conditions in Japan are uncommon in other parts of the world, and the snow climate in Hachimantai and Appi is still more unique.  The relatively low water to air ratio in its snow results in extremely fine, powdery snow that is so light that when freshly fallen it can’t be packed together at all, making it a top-tier attraction to skiers and snowboarders.  Appi Ski Resort’s slopes are accommodating to everyone from beginners to advanced riders; everyone who loves winter sports is guaranteed to have a wonderful time there!

Top-Quality Powder Snow Meets a Full Century of History

Japan’s history with skiing traces back to 1911.  The foundation for what would become the Appi Snow Resort of today was laid Matsuo Mine.  It was a highly successful sulfur mine, hailed as the “richest sulfur mine in the Orient,” and its prosperity trickled down into the rest of the town.

hachimantai_snow_resort_history
Skiing first came to Matsuo Mine in 1921. The rime-covered backcountry of Hachimantai served as an excellent backdrop. (Photo Credit: Matsuo Mine Archive Museum)

In truth, while skiing is quite popular today as a winter sport, the first big ski boom happened around 1950.  As the skier population surged, Matsuo Mine put together a small ski area, where a nationally strong team had also already gathered.  But at the time, it was not yet commercially operating as a ski area.  It was simply a reserved area for the sports athletes to use to hone their skills.

The first commercial ski area to open near Matsuo Mine was Ryūgamori Ski Resort on January 27th, 1952.  It attracted a lot of visitors, even international ones like American soldiers.  However, despite how wealthy the mine had become, eventually as the demand for sulfur declined, so too did Matsuo’s prosperity.

Hachimantai History
In 1929, Matsuo Mine formed its first ski club. It went on in 1931 to dominate the 9th All-Japan Ski Championships in three events including the young adult ski jump. (Photo Credit: Matsuo Mine Archive Museum)

In an effort to save the business, they switched focus to a more tourism-based approach, which included skiing.  In 1962, the Hachimantai National Ski Resort opened with the very first ski lift in the prefecture.  The same year, the Hachimantai Tourism Hotel was also finished.  It was a solidly made building constructed from iron rebar; this was another first for the city, which had until then only had youth hostels and mountain huts at best.  The ability to enjoy Hachimantai’s great outdoors and come back to fully furnished lodgings only did favors for the city’s tourism industry, and visitors grew year-over-year.  However, the mine’s business only continued to wither, and in 1969 the curtain finally fell on Matsuo Mine.

hachimantai_snow_resort_history
All-Mountain Ski Tournament Opposed Relay, Hachimantai Ski Resort, 1965. (Photo Credit: Matsuo Mine Archive Museum)

Around this same time, in the mine’s Matsuo Village (what would become present-day Hachimantai City), interest in hot springs was spurring development of the geothermal power plant.  In 1970, the East Hachimantai Onsen was founded and incorporated.

With contributions from entities like JNR (now JR), Iwate Prefecture, and the Nisshō Iwai trading company, other accommodations like Hachimantai Heights and the Rising Sun Hotel also came into being.  And in 1979, the “Hachimantai Onsenkyo” hot spring and tourist resort district was born.

Eventually in 1981, Appi Ski Resort opened for business.  During Japan’s flourishing bubble economy, Appi stickers became a popular trend on cars, and Appi’s popularity can be said to be one cause behind the region’s growth into a nationally recognized hotspot for skiing.  Today, skiers not only from all over Japan, but from overseas arrive each year in large numbers to enjoy winter sports.

Winter conditions in Japan are uncommon in other parts of the world, and the snow climate in Hachimantai and Appi is still more unique.  The relatively low water to air ratio in its snow results in extremely fine, powdery snow that is so light that when freshly fallen it can’t be packed together at all, making it a top-tier attraction to skiers and snowboarders.  Appi Ski Resort’s slopes are accommodating to everyone from beginners to advanced riders; everyone who loves winter sports is guaranteed to have a wonderful time there!