We picked up some half-day (until 1pm) lift tickets since we planned to spend the afternoon in the backcountry. The morning was fun in-bounds skiing the “self-responsibility” tree zone near the top. We had just crossed through a ravine and popped up on the other side when I spotted a furry brown bear running on the opposite bank. I was a bit too slow with the camera but we saw it a couple more times as we skied down through the trees. First bear sighting while skiing!
Then, we crossed the rope and skied the side country trees such that we could hike back in-bounds at the end of the run along an old road. Since they didn’t check lift tickets (paper ones) on the top lift, we managed to fit in a few laps before the end of the day. With a quick stop at a free onsen (this one had milky white water), we were clean and ready to camp at the next michi no ekki.
We would definitely ski here again- nice village, free onsens, good variety of terrain and mix of Japanese/Gaijin (foreigners).