Plan Your Trip

Japan Ski Resorts

 

Why people ski Japan:
 
An increasingly popular destination for Aussie skiers and snowboarders, Japan offers incredible powder snow conditions, warm hospitality, cultural experiences, and high-tech wonders. Known specifically in the ski community for #JaPOW (The low-humidity powder snow), Japan ski resorts are a powder-lovers dream. Japan is Asia’s premier ski destination and attracts visitors from across the globe to experience the float and face shots provided by the famous powder snow.

Stretching around the east coast of China, Korea and Russia, Japan’s islands offer everything from tropical oases in Okinawa to winter wonderlands in the North on Hokkaido. Compared to mountains across Europe, the USA and Canada, Japan’s mountain ranges are relatively low altitude. The magic and volume of Japan’s light, dry powder snow comes from the weather patterns that deliver copious amounts of snowfall from the North to the middle of Honshu. Winds cross over the cold dry expanse of Russia and China, moisture is picked up crossing the Sea of Japan, and as these clouds hit land – Japan – they dump light dry fluffy snow. Snow blankets the entire island of Hokkaido throughout the winter, and it is not uncommon to get snow down to sea level on the mainland, even in Tokyo!

 

 

Where to ski in Japan:
 
In total, the archipelago of Japan is made up of over 6,800 islands but when you are talking about skiing, you are generally focusing on Hokkaido & Honshu. Let us start at the top, on the north island of Hokkaido. Accessible via New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido is home to Japan’s most famous ski resort, Niseko. Niseko offers the largest bed base, with options for everyone from backpackers and hostels, moderate hotels,and self-contained apartments; through to luxury hotels and condos offering full-service perks such as ski valets. Niseko has plenty of delicious restaurants, bars and cafes which can be found buried under meters of snow.


The second largest ski resort in Hokkaido is Furano Ski Resort, which is fast becoming one of the most popular ski destinations for Aussie’s who want to experience JaPOW but avoid the crowds that frequent Niseko. Furano is an excellent all-round ski destination suitable for all levels of experience with long, wide groomed runs and fast lifts. Family friendly activities include bowling, snow rafting & banana boats, snow mobiles, snow shoeing and sledding.


Only an hour from Furano is Tomamu Ski Resort which offers a purpose-built ski resort, modern western-style facilities and a plethora of family-friendly winter activities to enjoy. An incredible value for money make the ski resort, the Tomamu Ice Village and multi-million dollar Mina Mina Beach will ensure that you have a memorable and unique holiday experience.


Hokkaido is also home to smaller ski resorts like Rusutsu Ski Resort, which has great off-piste and tree skiing and Kiroro Ski Resort home to 23 runs which are cater to all levels of experience. Rusutsu has an excellent selection of luxury ski in, ski out accommodation available, and both of these resorts are growing in popularity each year.


Over on the mainland of Honshu, are the Japanese Alps. The southern region tears through the Nagano and Niigata prefectures, and boasts a variety of ski resorts tucked away on differing aspects of the mountains. Larger resorts typically offer multi resort lift passes, providing guests the opportunity and flexibility to explore the region. Hakuba is the most popular ski area in the region, with a wide offering of hotels, condos, and chalets to stay in. Hakuba has 10 resorts on one lift pass, with a great variety of terrain to choose from. Wander the streets of Happo village and explore the local food and beverage choices. Nightlife in Hakuba is also lively and there are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertains on and off the slopes.


Only a few hours away, Shiga Kogen first hit the radar for international skiers and snowboarders in 1998 during the Nagano Winter Olympics. Boasting 19 ski areas and over 600 hectares of on-piste terrain, it has been increasing in popularity for Australians in the last few years. Sitting at an altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level, Shiga Kogen averages 10 metres of snow every winter, and is a powder hounds dream!


About 2 hours North of Tokyo on the bullet train, is the region of Tohoku. The region is home to more local resorts such as Shizukuishi and excellent family-friendly Appi Ski Resort. Appi has attracted a great number of international ski instructors and is an excellent place to learn to ski or snowboard. These ski resorts where relatively unknown on the international ski scene until recently and aren’t yet crowded like Niseko and Hakuba – get in before everyone else does!


Other popular ski resorts to explore in Honshu include Madarao, which offers a quiet base to access Nangano’s ski slopes such as Myoko Kogen and luxury ski resort Lotte Arai. Finally, Nozawa Onsen is a hot springs and ski resort with beautiful Japanese architecture and a more authentic cultural experience.


 

 

 

Things to do in Japan:
 
Off the slopes, one incredible feature is Japan’s natural hot springs, with mineral rich waters warmed to varying temperatures, the experience of bathing in onsen pairs perfectly with skiing and snowboarding! Let the baths sooth your sore muscles, while the mineral water beautifies and softens your skin. Traditionally this is experienced fully undressed, in gender segregated public baths, but you’ll find varying experiences and one you’re comfortable with in the ski resorts.


Other cool experiences to tick off while you are in Japan include riding the bullet trains, which operate at speeds over 300kmph. Disney lovers may want to include a trip to Disneyland Tokyo. If you haven’t done Karaoke, have you even been to Japan? Visit one of the many unique cafes and themed restaurants such as the Owl Café, Hedgehog Café or Robot Restaurant.


If you can spend a few extra days in Japan, we recommend taking in the contrasting cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. Incredibly, new and old co-exist beautifully in Japan, with castles, temples and shrines all over the cities, villages and mountains.


Your cultural experience will be intertwined with the beautiful Japanese people and their incredible food. From sashimi to ramen, fine dining to convenience store, devour it all! Stock up on snacks, sweets and treats before returning home – this is a cultural experience of its own of course – bringing local specialty treats and produce home as gifts to loved ones is called omiyage, which we highly recommend observing. Other cultural experiences you may like to include are a traditional tea ceremony; a visit to one of many ancient castles and beautiful Japanese gardens; or experience a Geisha or drumming show.


No matter where you choose to go in Japan, you will no doubt be humbled by the hospitality of its people and their culture of respect.


 

 

 

Getting Around Japan:
 
For those who want to get straight to the snow, shuttles, transfers, and trains are all available to suit your destination, budget and time expectations. Generally, trains are the transport of choice in Japan as they are fast, reliable and super clean. Exceptionally fast bullet trains are an excellent way to get between cities quickly and on time. The JR Rail pass may be a great option if you plan to explore multiple parts of Japan on one holiday, or you may just want to use point-to-point journeys. Ask our team of specialists to help you decide what is best for you holiday.


 

 

 

When is the Best Time to Ski in Japan?:
 
The majority of ski resorts are open between December and March each year, the height of winter is December to February. The best time to travel is specific to each resort and your personal holiday preferences; for example some skiers & snowboarders want to travel over key events or during holidays, whereas others like to avoid the crowds. Specific events and peak period vary per ski resort, however some key dates to note are:
Christmas Time              23rd – 26th of Dec
New Year’s Eve              31st Dec – 2nd Jan
Chinese New Year           Jan / Feb (changes yearly)
Nozawa Fire Festival        15th Jan
Sapporo Snow Festival        Early Feb

The best powder months in Japan are January and early February.
The cheapest time to ski in Japan is pre-Christmas and March to April.
The busiest time to ski Japan in Christmas & New Years.


 

 

 

Weather in Japan:
 
The snow season in Japan runs from mid-December and ends in late-March or early April depending which ski resort you are at. Peak winter is December to February each year.


Average Snowfall:
The average snowfall at ski resorts across Japan does vary, but averagely resorts receive 10-14m of snow each winter. The quality of the snow is impacted by other factors, such as location, altitude, and weather.

Average Temperature:
Temperatures in winter at Japan’s popular ski resorts generally range from -12C to 2C

 

 

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