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.