skiing in japan.


Where to hit the slopes in Japan

Published July 7th, 2016

It’s nearing snow time in Japan – land of the futuristic, bonsai tree and powder snow (#japow)! Japan might be small, but if you haven’t already heard the slopes are plentiful and quality, with 10 to 18 metres of snow dumped in ski fields across the country from December to April.

There are snow many reasons to choose Japan for your next ski or snowboarding holiday. And not just that flights to Japan are much cheaper and shorter than to Europe. The country’s ski resorts are surprisingly affordable when it comes to lift passes, gear hire and accommodation. Overall it can work out cheaper than a ski strip in Australia, especially with a package tour. Plus, all that powder snow (#japow) makes for great conditions for all levels (and a soft cushion to land on).

Not sold yet? Just imagine resting those aching muscles in a traditional Japanese hot spring (onsen), warming the insides with sake and nourishing your body with a range of healthy Japanese winter foods beyond your ultimate Bento box imagination.

Now, where to go? Most people stick to Hokkaido or Honshu, with north island Hokkaido getting higher snow dumps and often cheaper prices. Still, Honshu boasts great powder skiing and snowboarding with resorts easily accessible by train or bus from Tokyo...

Niseko, Hokkaido, 2.5hrs from Chitose Airport

Welcome to Japan’s most popular ski region, with 15-metres plus of annual snow, that would be quality powder snow. High up (1,308m) on Niseko An’nupuri Mountain you will find four ski resorts with 47 kilometres of groomed slopes, around 40 lifts, 12 hours of skiing a day and plenty of cafes, restaurants and shuttle buses to make life bliss.

Why go:

Massive dumps of powder + tree skiing + a wicked nightlife. Great for all levels.


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Hakuba Valley, Japanese Alps near Nagano, 3 hours from Tokyo

A favourite of skiing pros, Hakuba hosted the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics which means you’re in for challenging runs, tricky slopes and great facilities (over 100 lifts and 11 resorts!) At 1,831-metres above sea level, Hakuba gets around 11-metres of annual snowfall and despite its size still manages a quaint village atmosphere with loads of cozy places to relax off the slopes.

Why go:

Fun for adrenalin junkies + Japan’s steepest runs + loads of fresh tracks + quiet during the week

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Myoko Kogen, Niigata, 3 hours from Tokyo

A local favourite and one of Japan’s first ski areas, Myoko has four ski areas (Myoko Akakura Kanko, Akakura Onsen, Myoko Suginohara and Ikenotaira Onsen) with 40 lifts and some of the best vertical and long runs in the country. All areas operate under the same lift pass and are easily accessible via shuttle bus and to the charming Akakura village.

Why go:

Ah-mazing off-piste skiing + drenched in traditional hot springs, history and culture.


A photo posted by Rach Harvey (@rachelsnow1) on

Nozawa Onsen, North Nagano, about 2 hours from Tokyo

A variety of slopes, traditional Japanese town and a bevvie of traditional hot springs (onsen, maybe the name tipped you off) makes Nozawa a great Japanese skiing holiday. It’s popular for après-skiers and avid skiers alike. At 1,650-metres above sea level and with an 11 metre snow fall, Nozawa’s cultural charm and hot springs are matched by conditions great for snowboarders and skiiers.

Why go:

True cultural experience + free use of hot springs + night skiing + fun nightlife.

Jolee Wakefield

A seasoned backpacker and travel writer, Jolee has spent the past decade wandering the globe in pursuit of good vibes, unusual conversations and unforgettable adventures like cave diving in Mexico, mountain climbing in Borneo and learning (failing at) local dances in the Pacific nation of Kiribati.