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Japan
Overview

Japan is such a rich country in terms of culture that skiing might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when evoking Japan. Most people started to be aware of the Japanese snow potential with the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Indeed, with hundreds of ski resorts and incredible snowfalls, Japan boasts some of the best ski resorts in the world and delivers epic snow experience!

Nowadays, Japan is a must go for every snow lover. People don’t hesitate to travel around the globe to try the fresh dry powder and experience the local culture. That’s why Australians are really lucky to be able to experience this with a relatively short flight and without jet lag.

The best powder in the world combine with huge ski areas and a variety of terrain that cater all ability levels make of Japan one of the greatest snow destinations on earth. Beginners will find excellent dedicated areas with large perfectly groomed runs. Intermediate and experts will explore challenging terrain with steep bowls, chutes and amazing tree skiing. Besides, slopes are much quieter than European ski resorts for instance, meaning that you can enjoy large cruiser runs all day long! And if you didn’t have enough, you can go keep going until 9 pm to finally experience night skiing. After such an intense day, you will be more than happy to immerse yourself in the fascinating Japanese culture by tasting amazing food, relaxing in the natural onsens and having fun in the famous karaoke.

Most skiers and boarders going to Japan want to experience the famous light, dry and fluffy powder. Japanese off piste skiing rules can be confusing because ski resorts have different policies. For instance, Furano strictly forbid off piste skiing and if you risk yourself to off piste without a guide, you might have your lift pass taken away.  However, Rusutsu or Niseko allow off piste skiing within the ski areas.

Another important aspect of your ski holiday in Japan is the cost of the trip. There is a common misconception that Japan is a really expensive country. The fact is it is quite inexpensive when you compare to ski resorts in Australia, Europe, Canada or USA. Indeed, Japan offer cheaper lift passes and has a wide range of affordable accommodations with a lot of pensions. The food is fresh and delicious and probably cheaper than most other countries ski resorts.

 

Like anywhere else, the biggest and most famous ski resorts like Niseko tend to be more expensive while still offering excellent value for money.

 

We feature 7 of the best ski resorts in Japan so you will have several options depending on your requirements. From the convenient ski resort of Hakuba to the amazing Niseko and the traditional Nozawa Onsen, you can be sure to enjoy an unforgettable Japanese snow experience!

 

Why Snowboard or Ski in Japan?

Japan is world renowned for the massive snowfall and the quality of the powder, always light and dry. But ski resorts in Japan have much more to offer than just the best powder on earth.

One of the first things to consider when travelling from Australia is the flight time. There is a 10 hours flight from Sydney to Tokyo but there is only 2 hours time difference which means no jet lag!

Another key factor is the Japanese culture that will make your ski holidays unforgettable. It’s remarkable that such a famous ski destination manage to keep its identity while still providing genuine experience. Indeed, you can sleep in a Japanese style room, savour amazing sushi and relax in the traditional onsens (hot springs) at the end of the day.

Here are more reasons why Japan is an amazing ski destination:

  • World best snow conditions
  • True culture immersion
  • Friendly people
  • Amazing food
  • High-tech lifts systems and grooming
  • Great variety of terrain to suit everyone level
  • Huge ski areas
  • Challenging terrain - plus plenty of easy stuff for the novice
  • Night skiing
  • Hosted two Winter Olympics in 1972 and 1998
  • Heaps of activities, from snow monkeys to karaoke
  • Affordable prices

 

When and Where to go

When to go to Japan

The Japanese snow season generally starts in December and ends in April. However, due to mild temperatures in November and April in the Nagano area, Hokkaido region tend to have longer winter with better quality of snow.

Hokkaido receives the best powder on earth because of its perfect location, right in the path of Siberian snow storms. Hokkaido usually receives more than 14 meters of snow every winter! You need to see it to believe it! This is quite unique since the best ski resorts in America receive around 9 meters every season. In addition, the temperatures are usually between -5°C to -8°C from December to March but the temperature can quickly drop so we recommend you to bring warm clothes to fully enjoy your snow experience.

The best ski season throughout Japan is in January and February, where you can enjoy the lightest and driest snow on earth while skiing waist deep fresh powder. If you add to this the possibility of skiing until 9 pm, a ski holiday in Japan is an experience you can’t miss!

 

Where to go in Japan

Japan boasts hundreds of ski resorts throughout the country. However, we can divide Japan into two main snow regions, Hokkaido and Nagano.

 Hokkaido delievrs the best snow on earth because of its location, which is on the path of Siberian snow storms. Hokkaido main airport is Sapporo, which you can usually flight to from Tokyo. The famous Niseko ski resort as well as Furano and Rusutsu are all located on Hokkaido. Niseko is really famous among international visitors and offer amazing snow, great nightlife and excellent facilities for families. Furano is renowned for its large perfectly groomed runs whereas Rusutsu deliver exceptional off piste in a much quieter atmosphere.

The Nagano region is located on the west of Tokyo, a 2 hours train ride. This is the other popular destination for Australians after Niseko. This region notably hosts the huge ski resort of Shiga Kogen and Hakuba. Shiga Kogen links 21 ski areas together whereas Hakuba links 9 ski resorts together. They both offer huge ski domains so you can spend your ski holidays exploring the mountains infinite potential. There is also the more traditional Nozawa Onsen which is perfect for a true Japanese immersion.

Nozawa Onsen

Furano

Hakuba

Niseko

Shiga Kogen

Sahoro

Rusutsu

Myoko Kogen