Ever wanted to bathe in a hot spring onsen, hike in forests with snow monkeys or explore a 1,400 year old temple situated within a traditional Japanese village? More importantly, are you dying to glide through knee deep powder while taking in views of Mt. Fuji and beyond?
If so, Japan is the perfect destination for your next ski holiday. The snow in Japan is deep, fluffy and abundant. That’s because the island nation is in an ideal spot between Russia and China and the Sea of Japan. When the cold air from these two countries passes over the sea, it freezes and Japan is hit with heavy, consistent snow. Experience ‘Ja-Pow’ – ‘powder skiing’ at its best. Furthermore, Japan offers world class night skiing – a highlight of many people’s Japan experience.
Which Japanese Ski Resort is right for me?
While there are more than 600 ski resorts in Japan, no two are the same. Each will offer snow seekers a unique experience. Here are a few of Snowscene favourites:
Main Island of Honshu
- Hakuba – In Hakuba Valley, the one ‘all mountain’ lift pass will give you access to 10 resorts, 135 lifts and a perfect mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain. There are several accommodation areas in Hakuba (such as Happo, Wadano, Echoland & Goryu) all offering fabulous ski lodges, hotels and self-contained apartments, along with a thriving restaurant & bar scene, all connected to the slopes by either a short walk or free shuttle bus.
- Nozawa Onsen – Japan’s oldest resort, Nozawa Onsen is a traditional village ideal for families and first timers to Japan. Here, culture is rich, the Japanese cuisine is exceptional and the onsens are plenty. This gorgeous Japanese village is very compact and a real delight to explore on foot. The restaurants on the slopes are amazing and in town you will also be spoilt for choice of restaurants and bars, both Japanese and Western style.
- Myoko Kogen – Want to discover ‘Ja-Pow’ powder skiing? Then check out Myoko Kogen, which gets more snowfall than any other resort on the main island. Skiing & Boarding on the slopes of Myoko feels like you’ve ventured out to the backcountry. Endless powder runs lined by rusty red barked dakekamba birches. Many Snowscene travellers are now adding a week at Myoko to their week at Hakuba or Nozawa Onsen. Myoko Kogen consists of 4 linked resorts. Most accommodation is located in Akakura Onsen / Akakura Kanko. This area is linked to the other two, Ikenotaira and Suginohara, by shuttle bus along the base of the mountain. There are an additional 5 ski resort areas in the greater-Myoko area: Tangram Circus linked to Madarao Mountain, Seki Onsen, Kurohime, and Lotte Arai Resort.
- Shiga Kogen – This ski resort is located in picturesque Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park in the highlands of Yamanouchi, Nagano. It is the largest resort in Japan, (21 resorts with 19 interlinked ski areas). Shiga has it all, including Ski in Ski out hotels throughout the entire valley. Because it’s so big, you won’t need to battle crowds either.
- APPI – Thanks to wide, well groomed trails, Appi Kogen ski resort is the perfect place to learn to ski. There’s also a family park with sled areas tubing and beginner terrain that will help your kids master their turns – and love doing it! This quiet resort has all the bells and whistles, just be aware there is no town or village to stroll around like Niseko or Nozawa.
- Zao Onsen – This charming traditional onsen village is located about 400km north of Tokyo, in the Yamagata Prefecture. Zao Onsen Resort is renowned for its “snow monsters” frozen fir trees with ghost like shapes but its most loved feature is the easy access from the lifts to accommodation to onsen, all within easy walking distance. Zao Onsen is best suited to beginners and intermediate skiiers & snowboarders looking to avoid western crowds.
North Island of Hokkaido
- Niseko – An easy 2.5hr transfer from Sapporo Chitose Airport, Niseko is regarded as one of Japan’s top ski resorts with a reputation for having some of the world’s best snow and daily powder is expected rather than hoped for. Niseko Resort is made up of four interconnected areas: Hirafu (closest to the main accommodation hub); Niseko Village (formerly Higashiyama); Hanazono; and An’nupuri. The ski resort of Moiwa is also interconnected via the sidecountry, but a separate lift ticket is required for this resort. Hirafu is the largest of the Niseko villages, and where the majority of travellers stay with easy access to a range of restaurants, bars, clubs and other services all within a short stroll or free shuttle bus. If you want regular soft fresh powder mixed with a rich Japanese culture and good nightlife, then Niseko is the place for you.
- Rusutsu – If you want to skip the crowds, Rusutsu is the Japanese ski resort for you. A noticeably quieter resort, 30min drive from Niseko, Rusutsu boasts amazing terrain parks and night skiing until 9 pm.
- Furano – Also in the north island of Hokkaido, Furano has a gentle climate providing many a spectacular bluebird day. The locals, the culture and the cuisine… all fabulous in Furano.
- Club Med Sahoro – At Club Med Sahoro, gourmet dining, lift passes, group lessons and the kids club are all included in the price – making this the perfect family holiday destination.
- Club Med Tomamu – Tomamu Resort offers a variety of terrain, including an experts-only area. Taste the best of Japan’s cuisine and learn about Japanese whisky and sake at the Nest Bar; Experience unique Japanese apres-ski at the Ice Village next door, not to mention Mina Mina Beach with the largest indoor wave pool in Japan. Snowscene recommends 5-7 night stays.
Planning Your Japan Ski Holiday with Snowscene
At Snowscene, we have more than 35 years of experience helping Australians book amazing snow trips all over the world.
Simply tell us where you want to go and what’s important to you and our snow specialists can organise the rest, including passes, equipment, accommodation and travel arrangements. We can even arrange kids programs or in-resort activities, including tours and attractions.
A one stop shop for all your snow holiday needs, Snowscene can also help you get the majority of your gear and clothing at our specialised ski boutique. Feel free to book an appointment with one of our specialists, or contact us with any questions you might have.