Skier in Japan
Skiing in Japan

Aside from their world-class powder, the Japanese skiing experience involves sipping Sapporo on the side of a mountain, eating fresh sashimi by the bucket-load and luxuriating in an outdoor onsen. Sound good? Find our top eight Japanese ski resorts below. You can thank us later. 

Honshu

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Nozawa Onsen

Before people discovered it was a good place to ski, this iconic mountain village was famous for its healing hot springs (onsens). With 30 different onsens on site, some over 700 years old, the village is frozen in time. As one of Japan’s biggest resorts, there are around 50 kilometres of accessible runs. If you’re in town around January the 15th, get your skis to the Dosojin fire festival. Going strong since 1863, the festival involves burning down a huge wicker sculpture and drinking bottles of sake. Kanpai!

  • Catch the bullet train from Tokyo to Liyama Station, then a bus transfer to Nowaza Onsen Village, all up approximately 2 hours.
  • Average temperature: -5°C
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Hakuba

A ski resort with a little something for everyone, Hakuba is all about variety. Whether this is your first time seeing snow or you skied out of the womb, Hakuba has a run for you. While it's renowned for its powder snow and vertical skiing there’s a tonne of other activities available at the resort. Pick up a toboggan, go snow-tubing or take a tour of some of the traditional temples around the resort, there’s plenty to do in Hakuba. 

  • Catch the bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano Station, then a bus transfer to Hakuba, all up approximately 3 hours.
  • Average temperature: -7°C

 

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Shiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen is not only Japan’s largest ski destination (home to 21 resorts) it also has Japan’s longest ski season. And with more than 80 kilometres of ski terrain, it’s easy to see why many tourists and locals flock to the area. Hot tip: if you’re looking for an experience sans skiing, take a trip to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, and check out Japanese macaques monkeys chilling in the natural hot spring baths. Best accommodation can be found in the central village of Ichinose. It’s one of Japan’s prettiest towns and has a great selection of restaurants and accommodation. 

  • Catch the Shiga Kogen shuttle bus to Shiga Kogen, approximately five hours.
  • Average temperature: -12°C
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Myoko

Far from the popular-mega resorts that western tourists flock to, lies a small alpine paradise. Myoko is one of Japan’s oldest resorts and is yet to be touched by western influence. Boasting an enormous 14m of snowfall every season, there’s a run for every skier. Myoko is also where the Japanese royal family chooses to ski. If you’re looking for a uniquely Japanese skiing experience, complete with hot, slurpy bowls of ramen, Myoko is perfect. 

  • Catch the Myoko Kogen shuttle bus from Narita airport, all up takes approximately 5.5 hours.
  • Average temperature: -1°C
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Hokkaido

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Sapporo Teine

Home to some of Japan’s steepest tails, Sapporo Tiene is often overlooked. While the resort may not be the biggest on Hokkaido, it is one of the more affordable ways to experience Japan’s famed powder runs. The resort has plenty of terrain for beginners to fall over on, as well as some tree skiing for the real professionals. Stay in Hokkaido’s biggest city, Sapporo (only a 40minute drive away) for great food, art galleries and bars.

  • Catch a train from JR Sapporo train station to Teine. The trip takes 9 to 15 minutes.
  • Average temperature: -11°C
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Furano

A long-time favourite within Japan, Furano’s picture-perfect snow has been kept secret for years. Despite a recent influx of tourists, Furano has not been overwhelmed or westernized, which makes it one of Japan’s more authentic skiing experiences. Furano is great for all ski levels, with runs for shaky beginners to confident pros. Plus, Furano’s home to the fastest ski lift in all Japan. If dangling above a mountain isn’t your cup of tea, head to the Furano city (just 6kms away) and knock back some delicious local beer alongside a big warming bowl of ramen.  

  • Catch the Hokkaido Resort Liner bus from New Chitose Airport to Furano ski resort, takes approximately 3 hours.
  • Average temperature: -12°C
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Niseko

Perhaps the most well-known of all Japan’s ski resorts, Niseko is the snowy, mountainous, winter wonderland that dreams are made of. With runs for all skill levels and easy access to its beautiful backcountry, Niseko has something to offer everyone. If you’re a drinker, not a skier, Niseko houses plenty of awesome bars and restaurants to hop around as well. Accommodation can be found all over the resort ranging from basic to luxe hotels. 

  • Catch the Hokkaido Resort Liner bus from New Chitose to Niseko ski resort, takes approximately 3 hours.
  • Average temperature: -11°C
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Rusutsu

Which brings us to Rusutsu, Japan’s quiet achiever. Often overshadowed by its giant neighbour, Rusutsu has the mountains, the snow and the terrain that Niseko has, but without the crowds. Only a few metres shy of Niseko’s peak, Rusutsu is packed with Japan’s famous deep, powdery snow. The scenery and the long, groomed runs make Rusutsu’s skiing the best in the country. Stay in the Westin Rusutsu Resort, voted best ski resort in Japan and relax with a glass of wine in hand. 

  • Catch the Hokkaido Resort Liner bus from New Chitose to Niseko ski resort, takes approximately 3 hours.
  • Average temperature: -12°C
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