The ski season in Japan runs from mid to late-November, to approximately mid-May. With more than 500 ski resorts to choose from, and with such a variety of world-class ski resorts, ski slopes and facilities, it really is one of the best places to go for winter-sport enthusiasts. And when you are not skiing, Japan offers some great apres-ski activities, not least of which are the hot springs, or onsens, that are located in every region.
Some of the best resorts and snow conditions are found in the north, in Hokkaido. For a family break, Furano has Family Snow Land which offers activities such as snow rafting, snow tubing and snow banana boat rides, on top of some amazing skiing. Probably the most famous ski resort in Japan is Niseko. Lovers of winter sports will love the powdery snow, the long ski runs and the off-trail skiing. You could take a helicopter tour on nearby Mount Yotei, a nearly perfect volcanic cone which looks very much like Mount Fuji. Skiers can ski between the three major resorts in Niseko - Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri - or ride on a shuttle bus between them. If you prefer, you can stay at one of the smaller, less crowded resorts on the perimeter.
Nearby, Rusutsu Resort is an area that covers three mountains and is considered to be one of the best resorts in the Hokkaido region. Enjoy apres-ski relaxation in the restaurants, hot spring baths, shops, and enjoy the pool facilities. Tomamu Ski Resort is in central Hokkaido and has facilities for advanced skiers, such as a terrain park and sanctioned tree skiing. There are plenty of other activities, such as snow rafting, snowshoeing, a children’s snow park, an illuminated Ice Village and a snow slide.
Further south, Yamagata Zao Onsen Ski Resort is located in the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture. Visitors will be enthralled by the snow monsters, or ice trees - frozen trees that take on some curious shapes as a result of the snow and the freezing wind. Whether you can ski or not, you can go and see them using a ropeway and gondola, and can even see them all lit-up at night.
Around the middle of Japan, Shiga Kogen Ski area in the Nagano Prefecture consists of 21 ski resorts. A single lift ticket gives you access to all of the lifts in the area. Look out for wild monkeys bathing in the hot springs in the nearby resort towns! Around 100 kilometres away, Hakuba is a popular ski area with several large ski resorts and hot springs (onsen) around the town. Some of the major resorts team up with one another to offer skiers multiple day lift tickets so they can experience as many of the resorts as they like. You might also like to try Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, which has hosted several Olympic competitions during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, or Yuzawa, one of the most easily accessible ski resorts from Tokyo.
There are only two ski resorts on Mount Fuji; Fujiten Snow Resort on the northern base, and Snow Town Yeti on the southern base. Both resorts are suitable for all abilities, from beginner to advanced skier or snowboarder.
Don’t worry about snow - snow cannons provides the resorts with snow when nature does not.
Don’t forget about the highly efficient public transportation system in metropolitan areas of Japan.
Stay safe in the snow and learn more about snow safety.
Learn more about what to expect on your first snow trip.
What you should do in an avalanche.
Our guide to saving time and money with your luggage.