Chase some of the softest powder in the world at one of Japan’s finest snow resorts.
While Australia might have some pretty good snowfields, they’re nothing compared to the Japanese Alps, where the powder feels like a cloud. Not only is the snow is delicate, season is long. It runs for four months from mid-December to mid-April, with snowfall still likely at the end.
Two of the most popular resort areas in Japan are Niseko and Hakuba. Hakuba can be accessed by train and shuttle from Tokyo’s airports, while Niseko can be accessed by shuttle from Sapporo Chitose Airport. Direct flights are available to Tokyo from Australia, with connections to Sapporo available via Tokyo or Osaka, so keep an eye out for those cheap Japan flights to make an affordable ski trip a reality.
Best Japan ski resorts compared
A quick comparison of Niseko, Hakuba, Furano, Nozawa Onsen and Shiga Kogen ski resorts.
|Location||Annual snowfall||Number of lifts||Number of runs||Terrain|
|Niseko||15m+||30 lifts and 3 gondolas||61|
|Hakuba||11m+||138 lifts and 5 gondolas||200+|
|Nozawa Onsen||10m||32 lifts||36|
|Shiga Kogen||10m||67 lifts||310|
Niseko accommodation for any budget
Hakuba accommodation for any budget
Search for more ski accommodation in Japan here:
What other Japan ski resorts are there?
Niseko and Hakuba might be the most popular ski resorts in Japan, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Throughout the country you can find resorts that offer a similar quality powder along with unique runs. Here’s a snapshot of them:
- Rusutsu: Just south of Niseko is this family-friendly resort. It’s the largest single resort in the region and features immaculately groomed wide trails across three mountains.
- Tomamu: Take a 90-minute drive east of Chitose Airport and you’ll find yourself at this quaint, family-friendly resort. It has a mere 5 lifts but gets a good average of 14m+ of snowfall annually.
- Yuzawa: Perhaps one of the most accessible ski resorts in Japan, Yuzawa is renowned for being the only resort to have its own shinkansen bullet train station. The gondola is in the train station itself, so you can head up the moment you arrive.
- Myoko Kogen: This resort area comprises of three separate resorts (Myoko Akakura, Myoko Suginohara and Ikenotaira Onsen). Off piste riding is allowed and it claims to have some of the best vertical and longest runs in Japan.
Japan ski resorts map:
See how far the resorts are from each other with our map.
When is ski season in Japan?
The height of ski season in Japan is typically from December to April. Outside of this, early season is November and late season is April to May.
The official close of snow season in Japan is the end of March. Some runs and hotels may be open for late season, but this will be limited.
For the 2016-2017 snow season, Hokkaido's ski resorts (including Niseko) are open from 20 November 2016 to 8 May 2017. These days may vary depending on location. Hakuba Valley’s snow season also runs from November to early May.
Compare ski travel insurance for Japan
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, snow trips come with an increased risk of injury – and being in Japan, you might not be covered for medical incidents should something occur.
Even if you’re not injured, other situations may arise such as bad weather, ski lift closures and lost and damaged equipment, which can cause you to bear unexpected financial costs.
Snowsport insurance can be purchased as an additional extra to travel insurance or as a standalone policy to provide extra cover should you need emergency assistance or compensation for lost equipment or unused ski passes. This guide can help you compare your options for snowsport insurance in Japan.