Skiing in Japan

Skiing in Japan
Photo by Oliver Dickerson / Unsplash

A Winter Wonderland

With its powder-perfect snow, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultural offerings, Japan is rapidly becoming one of the world's premier ski destinations. From the stunning slopes of Hokkaido to the majestic mountains of Nagano, there is no shortage of incredible winter sports opportunities in this beautiful country. But skiing in Japan is more than just hitting the slopes - it's a complete sensory experience, featuring some of the world's most delicious food, unforgettable family activities, and raucous après-ski parties. In this article, we'll take a closer look at skiing in Japan, exploring everything from transportation and pricing to must-see destinations and cultural experiences.

Getting There

For many travellers, the first question when considering a ski trip to Japan is how to get there. Luckily, the country is well-served by a number of major airlines, including Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, and Delta, among others. Most international flights arrive in Tokyo or Osaka, but from there, it's easy to get to the ski resorts of your choice. Many resorts offer shuttle buses or private transfers, while trains and buses are also available for those who prefer to go it alone.


One of the biggest advantages of skiing in Japan is its affordability. While ski vacations in Europe and North America can be prohibitively expensive, Japan's ski resorts offer high-quality skiing at a fraction of the cost. Lift tickets typically range from around 3,000 to 6,000 yen (approximately $30 to $60 USD), while equipment rentals and lessons are also quite reasonable. Of course, prices will vary depending on the resort, the time of year, and the level of services you require, but overall, skiing in Japan is a budget-friendly option for winter sports enthusiasts.

Family Activities

While skiing is undoubtedly the main attraction for most visitors to Japan, there are also plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy off the slopes. One popular option is to visit one of the many hot springs (or onsen) that dot the country. These natural hot baths are a beloved Japanese tradition, and soaking in mineral-rich waters is said to have a variety of health benefits. There is plenty of family-friendly onsens to choose from, and many ski resorts offer onsen facilities on-site.

Another fun option for families is to explore the local culture through food. Japanese cuisine is known for its incredible variety and complexity, and there are countless regional specialties to sample. From the seafood of Hokkaido to the ramen of Tokyo, there is something to please even the pickiest eaters. Many ski resorts offer dining packages or tours, which can be a great way to sample a variety of local dishes and learn more about Japanese culinary traditions.

Parties and Nightlife

For those who like to let loose after a long day on the slopes, Japan's ski resorts offer plenty of options for après-ski activities. One popular choice is to visit an izakaya, which is a type of casual Japanese pub. Izakaya is known for its delicious food and lively atmosphere, and they're a great place to gather with friends and enjoy a few drinks. Many ski resorts also offer bars and nightclubs, which can be a fun way to let off steam and meet other skiers.


Getting around Japan's ski resorts is relatively easy, thanks to the country's extensive public transportation network. Most resorts offer shuttle buses or private transfers from the nearest airport or train station, and once you're there, it's easy to get around by train or bus. In fact, many skiers choose to travel around the country by train, taking advantage of the legendary Shinkansen (bullet train) system to zip from one destination to another.

Early morning while visiting Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan, I awoke to an early winter snow storm. The sky was dense with fluffy clumps of snow, gently felling from above, accumulating quickly across the region as people slept in their mountain homes. I grab my camera and hopped into my car, knowing that I would be the first on the road to witness a snow fall I haven’t experienced for more than a decade.
Photo by Marek Okon / Unsplash

Must-See Destinations

  1. Niseko, Hokkaido: Niseko is one of Japan's most popular ski resorts, and for good reason. With over 15 meters of snowfall each year, it's a powder paradise for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. In addition to its incredible skiing, Niseko also offers a vibrant après-ski scene and plenty of family-friendly activities.
  2. Hakuba, Nagano: Hakuba is another top ski destination in Japan, known for its stunning mountain scenery and varied terrain. With 10 different resorts to choose from, there's something for everyone here, whether you're a beginner or an expert. The nearby town of Hakuba is also worth exploring, with its charming streets and hot springs.
  3. Shiga Kogen, Nagano: Shiga Kogen is Japan's largest ski resort, with over 20 interconnected ski areas. This massive resort offers plenty of variety and some of the country's best snow conditions. It's also a great destination for families, with plenty of non-skiing activities to enjoy.
  4. Nozawa Onsen, Nagano: Nozawa Onsen is a charming ski town known for its traditional Japanese architecture and natural hot springs. The skiing here is excellent, with a variety of runs for all levels. But perhaps the best part of Nozawa Onsen is its après-ski scene, which includes plenty of izakaya and bars.
  5. Myoko Kogen, Niigata: Myoko Kogen is a hidden gem of a ski resort, known for its deep snow and beautiful tree runs. This resort is less crowded than some of the bigger destinations, making it a great choice for those who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere. The nearby town of Myoko is also worth exploring, with its picturesque streets and delicious food.
Snow Day
Photo by Daniel Gregoire / Unsplash

In conclusion, skiing in Japan offers a unique and unforgettable experience that combines world-class skiing, delicious food, and rich cultural offerings. With affordable prices, family-friendly activities, and a vibrant nightlife scene, it's no wonder that more and more skiers are choosing Japan as their winter sports destination of choice. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, there's a ski resort in Japan that's perfect for you. So why not book your trip today and experience the magic of skiing in Japan for yourself?

Topic Description
Ski Resorts Japan is home to over 500 ski resorts, with the most popular located in Hokkaido and Honshu
Snowfall Japan receives some of the world's heaviest snowfalls, up to 18 meters in some resorts
Night Skiing Many Japanese resorts offer night skiing, allowing skiers to enjoy the slopes under the stars
Ski Lifts Japan has some of the world's most advanced ski lifts, such as the heated-seat gondola at Hakuba Cortina
Après-Ski Japanese après-ski typically involves hot springs and local cuisine such as ramen, sushi, and yakitori
Grooming Japanese resorts are known for their excellent grooming and attention to detail
Culture Skiing in Japan offers a chance to experience the country's rich cultural offerings
Family Activities Japanese ski resorts offer many family-friendly activities, such as snow tubing and ice skating
Parties Japan has a vibrant après-ski scene, with bars, izakaya, and karaoke
Transportation Japan's efficient public transportation system makes it easy to access ski resorts
Price Skiing in Japan can be affordable compared to other international destinations
Must-See Locations Niseko, Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, and Myoko Kogen are some of the top ski destinations in Japan

There are some fascinating facts about skiing in Japan that you might find interesting

  1. Japan is home to over 500 ski resorts, with the majority located in the northern island of Hokkaido and the central mountain range of Honshu.
  2. Japan receives some of the world's heaviest snowfalls, with some resorts receiving up to 18 meters of snow each winter. This makes for incredible powder conditions and an unforgettable skiing experience.
  3. Many Japanese ski resorts offer night skiing, with some lifts staying open until as late as 10 pm. This is a unique experience that allows skiers to enjoy the slopes under the stars.
  4. Japan is home to some of the world's most advanced ski lifts, including the Hakuba Cortina ski resort's state-of-the-art gondola, which features heated seats and panoramic views.
  5. Après-ski in Japan is a unique experience that typically involves soaking in an outdoor hot spring or onsen, followed by a delicious meal of local specialties like ramen, sushi, or yakitori.
  6. Japan's ski resorts are known for their excellent grooming and meticulous attention to detail, with ski patrol teams working around the clock to ensure that the slopes are safe and well-maintained.
  7. Skiing in Japan is also a great way to experience the country's rich culture and history, with many resorts located near traditional towns and hot springs that offer a glimpse into Japan's past.

  1. Japan Ski Experience: This website offers a comprehensive guide to skiing in Japan, including information on resorts, accommodation, and transportation options.
  2. Ski Japan: This website provides detailed information on skiing in Japan, including resort reviews, snow reports, and travel tips.
  3. Japan National Tourism Organization: This official tourism website for Japan provides information on skiing in Japan, as well as other travel-related topics.
  4. Snow Japan: This website provides detailed snow reports and resort information for ski areas throughout Japan.