Japan Australia Pages

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Skiing in Japan

Japan has some of the best ski resorts and powder snow in the world.

The two best areas for skiing or snowboarding in Japan are Nagano on the main island of Honshu and Hokkaido, the island furthest north in Japan.

Nagano is only a short two hour bullet train ride from Tokyo, and offers some of the best resorts in Japan. It was home of the 1998 Winter Olympics and a fabulous place to ski or snowboard. Nagano’s winter season is December to early April. One of the highlights is Hakaba, with its snow laden peaks and valleys. Hakaba has deep winter snow falls and plenty of soft powder snow.

Hakaba image by sam.holtman

Hokkaido is about a 90 minute flight from Tokyo and was also an Olympic venue in 1972. Hokkaido’s winter season is November to early April with some ski resorts still having snow until early May. Sapporo is the cosmopolitan main city on Hokkaido, but does not get a lot of snow until early December. The best places are ski resorts like Niseko, Furano, Rusutsu and Kiroro.

Niseko is probably the best ski resort in Hokkaido and can be reached either by bus or a picturesque train journey through beautiful winter landscapes. Niseko is exactly what you would expect a Japanese ski village to be. It is a blend of traditional Japanese houses and environment with modern touches such as traffic lights, apartments and hotels. The skiing in Niseko is first class, featuring deep snow, long runs and soft powder snow. Day tickets are cheap, usually about half of what you would pay in Australia and with no long lift queues as there are 43 lifts.

Niseko image by msphotopdx

Check out some of the other skiing hotspots in Hokkaido

Lift pass usually range in price from 3000 yen ($37 USD) to 4500 yen ($55 USD) a day. Ski gear and clothing can be hired at most resorts.


  1. For us, the best and most accessible ski resort would be Gala Yuzawa. A ski resort right in frnt of the train station! Foreigners friendly too. ^^

  2. Since I'm from sunny South Africa, all this white stuff is just magic to me! I can't ski, but one of the best winter experiences in Japan is an outdoors onsen while it's snowing! :)

  3. Thanks Lina, Yes, Niigata Prefecture is also a great spot for skiing in Japan and would be next on my list for places to visit in japan for skiing and snowboarding :)

    Thanks Rurousha, I'm exactly the same as you. The first time I ever saw snow was in Japan. I love the onesens in Gifu and Takayama in winter as like you said you can enjoy them while it's snowing :)

  4. I've never been to Nagano before. In your opinion which is better, Nagano or Hokkaido? I've found Hokkaido pretty hard to beat (for powder) so far anywhere around the world.

  5. Thanks Ben, I prefer Nagano only in the fact that it is really close to where I live in Gifu and has a lot of variety. Hokkaido does have a longer season and more snow but is more expensive for me to get to. There are some good deals from Australia to Hokkaido as well and it is a popular spot for Aussies to visit on a ski trip :)

  6. Actually I think Niigata Prefecture is much better than Nagano and Hokaido.

    1. Thanks Eric, I wouldn't place Niigata above either Nagano or Hokkaido as they are wonderful destinations. Niigata does have some amazing snow and conditions and would definitely be in the top 3 places for skiing and snowboarding in Japan.


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