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.