Skiing in Japan
With powdery snow, hot springs, and over 500 ski resorts, skiing in Japan is a must for winter sports enthusiasts. The skiing season is from the beginning of December until the end of April, with the best conditions in January and February.
The best places to go skiing in Japan are in Hokkaido, Iwate, Nagano, Niigata, and Yamagata Prefectures.
8 Best Places to Go Skiing in Japan
Niseko is a popular ski resort on Mount Niseko-Annupuri rated for its excellent snow and beautiful views of Mount Yotei, a perfect cone-shaped volcano. Unlike other ski resorts in Japan, skiers at Niseko can enjoy off trail skiing.
The Niseko United All Mountain Pass is a combo ticket that gives access to four resorts: Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri, and Hanazono. All three resorts are actually connected at the summit, which allows you to ski between them. There is also a shuttle bus.
Niseko Grand Hirafu is the largest of the three resorts. The town of Hirafu is very foreigner-friendly with hotels, condominiums, bars, and restaurants.
The resort is open from December 5 until May 5. There are 22 courses and 12 lifts. Levels: 45% Beginner, 28% Intermediate, 27% Advanced. It takes about 2 hours to reach Niseko from Sapporo.
Photo by Lionel Leong / CC BY-SA 2.0
Furano Ski Resort has a 4,000 meter downhill slope and is said to be one of Hokkaido’s best ski resorts. There are two zones: the Furano Zone and the Kitanomine Zone.
At the base of the mountain are two hotels: The New Furano Prince Hotel and the Furano Prince Hotel. Both have easy access to the slopes, a shuttle into town, as well as restaurants and spas.
The ski resort is open from late November until early May. There are 11 lifts and 28 trails. Levels: 40% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 20% Advanced. Furano Station is about two hours from Sapporo Station.
3. Zao Onsen
Zao Onsen Ski Resort in Yamagata Prefecture is known for its snow monsters on Mount Jizo and its rejuvenating hot springs. Snow monsters occur in certain areas of the world where there the perfect combination of freezing winds and heavy snow occurs.
The best time to see the snow monsters is in February when they are at their peak. In the evening, the peculiar shapes are illuminated at the top of the mountain.
Hot springs were discovered in the area over 1900 years ago. The perceived health benefits attracted people all over Japan to visit, and villages began to form. The ski resort opened in 1950.
The ski resort is open from mid-December until April. It has 14 slopes, 12 courses and 38 lifts. Levels: 40% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 20% Advanced. You can get to the resort in 40 minutes from JR Yamagata Station.
4. Appi Kogen
Appi Kogen is a ski resort in Iwate Prefecture. The groomed and ungroomed runs have high-quality snow, beautiful scenery, and natural hot springs. At the base of the mountain is ANA Crowne Plaza Resort Appi Kogen (Formerly: Hotel Appi Grand) with easy access to the slopes.
The ski resort is open from early December until early May. It has 21 courses and 9 lifts. Levels: 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced. It takes about an hour to get to the result from JR Morioka Station.
Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture has a selection of ski resorts and hot springs.
Gala Yuzawa, Ishiuchi Maruyama, and Yuzen Kogen offer a combination ticket for all three resorts. From Tokyo Station, you can reach Gala Yuzawa Station in only 90 minutes.
Naeba and Kagura Prince Snow Resorts are connected by a gondola called Dragondola, the longest in Japan, and they offer a combination ticket.
Joetsu Kokusai and Iwappara offer a combination ticket.
©Nagano Tourism Organization
6. Shiga Kogen
Shiga Kogen Resort is the largest ski area in Japan, containing 18 ski resorts. Most of the resorts are connected and there are shuttle buses running back and forth.
One lift ticket, the Shiga Kogen All 18 Ski Area Common Ticket, is good for all 18 resorts and 48 lifts. The largest resort, Yakebitai-yama, has 14 courses. Yokote-yama Shibu-toge is the highest ski resort in Japan with an elevation of 2,307 meters at the summit.
The area is famous for hot springs and Jigokudani Monkey Park. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Shiga Kogen from Yudaka Station.
The resort is open from December 4 until May 5. There are 22 courses and 12 lifts. Levels: 45% Beginner, 28% Intermediate, 27% Advanced.
©Nagano Tourism Organization
7. Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort opened in the 1920s making it one the oldest ski resorts in Japan. The resort town is foreigner-friendly with many hotels and English signs, maps, and pamphlets.
Natural hot springs were discovered about 1300 years ago. You can visit more than 30 hot springs in the village, including 13 open-air public baths.
The resort is open from mid-December until the early May. There are 36 courses and 20 lifts. Levels: 40% Beginner, 30% Intermediate, 30% Advanced. From JR Iiyama Station, it takes about 45 minutes to reach the ski resort.
8. Hakuba Valley
Hakuba Valley is one of Japan’s best ski resorts. There are 10 ski resorts that you can access with one lift ticket, the Hakuba Valley Day Pass.
Hakuba Happo-one, the largest ski resort, and Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort are popular resorts in the area.
Hakuba is about 75 minutes from the city of Nagano.
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Becki and Shawn
Japan Travel Specialists
Hi, we’re Becki and Shawn! We love Japan and are truly passionate about Japan and Japan travel.
We’ve lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for 20+ years, so we know where to go, what to see, and how to get there. Join us in Japan for an adventure of a lifetime!