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Japans Best Ski Resorts

Japan’s Best Ski Resorts

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Japan is easily one of the best skiing destinations on the planet, famous for its quantity and quality powder snow falling across the countries’ vast number of ski resorts. International riders return year after year making the most of the deep powder snow, stunning culture and traditional food. We’ll help you to discover the best ski resorts in Japan.

In general, Japan’s ski resorts are not nearly as cold as other northern hemisphere ski resorts with temperatures only reaching around -10c to -15c at most ski resorts, which is quite mild when compared to temperatures overseas. Most ski resorts are also at quite low altitudes, so there is no chance of altitude sickness or acclimatization. On top of that, Japan’s ski resorts receive some of the biggest snowfalls in the world, giving riders access to world-class powder found nowhere else on earth.

Best Ski Resorts in Japan

What are the best ski resorts in Japan?

  • Niseko
  • Hakuba
  • Rusutsu
  • Furano
  • Nozawa Onsen
  • Kiroro
  • Tomamu
  • Myoko Kogen
  • Shiga Kogen
  • Naeba
  • Arai
  • Madarao

Niseko

The undisputed “powder capital of Japan”, Niseko United, receives some of the most consistent snowfalls in all of Japan. The snow that falls here is said to be the best quality powder snow in the world, famed for its light and dry qualities. Niseko is composed of 4 ski resorts, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, and An’nupuri, all linked together and accessible by one lift pass, creating a large and diverse ski area.

Off-piste, tree skiing and backcountry skiing here is some of the best and most easily accessible in Japan, with a well-established gate-entry system offering riders freedom to explore the area.

Niseko is also famous for its lively village atmosphere, great restaurants and bars with most located in Hirafu Village at the base of Grand Hirafu ski resort. Most Niseko accommodation, shops and services are located here as well, including NBS rental and ski school. The other three resorts also have a growing number of accommodation, facilities and shops. This ski resort is consistantly rated as one of best ski resorts in Japan.

  • Niseko is 2.5 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • Consistent, reliable, good quality snow
  • Lively village atmosphere & nightlife
  • Range of Niseko accommodation options
  • Excellent off-piste skiing on top of a sizeable on-piste area

Hakuba

With 10 different ski resorts all accessible via one lift pass, Hakuba is one of the largest combined ski areas in Japan. Each ski resort is accessible by shuttle which is free for holders of the All Mountain lift pass. The biggest ski resorts within Hakuba are Happo-One, Hakuba Goryu47, Tsugaike Kogen and Cortina.

Hakuba is known for its variety of terrain which caters for both beginners and experts. Riders can access backcountry terrain from the top of Happo-One, offering expert skiers world-class backcountry riding on some of the biggest mountains in Japan.

There is a range of accommodation styles including the affordable Hakuba Gateway Hotel, and the chic, newly developed Grand Phenix Hakuba, as well as many restaurants and shops. There are several villages which are spread out around the bases of the ski resorts with the most prominent village area, “Happo”, at the base of the Happo-One ski resort.

  • Hakuba is 5 hours from Narita intl. airport and 3 hours from Tokyo station
  • Big ski area
  • 10 Ski Resorts
  • Long runs with steep sections for advanced riders
  • World-class backcountry terrain (expert only)
  • Close to cultural experiences
  • Lively village and nightlife
  • Watch: How to get to Hakuba

Rusutsu

Rusutsu Resort is one of Japan’s best ‘all-in-one’ ski resorts, winning “Japan’s Best Ski Resort” in 2017 and 2018 at the World Ski Awards. The resort has high-quality ski runs and tree skiing, excellent restaurants, two hotels and a brand new onsen facility.

The ski area is divided into two sides, West Mountain and East Mountain which are linked by a gondola. West Mountain has a handful of runs but includes the world-renowned “Side Country Park”, which has jumps, drops and log-rides all made from natural materials built into the forest. The East Mountain is much larger with lots of tree runs and long groomed runs. Rusutsu is an absolute favourite for powder hounds with snowfall almost rivalling that of Niseko which is just 45 minutes away.

There are two central hotels – the “Rusutsu Resort Hotel“, located at the base of the West Mountain ski area, and the “Westin Rusutsu Resort“, located on the East Mountain side. A short monorail ride links both hotels so guests can easily access either side without really having to leave the hotel. Rusutsu Resort Hotel has several restaurants including “Octoberfest” which has a great buffet breakfast and dinner (highly recommended), as well as an arcade, merry-go-round, swimming pool, and many shops. Westin Rusutsu Resort Hotel has two restaurants, an onsen and a fitness studio. There are affordable villas and houses available close to the resort as well.

  • Rusutsu is 2 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • An all-inclusive, self-contained resort
  • Great tree skiing and powder runs
  • Mostly hotel accommodation
  • Arcade, Merry-go-round
  • New Onsen facilities

Best Ski Resorts in Japan - Rusutsu

Furano

The ski resort of Furano is known for its stunning powder runs, ski-in ski-out hotels, and thriving town. The ski area has 24 runs, six backcountry access gates, two hotels at the resort and famously receives some of the lightest and driest snow in the world.

Furano is made up of two ski areas, “The Kitanomine Zone” and the “Furano Zone”, which are connected by a lift and ski run. The Furano Zone has a large ropeway style gondola which departs every 10 minutes as well as four other chairlifts and provides access to four out of the six backcountry gates. The Kitanomine Zone has a six-passenger gondola that runs right to the top of the resort as well as four-seater chairlift on the mid slopes.

There are many runs for beginners and intermediate riders on the middle slopes with some of the best powder skiing in Japan on the upper sections of the resort for advanced and expert riders. This mix of runs and terrain makes Furano one of the few resorts that cater for both experts and beginners. Both zones in Furano also offer night skiing on the middle and lower runs till 8 pm.

  • Furano is around 2 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • Large Town a few minutes from the ski resort
  • Excellent groomed runs
  • Great off-piste and powder runs
  • Good resort for both experts and beginners

Nozawa Onsen

The ski resort of Nozawa Onsen is a beautiful mix of Japanese culture and world-class skiing. The town is lively with many accommodations, restaurants, onsens, bars and cafes. The onsens in the village are a major attraction with over 13 easily accessible facilities right in town.

The ski resort itself is quite large with a generous mix of terrain. The backcountry is world-class with easy access around the resort and mountains, and there is an active local community of backcountry enthusiasts. It’s easy to see why Nozawa Onsen is becoming increasingly popular, with great skiing in a truly traditional Japanese town.

  • Nozawa Onsen is 4.5 hours from Narita Airport
  • Many historical onsens
  • Easy to soak in the Japanese culture
  • Excellent backcountry terrain
  • A traditional Japanese village atmosphere
  • Many options for accommodation

Best Ski Resorts in Japan - Nozawa OnsenKiroro

The second self-contained resort on this list, Kiroro, is known for its quantity and quality of powder snow, receiving some of the most snowfall of any resort in Japan. The resort has two hotels, as well as large apartments. The long, groomed runs are immaculate and soft, perfect for beginners and intermediate riders. There is also a “powder zone” for progressing to full powder skiing.

Kiroro also has backcountry access gates, offering a wide variety of deep powder terrain. The backcountry powder runs are short, but since the area is so vast, it’s possible to get fresh tracks each run. To access the gates, guests must sign up at the mountain centre desk in the ticket office at the start of the day.

  • Kiroro is 2 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • Not close to the local town
  • Self-contained resort
  • Wide area
  • Excellent powder snow

Kiroro Ski ResortTomamu

Tomamu ski resort is one of the best family-friendly resorts in Japan, located just 90 minutes from Sapporo New Chitose Airport. This self-contained resort has a mix of beginner and intermediate runs, with some advanced off-piste areas near the top of the resort. There is also a cat skiing operation accessing high-level terrain and fresh powder runs.

The resort has a large indoor, heated swimming area called “Mina-Mina Beach”, a cute ice village, snowmobiles, snow rafting and many more on and off-snow activities. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is one of the best (and most comfortable) options for a family-friendly winter holiday in Japan.

  • Tomamu is 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport
  • Self-contained resort
  • Primarily beginner and intermediate terrain with some advanced areas
  • Excellent quality accommodation
  • One of the best family resorts
  • No local town
  • Many restaurants at the resort

Hoshino Tomamu Ski ResortMyoko Kogen

The historical ski resort of Myoko Kogen is one of the oldest ski resorts in all of Japan and is composed of three main ski areas (linked together by shuttle bus) offering some of the longest ski runs in Japan as well as some of the steepest. Intermediate and beginners also have a wide variety of terrain for efficient progression. Despite the age of the ski resort, the 40 lifts and resort facilities are relatively modern.

Myoko Kogen is known for its relaxed village atmosphere, with most accommodations located in “Akakura Village”. There are many restaurants, including izakayas, burger shops, cafes, bars and more.

  • Myoko Kogen is 4.5 hours from Narita Airport (Tokyo)
  • Historical ski area
  • Many long and steep ski runs
  • Relaxed, Japanese village atmosphere
  • Many options for accommodation

Myoko KogenShiga Kogen

One of the largest ski areas in Japan is Shiga Kogen, comprising of 18 interlinked ski resorts which are all accessible with a single lift pass. There is varied terrain, with mostly intermediate and beginner runs with several advanced runs. The powder snow is good, and there are some excellent un-groomed runs across some of the ski areas. For travellers looking for varied terrain, this is one of the best ski resorts in Japan.

There are many hotels around the base of the various ski areas, but there is no single central village like at some other ski resorts. The hotels offer and bars, and it’s easy to hop from resort to resort even at night. Shiga Kogen is close to the famous Snow Monkeys, and it’s not difficult to access Matsumoto castle and Zenkoji temple.

  • Shiga Kogen is 4.5 hours from Narita Airport (Tokyo)
  • 18 interlinked ski resorts
  • One of the biggest ski areas in Japan
  • No single central village
  • Feels quiet due to the size

Shiga KogenNaeba

Naeba Ski Resort is one of the most accessible resorts in Japan to access from Tokyo with a travel time of just 2.5 hours. Neaba is a mostly all-inclusive resort with large hotels, lots of restaurants and modern services. The ski area is divided into two zones, both accessible via a single lift pass. The “Dragondola” is one of the longest gondolas in Japan at 5.8km long and links both sides of the resort. The main ski area, directly in front of the hotels, offers wide-open intermediate and beginner runs with some advanced runs at the top as well as two terrain parks and powder fields. The “Tashiro” ski area offers some more challenging routes with a focus on powder. The combination of these two ski areas makes Naeba one of the best ski resorts in Japan.

The hotels are very comfortable with a large number of restaurants and eateries on the lower floors. The nearby town of Echigo Yuzawa has many cultural experiences including a large sake tasting area, onsens and shopping district.

  • Naeba is 2.5 hours from Tokyo station
  • Easy to access
  • Two interconnected ski areas
  • Good all-round resort
  • Wide choice of restaurants
  • Night skiing

Naeba Ski ResortLotte Arai

This self-contained ski resort is one of the more modern resorts in Japan due to the complete refurbishment in completed 2017. The Lotte Arai ski area has a very generous amount of off-piste skiing in large open bowls, as well as a mix of intermediate and beginner groomed runs. This mix means that advanced riders can get fresh powder all day while those with less experience can develop their skills quickly. The terrain is generally not steep but is the perfect pitch for the kind of powder snow that falls here.

There is one central hotel with luxuriously modern rooms and services without the premium price tag. Guests can access onsens, indoor swimming pools, an adventure centre, various restaurants and lots of on and off-snow activities making Lotte Arai one of the best ski resorts in Japan.

  • Lotte Arai is just over two hours from Tokyo station
  • A large off-piste powder skiing area
  • Excellent services, rental & ski school
  • Modern hotel
  • Great for families
  • Great for powder hounds looking for comfort

Lotte Arai Ski ResortMadarao

The up-and-coming resort of Madarao has so far been somewhat of a hidden gem with mostly return guests making the pilgrimage each year.

The ski resort of Madarao is composed of two interlinked resorts, and has a generous amount of off-piste tree runs across both areas for riders to enjoy. These tree runs are what brings people here as the powder snow is consistently light and dry, with excellent terrain easily accessible from the chairlifts. There are many beginner, and intermediate ski runs as well on the lower slopes for riders to progress on before taking on the powder.

  • Madarao is 3.5 hours from Narita Airport (Tokyo)
  • Excellent off-piste tree skiing
  • Excellent powder snow
  • Quiet resort
  • Not much village atmosphere
  • Freeride terrain park

Madarao


Are you ready to start planning your Japan winter escape? Contact the experienced team at SkiJapan today!

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Japan’s Newest Developments

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Japan’s ski resorts are in a state of constant evolution, and every season brings new developments at many of them, exciting powder hounds and investors alike. Here are some of the latest and most breathtaking developments happening right now in Japan.

 

Grand Phenix Hakuba

Luxury accommodation is now in Hakuba with the opening of the Grand Phenix Hakuba. There are five elegant residences laid out over four-storeys featuring spacious rooms, modern kitchens, relaxing baths, concierge services, restaurant and bar. Grand Phenix Hakuba is just less than a minutes’ walk to the Happo Bus Terminal, and a short stroll to the Happo lifts.

Yu Kiroro

Kiroro’s first luxury condominium-style hotel, Yu Kiroro, will be accepting guests later this year for the 2019/20 winter season. The spacious apartments will overlook the resorts new gondola and beginner ski area, which are due to open at the same time. The project comprises two buildings and a total of 108 separate apartments ranging from intimate studio apartments to lavish penthouses. Yu Kiroro will feature a ski valet, onsen, lounge, gym and a restaurant and is now open for bookings.

Park Hyatt – Hanazono

Niseko’s biggest construction project, The Park Hyatt Niseko in Hanazono, is due for completion this winter in January 2020. The impressive structures will overlook the Hanazono snow play park, and guests will be able to ski straight to the lifts from the entrance. The Park Hyatt Niseko will feature 114 lavish residences with studios and two-bedroom apartments being available.

Hanazono 308 will also undergo a renovation adding a new kid’s activity area called “Galaxy of Kidz” featuring a ball pit, athletics area and a climbing wall. There will also be a brand new restaurant, café and bar located right next to the Hana 1 ski lift.

Midtown Niseko

Niseko’s developments are not exclusively luxury apartments, with the moderately priced hotel Midtown Niseko opening to guests for the first time this winter. The budget-friendly hotel offers both twin and triple rooms with an onsite restaurant, gym, reception desk and onsite parking. There is also a shuttle stop to take guests directly to Hanazono and Hirafu. There is also a new Lawson convenience store located right outside the development.

Rusutsu Onsen

The award-winning ski resort of Rusutsu has opened its brand new onsen ahead of the winter season. The stunning Rusutsu Onsen has a modern design with contemporary finishes. The Vale Rusutsu is also currently under construction and is due for completion for the 2020/21 winter season.

New Chitose Airport

New Chitose Airport in Sapporo has had a facelift with extensive renovations adding new gates, restaurants and shops. The Departures lobby is now greatly expanded, making check-in much smoother with additional counters, automatic check-in machines and smart lanes. The Arrivals lobby now has an information desk as well as Wi-Fi rentals and a Tours Desk. The SkiJapan.com arrivals desk is conveniently located in the Arrivals lobby to meet and greet all SkiJapan.com guests. The exclusive “Royal Lounge” has been overhauled with a modern ‘Made in Hokkaido’ design.

Capsule Hotels in Japan

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Originating in the late 70’s in the Umeda district of Osaka, Capsule Hotels were initially designed for commuters and drunken businessmen who had missed the last train home and in need of a basic, no-frills place to lay their heads for the night. These days capsule hotels have become part of a rising trend of quirky accommodation alternatives and can be found across the globe in airports in Amsterdam, London and Mexico City and cities like Singapore, New York and Moscow.

In Japan, most capsule hotels are located close to train stations in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto however are now spreading to resort areas such as Niseko.

First Class capsule hotel comes to Niseko

Japan’s luxe capsule hotel chain, First Cabin recently opened in Niseko for anyone wanting a first class capsule hotel experience on an economy budget. Rooms vary from sleek “First Class Cabins” for singles to larger “Premium Class Cabins” for groups and feature free wifi, digital TV and safe. The hotel also features a lovely hot spring style onsen and spacious common areas to relax in after a day on the slopes.

Handy onsite features include 24 hour front desk, restaurant/bar, ski storage and complimentary shuttle to the Hirafu ski area located 10-15 minutes away. First Class cabin is a fun and stylish way to experience Niseko on a budget and makes a perfect base for visiting the nearby resorts of Kiroro, Rusutsu and Sapporo city. Find out more via our website here.

These days, capsule hotels are more comfortable and convenient than ever. When visiting Japan, be sure to try Niseko’s capsule hotel for yourself!

Japans Major Resorts – Opening Dates 2018/19

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Winter is right around the corner and all the major resorts have announced their opening dates for the 2018/19 season. Make sure to mark these dates in your diary and stay up to date with all the latest.

Niseko

Hokkaido’s powder mecca, Niseko United will be officially opening on the 23rd of November 2018 but the opening date might be delayed due to weather. Once it does open the lifts set to spin at both Grand Hirafu and Niseko Annupuri. Niseko Village and Hanazono will follow suit shortly after with both opening on the 1st of December. Follow our Niseko Snow Report for daily updates all season, and Niseko.com on Facebook for weekly forecasts and local news.

Kiroro

Kiroro Resort is set to open on 23rd of November 2018, matching the date of Niseko. The mountain resort is at a higher elevation those nearby, so there might be some decent terrain on opening day – pending early snow falls.

https://www.facebook.com/kirororesort/videos/1576036059177193/?t=0


Furano

The central Hokkaido resort of Furano will open its main area on the 25th of November 2018, with the secondary area of Kitanomine opening in mid-December 2018. Furano is well known for its mix of excellent, steep terrain and great beginner areas.

Tomamu

Heading a little further east, Tomamu Resort will open on 1st December 2018 – a bit later than other Hokkaido resorts on the list. That doesn’t mean it gets any less snow though, with an average of 14 meters of snowfall throughout the season, rivalling numbers to even that of Niseko.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu in Winter

Calling all early birds! Have you already decided where to go for skiing and snowboarding this year? We have the answer – Hoshino Resorts Tomamu! Whether it's your first time or you've visited us before, we look forward to welcoming you here!

Posted by Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, Japan on Thursday, May 4, 2017

 

Hakuba Valley

Happo-One in Hakuba Valley are planning to open 23rd of November 2018 with many of the surrounding resorts to follow suit. There are some awesome deals for rentals in Hakuba making an early season trip much more tempting.

If this inspired you to ski in Japan, we want to hear from you! Enquire today and get started on your journey to the powder capital of the world. Enquire now!

The Best of Japan’s Early Snowfalls

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Winter is almost here and there’s nothing more exciting than seeing the snow starting to settle across the Japan’s resorts. Most of the major resorts have had their first taste of snow, offering a first look into the season to come. Here are our favourite pics and videos from around Japan!

Stay up to date on conditions this season by following our daily Niseko snow report, and Niseko.com social media for live and weekly updates.

Mt. Yotei becoming Snow-capped Once Again

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bpq-xs7gk2a/

Grand Hirafu Ace Hill – Puking like it’s mid-winter already

Roads are covered near Kiroro

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpGRT26gOXO/

Stunning Mountain Views in Hakuba

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpqmwXAACou/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Aerial Views over Happo-One

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"GOATの空飛ぶカメラマンへの道" 先日のフライト日和にパイロットライセンス取得後の初飛行! コンディション素晴らしく、高度2300m弱まで上昇。前堀善斗先生にA73で撮ってもらった写真をアップです。 まだ空飛ぶカメラマンとしては頭上に固定したGopro6のみが許可された機材。 これから撮影方法や使用機材を追加していくためにフライトを重ねます! 少しの勇気とアクションで、世の中はぞくぞくするくらい楽しいことが。長野県のアウトドアライフを楽しみながらいろいろ撮影していこうと思います! #空飛ぶカメラマン #絶景ハンター #GOAT #アウトドアライフ #outdoorlife #nagano #japan #paraglider #hakuba

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If these stunning images inspire you to ski in Japan, we’d love to hear from you. Enquire today to start your journey. Contact us here.