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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?
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
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
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
New Onsen facilities
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
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
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
Excellent powder snow
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
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
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
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
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
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
Great for families
Great for powder hounds looking for comfort
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
Not much village atmosphere
Freeride terrain park
Are you ready to start planning your Japan winter escape? Contact the experienced team at SkiJapan today!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spanish film crew “Abstract Films” has released their award-winning snowboard film “Shiro Movie” exclusively on SkiJapan.com. The film has been broadcast nationally on Spanish TV and picked up second place at the Niseko Short Film festival hosted by Niseko Tourism this year. Check out Niseko.com’s coverage of the event here.
The Spanish snowboard crew travelled extensively around Hokkaido filming at some of the best spots on the island. Kiroro ski resort, Niseko United and Rusutsu ski resort all helped support the team, which allowed them to get into some of the deepest powder imaginable. The team spent a lot of time around Niseko resort and in the nearby backcountry where they filmed some of the most breathtaking footage.
SkiJapan.com is proud to have supported this great project, and we are excited to offer the movie in an online, exclusive first.
Watch Shiro Movie below.
No visit to Niseko is complete without a visit to the region’s most famous dessert hub – Milk Kobo. Visitors from Japan and all over the world flock to this iconic spot to sample some of the stores legendary, delicious dairy desserts. The store is located in the quiet area of Niseko Village; just a few minutes walk from Snow Dog Niseko.
Hokkaido is famous for its fresh produce, laid back farm life, and dairy farms – and Niseko is no different. Almost everything at Milk Kobo is made in-house with milk produced from their very own dairy farm. The store backs right onto the very farm where the milk used in all Milk Kobo desserts is produced. It can be a little hard to see the farm itself (due to the meters of snow that piles up across the fields), but if you’re driving along the road, you can occasionally spot the “Happy Holsteins” (cows) as they nibble away in the comfort of their very own heated farmhouse.The most popular item on the menu is the signature “Choux Cream”; a crispy sweetbread shell filled with creamy vanilla custard. Each Choux Cream is made fresh and filled with just the right amount of cream. These can be a bit tricky to eat without making a mess – but that’s all part of the fun!Everything on the menu is special, but we have to mention the amazing cheesecakes. The smooth cheesecake filling is a perfect mix of sweet cream with a hint of savoury flavour for a balanced taste. These are also often available on Hirafu Zaka opposite Hirafu 188 during winter.
The Niseko Annupuri Ski Resort is the smallest and quietest of the four inter-connected ski resorts that make up Niseko United. It provides easy access to some of the best Niseko side-country terrain as well as Moiwa and is within close proximity to the Konbu Onsen area.
Made up of 13 trails and six lifts with a vertical drop of 890m (400m -1,156m), Niseko An’nupuri offers a variety of mellow terrain for beginners as well as some of the best side and backcountry access in the Niseko area.
Located at the base of the mountain is the An’nupuri Village; a quaint and laid-back village made up of an eclectic mix of lodges, pensions, chalets and hotels, all set in a tranquil alpine setting. The luxurious, private chalet-hotel of The Kamui Niseko perfectly match the natural beauty of An’nupuri.
One of the world’s biggest multi resort passes is the Epic Pass with offers at 69 resorts worldwide including two of Japans biggest resorts – Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu. Holders of the Epic Pass can receive one 5 Day lift pass at both resorts with no blackout dates. That’s a total of 10 free days riding in Japan – which is a huge saving for pass holders visiting both resorts on a single trip. With no blackout dates holders can choose any dates they want and possibly even have a stopover in the middle of the trip. The Epic Pass price is $939, and the Epic Australia Pass is $859 AUD.
The IKON pass is another North American based pass provider, offering access to 38 destination resorts across the globe. In Japan, this pass can be used at the popular resort of Niseko United. Holders of the Ikon pass can get 7 free All Mountain 1 day tickets – with no blackout periods. The Ikon base pass will get you 5 free All Mountain 1 day tickets with some blackout dates (December 26-31, 2019; January 18-19, 2020; February 15-16, 2020). Day tickets from either pass can be used either consecutively or non-consecutively offering great freedom for pass holders. If there’s a rare down-day in the powder capital, you can take a break and visit nearby Sapporo, or Otaru. The Ikon Pass is $949 USD and the Ikon Base Pass is $649 USD.
The Mountain Collective is a worldwide pass, with participating resorts in the USA, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Pass holders receive one 2 Day Lift Pass with a bonus third day at any participating resort of their choice, as well as 50% off all additional days at any resort. The powder mecca of Niseko United is one of the best destinations available on the pass, with no blackout dates. The Mountain Collective Pass is $449 USD.
Kamori “K-Winter” Pass
Rusutsu, Sahoro, Sapporo Teine, and Nakayama Toge are some of the best resorts in Japan, and it’s possible to ride them all with just one pass. Hokkaido based operator Kamori Kanko runs all 4 legendary resorts, and their offering of the K-Winter Pass provides holders with great flexibility to ride them all season long. Pass holders can get unlimited riding at 4 major resorts at a reasonable price, plus more discounts on additional lift passes, rental, lessons and even some accommodation. Pass holders can also get 50% off lift tickets at many Vail Resorts, adding huge value to the pass. The K-Winter pass is ¥74,700 for the standard pass, and can be registered for in advance (attracts an early bird discount) by emailing the company directly, or can be purchased directly at any of the four resorts.
Hokkaido Ski Season Net
The Hokkaido Ski Season Net discount system is one of the most underrated and underused discount system for Japanese ski resorts. Season pass holders at any of the participating resorts can get discounts of up to ¥2,400 off day passes, plus a huge number of other various discounts and bonuses. This discount system includes some major resorts like Furano, Tomamu and Kiroro as well as some undiscovered local gems like Kamui Ski Links. The full list including all discounts can be found here. Season pass holders simply need to show their season pass at the ticket counter at participating resorts to receive the discounts.
Niseko All Mountain Pass
4 Resorts, 1 mountain – it’s that simple. That is the beauty of Niseko United. Skiers just need one lift pass and can access all four resorts of Niseko United which are all interconnected. This opens up a huge amount of terrain and makes it feel like all four resorts are really one in the same. Niseko has some of the best powder snow on the planet, and great terrain to match – so it makes sense to have just one pass to access all of it. The Niseko All Mountain Pass is ¥115,600 making it one of the more expensive passes on the list, but with world class, high quality snow on offer every day, it’s not hard to make the decision.
Hakuba Valley Pass
The Hakuba Valley is home to 10 different resorts including the legendary Happo-One (host of the Free Ridge World Tour), Tsugaike-Kogen, Goryu 47, and Cortina. With so many great resorts to explore, you might just need all season to see them all. Happo-One is one of the best locations and the Hakuba Gateway Hotel offers This Hakuba Valley season pass is ¥130,000 making it one of the more expensive passes, but with access to 10 major resorts it actually does pose good value.
Rusutsu Resort, Sahoro Resort, Sapporo Teine, Nakayama Toge
Unlimited skiing at any of the mentioned ski resorts. Up to 30% off additional day passes, ski lessons and rental. Free access to lounges, ski lockers, bathing facilities, and more (for Gold and Premium pass holders). 50% off lift tickets at Vail resorts in the USA and Australia.
One of the most obvious and best benefits to booking a Japan ski holiday early is the savings. Most resorts and accommodations offer early bird specials with significant discounts for the whole season. If you want to ski Japan and save, make sure to keep an eye out for early bird announcements. For a full list of active great deals, check out our Japan deals page.
Availability and Choice of Accommodation
Japan is one of the top ski destinations in the world, and the hottest accommodations tend to book out well before the snow starts to fall. By booking in advance, you can choose the resort you want, with the dates you want, at the time you want – making for the best ski holiday of your life.
Book for the Best Snow
Japan is renowned for its great snow all season, so you can book a Japan ski holiday well in advance without having to worry. If you’re after the deepest powder, aim for January and early February as these periods often have the most significant snowfalls.
Time to Plan Even More
By booking in advance, you’ll have time to plan even more adventures on your trip. Japan is home to some of the most unique cultural spots in the world. Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka are just some of the best known and host stunning temples, shrines, mountains and more. Ask us about booking a stopover to one of these amazing cities during your trip.
Knowing you have your dream ski holiday sorted, you can now relax and focus on getting your mind and body ready for the best trip of your life. We can organise everything from your flights, accommodation, lessons, rental, lift passes, transfers and more.
For the best and easiest ski holiday of your life, the SkiJapan family today.
March is the unsung hero of the ski season, especially in Japan. There are no crowds, stunning weather, and the chance of some serious Japow (yes even in March). There’s also the sweetener of reduced rates on accommodation, lift passes and there’s so much more to love.
With so much snow falling across the island, Hokkaido’s ski resorts are among the best to visit in March. With a great snow depth, the snow cover lasts a long time right into May. There is also the occasional full-on powder day just like in the middle of winter – since the snow cover is already good, all it needs is a top-up of powder for some fantastic riding.
As well as good snow, there are some awesome events in some of the big resorts. Hanazono in Niseko is hosting Banked Slalom and Slopestyle events this year, and Hirafu has hosted some of the best park days of the season with events like the Mad Dog Jam in previous years. As the season moves further into spring, there are even more things to do in Niseko – check out our guide to Niseko in spring for more.
March also sees much of the crowds dispersed, so you can expect much quieter streets, less competition for booking at Niseko’s famous restaurants and a very relaxed atmosphere. The snow that falls in March also lasts longer with far fewer people getting out there to carve it up.
The Japanese Alps of Honshu are home to some of the highest peaks in Japan, but in the midst of winter, many of them are inaccessible due to the wind, poor visibility, unstable snowpack or frigid weather conditions. With March bringing clearer weather, riding Honshu’s legendary peaks starts to become more attainable giving adventurers the ride of their life.
With a generally high altitude, most major resorts in Honshu retain good quality snow up high well into the end of March and even April. Even with the sunshine expected in March, the high altitudes mean the temperatures stay low keeping the snow soft and light. Happo One resort in Hakuba Valley offers great lift access to a vast backcountry area with some of the best terrain in the country.
As is typical in shoulder seasons, hotel rates are quite low, and some already affordable hotels become even more tempting with significantly reduced rates. The Hakuba Gateway Hotel in central Happo is one the best choices with onsite rental, restaurant and massage. There’s also the Hakuba Goryukan Hotel which features an onsite onsen. Read more about the best way to see Hakuba here.
Some of the best places to soak in the culture are also in Honshu – Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka and Kanazawa are all easily accessible from the mountainous regions of Japan’s most central island. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is one of the fastest and best ways to get around Japan’s major cities in Honshu with affordable tickets and regular schedule. March is one of the best times of year to visit the cultural hot spots, with fresh, calm and generally clear weather making stopovers in these areas a great choice.
A trip to Japan at this time of year is a great time to see Japan’s famous “Sakura” (Cherry Blossom) trees in bloom. Japan’s southern city of Fukuoka will receive the bloom in mid-March, so there’s no better way to top off a trip to Japan than with cherry blossoms after a week on the slopes.
Japan’ fifth largest city, Sapporo is a clean, friendly and relaxed city where you can experience nature, great cultural and historical sites and amazing food! No matter what time of year you visit, there’s plenty of fun-filled activities to enjoy.
No trip to Japan is complete without visiting a traditional Shinto shrine, and Sapporo’s “Hokkaido Jingu” is the largest and most significant on the island. The site was first established in 1871, and enshrines four deities including the “God of Emperor Meiji”. Make sure to get yourself a fortune from the counter (English available), and offer a prayer at the main shrine.
Get the subway to “Maruyama-Koen”, and walk about 5 minutes through the park to access the main shrine.
Mt. Moiwa Ropeway
The most stunning lookout over the entire city of Sapporo with views right out to the ocean on a clear day. The 1.8km gondola ride takes about 5 minutes and is followed by a short 2 minute ride in a mini cable car, which reaches the summit. Return Tickets to the summit are ¥1,700 and can be purchased at the ropeway base. For the best views, aim to arrive at the summit for sunset to see the twinkling lights of Sapporo city against a twilight sky.
Take a street-car to “Ropeway Iriguchi”, and walk 1 minute across the road to the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway shuttle bus stop, where the free shuttle bus will take you to the ropeway.
Susukino Downtown Area
The central nightlife district of Sapporo, Susukino, is a hive of activity with hundreds of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and karaoke hot spots across many city blocks.
Ramen Alley, famous for some of the best ramen in Sapporo, is a hidden alleyway packed with tiny restaurants, located just off the main Susukino strip. If Japanese pub food is more your thing, try one of the many Izakaya’s in the area serving zangi (Japanese fried chicken), grilled fish and BBQ meat served alongside sake and beer.
Important Safety Tip: If you’re out late, resist the urge to walk back to your hotel – it is common for tourists to get lost and pass out in the snow late at night so make sure to take a taxi home after a big night. For best results, take a business card from your hotel with their address, and show it to your taxi driver.
Take a street-car or subway to “Susukino” station and walk south from the main intersection.
Sapporo Beer Museum
This popular museum celebrates Sapporo’s rich history through the love of beer with displays featuring antique posters and Hokkaido’s early pioneers. The red-brick museum consists of three floors and is free to enter and explore with the option of a paid tour. Visits conclude in the beer hall where guests can sample a range of beers, including “Kaitakushi Beer”, exclusively available at the museum.
From Sapporo JR station, catch either the 188 bus from stop No.2 on the north side or the 88 bus from the south side of the station. Alternatively, taxis cost around ¥800 from Sapporo JR station.
Sapporo Snow Festival
Now in its 70th year, the Sapporo Snow Festival is Hokkaido’s largest festival with three major sites. The main site in Odori is the largest with dozens of enormous snow sculptures across the entire park with food stalls lining the path. The Susukino site features intricately detailed ice sculptures set against the bright lights of the famous nightlife district. The Tsudome site is the most family friendly with huge slides and activities for all ages.
To access the Odori and Susukino sites, simply take the subway to the station of the same name. For the Tsudome site, catch a subway to Sakaemachi station and get on the shuttle bus to the site.
Sapporo JR station has hundreds of boutique clothing and accessory stores featuring up-and-coming designers, as well as high-end fashion brands. The upper floor even has a Disney store and a Snoopy store!
Sapporo Factory hosts most major outdoor brands like Mammut, as well as clothing and souvenir stores. This shopping hub features a large atrium and is located at the site of the original Sapporo Beer factory, which can be freely explored.
Tanuki-Koji is an undercover shopping arcade with traditional and independent stores. Drop into MOJANE snowboard shop at the eastern end for a selection of the best gear and locally made snowboarding videos.
Shugakuso is a haven for backcountry enthusiasts, with mountain maps, tents, touring accessories and more.
Sapporo is a relatively small city, navigation is straightforward with lots of public transport, underground walkways and taxis everywhere. If you are going to be using public transportation often, get an electronic card like Kitaca to simply tap on and off without worrying about purchasing tickets every time. These can be bought and filled up at most stations, and used throughout major cities in Japan. Note: Kutchan station does not use electronic cards.
There are a number of underground walkways along common routes to keep people out of the cold. There’s even an underground walkway all the way from Sapporo JR station to Susukino!
Taxis in Sapporo are everywhere and can be quite cheap to get around in if you’re in a group of four people. If the place you want to go is not near a subway or streetcar stop, stay out of the cold and jump in a taxi!
To stay in Sapporo and make the most of your Japan trip, contact our team of experts today.
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