No winter trip to Japan is complete without a post-ski soak in an onsen. The traditional baths are an integral part of Japanese culture and are a godsend after a long day on the slopes. If you’ve never heard of on onsen, check out this handy onsen guide.
Rusutsu resort in Hokkaido has just announced the opening of their brand new onsen “Kotobuki”. The popular resort has been undertaking a modernisation of many of their facilities in recent times, including the construction of the new Vale apartments, as well as new services including running Hokkaido’s only Heli Skiing operation alongside Hokkaido Backcountry Club.
The luxurious bathhouse is beautifully modern with lush wooden details throughout the facility. The baths themselves are generously large and offer views across the west mountain. There are four separate baths – three inside and one outside. The inside baths consist of a 41.5-degree bath with calm water, a more mild 39.5-degree bath with light spa jets, and a cold 15-degree plunge pool. The largest pool is outside and features comfortable “lie down” spaces with headrests.You can take a virtual walk through the Kotobuki Onsen here to see yourself in Rusutsu.
With its good snowfall, a variety of ski resorts and long ski runs, Hakuba is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan. Being located just 3 hours from downtown Tokyo makes it a great place to visit for snow travellers. The main options for getting to Hakuba are a private taxi, shuttle bus, or train & Shinkansen.
Duration: Approx 4.5 to 6 hours depending on traffic
A private taxi is the most convenient transport option with great flexibility to meet you whenever your flight arrives at Tokyo airport. It might sound expensive, but in a large group, it can work out to be reasonable. Prices are around ¥15,780 per person one way (at the time of writing) in the most economical scenario.
Duration: Approx. 6 hours
Shuttle buses frequently operate from both Tokyo airports to Hakuba ski resorts and can be quite convenient if you have ski bags and luggage. If your flight lines up with a shuttle bus schedule, then this could be a great option if you don’t want to organise a private taxi. Cost of the shuttle bus is from around ¥9,900 per person one way at the time of writing and must be booked well in advance.
Duration: Approx. 4.5 hours
A little bit more complicated, but certainly the cheapest method is to get the Shinkansen (bullet train). From either airport in Tokyo, you need to make your way to Tokyo train station in the heart of the city (often a train is the best option), then get on the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano. At Nagano train station follow the signs to the bus terminal, and find stop number 26 and buy a ticket to Happo bus terminal in Hakuba. The total cost is around ¥12,600 per person one way.
Getting to your Hotel
Once you arrive, most Hakuba accommodation providers, like the Hakuba Gateway Hotel, will be able to pick you up, but make sure to ask in advance. SkiJapan.com consultants can arrange everything for you, and if you’re staying at the Hakuba Gateway Hotel, a SkiJapan.com van and rep will be there waiting for you.
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.
The third annual Mad Dog Jam was recently held in legendary Niseko, and was a success with a huge turnout and great conditions. This fun, community event is always a great time, with beats played by local DJ’s, and local Hokkaidog hotdogs all on offer.
This event is just one of many reasons to visit Japan in spring, so contact our team of experts to book your trip.
Check out our gallery of pics from this fantastic event.
The Hakuba Gateway Hotel is an affordable hotel located in Hakuba that’s a quick five-minute walk to Happo One lifts and is right next to restaurants, resort shuttles and public buses. The hotel has 18 comfortable rooms which all include kitchenettes, wi-fi, lockers and free laundry services. All guests staying in the hotel also receive complimentary breakfast each morning, and as of the 2019/20, FREE ski and snowboard rental from NBS Hakuba on the ground floor of the hotel.
Each room features two large beds, making for a very comfortable stay for two people. The rooms also have an additional fold out couch suitable for kids – should the need arise.
All rooms in the hotel are identical and face the Happo-One slopes which are just a short walk away.
The hotel’s reception is also a tour desk, so visitors to the area can book an extensive range of tours and activities directly at the hotel’s reception. Recommended tours in the area are the Nagano Snow Monkey Tour (run by Sanroku Tours), and a visit to Matsumoto Castle.
Rental & Retail
NBS is one of the most recognised and experienced snowsports & rental shops from Hokkaido, where they already have three established locations. For personal service and a huge range of skis all visitors to the area can now get Hakuba ski rental at NBS Hakuba. NBS Hakuba also retails goggles, gloves and outerwear, while upstairs there’s local retailer “G-Rally” stocking a range of outdoor products. For the 2019/20 season, every guest of the hotel will receive FREE rental during their stay at NBS Hakuba.
Physiotherapist & Massage
The hotel also hosts Altitude Physiotherapy; Australia’s leading snowsports focused physiotherapist. The Altitude team is led by Winter Olympic physiotherapist Peter Caine who brings more than 20 years’ experience in the snowsports industry. Peter and the team have worked with countless elite athletes to get them back on the snow quickly and safely. Altitude’s services include general physiotherapy, massage and consultation to help manage and prevent sports injuries.
The comfortable and warm Harvest Café is the place to go for amazing wood-fired pizzas and a range of a la carte dishes. This is a great place to hang out after a long day on the slopes while eating some of the best pizza in the area.
The Gateway to Hakuba
The once humble hotel is now undoubtedly a real hub for visitors to the area with tonnes of services all under one roof. Book your dream holiday and stay in the most central hotel in Hakuba with SkiJapan.com. Contact our team of experts here.
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, contact one of our experts 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.
SkiJapan.com has specialised in Hokkaido's best ski resorts for the past 20 years and continues to be Hokkaido's longest serving and largest inbound ski and snowboard tour operator. We can customise a package to suit all your holiday needs when travelling to Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Furano, Sahoro, Tomamu, Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen, Myoko Kogen, Shiga Kogen and Appi with packages including accommodation, transfers, lift tickets, rental and lessons, tours, and stopover options.