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Why you should do a ski season in the land of the rising sun – Japan

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Although Japan is becoming a hot destination on the planet, it doesn’t mean you have to explore it like everyone else does. Doing a ski season in Japan will shed light on the world’s mecca destination for powder.

Japan’s futuristic robotic scenes, peculiar culture and playful foodscape keep hungry travellers coming back for more. No matter how many times you go, there is always something new to discover, whether it be learning to wield the sword of a samurai or Tokyo drift Mario Kart style around the city.

Japan has it all!

It is a nation of contradictions, with a lively historic memoir remaining vibrant as it lives alongside new-age technology and advancement. A culture built on reverence, every action displays a culture of honour, respect and harmony that is encompassed in daily life!

But with incredibly kind, polite and hospitable people it is also the perfect and safest place for solo female travellers. Not to mention ski resorts are no longer the old boys club, with women on the rise crushing the winter glass ceiling. With fresh snow, adrenaline and high alpine air in your lungs, there’s no other empowering feeling than shredding a mountain all to yourself.


So, are you ready to take your ski skills to the slopes of Japan? Just picture deep powder, hot onsens, karaoke, snow festivals and many places to get your Après-ski on.

Niseko is known as the “Whistler of Japan”, it is located only a couple hours train ride from Sapporo city in North of Hokkaido.

Hokkaido is famous for the best white-hot chocolate and seafood in the entire nation. The main city Sapporo also hosts the annual snow festival from 31st January to 11th of February with some of the world’s most impressive snow and ice sculptures to be seen.

Niseko United is comprised of four resorts Hanazono, Grand Hirafu, Annupuri, Niseko village and is connected by local bus, so it’s easy to get around. If you’re deciding a base for the season Hirafu is the heart of Niseko! With a lot of bars, restaurants, shops and hotels it makes it a social hot spot, allowing you to truly immerse yourself into the larger passionate winter rider community and ultimately maximise your winter experience. But also, it is a place in which many foreigners describe as the ultimate winter-ski Disneyland.

“Despite being abroad you feel as if everything is westernised and accommodating it becomes the new home away from home, surrounded by polite and helpful characters. “ says – 10 year, U.K, Ski instructor Niall Folbigg.

Due to Niseko’s unique geographical location combining a large cold air mass from Siberia, moisture from the sea of Japan, sub-zero temps at sea and mountains rising off the coastline equals its secret recipe for phenomenal powder.

With deeper and consistent snow than neighbouring resorts like Hakuba, it also offers diverse terrain including huge powder fields, steep runs and vertical drops. There’s also the option of touring up the inactive stratovolcano Mt. Yotei or board through Rututsu’s abandoned theme park, offering a little bit of something for everyone at any level.

So, if you’re wanting a piece of this winter fairy-tale I recommend starting to apply for work in July!

 Some local job boards to check out include:

But personally, after trialling out half the mountain, Ski Japan and their ski school Niseko Base Sports was by far the best company with amazing management and great staff benefits!

So, what’s the advantage of doing a ski season in Niseko, Japan?

1) There is 12 to 15 metres falling in three months

2) It attracts more open and like-minded people from a diverse range of nationalities

3) The FOOD is incredible this is not an exaggeration, it’s cheap and maybe even beats grandma’s cooking, sorry!

4) Easy access to nearby cities and towns to truly immerse yourself in the Japanese culture – Otaru, Kutchan and Sapporo

5) Some ski schools will offer you free rentals, free ski pass and free lessons – no hidden schemes e.g. Niseko Base Sports

6) Multiple ski schools and companies, meaning more options for work to move around during the season if needed

7) Weekly events such as Rail Jam nights or Iglo parties – hidden in secret locations

8) Spacious night riding – most tourists are too tired to go by night, means more solo riding for you!

9) Most companies are highly organised helping with accommodation, transport, visa applications – you can thank Japanese ozendate (hospitality) culture for that!

Hot Tip: Download the Niseko App, it includes: daily snow reports, lift status, all dining and drinking options, ski maps, bus timetables, list of events, news

But of course, you are probably asking yourself about the language barrier, but luckily most ski resorts throughout Japan it is very unlikely to find a Japanese person who doesn’t speak at least a little bit of English. In saying that, learning a few essential phrases are always appreciated!

Working at a ski resort can seem like a large commitment away from the comfort of your home, but the best part is the incredibly social landscape. You will always be able to make new friends and for life, after all, we are all there for the same reason – love for skiing, snowboarding and oh, that perfect powder! There’s nothing like getting cosy ramen with your friends after shredding a day on the slopes, it’s one of the most heart-warming feelings out there.

But as a whole, every moment of every day in Japan is filled with new discoveries and cultural difference and utter surprises. So, although being in a completely new culture can appear overwhelming, in hindsight it is also one of the most exciting places to be on the planet.

So, what are you waiting for? 

Get your Après-ski on because you’re about to have the ultimate season of all time!

By Marika Suzuki
Find more at:

Courtesy of photos by Terry Tang – & Sean Hook –

COVID-19 Travel Updates

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What a year it has been. With assurance of health, wellbeing and safe travel in the forefront of everybody’s mind, SkiJapan are keenly aware that travel to Japan’s famous powdery resorts for the 2020/2021 season has become a distant hope.

In light of the unprecedented events which have affected the whole world, there has been a significant impact; on the way of life for us all. Very few individuals or industries have been left untouched by this pandemic.

There are also three common bonds the SkiJapan family share with our customers: we all LOVE Japan, we all LOVE snow, and we WILL enjoy it again.

These common interests we share for all things #Deep and #Japow-dery are still a wonderful escape for all of us, whether it be anticipating the upcoming season, or enjoying our shared passion vicariously online.


This year will be the year to dream of your next travel adventure! To help assist the escapism many of us are seeking right now – especially as more and more of you find yourselves at home for extended periods – we will be increasing our efforts to bring you all the best Japan winter photos, videos and articles through our social media platforms. Sit back, relax, and dream about those waist-deep turns next winter!

Follow us on Facebook

Enjoyed a trip of your own recently? Tag us in your photos – we’d love to see your adventures and help share them with snow-lovers world-wide!


We recommend the following resources for updates on the status of travel to and throughout Japan, and encourage everyone to prioritize the health and safety of themselves, their families, and their communities first.

World Health Organisation

Japan National Travel Organisation

Japan Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare

Go To Travel (Japanese Only)

New Hokkaido Style

New Niseko Travel Journey

Please reach out to us if you have any questions, or send us a message right now by clicking on the blue icon in the bottom right corner of your screen – we are here to help.

“Keep a Cool Head. Ski Wise and Stay Focused!”


How To Use An Onsen

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Natural occurring hot springs, known in Japan as onsen, are in abundance throughout the country and are a part of the rich culture.

Visiting an onsen offers the opportunity to encounter the beauty of the Japanese landscape and culture, allowing those who enter to relax and rid themselves of stress. Moreover, the physical effects of bathing, along with the onsen’s natural minerals, stimulate the body and are said to improve its natural ability for self-healing.

In the long history of onsen, Japan’s own hot spring culture has never changed, and in that culture, there are manners and etiquette that visitors need to abide by to ensure a homage is paid to those traditions. Onsen can be found all over Japan, including at many of Japan’s best ski resorts including Niseko, Hakuba, Rusutsu and many more.


Preparing for an Onsen

Grand Hotel OnsenMost onsen are privately managed and require an entry fee ranging from ¥500 – ¥1,500. It is also required to bring a towel, or in most cases, rent one from the establishment itself. There are two kinds of towels utilised when visiting an onsen. The first is a small towel which is taken into the onsen to help clean the body before entering the baths, with a regular towel remaining in the changing room, only to be used to dry once exiting the onsen.

There are separate baths for men and women at most onsen, although there are some mixed onsen like the Grand Hotel Onsen in Niseko. For females, head through the red door/curtain, and for men, blue. Once in the changing rooms, find an empty basket to place your clothing and belongings. Place everything in the basket except the small hand towel and any personal toiletries. Almost every onsen throughout Japan requires its guests to be completely naked. The small hand is for removing excess water when exiting the baths, but they can also be used as ‘modesty towels’ for those who wish to cover themselves. Ensure all jewellery and accessories are removed as the high mineral composition of the water can damage them.


Entering the Onsen

Entering an onsenOnce inside the onsen facilities, it is a requirement for guests to thoroughly clean themselves before entering the baths. This is so the water in the baths remain as clean as possible and not doing so is a sign of disrespect. The average temperature of an onsen is between 39-42 degrees Celsius. For those who aren’t accustomed to high temperatures or coming in from a cold climate outside, it is recommended to slowly work your way into the bath by putting your feet in first, then your hips and so on. Try to disturb the water as little as possible so not to disturb other guests. Heads are never to be submersed as the minerals in the water are both bad for hair and health if ingested. Regardless of the size of the bath, swimming is also forbidden. The small hand towel is also never to enter the water, it may be left outside the bath or folded it up and placed on top of the head.

Many onsen will have a variety of baths, so visitors are welcome to change baths as often as they like. Saunas are also commonly found at many onsen and are quite popular. Most visitors to onsen will typically spend between 20 minutes to 1 hour soaking in the baths, but time spent in the baths is at ones own discretion. Guests with tattoos are not permitted at many onsen in Japan, however exceptions are often made for foreign patrons. Some onsen will grant access if tattoos are simply covered with medical tape.

Exiting the Onsen

When exiting the onsen, proceed to wipe the entire body down with the small washcloth before re-entering the change room. Grab the larger towel and attempt to keep the change room as dry and clean as possible while drying. Make sure to utilise the free water stations in the change rooms as slight dehydration may have set in. In most cases, the onsen will offer yukata, which is a type of kimono that can be worn while utilising the brush facilities and hair dryers to get ready before getting changed. Return the towels and yukata in the designated box or reception, and enjoy the feeling of relaxation offered by these wonderful onsen.

Rest, Relax and Reap the Benefits

After exiting the onsen baths, many facilities have a relaxation area where you can unwind and wait for friends while enjoying a massage chair or a quiet nap. It’s a good idea to allow the body to rest for at least 30 minutes after bathing to allow the body to fully recover.

Onsen water is believed to ease neuralgia, alleviate muscle pain and the symptoms of chronic skin disease. It also relieves chronic fatigue and stress. Since ancient times, onsen water has been renowned for helping maintain beautiful skin. There is a total of 19 different types of onsen water which are classified by their mineral composition including; chloride spring, sulphate spring, ferruginous spring, sulphur spring, and aluminium spring. These minerals have long been regarded by the Japanese to aid in illness and injury as well as enhancing beauty. The onsen’s composition also removes the old cornified layer of skin, resulting in the rejuvenation of the skin. The water vapour also produces a moisturising effect.


Variety of unique bathing methods

Mud OnsenKeep an eye out for these unique facilities which are said to provide unique benefits:

  • Utase-yu (waterfall bath) – This type of bath features hot water that falls from a high location, relieving muscle pain through pressure and warmth.
  • Mushi-yu (steam bath) – “steam box” where the body is immersed in steam reaching the neck, or a unique bath for haemorrhoids that steams the posterior only.
  • Suna-yu (sand bath) – The suna-yu is a type of steam bath where the bather rests inside sand that has been warmed by chloride spring water that gushes forth at the coast.
  • Deiyoku (mud bath) – Deiyoku refers to a bath where the bather submerges themselves in mud that contains onsen components.

One of the most famous onsens which features a mud bath is Yukichichibu onsen near the ski resort of Niseko. There are a large number of mud baths as well as a great view of the surrounding landscape.

Step By Step – How to use an Onsen

  1. Buy a ticket and rent a towel set if you don’t have one with you.
  2. Enter either the men’s or women’s change rooms.
  3. Get completely naked and put your valuables in a locker. Leave your big towel with your clothes and bring the small towel with you.
  4. Enter the next room, find a shower stall, and thoroughly wash yourself.
  5. Enter any of the onsen baths. Bring your small towel with you, but do not immerse it in the onsen bath.
  6. Feel free to move between the different baths.
  7. When finished, we recommend a quick shower to rinse off minerals or chlorine from the baths.
  8. Before entering the change room, use your small towel to wipe off excess water from your body.
  9. Enter the change room and use your big towel to completely dry yourself
  10. Put your clothes back on (or Yutaka if provided) and collect your valuables.
  11. Return your towel or place it in the collection baskets.
  12. Exit the change room and enjoy the relaxation facilities. (Return your Yutaka when finished).
  13. That completes the onsen experience!


If you want to discover the traditional onsen of Japan during a ski trip, contact our team today.

Skiing in Hakuba

Skiing In Hakuba – The Ultimate Guide

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Skiing in Hakuba rose to its fame after hosting the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. The valley consists of ten resorts – Jiigatake, Kashimayari, Sanosaka, Goryu, Hakuba 47, Happo One, Iwatake, Tsugaike Kogen, Norikura, and Cortina. With so many different resorts and limited time on the mountain, it can be difficult to decide which resort to visit and which resort to miss during a holiday in Hakuba. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide for skiing in Hakuba, covering which ski resorts are best suited for everyone’s differing needs.

Skiing in HakubaLooking for family-friendly while skiing in Hakuba?

Goryu / Hakuba 47 – As the resorts are connected, Goryu and Hakuba 47 provide a whole day of family fun, as there are beginner to advanced runs, with the runs groomed daily. There is also a variety of terrain, with a terrain park at Hakuba 47 for those looking to practice new skills.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen is a great family-friendly resort with the inclusion of a terrain park and the Snow WOW activity area. Activities at Snow WOW include Amidas (3 layer ropes course), snow tubing, snow racing, snow driving, snow skating, fat bikes, toboggans and even paraglide towing to keep kids (and adults) entertained all day long.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka is a great family-friendly option with its recent upgrade in 2020. The views overlooking Lake Aoki are something that everyone can appreciate, and the upgraded terrain park provides varying levels of tricks to practice. Tree runs are also available this year, meaning more advanced riders enjoy thrilling powder runs, and dogs are even allowed on some runs, making the resort perfect for the whole family.



Looking for groomed runs?

Groomed runs can make riding a smooth and pleasant experience, with fresh corduroy tracks coveted after by beginner skiers and intermediate/advanced snowboarders alike. Whether practising turns or freestyling and buttering on a snowboard, a groomed run can be enjoyed by many on the mountain. However, not all resorts are groomed every day, so we would recommend choosing these resorts during your stay while skiing in Hakuba.

Goryu / Hakuba 47 – These runs are groomed daily so there will be no questions deciding which resort to visit if groomers are desired. The gentle slopes in Goryu are more beginner-friendly, whereas Hakuba 47 has intermediate/advanced runs that are more challenging – as well as having the best terrain park in Japan to practise tricks and jumps.

Tsugaike Kogen – This resort has a great variety of runs for beginners to advanced riders. While Tsugaike Kogen can be great on a powder day, the resort grooms their runs every day so that runs are smooth and avoid building up moguls.

Norikura – Norikura is great for families wanting to learn and progress together. The front slopes are wide open, making it great for getting photos and videos of every family member learning to ride.

Want to experience all the powder snow?

Skiing in HakubaJapan is famous for its dry powder snow, and skiing in Hakuba is no exception. Some resorts are better suited for those that are powder hungry, so we would recommend visiting these slopes for a fix of powder during your trip.

Cortina – Cortina is known for its powder tree runs. The resort is shaped like a bowl and therefore catches a lot of powder when there is snowfall. Because tree runs are the predominant runs offered at Cortina, these would be best suited for strong intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Tsugaike Kogen – While we recommended Tsugaike Kogen for groomed runs for beginners, it has some fantastic powder pockets on the top half of the mountain. First tracks are always smooth riding and can be waist-deep in the morning. There is also a designated Tsuga Pow DBD run which is perfect for those looking for deep powder.


Looking for beginner-friendly?

Norikura – Norikura has some of the best terrain in the Hakuba Valley for learning to ski & snowboard as well as progressing skills. There are wide open runs which make it perfect for beginners, and there are some slightly more challenging runs for progression.

Goryu – Goryu resort is groomed every day and has wide, gentle gradient slopes in the Toomi Zone (Escal Plaza) and Iimori Zone (Hakuba Snow Sports School) that are perfect for beginners practising turns, without picking up too much speed.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen is well-groomed and has two beginner-friendly runs at the bottom – Kane-no-naru-oka 1 and 2. Both are widespread with gentle gradient slopes ideal for learning.

Kashimayari – This resort is ideal for children learning to ski, with a magic carpet and hoops/slides. The resort is also much smaller than most other resorts, meaning there are fewer runs and variety in terrain – however, there will be minimal waiting for chairlifts.

Jiigatake – Jiigatake is a beginner-friendly resort located close to Omachi town (about 30min drive from Happo One). The resort is less occupied but has a lower snow depth to the other resorts due to the low elevation – meaning runs are closed more often. This resort would be suitable for a beginner looking to practice by themselves, as there will be minimal waiting for chair lift queues.


Want to practice your technique with mogul runs?

Happo One – Happo One has multiple runs targeted for mogul lovers, with the runs located throughout the mountain. Select areas on runs are kept ungroomed to practice these tight turns – including on Alpen Ridge, Riesen Grat Course, Central Course, Olympic Course I/II, Kurobishi Slope, Usagidaira Slope and Kitaone Course.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka has a specialty artificial mogul course which is very popular due to its strategic bump placement and continual remakes. This resort would be perfect for someone wanting to challenge technique with a great view.

Norikura – This resort maintains the mogul course almost every day, located under the No 3 High-Speed Chair Lift.


Love the terrain park?

Hakuba 47 – Hakuba 47 is known for one of the best terrain parks in Japan. This park has a well-maintained half pipe, ten kickers ranging from small to 20m high, jib rails, boxes and berms for beginners to expert park enthusiasts.

Tsugaike Kogen – TG Parks at Tsugaike Kogen is one of the largest terrain parks in the area, and is the highest altitude terrain park in the Hakuba Valley. The split locations of the terrain parks means freestyle enthusiasts have uninterrupted park access regardless of snow conditions. There are a variety of kickers, a box and a bank at this park.

Kashimayari – Kashimayari features Nakatsuna Freestyle Park including an iron ball, rails, bellows, boxes, poles and plastic pipes. It is ideal for those adventuring with park features as there are a variety of different sized features to practice on.

Iwatake – Iwatake has the “Love Snow Park” featuring a mix of items including kickers, wave, rails and boxes for beginner to advanced skiers alike.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka have updated their terrain park in the 19/20 season, with more rails, boxes and kickers for park enthusiasts to practice park skills on.


Want to get the longest runs possible and the most skiing out of your day?

Skiing in HakubaHappo One – Happo One has the longest run at 8,000m top to bottom, starting at the top of the Riesen Grat course through to the bottom of Sakka slopes. With a combination of steeper terrain to flat cat-tracks, this will give you the most riding time in one go.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen has a gondola that can take you to the very top of the mountain. You can then ski the longest run of 4,630m, and enjoy the comfort of the gondola ride back to the top again, and repeat.


Looking for a great photo opportunity?

Iwatake – With 360-degree panoramic views of Hakuba Valley and a summit terrace to enjoy these views at an altitude of 1,289m, Iwatake is a fantastic resort to take photos of the Alps after a snowfall.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka has arguably one of the best views, with the resort overlooking Lake Aoki. Photos featuring both the ski slopes as well as the incredible lake make this one of the most aesthetic resorts in Hakuba. Bonus if you find any dogs to take photos of while there, as this resort is dog-friendly!


Want the most varied terrain in your day?

Skiing in HakubaHappo One – Being the largest resort in Hakuba, Happo One has a great variety of terrain to choose from if varied terrain is desired. There is a mix of powder runs, groomed runs, mogul runs, gentle slopes, and off-piste/backcountry to explore in Happo One, that you could easily spend more than a day to experience it all.

Goryu / Hakuba 47 – With a combination of beginner-friendly slopes, terrain parks and more intermediate/advanced terrain, Goryu / Hakuba 47 are an excellent choice for a variety of terrain to enjoy during the day.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen has a great mix of beginner-friendly to intermediate slopes, powder pockets off-piste, a double black diamond zone, Snow WOW activity section for a full day of varied terrain.


A resort for everyone

With ten resorts in the Hakuba Valley, there is no shortage of options for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy the mountains as there is something for everyone – regardless of ability, desired terrain or location.

If you’d like to experience skiing in Hakuba we’d love to hear from you – contact the SKiJapan family today!

Skiing in Japan

Skiing in Japan

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Before the 1990s, skiing in Japan was almost totally unknown to skiers outside of the country but over the years, word quickly spread that Japan and its mountainous landscape offered amazing ski conditions. Japan is now recognized as the powder capital of the world, and for avid riders who haven’t already visited, it is at the top of their list. Let’s take a look at the top reasons to ski in Japan.

Skiing In Japan – The Snow

One of the best things about skiing in Japan is the immense amount of light, dry, powder snow. Japan’s famous snow is a result of large weather systems that form over Russia; frigid and dry winds from Siberia absorb moisture from the Sea of Japan, before dropping huge amounts of snow on the Japanese mountains. Most resorts across the nation average roughly 15 meters of snow per year, with some receiving even greater quantities. The country is also blessed with modest temperatures in comparison to European and North American resorts, with it hovering around a very manageable -8 degrees Celsius for the majority of winter.

Skiing in JapanWhat makes Japan even more special in terms of snow, is its unparalleled quality. When the snow is as light and as dry as it is here in Japan, the experience is enhanced. Also, because the snow is so light there is very little resistance as there is little to no moisture in the snow, it is easy on the legs which means even those with sore knees can ride all day long. However, skiing in Japan’s powder does require good balance and some core strength, so a moderate level of fitness is recommended. If you’re planning on skiing in Japan on stunning groomed runs, the snow is soft and amazingly forgiving.

The Food

For a lot of people, Japanese food might be an even better reason to visit the land of the rising sun. From convenience stores to Michelin star restaurants, the amount of delicious food is endless. Here are some of the most popular meals when visiting Japan:

Skiing in Japan - RamenOkonomiyaki

A popular pan-fried dish that is essentially a savory pancake whose base ingredients are batter and cabbage. “Okonomi” translates to “to one’s liking”, this is reflected in the range of toppings that accompany the dish, and you pick and choose what yours will contain – similar to a pizza party. In the majority of restaurants that specialize in this dish, the table comes equipped with a hot plate, and the ingredients come out in separate bowls, you then build and cook them yourselves! Dining at an okonomiyaki restaurant is always a fun and memorable experience and one we highly recommend.


Japan’s favourite deep-fried delight comes in the form of tempura. It is most commonly prepared by lightly battering a range of seafood and vegetables deep-fried in oil that consists of around 10% sesame oil for an authentic Japanese taste. It can be found in almost every Japanese restaurant and can be served as a main dish, side dish or topping for rice and noodle bowls. Popular tempura items are ebi (prawn), sakana (fish), nasu (eggplant), kinoko (mushrooms), kabocha (pumpkin) satsumaimo (sweet potato), shiso (perilla) and kariage (a patty consisting of seafood and julienned vegetables). If you’re visiting Niseko you can learn to cook tempura from master chef Masato Murata


Originally an import from China, ramen plays a vital role in the Japanese diet. There are over 30,000 ramen restaurants in Japan, with styles and specialties varying from region to region. The four main broth bases are; shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), miso (soybean paste), and tonkotsu (pork bone). Ramen noodles are made from wheat and are long and elastic in nature and restaurants may serve either thin or thick noodles. Each restaurant is different as far as the standard toppings that are included. In most cases, chashu (fatty slices of roasted or braised pork) will sit on top with a tamago (hard-boiled/soft/marinated egg). For a small additional cost, you can also add things such as extra pork, corn or butter to add creaminess and depth.


Another dish initially from China, gyoza has been adopted and modified by the Japanese. The most common gyoza is yaki gyoza. Differentiating from the common soft boiled dumplings found in China, yaki gyoza is pan-fried before corn starch and water are added. This method of cooking steams the filling of pork, vegetables, or both, as well as creating a crispy layer on the outside. Gyoza is commonly sold alongside ramen as it offers the perfect accompaniment to the soup.


The most internationally recognised Japanese dish is certainly sushi. It is widely found in all parts of the country and is exceptionally cheap to eat. The quality of the sushi, especially at sushi trains, continues to improve and also showcases the chef’s techniques. There are several variations of sushi available at all sushi restaurants. Nigiri; these are small rice balls with a topping laying across the top such as fish, shellfish, tuna, eel, squid, octopus and many more. Gunkan; small cups of dried seaweed are formed and filled with rice and a filling, the most popular being sea urchin and various kinds of fish eggs. Norimaki; the most commonly recognised variation of sushi internationally, it is sushi rice and filling wrapped up in dried seaweed sheets. Inari; inexpensive and straightforward, inari is small bags of deep-fried tofu stuffed with sushi rice, usually dipped in soy sauce or wasabi.


Several different alcoholic beverages are commonly consumed in Japan.
Shochu, derived from sweet potato and rice is similar to Vodka, and is traditionally enjoyed straight, but is more commonly served mixed with soda.
Sake, in Japanese, it translated to rice wine; however, contrary to popular belief, it is far closer to beer. Like beer, it is brewed with fermented yeast. Koji spores are dusted onto rice which converts the starch into sugar which is then consumed by the yeast to create the alcohol. It can range from dry to sweet and is served either warm or at room temperature.
A more recent addition to the Japanese alcohol menu is a wide range of excellent whiskey – Japan now offers some of the highest quality and most sought after whiskeys in the world. If you can get your hands on an in-demand 18-year it will make an excellent addition to any aficionados display cabinet.
Beer is Japan’s most commonly consumed alcohol and was first brewed in Hokkaido. Sapporo Classic is one of the most popular brands in Hokkaido, and there are many other different brands and styles in different regions across the nation.

The Onsen

Skiing in Japan’s deep powder, hiking around the mountains, gorging yourself in delicious food, or even simply travelling, can all take a toll on the body. A Japanese hot spring, locally known as an onsen, is the best way to combat sore muscles after a day of activities. These waters are the result of naturally occurring volcanic activity and are a source of highly beneficial minerals. Each onsen will vary in the exact mineral composition depending on factors such as the location and the path of the water before it reaches the bathes.

Onsens - Skiing in JapanBelow is a range of benefits these soothing waters boast:

  • Sodium Bicarbonate saline – for beautifying the skin
  • Chloride – retains body heat
  • Sulphate – for cuts & bruises
  • Ferruginous – for recovering iron levels
  • Sulphur – for high blood pressure & joint pain
  • Acidic Antibacterial – not recommended for people with skin sensitivities
  • Carbon Dioxide – for high blood pressure and rheumatism

The Culture

Japan is one of the most beautifully landscaped countries with a plethora of fabulous natural sites and breathtaking cultural sights different from anywhere else in the world. If you’re looking to add a little more depth to your holiday while skiing in Japan, there are several activities we recommend partaking in to immerse yourself in the rich history of the country.

Culture while skiing in JapanShrines and Temples

There are two main belief systems in Japan, Buddhism and Shintoism. There are both Shinto and Buddhist temples and shrines across Japan, sharing many traits, but they are quite distinct from each other.

Shinto shrines are the home of the kami, the Shinto gods. The Japanese people often visit these places to pay respect to the kami and pray for good fortune. There are sacred objects that are placed in the heart of the shrine where nobody can see them and the kami are believed to reside in these objects. Shinto shrines are also commonly visited by locals during special events, especially New Year, where they are visited to pray for forgiveness and enter the New Year cleansed.

Virtually every municipality throughout the country will have at least one temple as they are the place of worship for the Japanese people. Large cultural centers like Kyoto have several hundred. There are several common structures generally found at Buddhist temples:

  • Main Hall – Statues and other sacred objects of worship are displayed here. They have several different names in Japanese being; hatto, butsudan, amidado and hondo.
  • Lecture hall – Known as kodo, these halls conduct lectures and meeting are also held here.
  • Pagoda – Derived from Ancient Indian Stupa, these three (sanju no to) or five (goju no to) stories, symbolizing sacred mountains, were used to hosue relics or remains of saints and kings.
  • Gates – Marking the entrance to the sacred grounds, there is usually one main gate as well as several additional gates throughout.
  • Bell – Used on New Year eve, it is rung 108 times in correlation with the Buddhist belief of the 108 world desires that plagues man. By the time you’ve counted the 108th bell starting at midnight, you are seen to be able to enter the New Year fresh and without burden.  
  • Cemetery – Almost all of the cemeteries in Japan are Buddhist and resided at these temples. Japanese people commonly visit and pray at their ancestors’ graves throughout the year.

Temple in Kyoto - Skiing in JapanTo the untrained eye, Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples can look very similar. There are a few ways to tell them apart.

Shinto Shrines

  • Have a big red torii gate
  • Often have statues of foxes
  • Have a bell on a rope
  • Have a place to throw money
  • When worshipping, people will bow twice and clap twice

Buddhist Temples

  • Have Buddha statues
  • Roofs have tiles
  • When worshipping, there is no clapping
  • There is incense at the entrance
  • Have komainu – two dog statues


As the residence of the emperor for over 1000 years between 794 and 1868, it is the most historically valuable city in all of Japan. So much so, during World War II, it was dropped from the list of targets of the atomic bomb. Today, it is home to hundreds of shrines, temples, castles, palaces, markets and museums.

Tori Gates in KyotoSome of the famous sites you may want to visit are:

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Home to one of the most photographed locations in all of Japan, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is the entrance to popular mountain trails located behind the shrine itself. The entrance is a tunnel of thousands of vermillion torii gates that straddle a network of trails behind the main building. A perfect combination of Japanese culture mixed with outdoor adventure.

Kiyomizudera Temple

Translating to “Pure Water Temple”, Kiyomizudera is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. Its magnificent wooden stage stands 13 meters tall and gifts visitors with views of a seemingly infinite amount of maple and cherry trees below which explode with colour come spring – all with a sprawling view of Kyoto city as a backdrop. Throughout the grounds, there are a number of

common structures as well as a waterfall as the name suggests. This wonder of Japan was incepted into the UNSECO world heritage sites in 1994

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Designed to mimic the extravagance and wealthiness of the aristocrat circles of Kyoto during shogun Yoshimitsu’s reign, this Zen temple was originally his retirement villa. This remarkable building, situated on a large pond, has its top two floors completely covered in gold leaf. On a sunny day, it glows against the rising sun and makes for a spectacular view.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

The imperial palace was home to the imperial family for over 1000 years and it still to this day considered one of the most iconic sites in all of Japan. It is located amongst the attractive park in the center of the city; Kyoto Gyoen. Now available to explore without the need to book a tour, it is a must-see when visiting Kyoto.

Sumo Wrestling

One of the most famous Japanese sports is sumo wrestling. The exact of the origin of the sport is unclear, dating back 1500 years ago, it is the oldest known organized sport that is still practiced today. It is reported that it was originally practiced in Shinto shrines to entertain the gods. One legend states the gods themselves handed the sport down over 2000 years ago. Today, tournaments are predominantly held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan National Sumo Stadium with competitions running in January, May and September. This sport is highly recommended to watch while skiing in Japan.


For those who have spent time skiing in Japan before, you will be aware of the immense amount of care and detail go into the service industry throughout the country. There is a Japanese proverb “okyakusama wa kamisama” which translates to  “the customer is always right”. However, the Japanese people consider the literal translation to be “the customer is god”. This is evident through not only the politeness and care they approach each customer with, but small acts of kindness that make it special. Taxi door’s automatically open upon arrival, Shinkansen cleaners bow to passengers before frantically cleaning them, umbrella holders in arms reach at ATM’s. These are just a few examples of what to expect of Omotenashi, and is one of the amazing things to experience when skiing in Japan.


Since ancient times fortresses were built throughout Japan. The need for castles wasn’t until the 15th century when the country had fallen into a chaotic era of warring states due to the weakening of central government. When government was re-established in the 16th century, many larger castles were built on plains and small hills to serve as military bases offering a symbol of authority. At the end of feudal era (1868), many castles had been destroyed as relics of the past or were lost during World War II. None the less, there are many infamous castles throughout the country that are a sight to behold.

Matsumoto Castle - Skiing in JapanHimeji Castle

A perfect example of traditional Japanese castle architecture. Built in 1333 by samurai warrior Akamatsu Norimura, it has an astounding white exterior comprising of 83 buildings in total.

Matsumoto Castle

Considered the National Treasure of Japan, Matsumoto Castle is aptly named the “Crow Castle’ due to its black exterior. Residing in Nagano, easily accessible via the Shinkansen from Tokyo, it is unique in the fact that it was strategically constructed around hills and nearby rivers.

Nagoya Castle

Originally a gift to the son of a military governor, soon to be seized by a warlord, Nagoya is located in central Japan and during its time of completion in the 1500’s, was the most significant castle within the area. It was severely damaged byUS army air raids during WWII and has had many renovations over the years.

Osaka Castle

Standing at eight stories high, it is one of Japan’s most treasured landmarks. Built on top on the site of a temple and former imperial palace, the original structures caught fire due to a lightning strike hitting the gunpowder keep and causing a massive explosion. In the late 19th century it undertook massive repairs to appear in the 1955 film, Godzilla Raids Again.

Hirosaki Castle

It too had been destroyed by a lightning bolt striking the gunpowder room just over a decade after its completion. What makes Hirosaki unique is that it’s surrounded by one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in the country which bloom to life during spring.

City Life


Visit Tokyo While Skiing in JapanThe nations capital, world’s most populous metropolitan area, cultural hot pot; Tokyo has it all. From its grand array of shrines and temples, to the sleepless neon light littered streets of Shibuya, Tokyo has something for everyone. One of the main attractions of Tokyo is world-famous Disneyland. Established in 1983, it became the first to be established outside of the United States. Tokyo Disneyland consists of seven themed lands and can be easily accessed by shuttle bus or rail. There are an endless amount of activities available in Tokyo and we recommend spending as much time there as possible while on a ski trip to Japan.


Coming in as Japan’s third largest city, Osaka is home to the largest seaport and is considered as a vital economic centre in Japan. After taking a walk around Osaka Castle, consider continuing your Japanese cultural journey by visiting one of the city’s Shrines or Temples. Shitennoji, is a traditional Buddhist temple that dates back to the year 593 A.D. and is only a short walk from the nearest station. Osaka is also home to Universal Studios – Japan’s second-largest amusement park, with themed attractions including popular titles Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.


Hiroshima is the largest city in the Chongoku region of west Honshu and is the capital of the Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a city cemented in global history books as the first victim of atomic energy during WWII. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Hiroshima locals regained their strength, restored historical structures and now focus on continuing peace. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum offers a sobering reminder of the massive scale of loss which took place during WWII. Hiroshima also offers fantastic shopping, amazing gardens, and historic castles all accessible by the Shinkansen.

Winter Tours & Events – Skiing in Japan

If you’re wanting to take a day off the mountain, most resorts offer a range of different tours and activities you can partake in. The most common activities are guided snowshoeing, snowmobiling, heliskiing, cat skiing, cooking classes and more. The best way to organise one of these while skiing in Japan is to contact the office with the location of your holiday, and we can recommend some popular activities you’ll be sure to enjoy when skiing in Japan.

Snow Monkeys

Hakuba Activities - Snow MonkeysLocated in Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley), aptly named due to the volcanic origins and abundant onsen, live the world-famous snow monkeys. Located about 20 minutes’ drive from Shiga Kogen, watching the delightful wildlife languish in the hot pools is an unforgettable experience not to be missed. You will embark on a beautiful 15-20 minute hike through a forest of towering evergreen trees before arriving at the hot springs. There you will see numerous macaques bathing and cleaning each other in the natural hot springs. It is also easy to access the Snow Monkey park from Hakuba via tour bus, rental car or taxi.

Sapporo Ice Festival

Skiing in Japan - Sapporo Ice FestivalEstablished in 1950, by a small group of high school students who built a few small snow sculptures in the centre of Odori Park, it has become one of the most popular Japanese winter events. It is held across three sites; Susukino Site, Tsu Dome site and the main site; Odori Park. The event has several hundred smaller snow statues which are dwarfed by approximately a dozen massive spectacles. It is not uncommon for there to be a few full-scale sized mansions, completely made out of snow, some of which are used as the sites for live entertainment. It begins in the morning and continues until late in the evening where the sculptures are illuminated by colourful lights, making it far more picturesque. Scattered throughout the sites are a large selection of food and drink offerings to keep energy levels high while exploring this winter wonderland. This is one of the most iconic winter events, and is highly recommended when visiting Japan.


Skiing in Japan - SnowmobilingFor a thrilling experience like no other, snowmobiling is the perfect activity to get the heart racing. Essentially, a motorbike on snow, you can boost through a variety of snowy terrain from wide-open fields, through forests, and advanced tours may take you deep into the backcountry to explore some more exhilarating terrain and untouched lines. We do recommend hiring a guide with backcountry experience for this tour option.

Cat Skiing

Cat Skiing in JapanIf fresh, deep powder lines are what you seek, then you simply cannot go past cat skiing in Japan. It is an excellent way to enter controlled backcountry with experienced guides to ensure you have one of the best days skiing possible, while keeping safe. What makes cat skiing in Japan unique compared to North America, is the utilisation of abandoned resorts. During the ski resort boom of the 80’s where money was seemingly endless, a lot of ski resort were incepted throughout the country. The economic downfall saw a lot of these resorts become abandoned and now make the perfect playground for those able to access them.


Heli Skiing in JapanHeli-skiing is the ultimate way to access the mountains. Aside from enjoying untouched fresh lines of champagne powder from the peak of mountains, the views available from the flight deck are simply breathtaking. Heli-skiing in Japan does require booking in advance as well as only being offered by some resorts. Be sure to contact your accommodation prior to your arrival to enquire.

Skiing in Japan is an experience that you will never forget. It is home to the world’s best snow and offers so much more. If you are interested in visiting Japan for yourself contact us today!

Hakuba Ski Resort

Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

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Japan is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world. What you may not know, is that many of these are just a stone’s throw away from the country’s capital; Tokyo. This guide will help you understand which are the best ski resorts near Tokyo and provides great activities you can enjoy alongside your time in the city.

Naeba Ski Resort

Home of the 1973 and 2016 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, Naeba is one of Japan’s most popular and prominent resorts for locals. Situated on Mt. Naeba, the resort boasts four different ski areas with Naeba being the largest. Included in the all-mountain ticket is neighbouring resort Kagura, which is accessible by Japan’s longest cable car aptly named “Dragondola”.

The resort has a variety of facilities including locker rooms for day-trippers, gear rental, convenience stores and a range of restaurants including a food court. The main ski area of Naeba is accompanied by the enormous Naeba Prince Hotel which is home to over 1,200 rooms and 20 restaurants and bars! Reaching Naeba from Tokyo takes roughly 2-3 hours via the Shinkansen, or 3-4 hours via bus.

Operation hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm / Night skiing: 4:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Lift ticket price per day: Peak Season – ¥6000 Mt. Naeba / ¥5200 Naeba Area (Dec. 21st – Mar. 22nd)
Spring Season – ¥4800 Naeba Area (Mar. 23rd – Apr. 5th)

Naeba Ski Resort - Best Ski ResortHakuba

Arguably Japan’s most popular and visited area, Hakuba Valley is the largest ski resort in the country. The township is surrounded by nine world-class resorts located at the foot of the northern Nagano alps. As you drive into the town, you can see some of the remaining sites of the 1998 Winter Olympics that are utilised for training grounds.

Easily accessible by the Shinkansen that takes just under three hours, followed by a brief bus ride from Nagano. You can find a detailed guide on how to get to Hakuba here. It has become prevalent for tourists given its ease of access and variety of mountains that suit skiers of all abilities. Happo One is at the foot of the village and is favoured by guests given its large amount of skiable terrain including the picturesque 8,000m in length slope.

Lift ticket price per day: ¥6100*
*Each resort varies in operating hours and lift ticket prices. You can find all the necessary information here.

Hakuba Ski ResortLotte Arai

Arai is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets but set to become one of Asia’s best resorts for international guests, and is one of the best ski resorts near Tokyo. A smaller mountain in terms of lift capacity but that offers you access to a large amount of skiable terrain. With an average snowfall of over 15 metres, it is sure to quench any powder lovers thirst.

Accessible from Tokyo by the Shinkansen which is just shy of two hours in duration followed by a 20-minute taxi or you can opt for the free shuttle offered by the resort. It has a range of facilities including rentals and lessons, an extensive array of restaurants and many off mountain related activities. If you want to take a day off the slopes, Arai also offers wall climbing, onsens and pools, zip lines as well as snow tubing.

Operation hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm / Night skiing: 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm (peak season only)
Lift ticket price per day: Peak Season – ¥6000 / (Dec. 21st – Mar. 15th)
Spring Season – ¥4500 (Mar. 16th – May 17th)

Lotte Arai Ski ResortMyoko Kogen

Myoko Kogen is one of Japan’s oldest ski areas and is made up of three separate resorts; Myoko Akakura, Myoko Suginohara and Ikenotaira Onsen. It offers some of Japans longest runs paired with impressive vertical meterage. Located at the centre of the three resorts is Akakura village, where most of accommodation is situated. Myoko Kogen is rich in Japanese history, culture, as well as the sought after traditional onsens.

Getting to Myoko Kogen requires a little extra effort. Once you reach Nagano via the Shinkansen or bus, you will be required to either hire a car or take a taxi to your accommodation. Organising a private or pre-arranged share taxi is an excellent option to get you there in the most straightforward manner possible. These are also available direct from both Narita and Haneda international airports. The village also offers the standard facilities of rental equipment and a vast array of dining options in the form of international and local bars and restaurants in walking distance of the majority of accommodations.

Lift ticket price per day: ¥5000*
*Myoko Kogen has several different resorts with varying opening times and lift ticket rates. You can find more detailed information here.

Myoko Kogen Ski ResortShiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen is one of Japan’s largest ski areas, and one of the best ski resorts near Tokyo. It consists of a staggering twenty-one resorts, nineteen of which are interlinked and accessible via one electronic lift pass. Across the resorts, there are a plethora of slopes that cater to any level of skier and pending on the conditions, deep powder bowls. The area is also located extremely close to some of Japan’s iconic cultural sites allowing guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the country’s rich history.

The nightlife at Shiga Kogen is very low key. There are a few public restaurants and Izakayas, however, the majority of guests will opt to drink, eat and socialise within their own accommodation. There is a large array of services available, including equipment hire and traditional onsens. We highly recommend you have a rest from the hill at least one day and go check out the famous snow monkeys. Tours to get you to and from are available, and ensure your camera batteries are full because the pictures taken will be extraordinary.

Operation hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, times may vary pending on location
Lift ticket price per day: Peak Season – ¥5500 / (Dec. 21st– Mar. 31st)
Spring Season – ¥4600 (Apr. 1st – end of the season)

Shiga Kogen Ski ResortNozawa Onsen

As the name suggests, Nozawa Onsen is commonly recognised by Japanese locals for their extensive selection of onsens rather than the mountains. They have thirteen public hot springs that are available to the public, free of charge! In more recent times, it has become globally known for its world-class ski resort while still retaining its traditional Japanese charm.

The dining options in Nozawa rival the mountain and onsens as a key attraction for the resort. There is a vast arrangement of restaurants, izakayas and funky bars, (some with karaoke) perfect for celebrating after an excellent day on the mountain.

Operation hours: 8:30am 4:30 pm / Night skiing: 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Lift ticket price per day: Peak Season – ¥5200 (Nov. 23rd – Mar. 31st)
Spring Season: ¥4100 (Apr. 1st –May 6th)

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Experience the best ski resorts near Tokyo and contact the SkiJapan family today!

Drawn From Here - Poster

Drawn From Here – Award Winning Film

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Eric Pollard is one of the most recognisable names in in the skiing world. Eric is the driving force behind Nimbus Independent – one of the most respected ski film crews in the industry. Their latest film “Drawn From Here” is an introspective look at Eric’s life, motivations and art.

The film was awarded “Ski Film of the Year”, and “Best Post Production” at Powder Magazine Movie Awards, and was winner of the High Five short movie of the year. is proud to have supported this innovative and moving film. During production, Eric Pollard and the Nimbus Independent crew stayed in Niseko’s “Haven Niseko“, “Alpen Ridge“, and “Snow Dog Village“, as well as Rusutsu Resort. Read’s in depth interview with Eric Pollard here.

It is our pleasure to present “Drawn From Here”.

The Ultimate Packing Guide for a Ski Trip to Japan

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Travelling to Japan during winter will be one of the most incredible holidays you can ever have. The culture, the food, and of course, the champagne powder. It really is what dreams are made of. If you don’t already know, Japan is one of the snowiest places on planet earth, and the weather reflects that. Large storms accompanied by high winds and mammoth amounts of snow is not uncommon at the height of winter. Because of this, it is crucial that you plan accordingly to ensure your bag is packed with all the essentials to keep you nice and toasty for those days on the hill.

Through years of tough lessons, borderline frostbite and many wasted dollars, we have put together this guide to help you prepare for your Japan Getaway.

What to pack for a ski holiday to Japan:

  • Après Boots
  • Socks
  • Thermals
  • Mid-layers
  • Balaclava
  • Goggles
  • Gloves and Mitts
  • Glove Liners
  • Jackets and Pants
  • Skis and Snowboards
  • Ski/Snowboard Boots
  • Custom Footbeds
  • Helmet
  • Backpack
  • Snowboard / Ski Travel Bags
  • Hot tip accessories


Après Boots

Apres Boots - What to pack for ski trip to japanWith multiple of our guests approaching a season with the mindset of “my vans will do” who eventually upgraded to a pair of actual snow boots, we can vouch for the necessity of this item. Given the vast amounts of snow Japan receives from as early as October through to April, the ground will more likely than not be covered in large amounts of snow or slush. Wet feet in the early stages of a village stroll or on the way to dinner is the worst-case scenario and can be avoided easily by wrapping your feet in a mid to high calf boot.

HOT TIP: Those who are concerned about making a fall a part of your holiday; traction cleats are an affordable way to provide a little more grip to those icy surfaces.



 Socks - Good Items to pack for ski holiday in Japan

No, your old football socks will not cut the mustard! Leave them at home. Please. The golden rule in keeping warm whenever skiing or snowboarding is to avoid wearing cotton. Cotton is a sponge. Whether the moisture comes from outside or from your body, cotton holds onto that and you can only imagine what happens to that wet sock or shirt if its -10 with high winds. It freezes. With that being said, invest in some solid ski socks that are a blend of Merino Wool, Nylon and Polyester. If you’re a skier who suffers from shin bang, look for a sock that has more padding along the shin to combat this such as the XTM Half Pipe Sock.

HOT TIP: Although it seems like it makes sense, wearing two pairs of socks at the same time is actually very counter-intuitive. When you enter your ski or snowboard boots, the second pair will compress your foot and cut off circulation which in turn will impair blood flow and make your feet more susceptible to the cold and even worse, frostbite!



As the name indicates, thermals are the most crucial thing in staying toasty while you rip it up out there. It is recommended that you wear both bottom and top thermals, although some people who run hot may not always require bottoms thermals as there are no vital organs in your legs. Keeping your core warm is essential though, so be sure to have at least one thermal layering on your upper body. They too come in a range of materials and blends that will vary in overall warmth. 100% Merino wool will be the warmest option by far with polyester and polypropylene blends being less warm, this is generally reflected in the price point.

HOT TIP: When you are getting ready to go up the hill, make sure you roll your bottom thermals up, so it meets with the top of your sock. For skiers especially, leaving your thermals down and pulling your socks over the top creates a pressure ring around your ankle where your sock and thermal meet. When you do up your boots, it may not feel like it immediately, but your circulation may be affected, and throughout the day this can turn into a nasty bruise. We have seen guest’s holidays ruined on the very first day from this because it has become excruciating to put their ski boots back on.




Four of your five vital organs are located in your chest and back. If these lack warmth, your body automatically reduces blood flow to your extremities and in turn, you will become cold. Proper mid-layers are a sure-fire way (pun intended) to keep warm on those very chilly days on the mountain. To reiterate from before, no cotton! A polyester or wool fleece is recommended, they are also perfect to wear around the village at night when walking to and from restaurants and bars. The majority of seasonal staff primarily live in these things because of functionality and their just so darn comfy!

HOT TIP: If you really suffer from the cold and one mid-layer isn’t enough, you can stack another one on top to maximise heat. A common problem doing this though is the “Michelin Man effect” because there is far too much bulk on your arms. If you get a fleece vest for one (or both) of your mid-layers, it will increase manoeuvrability while keeping your core warm.




The $20 – $40 you spend on this accessory may go down as the best money you have ever spent. With the sheer amount of snow Japan receives, scarves or fleece neck warmers become this jumbled snowy encrusted mess that ends up making your neck cold. The bandana style that clip behind your head slips down within about two turns. The neoprene motorcycle ones that cover your mouth and nose make it impossible to breathe. A balaclava will stay fastened in place, with the ability to cover your nose and mouth if you choose. If you wear a helmet (which you should, and we’ll get to that), it makes the perfect accompaniment as a traditional beanie underneath can force you into buying a helmet that is too big or just feeling awkward.

HOT TIP: Buying one of these is the hottest tip we can give for skiing in Japan.



 Ski Goggles

Pending on your ability level and what kind of riding you’re planning on doing in Japan can affect what level of goggle you need to buy. For those who are planning on getting steep, deep during both the day and night, spending a bit of extra cash can go a long way. Most mid-high range goggles throughout the market today will come with two lenses. What lens you should choose is entirely based on what the weather is doing. Lenses are categorised by a VLT (Visual Light Transmission) percentage. The lower the percentage, the less light will reach your eyes. Simply put:

  • Bluebird days – VLT between 10-30%
  • Partly cloudy days – VLT between 25-50%
  • Snow-storm weather – VLT of 50% and up
  • Night riding – Clear lens with a VLT of 100%

Ensuring you have two lenses across this range will mean you will always have a lens that is appropriate for the day’s weather and you can decide on what one to wear before riding. Night riding in Japan is arguably the best time to go riding because the temps are low, that results in the snow becoming super light and dry. By purchasing an additional clear lens for night riding, although not a complete necessity, really helps you see as much as possible. For those who are just learning, you can usually get away with a low – mid-range goggle that has only one lens that will sit around the 30-50% VLT range.

HOT TIP: On extremely snowy days, it is recommended you take your spare lens regardless of the VLT %. All it takes is one decent crash to fill your goggles full of snow and being able to change to a darker lens quickly is a far better alternative than trying to navigate your way down the mountain visually impaired by fog and snow. Or even worse, no goggles!


Gloves and Mitts

 Ski gloves

 The age-old battle. Gloves or mitts? Gloves do provide more versatility with your hands if you’re continually getting things in and out of your backpack (such as your 6-year-old changing her mind about whether she wants a muesli bar or not). If those who are reading are like the majority of us and once your hands are in, they’re in, then you cannot go past a pair of mitts. Because leather boundaries don’t separate your fingers, they do most of the work in terms of heat and are the best option if becoming cold is a concern of yours. Additionally, you may be able to get away with a low range mitt without large amounts of high-tech thermal insulation because again, your phalanges are doing it for you!

HOT TIP: If you do need extra manoeuvrability but not prepared to sacrifice warmth, perhaps a “Trigger Mitt” is for you. These mitts have the index finger alone separated and can provide more movement, the Dakine Fillmore Trigger Mitt is an excellent option!


Glove Liners

Glove linersComing in at a close second for an all-around hot tip and a must have accessory is glove liners. These provide multiple benefits for users on and off the mountain. Apart from the obvious fact that it will keep your hands warmer on the mountain, they are also commonly used while walking around the village at night. “But I’m wanting to take photos of the mountain and taking off two sets of gloves could get annoying”. Yes, it can! Thankfully, there is an abundance of glove liners that are touch screen compatible, usually on the index finger and thumb. Even if you don’t require the extra warmth because your mitts are doing enough by themselves, getting a thinner glove liner with touch screen compatibility can save your hands when filming on the mountain. It does not take long for your hands to get immensely cold when taken out of that cosy mitt.



Ski JacketsA solid jacket will be your first and foremost defence against the ever-changing weather conditions here in Japan. Different styles are abundant in lengths, fits with varying warmth and waterproofing. If you want to explore everything snow jacket related, you can educate yourself here. In direct relation to Japan, there are a few key things to consider. Unlike Northern Canada and Europe, Japan in comparison doesn’t get that cold in terms of temperature. The majority of the cold comes from the high winds littered with giant snowflakes. Meaning, if a morning snow-storm ceases while you’re pounding a well-deserved curry and beer at lunch, when you get back out there and start moving, it can become quite warm if you’re wearing a highly insulated jacket. Jackets with low amounts of insulation or shells (jackets with no insulation and purely provide wind and water protection) can become a valuable tool. Pairing a shell with easily backpacked mid-layers can provide you with a practical outfit that can be suitable for a range of climates. 3-in-1 jackets are also popular given their versatility of having an inbuilt removable fleece liner. It is worth noting that many jackets have optional venting underneath the arms that’s good to keep an eye out for. These are an excellent bonus feature that can help you cool off quickly if you do get a bit steamy by the time you reach the bottom or after a 15-minute swim in waist-deep pow.

HOT TIP: Look for jackets with gaiters that keep your jacket fastened to your hands. These can become an absolute gem in deep snow conditions. They will ensure your jacket never rides up and snow getting into your mitts or gloves becomes an impossible scenario. A few of our staff cut small thumb holes in their thermals for a make-shift version of this!



 ski pants

Pants follow a similar structure as jackets but again, because there are no vital organs in your legs. Generally, pants don’t pack too much insulation across the board and are also available in a shell option as well. The main focus of pants is to provide you with waterproofing and breath-ability to keep you dry throughout the day. You can find out more about waterproofing and breath-ability here. Like jackets, many pants also have venting and again, are a handy feature.


Skis and Snowboards

 powder skis

Depending on what time of the season you will be joining us will heavily influence what hardgoods you need to bring. If you’re someone with a large quiver of boards or skis back home, then Japan is probably the best place to dust off the fat boys ready for the deep stuff. If you’re looking to buy one, we would personally recommend you get one that hovers in the area of “all-mountain”. If and when it dumps, you can then head into your local NBS store and try out one of their powder specific pieces of equipment.

HOT TIP: If you’re planning on spending time in Tokyo, Osaka, etcetera, before or after your trip, it is highly recommended you utilise a service such as Yamato Transport (Black Cat). This will save you the hassle of trying to navigate through the city (notably the tight train system) with giant ski bags full of gear. It isn’t too expensive, and from Tokyo to Hokkaido, it usually takes 2-3 days.


Ski and Snowboard Boots

 Snowboard Boots

Any seasoned traveller that combines both a sight-seeing and ski holiday into one who needs to travel light will tell you to rent skis, but having your own boots is a must. We have a multitude of staff who work in rentals and can vouch for this. A lot (and we mean a lot) of guests would find themselves spending half their holiday in the rental store trying on different boots because the previous ones were either painful or they were getting far too much movement inside the boot. Admittedly, 9/10 it was skiers because as we all probably know, snowboard boots are generally far more comfortable. Investing in a pair of professionally fitted boots can make the world a difference for not only this trip, but the next 10-20 to come if cared for properly.

HOT TIP: When storing those freshly purchased boots once your holiday has come to an end, ensure they are fastened as if your feet were in them and store them in a cool, dry place. Most liners of modern ski and snowboard boots are heat mouldable meaning (especially for Australians at the height of summer) if the boots heat up the linings can expand, and you can lose the mould you’ve just spent two weeks making.


Custom Footbeds 

These are not a necessity for everybody. However, if you’re someone who has particularly fussy feet such as suffering from neuroma or heavily pronating/supinating ankles, then these can be an absolute game-changer. They put you in a central position in the boot which can improve comfort, increase the overall time you’re out on the mountain and can also improve your skiing or snowboarding. They are usually quite expensive, but if it comes down to you being able to enjoy the entirety of your holiday on the mountain, they become priceless.



ski helmetThese are pretty self-explanatory; they save lives. The immense progress in technology has resulted in lightweight, sleek designed helmets that not only keep you safe, but warm! You can also get both wired and Bluetooth speaker inserts to call your friends on the hill and get those tunes pumping. It doesn’t matter who you are or how good you think you are, all it takes is to catch one edge in the wrong place, and you can end up in a hospital or worse. Please wear helmets.



 ski backpack

If you’re planning on heading into the backcountry while in Japan it is highly recommended that you complete an avalanche safety course such as Niseko Custom Tours. They can provide you information about the ideal backpack to purchase as there is quite a lot of gear associated with that aspect of skiing. For those sticking to the designated ski areas, a backpack isn’t essential but always handy to have for things such as storing snacks, spare mid-layers, goggle lens and the all-important water bottle!


Snowboard / Ski Travel Bags

Snowboard BagYou’ve got all this excellent gear, and now you need somewhere to put it! Gear travel bags these days can become the home to almost everything you take with you on a ski holiday. Veterans of travelling will often take just their board/ski bag and a backpack with them to make the travel part as easy as possible. If you are travelling solo, we highly recommend attempting this simply because if you can fit it all in one bag, it makes airports a whole lot simpler. If you’re travelling as a couple or with a family, you can usually fit all the pre-mentioned items for two adults in one bag if you’re a Tetris master and pack expertly.

HOT TIP: Get one with wheels! Sleeves are fine if you’re travelling internally in a car and avoiding airports. Once an aeroplane enters your travel plans, it is so handy to have one you can pull behind you. Your equipment, once packed, usually will hover around the 20-30kg mark. Trying to carry this around and navigate through a new airport becomes a very tiresome and stressful situation and can kick off your holiday in the wrong way. They are usually around double the price but trust us, it’s worth every cent.


Handy Things to Bring

Toe / Hand Warmers: 

These can be an absolute lifesaver if you haven’t opted for high range gloves or socks. They are very cheap and can be found at almost every retail store throughout ski villages. Simply open them up, give them a shake and within minutes you’ll have toasty digits for around 3-6 hours.

Lip Balm / Sunscreen:

Windburn on your lips is a genuine concern. A bit of pawpaw will be your best friend on windy days on the hill. When it’s sunny out, the snow acts like a mirror and intensifies the sun’s rays significantly. Make sure to keep reapplying sunscreen and always have some sort of eye protection in goggles or sunglasses.


If your phone has spent the majority of its life in a warmer climate, the shock to the battery in the cold environment can often result in the battery losing life very, very fast. Packing a Powerbank will become very handy on the mountain if you want those tunes going all day long.

Power Adapter / Board:

Japan has different power sockets meaning you’re going to need an adapter. Japans voltage is only 100v, so be careful if you’re planning to purchase some Japanese tech and take it home. This is an in-depth guide to ensure your new toy will work after your holiday. Our final hot tip of this article is to pack a power board from your home country. If you have a laptop, phone, Bluetooth headphones, camera, etcetera, it is always a good idea to try and squeeze one in so you can charge all your devices at once.



Now that you know what to pack, contact the SkiJapan family today to get your holiday underway!


Fresh Snow in Hokkaido

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The official commencement of the 2019 season is only days away, and we have been enjoying some much-needed snowfall that has provided the mountain with a solid base. Throughout yesterday, Niseko received 18cm of quality snow bringing the week’s total to just over half a metre and has coated the village in a beautiful white blanket. The opening weekend has been delayed,with the sun expected to show its face over the weekend, (possibly for the last time in months) which will provide arriving guests with a spectacular view of Mt. Yotei.

Snowboarding in JapanNiseko locals have been making the most of the snowfall, getting out on the hill before the lifts begin spinning. Shin Doi from Hokkaido Backcountry Club, and local photographer Chad Clark from Sea And Summit Photography, hiked up Niseko Village ski resort last weekend and got these shots. The pair spent the morning hiking up the resort through knee-deep powder so that they could get their early-season powder fix with some fresh untouched lines.

Snow In JapanThe nearby resort of Nakayama Toge was officially opened for the season last weekend, with Rusutsu  opening this weekend with Niseko, and Kiroro opening later next week. As the cold weather moves further south, so will the snow giving Honshu based resorts, including Hakuba, a taste of winter.

Contact our team and find out more today.

Best Time to Ski in Japan

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If you’re thinking about visiting Japan during the winter, you might be asking yourself “what’s the best time to ski in Japan?” With so many great reasons to visit Japan, the answer is more complicated than you might think.

The snow typically starts falling in Japan during mid-November in the north island of Hokkaido, with the earliest resorts opening during the third week of that month. Niseko, Rusutsu and Kiroro are usually the first of the big ski resorts to open to riders for the season, depending on the snowfall at that time. From December till February, the powder tap is usually turned on offering the legendary powder snow Japan is known for.

Best Time to Ski in Japan - PowderIf you want to experience some of Japan’s stunning winter festivals, the end of January and start of February is a great time to visit. The Sapporo Ice Festival is one of the best known, but there are extraordinary events all across Japan during that time.

March and April bring great weather with the occasional fresh snowfall, making it a great time both for in-resort and backcountry riding. All the snow from earlier in the season ensures the resort conditions are excellent right till the end of the season. Unlike earlier in the season, the clear weather means that it’s possible to get great views. There are also some great deals, so it’s possible to enjoy a ski holiday in Japan on a budget.

Best Time to Ski in Japan - EventsSo when is the best time to ski in Japan?

If you’re after powder, the best time to visit is January and February. For festivals, the best time to go is from late January till mid-February. If you want to get a great deal and enjoy stunning weather, March and early April is the time to go.


Best Powder January and February
Events Late December and Late January to mid-February
Good Deals Early to mid-December, March and April

If you want to choose the best time to ski in Japan, make sure to talk to our experienced team – we can book every part of your Japan ski holiday so that you get the best deal and service.