8 Best Ski Resorts In Japan

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Image from Pixabay

Japan offers so much to the experienced traveler. The landscape is amazing, with scenes beautiful enough to match any other country. The food is famous worldwide. The cities are huge and exciting and contain every modern convenience and then some. And as if that wasn’t enough, Japan is becoming known as a popular skiing destination as well. If you want to spend your winter gracefully flying over the snow, there are some awesome Japan ski resorts that will help you do it.

 

Finding The Best Japan Ski Resorts

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Image from Pixabay

 

Winter in Japan can be magical. There are lots of snow festivals held all over the country, and the skiing and snowboarding conditions are amazing. Most of the major cities in Japan get snow, but you’ll want to go elsewhere for skiing. Fortunately, Japan’s transport system is amazing, and makes the most popular Japan Ski Resorts easily accessible.

 

There are more than 500 Japan ski resorts, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Most of them are around northern Japan, in Hokkaido and Tohoku. However, you will also find some along the Sea of Japan Coast in the mountains. Popular Japan ski resorts can be found there in the areas of Nagano and Niigata.

 

Winter in Japan is the same as for the rest of the northern hemisphere. The coldest part of the year is generally from late December to March, though some areas get snow as late as May. Exactly when you should visit Japan ski resorts will depend on where you’re going and what kind of skiing experience you want.

 

Here are some of the best Japan ski resorts to use as your home base this winter.

 

1.

Rusutsu

Japan Ski Resorts
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

 

If you’re looking for one of the quieter Japan ski resorts, then Rusutsu is a good choice. This is a quiet option, with not much nightlife around. So, if you want to party then stay away from this ski resort. Instead it offers deep snow, less crowded slopes, and versatile skiing to suit every level.

 

What To Do There

 

This is one of the Japan ski resorts that’s perfect for anyone who wants to do some serious skiing. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert you’ll find skiing at your level. The ski area is spread across three mountains and there are plenty of groomed trails for first time powder skiers. If you’re a little more advanced, there are also tree runs and plenty of back country to explore.

 

This is also a great resort for kids, who can enjoy tubing, dog sledding and snowmobiling. And adults will love the modern lift system, which has 4 gondolas and 5 high-speed chairlifts, so you won’t be kept waiting in the cold too long. 

 

How To Get There

 

Rusutsu is located around 90 minutes southwest of Sapporo and is easily accessed by car or by bus. The bus from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport takes about 90 minutes to get to the resort. Or you can take a 30-minute car ride from Niseko, one of the other great Japan ski resorts.

 

2.

Sapporo Teine

Sapporo, snow carving, winter festival
Image from Pixabay

 

Sapporo Teine is one of the best and most popular Japan ski resorts for beginners. It offers plenty of wide, gentle slopes and has some great options for experts as well. It’s also an easy day trip from the popular tourist city of Sapporo, so it’s perfect if you want to ski, but don’t want to spend your whole holiday on the slopes.

 

What To Do There

 

There are lots of activities at this ski resort for every member of the family. For expert skiers, there’s the Highland Zone, which boasts medium to advanced courses and off trail runs. Beginners will love the Olympia Zone, where the slopes are gentle enough for skiing that’s fun without being too scary. And for the kids, there’s a family park where they can go tubing or sledding.

 

Like most good Japan ski resorts, Sapporo Teine offers more than skiing. The upper area is over 1,000 meters above sea level and provides stunning views over the city and the ocean. 

 

How To Get There

 

Sapporo Teine is only 20 km or 12 miles northwest of the centre of Sapporo. This makes it incredibly easy to access. You can get the train from Sapporo to Teine Station, which takes about 10-15 minutes. From there, take the JR bus number 70  and get off at the ski resort. 

 

3.

Nozawa Onsen

Winter, skiing
Image from Pixabay

 

This is one of the best Japan ski resorts if you want to combine winter sports with hot springs. People originally visited this mountain village for the healing properties of its hot springs. And now you can enjoy a hot soak before or after your skiing adventure. The mountain village still retains its small-town feel too, which makes for a more authentic experience.

 

What To Do There

 

There are lots of things that make great Japan ski resorts. The first, of course, is the quality of the skiing. This resort offers reliable snow fall and trails that will suit beginners as well as expert level skiers. There’s over 50 km of pistes including moguls, a half pipe, and gentler slopes for beginners. The two gondolas also offer easy access to both of the main ski areas.

 

Out of all the Japan ski resorts, this is one of the largest and the oldest. It’s perfect for families as well, with English speaking instructors available to teach children or even adult beginners.

 

And once you get tired of the snow, you can always check out the onsen. Hot springs are highly valued in this village, so there are lots to choose from. This means that, if you get sore muscles after a day on the trails, you can always find somewhere to soak your bones.

 

How To Get There

 

This ski resort is located in the northern Nagano Prefecture, about 46 km or 28 miles northeast of Nagano. It’s easily accessible from Tokyo or other major cities. Just take the shinkansen to Iiyama Station, and then catch a taxi or the Nozawa Onsen Liner Bus.

 

4.

Shiga Kogen

Monkey park, onsen, Japan
Image from Pixabay

 

This is one of the best Japan ski resorts because it’s huge! In fact, this resort boasts the largest interconnected ski area in Japan. It’s made up of 19 separate resorts, with trails connecting them through the mountains. The area is full of alpine villages and it’s close to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, where you can watch monkeys having a bath.

 

What To Do There

 

This is the ski resort for any type of winter sport you enjoy. The tall mountains make for excellent snow as well as exquisite views. You’ll find a huge variety of trails to suit every ability level as well as some of the best back country skiing in the region. And it’s a little safer when you go off the trails as well. There are gates that point the way out of the resort boundaries and the idea is that you’ll naturally end up back in the resort skiing areas when you’re done exploring.

 

When you’re ready for something more, you’ll find amazing facilities at this resort. You can visit some of the many alpine villages in the region or head over to the Monkey Park, where you’ll see the adorable creatures enjoying the hot springs.

 

How To Get There

 

Shiga Kogen is easily accessible from Tokyo or other parts of Japan. It’s located in Yamanouchi in the Joshinetsu National Park. This is in the northeast of the Nagano Prefecture and around 250km northwest of Tokyo.

 

If you come from Tokyo, you can take a 90-minute train trip to Nagano or catch the special shuttle bus.

 

5.

Niseko

Niseko, Japan Ski resorts
Photo by Oliver Dickerson on Unsplash

 

Niseko is one of the most popular Japan ski resorts. The snow in this area of Japan is really heavy, possibly heavier than at any other resort, which makes for amazing skiing. There’s a mix of beginner, expert, and children’s activities as well as ski trails and lots of off trail skiing. In fact, there are actually 5 ski resorts all in one at Niseko, all of them with their own features.

 

What To Do There

 

Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular activities at this ski resort. There are trails that will suit every ability level and lots of pistes for families and beginners as well. The off-trail skiing is particularly popular at this resort. You can explore on your own or take a guided tour through these wilder areas.

 

One of the things that makes Niseko one of the best Japan ski resorts is the variety. There are five resorts in one at this location. The most popular is the Grand Hirafu, which is known for its restaurants, bars, and karaoke spots. So, no matter what type of nightlife you enjoy, you’ll find something to keep you occupied when you’re not on the slopes.

 

How To Get There

 

Niseko is only 100 km or 62 miles southwest of Sapporo. You can drive around 2-3 hours from Hokkaido Airport, or take the bus which will drop you off at one of the three major resorts. You can also take the train, which is a longer trip through scenic areas. It leaves from the basement level of the airport and you need to change at Otaru to get to Kutchan, the closest train station to Niseko. From there, you’ll need to take a taxi.

 

6.

Furano

Skiing, Japan Ski Resorts, winter
Image from Pixabay

 

Furano is one of the most popular Japan ski resorts for families. It includes over 25 km of groomed ski runs with a wide variety of beginner trails. The resort is located in central Hokkaido, so the snow quality is usually better than in other areas. It’s also close to the town of Furano, where there’s lots of activities, shopping, and restaurants to enjoy.

 

What To Do There

 

Furano is great for kids and families and includes lots of beginner trails as well as Family Snowland. This attraction allows kids to try activities like dog sledding and snowmobiling in safety. But expert skiers won’t be bored either. Furano is one of the steepest mountains in Hokkaido, which is why there are lots of advanced runs.

 

And if you get bored of the skiing, the town of Furano is nearby. It offers lots of shopping, eating, and nightlife options. The chance to get away from the snow for a while is what makes people think that this is one of the best Japan ski resorts.

 

How To Get There

 

There are actually two zones at this ski resort. The Furano zone is open from November to May and the Kitanomine zone from mid-December to late March. Both of them can be accessed from Furano town by shuttle.

You can reach Furano town by JR train no matter where you’re coming from in Japan. And once you’re there, you can catch the shuttle to the ski slopes.

 

7.

Kiroro

Japan ski resorts, winter, mountains
Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

 

This ski resort gets lots of powdery snow, so you’ll be practically guaranteed top quality skiing conditions. It’s also a less crowded area, with fewer amenities and accommodation options, but also a more authentic Japanese feel. And after all, isn’t that what makes for the most interesting Japan ski resorts?

 

What To Do There

 

There are very few facilities at Kiroro. You’ll probably have to bring your own skis, as hiring facilities are few and far between. But once you’re there, you’ll find 21 trails across two mountains, with the longest course at 4 km. Most of the trails are for beginner and intermediate skiers. But experts will find also find skiing challenges in the endless powder filled backcountry.

 

What makes this one of the best Japan ski resorts is the fact that it’s mostly ignored by international tourists. You won’t find much English, any nightlife, or lots of accommodation options. Instead, you’ll be able to ski across pristine slopes right into your hotel without dodging other skiers.

 

How To Get There

 

Getting to Kiroro can be a little challenging. It’s about 43 km from Sapporo and there aren’t a lot of transport options. The quickest way is to take the train to Otaru Station. From there you can catch the regular Chuo Bus from Stop 6 to the resort. The trip will take you about 95 minutes total depending on connections.

 

8.

Tomamu

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Image from Pixabay

 

Tomamu is one of the most upscale Japan ski resorts. The resort includes all the amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel, including a pool, restaurants, and hot springs. There are 21 km of slopes for all ability levels and lots of activities for kids as well.

 

What To Do There

 

If you’re looking for a luxurious skiing experience, this is where to do it. You can relax in the pool, or spend your time exploring the slopes. There are a variety of trails for beginners and intermediate skiers as well as expert courses and off-piste areas. And  you can go snowmobiling, cross country skiing, heli skiing, and snow rafting as well.

 

If you take your kids with you, they’ll agree that this is one of the best Japan ski resorts around. They’ll be able to play on the snow playground and take snow boat rides at this resort. And when the night sets in, you can head down to the Ice Village. In this area you’ll find a great bar, shop, restaurant, and wedding chapel in domes of ice.

 

How To Get There

 

The easiest way to get to this ski resort is by train. The JR train runs regularly between Sapporo and Tomamu stations. The trip takes between 90 and 100 minutes and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

 

If you’re looking for amazing Japan ski resorts, you’ll be spoiled for choice. All you’ll need to do is decide what kind of skiing you want to do during your trip to Japan, and then head out for an adventure.

 

Gayle Aggiss
I'm an Australian travel writer who's lived in China and Vietnam and is always looking for my next home. I write about places I've been and places I want to go and am always planning new trips based on the destinations I write about.

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