If you are fond of skiing and snowboarding, Japan is a great December–April destination for you. There are over 500 ski resorts across Japan. From the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern main island of Kyushu, there are large resorts with dozens of runs to small one-lift slopes. Coming to Japan in winter is a great choice if you want to combine culture with winter sports. Also, the number of overseas visitors, as well as domestic travelers, is a lot lower than in the other seasons. This makes it possible for you to enjoy some of Japan’s most iconic sights and best highlights in a lot more quiet season.
Winter Sports and Hot Springs
Many ski areas in Japan double function as hot spring resorts, leading to the particular Japanese way of enjoying winter sports. They combine a hot spring bath with a day on the slopes. There is no better way to relax than to sink your tired body in a hot bath. Feeling the icy-fresh outside temperature on your face after playing hard on the slopes is heavenly. Local Japanese cuisine is also a winner when you are hungry after skiing. A steaming bowl of ramen noodles for lunch and hearty Japanese-style curry rice with tonkatsu topping for dinner are great ways to regenerate. And to get ready for another round of (night) skiing or snowboarding!
While there are no ski resorts within the borders of metropolitan Tokyo, it is feasible to go skiing or snowboarding on a day trip from Tokyo. Some of the most easily accessible and most popular resorts for day trips are located in the Yuzawa region of Niigata Prefecture. They can be reached in only 90 minutes by shinkansen. There are also a couple of small resorts near Mount Fuji for those who want to ski with Japan’s most famous mountain in the background.
The best resorts and snow conditions, however, are found in northern Japan (Hokkaido and Tohoku). Also in the mountains along Japan’s western coastline (especially Niigata and Nagano) you can find good resorts,
Winter Sports Season in Japan
Japan’s ski season generally starts around December and lasts until April. Best snow conditions are found from mid-January through February. Snow is abundant and temperatures are moderate, barely dropping below -10 degrees.
While skiers still outnumber snowboarders on most Japanese ski slopes, snowboarding has also become popular among younger people. And the number of resorts welcoming snowboarders and providing special snowboarding facilities, such as half pipes, has been increasing. Many resorts also offer other types of snow sports, such as riding snow bikes and snow scooters, sledding, and snowshoeing to make your Japan ski holiday even more exciting.
The typical cost of a one-day pass for a large ski area is around 4000-5000 yen (around 40-50 USD). Many resorts also offer half-day, multi-day, and season passes. Furthermore, ski holiday packages, which include transportation, lift pass, and accommodation, are available at competitive rates. We can help you secure the best package deals available to those who can search and buy them in Japanese. A complete Japan tour with cultural destinations as well as your perfect winter sports package is also an option.
Renting ski or snowboard equipment is possible at virtually every ski resort across Japan. Snow bikes, snow scooters, and other equipment are also available at some resorts. Typical prices range around 3000-5000 yen per day for a complete set (skis, boots, and poles; or snowboard, boots, and bindings). Similar prices apply to a one-day rental of ski wear which usually includes a jacket, pants, gloves, and goggles.
I am living in Tokyo, so I tend to go to skiing parks in the Nagano area, especially Hakuba and Shiga that have hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998 are great areas with good snow and many amenities and hotels. Niseko in Hokkaido is the best ski area in Japan that is very foreigner-friendly as the area welcomes many Australians every winter.
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we can help you create your perfect Japan tour including activities like skiing and snowboarding. A combination of sightseeing in Japan with winter sports is the ultimate winter holiday! Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, delicious food, and winter sports!