Skiing in Japan

Information about some of the main ski resorts in Japan...

Japan is a great country for skiing and has a large number of resorts for skiers of all levels. Depending on the resort, the ski season runs from December until late March or early April. Most resorts have a choice of ski schools offering lessons to people of all levels of experience and plenty of places from which to hire equipment. Japan's North Island is home to some world class ski resorts and top quality powder. Hokkaido consistently has the country's best snow conditions, with Niseko being recognised as a world-class resort with consistently large snow falls. There are three ski resorts on the mountain: Niseko Grand Hiarfu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri. One lift pass gives the holder access to all three stations. All three have terrain to suit all levels and a good selection of accommodation and restaurants. Other good Hokkaido resorts include Rusutsu, Tomamu Alpha and Furano. Sahoro ski resort caters particularly well for families. It has well maintained pistes, a terrain park and cross-country areas.

Sapporo is a great place for skiing; it is possible to ski just 15 minutes from the city centre at Sapporo Bankei. Kokusai, which is an hour's drive from the city, is very popular with beginner and intermediate skiers. Sapporo Teine is half an hour from the city and has steep powder runs perfect for more advanced skiers.

The Tohoku region of Japan's main island is home to the Ou Mountains and some of the quietest skiing in the country. Lovers of powder head to Hakkoda Ropeway, a backcountry area with lots of forest trails. Visibility is often poor so it is wise to have a guide to explore the resort initially. Appi Kogen is an extensive resort with many north facing slopes, giving a long season. In contrast to many Japanese resorts, it has some long runs. Yamagata Zao is a large resort with a 10 Km downhill course; it also has hot springs.

Nagano and the Japan Alps are the traditional home of skiing in the country with some of the best resorts and steepest runs. The best-known resorts are Hakuba, Nozawa, IIyama and Shiga Kogen but there are many more worth visiting. Shiga Kogen is home to 21 interlinked ski resorts which, if taken together, form the largest resort area in the country. Its season extends from late November until early May and one common lift pass allows people to access all the skiing on offer.

  • For a comprehensive guide to skiing in Japan: Click here

Winter sports are very popular in Japan and it is possible to try other activities such as snowshoeing, ice climbing and riding in a snow mobile at many resorts. Most resorts will also have large range of other activities on offer.

Further Information

  • Information about winter sports in Japan from Snow Japan