Perfect Powder! Skiing and Snowboarding in Japan

Posted by on January 5, 2016

Whistler? Aspen? The Alps? No way! Skiers and snowboarders alike, book your next vacation to Japan. From far north Hokkaido where the snow starts falling in early-mid November, to the southern island of Kyushu: great conditions and new experiences await you at more than 600 resorts across the country.

Hokkaido Skiing

Hokkaido Skiing from Flickr cc by mio-spr

The season here is impressive, with peak snow depths of up to 7.5 meters. Most mountain resorts boast excellent natural snow with good percentages of powder to keep you swishing along. High altitudes and cold winters keep some locations running until early May.

Ski Slopes and levels

Ski Slopes and levels from Flickr cc by Cesar I. Martin

Need proof? Check out this deep powder in Niseko, Hokkaido!

Travel packages are available at agencies in all urban areas, and at JR (Japan Rail) train stations. Many ski hotel/resorts will arrange travel for you directly if you prefer. You can even find great snowy conditions within day-trip distance from Tokyo. Perfect powder is a two-hour bullet train away from the metropolis in Tochigi, Nagano, Gunma and parts of Niigata.

Skiing and snowboarding resorts in Japan are different than in many other countries. Spelling errors aside, we recommend you read through these 10 things you should know from Craig Tansley on Travel MSN.  A small percentage of resorts are still “skiing only” so snowboarders should check before booking.

Japan’s slope color guide differs, too:

  • Green – Easy slope, good for beginners.
  • Red – Intermediate slope, the majority of Japanese pistes fall under this category.
  • Black – Advanced slope, for skilled skiers and snowboarders.

Now that you are prepared, check out our list of…

Top Odigo Recommended Ski Spots in Japan

Note on lodging-  Western Style = beds, private room and bath.  Japanese style= Tatami mat flooring, futons and often shared bath, ofuro. Mixed= both styles available within the same establishment. 
Cost Range:   Budget ¥   Comfort ¥¥   Deluxe ¥¥¥   Exclusive ¥¥¥¥

HOKKAIDO

Niseko, Hokkaido

Niseko, Hokkaido from Flickr cc by Michael Holler

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Ski Resort-

  • POWDER: 35% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes first week of April
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western-style hotel
  • COST: From ¥ – ¥¥¥

Great powder — not just at the highest points, but within an easy 150m hike from the gate!  10 lifts on site for user convenience.

Rusutsu Resort- 

  • POWDER: 30% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes second week of April
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western-style accommodations — choose from lodge / B&B / pension / inn / chalet / cottage.
  • COST: From ¥¥-¥¥¥

Soft fluffy snow, very fine powder with very little ice content.

Niseko Mountain Resort Grand Hirafu- 

  • POWDER: 25% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes beginning of May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western, Japanese and mixed accommodations available. Lots of choices: apartment / B&B / backpacker hostel / condominium / hotel / inn / lodge / pension
  • COST: From ¥-¥¥¥¥

 Niseko powder is world famous and quite unique. 

FUKUSHIMA

Fukushima snowy wonderland

Fukushima snowy wonderland from Flickr cc by Makoto Nakashima

Grandeco Resort– 

  • POWDER: 10% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes second week in May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western, Japanese and Mixed-style lodging available. Choose from lodge / B&B / pension / inn / hotel / ryokan
  • COST: From  ¥-¥¥¥¥

World-class ultra powder snow. 

GUNMA

Onsen (hotsprings) in Gunma to enjoy after skiing

Onsen (hot springs) in Gunma to enjoy after skiing from Flickr cc by Yukiko Yamamoto

Marunuma Kogen Snow Resort- 

  • POWDER: 20% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes second week of May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western-Japanese mixed  style lodging available —  lodge / B&B / pension / inn
  • COST:  ¥¥

Between Tuesdays and Thursdays from mid-January, operators let the snow build up (no compacting!) to provide the best powder conditions.

Minakami Kogen Fujiwara Snow & Spa Resort-  

  • POWDER: 20% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of April
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western and mixed-style accommodations. Choose from lodge / B&B / pension / inn
  • COST: From ¥-¥¥¥

 This resort has a great reputation for fluffy 100% natural snow! 

NIIGATA

Skiing in Niigata

Skiing in Niigata from Flickr cc by Hirotomo Oi

Maiko Snow Resort- 

  • POWDER: 20% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of April
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western and Western-Japanese mixed style hotel accommodations
  • COST: From ¥¥¥-¥¥¥¥

Great views from the courses. Get up early and enjoy the mountains and beautiful conditions. 

Okutadami Maruyama Snow Resort- 

  • POWDER: 15% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in closes in mid-May!! LONG SEASON!
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western, Japanese and mixed styles in various lodges / B&B / pensions / inns / hotels / ryokan
  • COST: From ¥-¥¥¥¥

Frequent daily snowfall resets the slopes naturally — some days you can even enjoy hip-deep powder! 

Charmant Hiuchi Snow Resort-  

  • POWDER: A whopping 65% of total snowfall!
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western, Japanese and Mixed styles — lodge / B&B / pension / inn / hotel / ryokan
  • COST: From ¥- ¥¥¥

About 70% of the courses have no compacted powder and often 5 meters or more of snow.  High-speed lifts and super deep powder equal an amazing skiing experience.  

GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort- 

  • POWDER: 20% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western Hotel
  • COST: From ¥¥-¥¥¥¥

Beautiful fluffy powder and technical, challenging slopes.

NAGANO

Shiga Kogen snow

Shiga Kogen snow in Nagano from Flickr cc by Edz’sta

Shiga Kogen Resort Area-  

  • POWDER: 35% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: All styles of hotels, lodges
  • COST: From ¥-¥¥¥¥

Great powder conditions spread over three resorts. Plus the home area of some amazing Japanese craft beer! 

Ryuoo Ski Park  

  • POWDER: 10% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of May
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western, Japanese and mixed-style rooms available in a lodge / B&B / pension / inn / hotel / ryokan
  • COST: From  ¥- ¥¥¥

Take the ropeway early in the morning and be the first to ski in pristine snow! 

Hakuba Cortina-  

  • POWDER: 30% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the first week of April
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Wide range of all kinds of accomodations
  • COST: From ¥-¥¥¥¥

This resort has some of the best 100% natural snow in the Hakuba area. Popular with local and international skiers.

GIFU

Fun on the slopes

Fun on the slopes in Gifu from Flickr cc by David Hsu

Snow Wave Park Shiratori Kogen- 

  • POWDER: 20% of total snowfall
  • SEASON: Closes in the second week of April
  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Western, Japanese and mixed-style accomdations such as lodge / B&B / pension / inn / hotel / ryokan
  • COST: From ¥-¥¥¥¥

World class Aspen-style conditions and great silky snow after new snowfall. Boasts a good kids’ area!  

Download our ski resort list to plan your winter holiday & See you on the slopes! 

Odigo Top Skiing Spots

 

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Lauren Shannon by Lauren Shannon

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