Fast facts about Niseko
- Location: 56 mi. from Sapporo, Hokkaido
- Number of main resorts: 4
- Number of runs: 61
- Annual snowfall: 45+ ft.
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Snow is fluffy and abundant throughout the winter months in Japan. Consider your skill level and desired atmosphere when deciding which of Japan’s ski resorts to visit. And count on breathtaking mountain views wherever you glide.
Compare several major ski resorts at a glance:
|Location||Annual snowfall||Number of lifts||Number of runs||Terrain|
|Niseko||15m+||30 lifts and 3 gondolas||61|
|Hakuba||11m+||138 lifts and 5 gondolas||200+|
|Nozawa Onsen||10m||32 lifts||36|
|Shiga Kogen||10m||67 lifts||310|
Niseko is made up of four interconnected zones: An’nupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu and Hanazono. It’s family-friendly, known for excellent restaurants and night life and attracts an international crowd. Most staff members are fluent in English, making it easy to communicate.
But some visitors note Niseko has a westernized feel, so those seeking an authentic Japanese ski experience may want to look elsewhere.
What really puts Niseko on the map is the high snow quality and quantity that often falls through late March and early April. And out-of-bounds riding is allowed at Niseko, so advanced riders seeking a challenge can ski backcountry routes.
Hakuba Valley is set deep in the Japanese Alps about four hours northwest of Tokyo. It’s actually home to nine different ski resorts, though a single Hakuba Valley Ticket grants access to all. Ride the shuttle bus for transportation between each resort:
Located on Hokkaido Island and accessible via shuttle from Sapporo Chitose Airport, Furano resort is renowned for some of the lightest and driest snow in Japan. Though it’s not known for luxury accommodations, Furano offers a true taste of Japanese flavor. It has off-piste terrain and backcountry for advanced skiers and gentle, well-groomed runs for beginners.
The historic hot spring and ski resort village features an ancient onsen, or Japanese hot spring, for aprés-ski relaxation (though take heed — Japanese culture dictates onsen bathing in the nude.) It’s said to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan when an Austrian introduced it to the area in 1912. Enjoy authentic Japanese architecture at the Nozawa Onsen Village and visit ancient temples in the area after calling it a day.
With 21 ski resorts, 19 of which are interlinked, Shiga Kogen is one of Japan’s largest ski resort areas. It has over 50 lifts and four gondolas.
With a ski pass that gives you access to almost all the lifts, you could be carving it up for weeks. It has excellent ski-in, ski-out accommodations and specializes in intermediate terrain. Note off-piste skiing isn’t permitted.
Niseko and Hakuba might be the most popular ski resorts in Japan, but they’re certainly not the only ones. You can find resorts throughout the country that offer similar quality powder and unique runs.
See how far the resorts are from each other on our map:
The height of ski season in Japan is typically from December to April. Early season is in November and the late season is April to May.
Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a yearly affair, a vacation at the slopes in Japan offers spectacular views and world-renowned powder.
Travel insurance can provide extra coverage in the event you need emergency assistance or compensation for lost equipment or unused ski passes. Browse travel insurance providers to get safety net coverage for your trip to Japan.
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