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Top Japan ski resorts

Chase some of the softest powder in the world.

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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 ski resorts in Japan

Compare several major ski resorts at a glance:

LocationAnnual snowfallNumber of liftsNumber of runsTerrain
Niseko15m+30 lifts and 3 gondolas61
  • Beginner: 30%
  • Intermediate: 40%
  • Advanced: 30%
Hakuba11m+138 lifts and 5 gondolas200+
  • Beginner: 30%
  • Intermediate: 40%
  • Advanced: 30%
Furano9m67 lifts24
  • Beginner: 30%
  • Intermediate: 40%
  • Advanced: 30%
Nozawa Onsen10m32 lifts36
  • Beginner: 40%
  • Intermediate: 30%
  • Advanced: 30%
Shiga Kogen10m67 lifts310
  • Beginner: 30%
  • Intermediate: 40%
  • Advanced: 30%

Niseko

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.

snow ski slope niseko japan

Fast facts about Niseko

  • Location: 56 mi. from Sapporo, Hokkaido
  • Number of main resorts: 4
  • Number of runs: 61
  • Annual snowfall: 45+ ft.

Hakuba Valley

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:

Otari Village

  • Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort. Family-friendly facilities at the northern tip of Hakuba Valley, which boasts stunning views of the Ushiro Tateyama mountain range.
  • Hakuba Norikura Onsen Ski Resort. Snowboarders and skiers can find equal bliss with a range of runs on natural powder.
  • Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort. Families will find wide slopes perfect for beginners, while true powder hounds will get a rush of adrenaline on natural Tsugaike snow.

Hakuba Village

  • Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field. Hop on one of the resort’s 16 gondolas to hit 25 slopes modeled after the natural terrain.
  • Hakuba Happo-one Ski Resort. Perched at the base of Mt. Karamatsu, Hakuba Happo has steep mogul runs as well as long descents for intermediate to advanced riders.
  • Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park. Whether intermediate or expert, you’ll find 23 passes for all skill levels. This spot’s also popular with snowboarders for its jumps and half-pipes.
  • Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort. It’s famous for hosting snow from November though early May, and has slopes for kids and experts alike.

Omachi

  • Kashimayari Ski Resort. At nearly a mile high in elevation, it boasts fantastic views of Mt. Kashimayari.
  • Jiigatake Ski Resort. The southernmost resort in Hakuba Valley offers gentle slopes and a sledding area for kids.
hakuba valley snowy mountains japan

Fast facts about Hakuba

  • Location: 170 mi. from Tokyo
  • Number of main resorts: 9
  • Number of runs: 200+
  • Annual snowfall: 36+ ft.

Furano

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.

ski slope furano japan

Fast facts about Furano

  • Location: 90 mi. from Sapporo, Hokkaido
  • Number of main resorts: 2
  • Number of runs: 24
  • Annual snowfall: 29+ ft.

Nozawa Onsen

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.


Shiga Kogen

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.

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What other Japanese ski resorts are there?

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.

  • Kiroro. Also on Hokkaido Island and close to Niseko, Kiroro averages an astounding 55 feet of snowfall annually. It’s quite a small resort with only 21 runs, the longest of which is 2.5 miles.
  • Naeba. Currently run by Prince Hotel, Naeba ski resort belongs to the Mount Naeba resort area. On its own, it’s got 20 runs which are serviced by an impressive 21 lifts.
  • Zao. This resort is perhaps most famous for its Juhyo “Ice Monsters” (pictured). This natural wonder occurs when the snow depth reaches seven to nine feet and makes for spectacular scenery when barreling down the mountain.
  • Rusutsu. This family-friendly resort lies just south of Niseko. It’s the largest single resort in the region and has immaculately groomed wide trails across three mountains.
  • Tomamu: Take a 90-minute drive east of Chitose Airport and you’ll find yourself at this quaint, family-friendly resort. It only has five lifts but gets a good average of 45+ feet of snowfall annually.
  • Gala Yuzawa: Perhaps one of the most accessible ski resorts in Japan, Yuzawa is the only one that has its own bullet train station. The gondola is in the train station itself, so you can head up the moment you arrive.
  • Myoko Kogen: This area consists of three separate resorts (Myoko Akakura, Myoko Suginohara and Ikenotaira Onsen). Off-piste riding is allowed, and it claims to have some of the best vertical and longest runs in Japan.

Japan ski resorts map

See how far the resorts are from each other on our map:


When is ski season in Japan?

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.

However, be sure to verify official dates with the resort, as exact ski seasons vary by region and destination. Check out flight deals as well as hotels in Japan to put together a great ski vacation.

Bottom line

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.

Looking for a ski vacation elsewhere? Check out our top ski vacation deals which are regularly updated with the best offers available.a

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