Skiing in Japan: The Best Spots

Skiing in Japan: The Best Spots

Skiing in Japan

Japan is a destination that is on the radar of many skiers and snow boarders. It is also becoming extremely popular with powder hounds for many good reasons. Skiing in Japan is all about powder and a lot of it. The other big advantages are the lack of queues and the relatively speaking, very quiet slopes. Add to all of this, is the fact that you get a very Japanese cultural experience as well.

There are over 500 ski resorts in Japan. On the northern island of Hokkaido and the main island of Honshu is where you will find the most popular ski resorts. With the shinkansens, the bullet trains, the snow resorts of Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen on Honshu are quite easily reached from Tokyo. Sapporo, Furana and Niseko are all internationally recognized resorts, and require an extra flight from Tokyo or quite a long trek by trains.

The beauty of all of the Japanese resorts is guaranteed snow and a very good taste of Japanese culture.

Skiing in Japan

Nozawa Onsen

I am starting with our favorite traditional Japanese village of Nozawa Onsen, which is on the main island of Honshu. It is easily accessed from Tokyo via Nagano on the shinkansen and then via a little train to the village. The beauty of Nozawa Onsen is that it is not only an excellent resort for skiing and snowboarding with incredible depths of powder, but it also has onsens. Onsens are hot springs and there are many public ones all over the village. These are a sure cure for any stiffness and soreness from a day on the slopes. There is a huge variety of food outlets both on and off the slopes and you can expect to get the full Japanese experience her.


Hakuba is not too far from Nozawa Onsen and has some exceptional skiing. It is an extremely popular ski destination with over 200 runs and a very lively après scene. Hakuba is known for its beauty and for like the rest of Japan for its guaranteed powder.


Sapporo is the capital city of the northern island of Hokkaido. It became internationally recognized when hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. It is also well known for the Sapporo Snow Festival, held each February. Sapporo is the gateway to many resorts like Sapporo Teine, Sapporo Kokusai and Kiroro, There is magnificent skiing at all of these with the abundance of snow. Whilst not as traditional as Nozawa Onsen, it attracts a lot of international visitors and the après scene is very alive.

Skiing in Japan


Also on the Hokkaido Island is the perennial favorite of Niseko. Niseko wins awards after awards for its powder and the diversity of its runs. Niseko receives one of the highest snowfalls in Japan each year and it is well situated to accommodate all of the visitors that come. You can still get the benefits of not just brilliant snow but also a real feel of Japanese culture and customs.


Also located on the northern island, if you like steep and long runs, then Furano is just what you are looking for. However there are actually slopes for all abilities but you will see a lot of very good and very brave skiers taking on the mountains at Furano where many World Cup downhill races are held. The town of Furano gives you a real feel of Japanese life as it is not yet, too westernized.

Skiing in Japan

Japan is a ski and cultural destination that many people have discovered and more and more are putting it on their lists.

Have you been skiing in Japan?  Do you have any other spots to add to this list?

Paula McInerney
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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Megan Claire

    I would love to attempt skiing at some point – Japan seems like a great destination for it! Will have to make a mental note to schedule a trip when we head back to AUstralia next!

  2. Hannah

    I’ve always wanted to visit Japan for the cherry blossoms but may have to add skiing on the list. I’m a big winter sport enthusiast and love hitting the hills- look like Japan has some good ones for sure!

  3. Dave Cole

    I have yet to ski outside of the US, but Japan looks like the right country to start. I’d really like to try Nozawa Onsen, as it combines the slopes with a traditional village. Also, who knew that Sapporo was a ski town and not just an oversized beer!

  4. Chris Boothman

    Japan is certainly not one of the first places you think of when you consider skiing but after reading this post and all of the amazing slopes that are clearly available, this may sway my thinking and consider visiting Japan just for this very reason.

    As others have commented, I have yet to even attempt skiing so would probably be better suited trying a smaller slope but this does look very inviting indeed!

  5. I had heard Japan is supposed to be amazing for skiing, and the fact that it combines outdoors fun with traditional cultural experiences makes it sound even better! Nozawa Onsen sounds like my pic, but a friend said great things about Sapporo too!

  6. Lauren

    For some reason, I never really thought of Japan to be a place for skiing! But it looks wonderful! I’ve gone skiing a few times before and would like to try it again..but how cool would it be to try it in Japan!!!

  7. Somehow I never thought about Japan for a winter trip as I’d much rather go there in the summer. But of course everyone knows famous places such as Nagano and I’m sure everything will be well arranged and high tec there … maybe if I ever win the lottery I’ll head out there for some powder 🙂

  8. Alli

    Ooh my these photos make me chilly! I think Japan at winter would be beautiful. Never even thought of skiing in Japan before but after reading your post I would be very open to the idea!!

  9. Marie-Carmen

    My biggest dream (and clearly on my to do list) as got to do with snow in Japan but not skiing though!
    I’d love to sit in a Onsen outside and watch the snow fall…

    But those skiing point sound awesome too! (But I’m lazy, I’ll sit in with hot cocoa)

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