Winter is just around the corner, and we have been planning on which resorts to enjoy this season.
COVID and weather condition updates are still to be considered, but we organized the information from what we know as it may help you plan your trip as well.
Today we will be sharing the 3 ski areas you should know: Hokkaido, Nagano, and Niigata, and the 10 ski resorts you should consider going to for your Japow experience. Here goes!
1. Niseko United
There is no doubt that Niseko United is one of the best ski resorts in Japan!
When you are at the right time and after a good amount of snowfall overnight, the quality of the powder is the best in Japan.
Find out here about why the powder snow in Niseko is the best.
Niseko United consists of 4 ski resorts sharing the same mountain Annupuri.
The varieties of courses make it all very entertaining for skiers/boarders of all levels, and the view of Mt Yotei on a sunny day is like no other!
It is probably the only area in Japan that has more English Speakers than Japanese, so you also don’t have the small difficulties of getting around like the other resorts.
Niseko has become extremely popular recently thus resulting in a lack of hotels, restaurants, and very long line ups to ski lifts.
That’s why we want to share with you 9 more alternatives down below.
2. Rusutsu Resort
The closest snow resort to Niseko is Rusutsu, which locates in between Chitose Airport and Niseko, about 30 minutes away from Niseko.
It’s a very wide resort scattered to 3 mountains, with a total length of the 37 courses to be 42km!
The courses tend to be much less crowded than in Niseko, and the tree runs here are amazing!
It has been winning the best ski resort in Japan 3 consecutive years.
3. Kiroro Resort
Kiroro ranks 1st in the amount of snowfall in the snow resorts of Hokkaido.
Located in between Otaru and Niseko, it is easier access from Sapporo and Otaru, the major cities in the area.
The 22 courses fit all levels, and the backcountry tours are getting extremely popular.
Sheraton Hotel and the Tribute Portfolio Hotel connected to the ski resort provides good entertainment options and access to restaurants, gym, onsen, and pools, a very conveniently laid out resort.
4. Furano Ski Resort
Furano is going to a different area in Hokkaido when you compare it to Niseko, Rusutsu, and Kiroro.
It is about an hour ride from Asahikawa Airport or 4 hours from Chitose Airport.
Asahikawa is actually the coldest and snowiest region in Japan, so the low temperature makes it the most powdery snow resort.
Furano area is where a lot of Japanese tourists dream to come for good natural sceneries and great food, so you will have a lot to cover when you are here.
Nagano is widely known for the Nagano Winter Olympics and is the most popular ski area for us Japanese.
The resorts are relatively more accessible from our major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, and are much cheaper than in Hokkaido.
This year, the snow forecast is telling that Hokkaido will be having the same amount/less snow than usual, while Nagano and the surrounding areas are expected to have the same/more snow than usual.
You can read about the forecast here:
That’s why we want to widen your options of where to go for this season, introducing you 5 more ski resorts that could be alternatives to the ones in Hokkaido.
5. Hakuba Happo One Ski Resort
Hakuba Happo One Ski Resort was home to the Nagano Winter Olympics held in 1998.
It’s famous for the 8km long ride from top to bottom nonstop for approximately 20 minutes.
The panorama of the 3000m mountain range of the northern part of the Japan Alps makes the ride so memorable.
6. Shiga Kogen Ski Resort
This area is a plateau in Nagano, and is the biggest ski area in Japan. It consists of 4 ski areas all linked very well with 52 lifts, gondolas, and shuttle buses.
The courses fit all levels, and somewhere within the area, you will definitely find the course that makes you happy!
7. Ryuo Ski Park
Ryuo Ski Park is located in the north part of the Shiga Plateau, and the high elevation provides quality and stable powder to riders.
Powder freaks will be entertained by the 36 degrees slope powder run in Kiotoshi course.
Here is a YouTube video of a former professional boarder in the course.
As quality parks are available, the resorts consist of more boarders than skiers.
8. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Those that like onsen might like this resort a lot. Being an very popular onsen town, it’s a good match of having a ride→onsne→ride→onsen which let you enjoy the vacation to the fullest.
The courses are laid out to fit more beginners, so it tends to fit families than experts.
Another thing to note is the good access of just 2 hour ride from Tokyo Station is a relief!
You won’t go wrong choosing either Hokkaido or Nagano for snow sports, but there is another prefecture that you should know and it’s Niigata.
However, Nigata stretches very long from northeast to southwest, and the good ski resorts tend to be right on the southwest, near the border of Nagano and Niigata.
It’s far away from Nigata city and is usually closer to Nagano Station, so make sure you don’t get confused when planning your transportation and hotels!
One ski area to note from Nigata is Myoko.
Myoko averages more than 3 meters of snow every winter and has snowed 1.5 meters just over 1 night.
The resorts try to have non compacted snow areas as much as possible to make full use of the heavy light snow it gets.
9. Myoko Suginohara Ski Resort
Myoko Suginohara Ski Resort has 2 courses that total 800 meters of powder zone called the Super Giant Course and Super mogul Course.
The Super Giant Course has a 38 degrees slope and your whole body will be covered with deep powder snow!
10. Naeba Ski Resort
Lastly, Naeba Ski Resort is another popular resort in Nigata, close to the Shiga Plateau mentioned earlier.
Known as where the Fuji Rock Festival is held during the summer, Naeba is a big resort that fits all levels and from singles to families.
The resort is really good at making it kids friendly with good schools and free lift tickets for those under elementary school.
It is probably one of the closest major ski resorts from Tokyo station, just a 1.5 hour shinkansen ride+30 minute drive/bus/taxi ride to the resort, which might be a plus for those that want to cut off travel time to the resort.
Hope the information helps!
Although there are many other ski resorts in Japan, we think these 10 gives you a general idea of the major ones.
The 2020-2021 season will be an odd empty season for the resorts due to COVID-19, and you might not be able to come to Japan this season.
But we hope it helps you to plan your trip here when the COVID-19 situation is settled.
And for those living in Japan and were looking for ski/board information, we hope the information helps you to plan your trip to the best suited one possible!