Japan is fast becoming one of the world’s premier skiing and snowboarding destinations, with over 500 resorts to choose from. You might think it’s an expensive place to travel, but once you get out of the big cities, a Japanese skiing holiday is cheaper than skiing in Australia, North America or Europe. Best of all for Aussies, Japan is only 12 hours away.
Here’s our list of all the things you need to know for a Japanese skiing adventure:
1. The Snow
Japan is famous for its snow. Because of weather patterns arriving from Siberia, Japan receives massive snowfalls of 10 to 18 metres in a single season. People who ski Japan also rave about the quality of the snow, particularly in Hokkaido where deep, dry powder makes for some of the best skiing on earth.
2. The Culture
If you’re keen to ski in Japan, you’ll find the après-ski scene is much different to elsewhere in the world. In Japan a skiing holiday is less focused on rowdy bars, and more on good Japanese food and onsens, or hot springs. Every ski resort has an onsen, where you can strip off, scrub down, and indulge in a long hot soak after a day on the slopes. It’s an essential part of the Japanese experience not to be missed.
3. Where to Go
There are two main regions where you can ski Japan – the main island of Honshu, and the northern island of Hokkaido. There are hundreds of resorts on each island.
The Nagano region is very easy to access, just a 90-minute bullet train ride from Tokyo, making it ideal if you have limited time to ski. Nagano is where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held, and is often less busy than the popular Hokkaido resorts further north. Don’t miss the charming village of Nozawa Onsen, where an abundance of natural hot springs sees steam rising through the cobblestone streets. Two other major skiing destinations are Shiga Kogen, the highest resort in the country, and Hakuba, which is ideal for families keen to ski in Japan. For something different, check out the famous snow monsters of Zao Onsen, where snow and ice clump to the trees to make huge looming figures.
The most popular place for many Australians to ski in Japan is the northern resort of Niseko, where the snow is superb, the nightlife is vibrant and English is widely spoken. Niseko is famous for its deep powder snow, with a huge variety of runs to suit everyone from beginners to advanced off-piste skiers. If you’re keen to ski in Japan without the crowds, head to Rusutsu instead, where great facilities and an extensive lift network meaning you rarely have to queue. Adrenaline junkies may prefer the steep black runs and spectacular views of Sapporo Teine Highland.
Wherever you go in Japan, there are lots of options for snowboarders and skiers of every level.
Madeleine Clague+ loves to travel and write about it