When you first envision Japan, images of snow-covered ski slopes may not be the first to pop into your head, but any slope-loving skier will be glad to find out that Japan boasts some of the best powder for skiing, at an affordable price! And it should come as no surprise that the mountainous countryside makes for some great skiing. The most popular areas to hit the slopes are located on Japan’s two northern islands: Hokkaido and Honshu. Check out some of these popular ski resorts:
Hokkaido: Being the northernmost island, and the site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, Hokkaido has countless ski resorts known for their deep powder.
Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu
Self-proclaimed “snowiest ski resort in the world” (with a begrudging concession to Mt. Baker’s recent freakish snowfall), this popular Hokkaido resort is a couple of hours from Sapporo by train.
Full Day Adult Lift Ticket: 4,800
Kamui Links Ski Area
This Hokkaido resort is easy on your wallet. It’s an hour away from Sapporo by train. While Kamui’s runs aren’t as long and numerous as some of the more popular resorts, it still offers great runs for every level, without the overcrowded touristy-ness you might suffer elsewhere.
Full Day Adult Lift Ticket: 3,000
Honshu: If you want something a little more accessible from Tokyo, Honshu provides numerous skiing opportunities. The best snowfall is in the Tohuku region, while the most accessible are in the Nagano region.
Hakkoda Ski Resort
For the intermediate to advanced skier, this Tohuku resort has it all. Great snow, small crowds (especially on weekdays), and good runs. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Aomori, but you can also get there by a 3 ½ hour bullet train to Aomori-Shin and a 1-hour drive from there to the base of the mountain.
5-Trip Lift Ticket: 4,900 (There is a second company’s chairlift that offers a 1-Day ticket for 3,000)
Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort
This Nagano Ski Resort is more than just a great skiing experience. It’s cultural town offers great onsens (no surprise there), traditional accommodation, great food and a famous fire festival. A shinkansen trip to Nagano from Tokyo is a little less than 2 hours. Then getting from Nagano to Nozawa is just about an hour by bus or train.
Full Day Adult Lift Ticket: 4,600
If these options don’t fit your bill or travel plans, there are plenty of other resorts (over 500!) to choose from all over Japan.
After you chill out for a day in the snow, make sure to thaw out in an “onsen” (hot springs) as the locals do to get the uniquely Japanese skiing experience – It’s the only way to end a day on the slopes on this volcanically-created island country.