Japan has long been popular for its futuristic high-tech cities and ancient cities with exquisite gardens and temples, but its fantastic winter resorts have been a well kept secret. Niseko in Hokkaido is one of Japan's most famous winter resorts, and year on year is voted one of the top places to ski worldwide. Others you might have hear of include Furano, Myoko, Nozawa Onsen, Rusutsu and Hakuba.

In Japan there are huge amounts of fresh powder snow every day and there’s no need for a helicopter to get to it – all you need is a lift ticket. Over 70% of Japan's land area is composed of mountains and the winters are governed by the Siberian air mass, the coldest air mass in the world. With an average snowfall of more than 10m across the majority of resorts, and even close to 20m in some areas of Hokkaido, snow season typically begins in late-November and ends in late-March (though it is also possible to ski until early-May), making Japan's 500+ ski grounds among the best and most reliable in the world.

Japan was the first Asian country to host the Winter Olympics in 1972 before doing so again in 1998, and most recently demonstrated its continued commitment to becoming a major destination for winter sports through its hosting of the Freeride World Tour in Hakuba earlier this January. Yet despite the country's brilliant winter sports conditions, facilities, and provision of quality English information services, few international skiers and snowboarders have ventured to Japan to experience its amazing powder snow, exciting cities such as Tokyo and Osaka and Japan’s beautiful ancient capitals Nara and Kyoto. This however, is now all set to change.

Many UK tour operators now offer great value packages for skiing and snowboarding in Japan so why don’t you try Japan for your next winter holiday?

In addition to fantastic skiing, winter holidays to Japan also offer visitors a completely different cultural experience that they do not get from skiing in the US or Europe; a stay in the many Ryokan (Japanese-style inn), a dip in the onsen (natural hot springs that skiers in Japan relax in after skiing) and visits to temples and shrines are all perfect ways in which to wind down from a session on the slopes. An annual winter highlight in Hokkaido is the Sapporo Snow Festival in early February. The festival's huge and elaborate snow sculptures attract millions of viewers every year. Japan’s snow monkey’s are also not to be missed! You can also easily include a city break in Tokyo or Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto from many of the ski resorts by Shinkansen bullet train, plane and/or coach.

 

Japanese snow monkeys

Is Skiing in Japan Affordable?

The Japanese yen has weakened in recent years against most major currencies. The weak yen means skiing and snowboarding holidays are great value, with prices comparing favourably with resorts in Europe and the USA. Skiing and snowboarding are particularly popular with young people in Japan so resorts have been careful to keep their costs low. A full-day lift ticket at a major resort in Japan will cost 3,000-7,400 yen (approx. £30-50). All large resorts offer various accommodation options. Rates per person per night range from 7,200 yen (approx. £52/€54) including two meals at a minshuku (reasonable Japanese inns) or skiers lodges and hotels averaging around to 24,500 yen (approx. £177/€184) for two people in one room on a half-board basis.

For detailed information about Japan’s many ski resorts visit www.snowjapan.com.

Click here to download our guide to skiing in Japan: Ski Guide 2018-2019

Click here for a list of UK Tour operators providing winter sports services: UK Tour operators - Winter Sports.

 

 

Header image by Grant Gunderson, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, Nagano.