Japan has so many world-class ski resorts dotted all around the country. It receives some of the largest amounts of snowfall and has some of the longest ski seasons each year. There’s no surprise that it is one of the best places for snow sports, with tourists traveling to the country each year to experience the ‘powder’ snow that it is known for across the world.
It’s easy to stay inside and slow down in the colder months but this isn’t great for people’s well-being. Snowboarding and skiing are fun ways of being outside, experiencing nature, and exercising without it seeming like a chore. Not only this, but you often get to take in some breathtaking mountain views, enjoy warming winter meals, and relaxing in some of the country’s best onsen after a long day of moving about. Now is the time to get out of your apartment and go on a fun trip!
Hokkaido is the most famous destination in Japan for ski resorts, but there are so many underrated ski resorts across the rest of Japan, so in this article, we are focusing on our favorite ski resorts across the rest of Japan.
Hakuba Ski Resort
The Hakuba Ski Resort is easily one of the best ski resorts in Japan. Located in Nagano prefecture, on the Northern Japan Alps, the Hakuba Ski Resort has slopes to suit all kinds of riders. If you’re looking for the buzz and excitement that matches the world-famous Niseko, Hakuba Ski Resort is the one for you.
Hakuba is famous for powder and with its multiple resorts, it attracts locals, domestic tourists, and also plenty of international tourists. For English natives, it is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan so it’s a great place to go if you want to meet people from across the world!
You can buy passes to use across the Hakuba Ski Resort Valley. This is particularly handy if you’re staying in the area for a long time so that you always have new runs and routes you can try out. There is a bus that runs between all the resorts for easy access, so skiers and snowboarders can hop between them throughout the day.
The Hakuba Valley is made up of 10 resorts; the most famous is Happo One, and as well as this, we recommend checking out Hakuba Goryu and 47 if you’re looking for a large resort with a variety of runs. Tsugaike is also one of the largest resorts but is often slightly quieter. Cortina receives the highest levels of snowfall and has a beautiful ski-in ski-out hotel.
Myoko Kogen is one of Japan’s hidden gems, it is one of the quieter ski resorts. It is famous for receiving heavy amounts of powder snow, with about 13-15 meters of snow per season usually. Myoko Kogen is located in Niigata prefecture, it’s fairly close to both Nozawa Onsen and Hakuba Ski Resort so you could potentially combine a visit to all three.
Myoko Kogen gets very heavy snowfall, it is one of the best places in the world for powder snow. There are some fun tree runs and slopes to suit all levels.
Myoko is full of charm and the towns are worth visiting. Akakura Onsen is a popular area, attracting foreigners. Myoko is also a family-friendly resort, offering childcare. The Myoko town area is fairly small so if you’re looking to spend time off the slopes, a trip to Nozawa Onsen or to see the snow monkeys in Nagano may suit you.
It has lots of unadulterated onsen, so do explore the area and make the most of the unique onsen around Myoko Kogen.
Appi Kogen is one of the biggest ski resorts in Tohoku and one of the best ski resorts in Japan. The ski resort is located in Hachimantai in Iwate prefecture. The ski season lasts from December to early May. Appi Kogen has 21 different runs to suit all different abilities. The resort expands across two mountains; Mt. Maemori and Mt. Nishimori. It attracts a large crowd of Japanese locals and domestic tourists.
It is a family-friendly resort, with child care services, a kid’s ski area, a snow play area, and a petting zoo. Night-time skiing is available most nights as well. Like most resorts in Japan, you can also expect to find wonderful onsen at Appi Kogen. It’s one of the more quiet resorts, so the nightlife is fairly limited.
Appi Kogen has a great ski lift infrastructure with various high-speed lifts and a few gondolas. The snow quality tends to be very good too, offering some decent powder snow. However, despite heavy snowfall, the resort is best known for groomed slopes.
Zao Onsen Ski Resort
Zao Onsen Ski Resort is located in Yamagata in the Tohoku area. It’s the biggest ski resort in the area and one of the best in Japan. The resort is in the Jizo Dake mountain range and non-skiers travel to the top of the mountain by ropeway to take in the sights of the world-renowned snow monsters. These snow monsters are fir trees, and as a result of the bitter winds and snow and ice, their spectacular and ghostly shapes are created.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate, Zao Onsen Ski Resort is the place to go, with 28 slopes for beginners and around 20 for intermediates too. There are also a good number of slopes for advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Not only does Zao Onsen Ski Resort have snow monsters and some world-class slopes, but it is also an onsen town, so along with the smell of sulfur, it has some beautiful onsen you can enjoy after a long day on the slopes.
This ski resort is great for anyone wanting to combine a ski trip with a bit of culture. Since it mostly attracts domestic tourists, it isn’t as crowded as some of the other resorts. This also means that you may get to enjoy some powder snow.
Naeba Ski Resort
Located in Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture on the east of Mount Takenoko, Naeba Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan due to its accessible location from Tokyo. It is one of the more developed ski resorts, with great facilities and infrastructure. Some of the lifts are even open from 8 am – 10 pm so night skiing is usually available.
The “Dragondola” connects Naeba ski resort to the Tashiro ski area, which then connects to the Mitsumata and Kagura ski areas. If you are looking for powder, you’ll be better off heading to Kagura, however Naeba is great for groomed slopes.
It is a family-oriented resort, with childcare, kid’s ski areas, and activities. It is popular among Japanese visitors but attracts people from all over the world due to the easy access from Tokyo. It is also popular among day-trippers from the capital.
In the summer months, as well as being a hotspot of outdoor activities, Naeba Ski Resort is host to Fuji Rock Festival, Japan’s most famous music festival.
There are so many other great ski resorts around the country. To save money, you may want to find out which ski resort is closest to your home. If you’re keen to incorporate more snow sports into your life, perhaps you may be interested in checking out some of Village House’s available rental apartments in Hokkaido, Nagano, and Niigata prefectures! We hope you enjoy your time skiing or snowboarding, happy winter!