Japan is one of the top winter destinations that boast of high grade and copious amount of snow, fantastic views and sceneries and let’s not forget the relaxing hot springs after a day on the slopes. Japanese ski resorts offer different courses for each level. Although there are no ski resorts within the vicinity or borders of Tokyo, most of Japan’s best ski resorts are accessible from the capital via the bullet train (shinkansen), bus, cars, and flying. It is also possible to plan day trips to these resorts through faster transportation services, relative distance to Tokyo and if within the main island Honshu.
Most ski resorts offer variety of activities, even for those who are not into skiing or snowboarding. Japan’s best ski resorts offer more than their slopes especially for families with small children. Play zones are often free admission, to walk and play around on the white powdery snow. Although sledding, snow tubing and snowshoe trekking require admission fees.
Ski Resorts for Beginner Level Skiers in Japan
Tambara Ski Park
The Tambara Ski Park is located at Numata in Gunma Prefecture. It prides of breathtaking tourist spots within and around it. Aside from its famous 700 meter wave course, visitors can go for an exhilarating rafting, kayaking, canoeing or boating ride at the Lavender Park. It is a 2-hour train ride from Tokyo at Jomokogen Station via Joetsu Shinkansen Line.
Address: Tambara-Kogen, Numata-Shi, Gunma-Ken
Official Website: http://www.tambara.co.jp
Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort
Kusatsu boasts of steep slopes and long ski trails some reaching 8 km from top to bottom as well as medium trails for beginners and advanced users. But more than just a ski park, Kusatsu boasts of onsens and hot springs, a mini-golf, hiking trails at Mount Shirane and a ropeway for hikers. From Tokyo take the Kusatsu train-Ueno Station to Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station, after that a free shuttle bus from Kusatsu Onsen Bus terminal.
Address: 158 Kusatsu-Shirane, Kusatsu-Machi, Agatsuma-Gun, Gunma-Ken
Official Website: https://www.932-onsen.com/winter/index (Japanese only)
Family Friendly Ski Resorts in Japan
Rusutsu Ski Resort
Rusutsu boasts of being the best winter destination especially for tourists and their families who do not want crowded resorts. It receives 14 meters of snowfall yearly and some of the best powder snow perfect for powder hounds. It is great also for beginners and intermediate skiers, but the highlight is the marvelous tree skiing that minimizes traversing. The resort ensures youngsters get to enjoy their winter experience as well with the Kids Park activities such as ski lessons, tubing, bouncy castle, and an indoor playroom. It is accessible via Sapporo, then by free shuttle bus to the resort.
Address: 13, Izumikawa, Rusutsu, Abuta, Hokkaido 048-1711
Official Website: http://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/ (English)
Kurohime Kogen Snow Park
Kurohime Kogen may not be as big as the other ski resorts discussed here. But its amenities, inclines, descents, and trails are enjoyed both by beginner and intermediate skiers. It boasts of being a family oriented winter destination with the Kurohime Family Park – the best family park in Japan. This section features kiddie snowmobile, snow tubing, and rafting. Located at Shinano in Nagano Prefecture, Kurohime Kogen is accessible via Shinetsu Honsen Line, just 5.7 Km from Kurohime station.
Address: 3807 Nojiri, Shinano-Machi, Kamiminochi-Gun, Nagano-Ken
Official Website: http://kurohime-kogen.co.jp/snow/ (Japanese only)
Otaru Tenguyama Resort
Otaru Tenguyama is a much sought after snowboarding destination. It is located in the Western region of Hokkaido, on the Northern slopes of Tenguyama facing the sea. Skiers and snowboarder get the treat- the beautiful view of the seaside city of Otaru that’s worth the trip and half day activity on the slope. Most visitors make Otaru as the base while exploring the western part of the region.
Address: Mogami 2-16-15, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 047-0023
Official Website: http://tenguyama.ckk.chuo-bus.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
Ski Resorts for Intermediate to Expert Level Skiers in Japan
Myoko Kogen Ski Resort
Myoko Kogen is for powder-snow addicts, Myoko Kogen is one of the most fascinating ski destinations owing to the amount of snowfall it receives during winter. It’s steep inclines and very long ski runs (8.5kms) make it one of the most challenging in Japan. Located at Niigata Prefecture, accessible via Shinkansen, and hours of travel range from 3 to 5 hours.
Address: 549-25 Akakura Onsen, Myoko-shi, Niigata, Japan 949-2111
Official Website: http://myokokogen.net/ (English)
Hakuba Ski Resorts
Hakuba Ski Resort was the site of the 1998 Nagano Olympics and it boasts of 9 resorts, 135 lifts and 200 advanced runs including a vertical rise. It is probably Japan’s prime ski destination because of its outstanding ski slopes that receive excellent snowfall translating to high-quality powder. Snowboarding is guaranteed 100% satisfying. Hokuriku Shinkansen goes from Tokyo to Nagano and then an express bus from Nagano to Hakuba.
For more information on Hakuba Ski Resorts and activities in and around the area, visit Hakuba Tourism: http://www.hakubatourism.jp/ (English)
Niseko Grand Hirafu
Hirafu, located in Hokkaido, claims to have the best powder snow spread in wide ski trails – 30 courses, in Niseko, and probably in all of Japan. The Hirafu Grand Center and the high-speed gondola are unique in Niseko. Skiers, snowboarders, and trekkers are treated to the beautiful view of Mount Yotei. There are hotels and other offerings too including hiking programs, kiddie, family, and transportation packages.
Address: 204 Aza Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, Japan
Official Website: http://www.grand-hirafu.jp/winter/en/index.html
Ski Resorts in Japan with Onsen (Hot Spring)
Zao Onsen Ski Resort – Beginner to Expert Level Skiers
Zao Onsen surrounded by beautiful mountains and hot springs, so it became known as Hot Spring Village with 3 cable cars that give you spectacular views especially during autumn and winter. Those mountains become ski resorts during winter with outcroppings of ice monsters (trees coated with snow). It is located in Yamagata Prefecture; just take the Yamagata Shinkansen then a 40 to 45 minute bus ride to the resort.
Address: 708-1 Zao Onsen, Yamagata-City, Yamagata 990-2301
Official Website: http://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english/
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort – Beginner to Advanced Level Skiers
Nozawa Onsen is another hot spring village like Zao Onsen. Steam rises up streets lined with traditional inns and shops. It is believed to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan because of its abundant snow, warm people, large terrains for skiing one dropping up to over 1,000 meters. Nozawa is beginner friendly however and caters also to intermediate and advanced skier. It is a 10-minute walk from Nozawa Onsen Chuo Bus terminal; from Tokyo take Hokuriku Shinkansen from Ueno station to Iiyama station.
Address: 7653 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture 389-2502
Official Website: http://www.nozawaski.com/en/
Thumbnail image is from Flickr