Exciting news! Japan has lifted its travel restrictions just in time for the snow season. With so many of us eager to hit Japan’s world-famous slopes, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help plan your ski trip. Continue reading to find out when and where to ski in Japan, accommodation options, and our best travel tips for skiing in Japan for 2023.
A Guide To Skiing In Japan
Why go skiing in Japan?
Japan is one of the best ski destinations in the world. Given the cost of skiing in Australia and our proximity to Japan, thousands of Aussies find themselves flocking to Japan to experience its magical snow season, which is unparalleled. Each year, Japanese ski resorts see an average of 12-18 metres of snowfall, consisting of some of the world’s finest, softest powder snow.
There’s also plenty to do in Japan when you’re not skiing. Visiting during the snow season is a great opportunity to experience all Japan has to offer, including natural wonders, breathtaking scenery, rich history, and local cuisine. Whether you’re looking to hit the slopes every morning or spend your time relaxing in onsens and sipping warm sake, Japan is a winter wonderland for everyone.
When to go skiing in Japan?
Japan’s snow season is quite long, typically lasting between mid-December - early April. The best time to ski in Japan depends on what kind of ski adventure you’re after.
December marks the beginning of Japan’s ski season, with heavy snowfall towards the end of the month. This is usually the busiest and most expensive time to ski in Japan due to holidays like Christmas and New Year’s. December is a great time to ski in Japan to experience a bustling and lively atmosphere; however, we recommend booking your flights and accommodation well in advance.
January - February
The period between January and February is when the snow is at its finest - it’s even coined the name ‘Japanuary’ by people around the globe flocking to Japan. Several winter festivals are held around this time, with many Aussie families visiting during the school holidays.
March - April
The most affordable time to ski in Japan is between March and April, as ski resorts are much quieter during this period. Better rates on accommodation, shorter lift queues, and bluebird days. Spring skiing is also great for beginners who may feel intimidated by skiing during peak season.
Where to go skiing in Japan?
The best areas to ski in Japan ultimately depends on the type of holiday you’re looking for. Japan is home to many popular skiing areas, varying in conditions, local culture and attractions.
Hokkaido is Japan’s most northerly region, known as the country’s ‘powder capital’. The area is home to many of Japan’s famous ski resorts, including Niseko and Furano. Hokkaido is especially popular for its longer snow seasons and backcountry skiing.
Nagano is located in central Japan, surrounded by the stunning Japanese Alps. The city has the highest number of ski resorts, including the famous Hakuba village, which boasts high mountains and steep terrains. Nagano is popular among tourists due to its proximity to Tokyo, which is about a 90-minute train journey. It’s also a hot spring destination, home to several onsen villages and Japan’s famous snow monkeys.
Niigata, which borders Nagano, offers stunning mountain views and slopes for all experience levels. Yazawa, a popular ski area within Niigata, conveniently has its own bullet train station. Due to its accessibility, Niigata is a popular day or weekend ski trip destination. Popular ski resorts in Niigata include Naeba and Myoko Kogen. It’s also a popular foodie destination, famous for its sake breweries and seafood.
How to choose accomodation?
Once you’ve decided where to ski, it’s time to decide where to stay. Luckily, Japan has over 500 ski resorts, so there are many accommodation options for all budget types. Hotels are the most popular accommodation type, where you can experience Japan’s unique apres ski culture, including nighttime skiing. Self-contained accommodations like apartments and cabins are less common. However, they are available in some westernised areas like Niseko.
If you want to experience Japanese-style hospitality at its finest, we recommend staying at a Ryokan. Ryokans are Japanese-style inns that incorporate traditional architecture, decor, bathing and dining.
Tips for planning a ski trip to Japan
Consider the following when planning your ski trip to Japan.
- Stay up to date on travel information. Read Japan’s latest travel requirements when organising your trip. Check VISA requirements and travel restrictions to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
- Organise your travel insurance. Most standard travel insurance doesn’t cover snow sports, so ensure you’ve got the appropriate cover and consider the extra cost when budgeting for your trip.
- Decide what gear to bring and what to hire. If you’re only skiing for a few days or planning on travelling to other areas in Japan, consider renting your gear for convenience. However, if you’re skiing for several weeks, you’ll get more value from bringing your own gear. Ensure your flights include sports equipment to avoid the cost of extra baggage.
- Have a reliable travel companion. Having the right luggage is important when heading to the snow. Hard suitcases are lightweight, durable and waterproof, making transporting your gear through the snow easy. Wheeled Duffle Bags are perfect for transporting your bulkier ski gear.
Skiing in Japan is unlike anything else in the world. If you’re thinking of finally ticking Japan off your bucket list, plan your ski trip in style with travel gear from Strandbags. Shop luggage, travel accessories and more now.