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Skiing & Snowboarding in Japan: Best Ski Resorts in Japan & When to Go

While Japan is known for its neon-lit cities, historic shrines, and delicious food, it is also filled with fantastic ski resorts that draw in many winter sports lovers from around the world. From back-country skiing to around 500 ski resorts, there is a place to ski or snowboard for any skill level.

Why is Japan such a great ski/snowboard destination?

Back country skiing in Niseko (Image: PIXTA)

Japan is known for its unparalleled quality and quantity of powder snow. The cold and dry winds that form in Siberia absorb moisture over the Sea of Japan. They then release this in the form of snow over parts of Japan. The resulting snow is light and powdery and gets all the skiers and snowboarders excited worldwide.

So why is powder snow so great, you might ask? Well, the lighter the snow, the easier it is on your legs, so you can ride all day long! It feels as if you are floating along the clouds! The sheer quantity of snow also means that there are ski resorts all the way from the northern prefecture of Hokkaido to the southern island of Kyushu.

Combined with the delicious food, relaxing hot springs, and spectacular scenery, it makes Japan one of the most exciting places to visit for ski and snowboarders.

When is ski season in Japan?

(Image: PIXTA)

December through February is the most popular period to visit Japan to ski and snowboard. Japan sees its highest snowfall during this time, so you can enjoy the deep powder snow in many parts of the country.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, in 2021, Niseko (one of Japan’s most popular ski resort towns) saw 262 cm of snow in December, 249 cm in January, and 247 cm in February. While this is just one example, these months are much the same for the rest of Japan.

During early February, be wary of the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese skiers and snowboarders flock to Japan during the holidays, which often sees higher travel and hotel prices as well as being busier than usual.

Spring skiing is also popular in areas such as Hokkaido, where the prices are lower than in winter, and the slopes see fewer people. You can experience the warmer temperatures and spring sun while enjoying the slopes. Whilst you might not find the deep powder that you might find in winter, it is a fantastic, cheap and different way to enjoy your skiing or snowboarding holiday.

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Popular ski destinations in Japan

(Map image: PIXTA)

You can find approximately 500 ski resorts throughout the country. Still, a few areas, in particular, take our spot as the top areas we think you should visit for your winter sports holiday. Remember, these are just a selection of the hundreds of resorts left to explore!

1. Hokkaido

Biei in winter (Image: PIXTA)

Hokkaido is Japan’s no…

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