How To Get There
Flying to Japan
For advice on travelling to Japan, see our pages on getting to Honshu
and travel to Hokkaido
. From some countries it's quite difficult to get direct flights into Sapporo in Hokkaido, with flights generally going via Tokyo or another Asian city. Use one of our recommended flight aggregators
to search and compare flights to Japan.
Particularly if you're flying with Singapore Airlines, you might want to consider a Singapore stopover
. Or if you're flying into Tokyo
, you might want to check out this frenetic city for a couple of days.
Travelling Around Japan
How you choose to travel around Japan may depend upon your budget, your time availability, and the size of your luggage, and whether you need the convenience of being dropped at the hotel door.
Keep in mind that Japan has some great luggage courier systems if you don’t want to cart your baggage on trains, buses or in taxis. You can send your luggage between the airport and your ski resort hotel. It usually takes about 24 hours, so this service is particularly useful for travellers who are combining a ski holiday with a trip to Tokyo or Kyoto. Courier services cost about ¥1,500 to ¥3,000 per piece depending on the size and distance of travel. Kuroi Neko
(the courier service with the cat logo) is one example of a reputable company.
Using trains to get around
Trains are a fast, convenient and enjoyable way to travel around Japan. Train travel is also a great way to get into the culture of Japan. See our Japan rail travel
page for more information or to purchase a rail pass. Use Hyperdia
to search for train routes, schedules, and fares.
Using taxis to get around
Taxis are readily available in cities and large towns and are reasonably priced. Taxis are generally small sedans, so fitting in a large ski or snowboard bag may require some problem solving. Some taxis may have roof racks and they might only have small straps to affix skis, but not large ties to secure a big bag to the roof. It’s probably wise to pack your own octopus straps, or take your skis/snowboard out of the bag to fit them inside the taxi.
Using rental cars to get around
Japan is reasonably easy to navigate in a car considering that many of the road signs are in English or at least the roads are numbered. Road rules follow fairly typical international standards, and driving in Japan is nothing like the crazy driving in some other Asian countries such as Vietnam.
Most rental cars have a GPS which is in Japanese, but if you can get the rental company to enter the location for you, you’ll be able to follow the arrows on the screen. And more car hire companies are installing GPS that are in English, or BYO GPS to be on the safe side.
Cars drive on the left side of the road in Japan. In order to drive and rent a car in Japan, you will require an international driving license which you’ll need to organise through an automobile association before you go to Japan. These licenses are only valid for 12 months.
The rental cars will have snow tyres on them so chains generally won’t be necessary, but usual caution when driving on snow-covered or icy roads will need to be exercised.
Japan Hosted & Guided Multi-Resort Ski Safaris
If you are a powder junkie, a multi-resort hosted and guided ski safari could be the best way for you to get your powder fix. Once you have done one of these tours you will find it hard to ever go back to staying at one resort!
The larger resorts like Niseko get inundated with people all chasing that elusive powder. Meanwhile there are hundreds of smaller ski areas in Japan which most people don't visit as they are too little to visit for more than a day or two before getting bored; however they have some amazing powder skiing with little or no competition to get to the powder. A guide can get you to the good stuff fast and safely and another bonus is that they can drive you from one location to another.
Various tours are designed to cater to different abilities of skiers and snowboarders.
For an indication of dates and availability, check out the Japan Tours Schedule
||Hokkaido Hosted & Guided Ski Safaris
|Hokkaido is famous for what is probably the best powder on earth. Central Hokkaido in particular gets some of the deepest and driest snow. Jump on a tour with a guide to see the best of Hokkaido....
||Honshu Hosted & Guided Ski Safaris
|Honshu is said to have over 500 ski areas. The problem is, trying to find those that have great off-piste skiing on your own is near impossible. Go with an expert who has spent years finding the best Honshu has to offer...
If you would like to experience different ski areas and at the same time progress your skills to master the deep Japan powder, one of these packages could be ideal for you. These are not instructor courses, they are more about learning skills whilst on the slopes; not in a classroom.
||Japan Ski & Snowboard Progression Tours
|Most of these tours are based in a single location with day trips to nearby ski areas and/or runs in the sidecountry & backcountry. Great for solo travelers wanting to hang out with like-minded people...