Hokkaido is Japan's North Island
Hokkaido is Japan's North Island
There are dozens of Hokkaido ski resorts dotted across the island
There are dozens of Hokkaido ski resorts dotted across the island
Ski Hokkaido for amazing powder
Ski Hokkaido for amazing powder
Rusutsu is renowned for its awesome tree skiing
Rusutsu is renowned for its awesome tree skiing
Asahidake is a backcountry off-piste mecca
Asahidake is a backcountry off-piste mecca
Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital has over 2000 restaurants & bars
Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital has over 2000 restaurants & bars
Furano is a central Hokkaido ski resort with over 1,000m vertical
Furano is a central Hokkaido ski resort with over 1,000m vertical
Kiroro: Hokkaido skiing for families with some secret stashes for powderhounds
Kiroro: Hokkaido skiing for families with some secret stashes for powderhounds
Asahikawa is rich in Japanese culture & an ideal base for a roadtrip
Asahikawa is rich in Japanese culture & an ideal base for a roadtrip
Hokkaido skiing at its finest
Hokkaido skiing at its finest
Ski Hokkaido for deep deep powder
Ski Hokkaido for deep deep powder
Ski Hokkaido for the amazing powder - Tomamu is also great for families
Ski Hokkaido for the amazing powder - Tomamu is also great for families
Sounkyo ice festival (at the base of Kurodake)
Sounkyo ice festival (at the base of Kurodake)
Kurodake is a backcountry Hokkaido ski area for experts
Kurodake is a backcountry Hokkaido ski area for experts
Furano is a great ski resort and provides easy access to other ski areas
Furano is a great ski resort and provides easy access to other ski areas
Hokkaido cat skiing with HBC
Hokkaido cat skiing with HBC
Hokkaido cat skiing is fantastic to score fresh powder
Hokkaido cat skiing is fantastic to score fresh powder
Hokkaido heli skiing with HBC
Hokkaido heli skiing with HBC
The heli skiing is near Niseko and Rusutsu
The heli skiing is near Niseko and Rusutsu
Hokkaido snowboarding - gorgeous pow
Hokkaido snowboarding - gorgeous pow

Hokkaido

Hokkaido SkiingHokkaido skiing is incredibly rewarding for powder hounds. Hokkaido, the north island of Japan, is ideally located in the path of consistent weather systems that bring the cold air across the Sea of Japan from Siberia. This results in many of the Hokkaido ski resorts being absolutely dumped with powder that is renowned for being incredibly dry. Some of the ski areas receive an amazing average of 14-18 metres of snowfall annually!

Hokkaido Ski Resorts Niseko is the powder capital of the world and as such is the most popular international ski destination in Japan. It doesn’t seem to stop snowing in Niseko, which is the major drawcard. Other famous resorts include Rusutsu and Furano, and Asahidake is gaining more notoriety amongst international skiers and snowboarders. Hokkaido also has many ski resorts that are somewhat off the beaten track for international tourists.

Ski Hokkaido or Ski Honshu? How Do They Compare? Hokkaido snow is generally superior to the powder in Honshu, the main island of Japan. Even though many of the ski resorts west of Sapporo (such as Niseko, Sapporo Kokusai and Kiroro) are in close proximity to the ocean, the cold temperatures tend to keep the powder dry. The volume of snow that dumps on these coastal mountains is also generally higher than that in Honshu (with some exceptions such as the snow factory at Tenjindaira and at Hakkoda in the far north of Honshu). Further inland in central Hokkaido there’s slightly less snowfall, but the quality of the powder is even better. Not surprisingly our Japan ski resorts ratings indicate that Hokkaido comes up trumps when it comes to destinations for powder hounds.

Hokkaido has a reputation for being deep not steep, and whilst this is true of some of the Hokkaido ski resorts, places such as Sapporo Teine and Kurodake blow this myth out of the water. As a generalisation, Hokkaido ski resorts are less steep than many of the high profile Honshu ski resorts, but when you compare skiing in Japan to some of the gnarly North American ski resorts such as Silverton, Whistler, Jackson Hole and Kicking Horse, all the Japan ski resorts seem really mellow!

The Hokkaido ski season generally starts earlier than Honshu because the north island of Japan tends to do much better for early season snow than Honshu, particularly at resorts such as Kiroro and Niseko. You can see the Japan ski resort stats for an indication of the Hokkaido skiing season opening and closing times at the big resorts.

Hokkaido is not densely populated and has more of a rural feel to it than Honshu. Generally everything is cheaper in Hokkaido than Honshu (Niseko, Rusutsu and Kiroro are exceptions), and the more you get off the beaten track, the cheaper it is. The cuisine is also somewhat different to other regions of Japan, with much more emphasis on ramen and seafood specialties such as crab.

Hokkaido provides a great taste of Japan, but if you want to combine a ski holiday with some historical sightseeing, temple hopping, traditional Japanese architecture spotting, and generally just absorbing the Japanese culture, then Honshu is better than Hokkaido.

Where are the Hokkaido Ski Resorts? Many of the ski resorts are close together so you can easily sample multiple resorts, particularly if you go on a Hokkaido ski or snowboard tour. The following are some of the ski resorts in Hokkaido, grouped according to location:

West of Sapporo
  • Niseko – 100km southwest of Sapporo and the New Chitose Airport (2.5 hours drive)
  • Moiwa – next to Niseko
  • Rusutsu – 75km southwest of Sapporo (90 minutes) and 89km west of the New Chitose Airport
  • Kiroro – 43km west of Sapporo
Near Sapporo
  • Sapporo Teine – 20km northwest of Sapporo (45 minutes)
  • Sapporo Kokusai – 46km west of Sapporo (1 hour)
  • Kiroro – 43km west of Sapporo East of Sapporo
  • Asarigawa Onsen - 35km northwest of Sapporo (40 mins drive)
  • Furano – 113km northeast of Sapporo (2:15 hours)
  • Tomamu – 150km east of Sapporo (1:20 hours by train from Sapporo; 1 hour by train from the New Chitose Airport)
  • Sahoro – 179km east of Sapporo (3 hours)
  • Mount Racey (Yubari) – 77km east of Sapporo (1.5 hours)
Near Asahikawa (Central Hokkaido)
Ski Hokkaido with the Family Some of the Hokkaido ski resorts are no-frills and ideal for backcountry enthusiasts, thereby making a family ski holiday extremely difficult. Examples include Kamui Ski Links, Asahidake, and Kurodake.

Other Hokkaido ski resorts have well developed facilities and some have lots of activities to keep the little folks entertained (e.g. Tomamu). Ski areas that offer group ski and snowboard lessons for kids include Niseko, Furano, Tomamu, and Sahoro (via Club Med).

Also Japanese ski resorts typically have only hotel or pension accommodation, so if you want the family to stay in self-contained accommodation (e.g. an apartment or house) you’ll need to go to a ski resort that’s somewhat westernised such as Niseko or Furano.

Also see the tables on our where to ski in Japan page that outline which ski resorts have self-contained accommodation, child care, child care with English speaking staff, and kids’ ski school with English speaking instructors.

Cat Skiing Hokkaido

Hokkaido cat skiing is growing in popularity, because it's a great way to access backcountry fresh powder without having to hike for it. New cat skiing operations include Shimamaki Cat Skiing (with transport from Niseko), Rising Sun Cat Skiing (near Niseko) and a new operation will start up at the former Chisenupuri ski resort (adjacent to Moiwa Niseko). And for those new to cat skiing or riding powder, Niseko Weiss Powder Cats is a great choice. Check out the Japan cat skiing page for more information.

Heli Skiing Hokkaido

Or for the ultimate in scoring fresh powder, there’s also Hokkaido heli skiing near Niseko and Rusutsu with Shiribetsu Heli Skiing.

Other Hokkaido Backcountry Skiing

Hokkaido is a treasure trove of powder stashes for backcountry skiing and split boarding aficionados. There are lots of options for backcountry ski tours out of Furano, Kiroro and Niseko, and popular BC spots include Tokachidake, Kurodake, Asahidake and Rishiri Island. Our Hokkaido backcountry tour listings outline a range of day trips and multi-day tours where you have to earn all of your turns, or at least some of them!

Getting to Hokkaido Japan For information on getting to Hokkaido, see our travel to Hokkaido page, which includes tips on flights to Sapporo and Asahikawa.

Hokkaido Ski and Snowboard Tours

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Hokkaido Storm Chaser DETAILS
GUIDED STORM CHASING SAFARI
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas
From price based on twin-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including 8% consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,200
Book and pay deposit prior to C.O.B. August 31st 2016 and get 10% off the advertised price.
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced
Chase the storms and access the deepest and best quality snow conditions on the day in the Niseko United area and Central Hokkaido's world famous deep dry powder.
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Hokkaido Snow Tow DETAILS
HOSTED & SELF-GUIDED ADVENTURE
6 Nights | 7 Days | 5 Skiing | 5 Ski Areas
From price based on triple/quad-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,496
Book and pay deposit prior to Nov 30, 2016 and get 14.7% off advertised price
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Take the hassle out of organising your powder adventure to Hokkaido Japan next season by joining one of these great unguided tours. You still have the freedom to do your own thing at the ski areas but all of the logistics are taken care of.
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Central Hokkaido Tour DETAILS
FULLY GUIDED & HOSTED TOUR
10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing/Riding | Up to 6 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,428
$AU100 off for 27 Dec, 6 Jan, 16 Jan, 25 Feb, & 7 Mar tour dates. Book by 30th Sept.
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Avoid the crowds and come and play at some of Hokkaido's hidden gems including Furano, Asahidake, Kamui Links, Sahoro, Mt Racey and Tomamu.
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Hokkaido here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Furano Ski & Snowboard Progression DETAILS
SKI & SNOWBOARD PROGRESSION TOUR
6 days | Furano ski resort
From price based on 6-day package per person.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,366
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
This package is ideal for skiers & boarders looking to hunt the POWDER whilst improving their skiing & riding ability. On this 6-day package, Action Snow Sports will show you the goods around Furano and subject to conditions a couple of day trips to other resorts such as Tomamu & Sahoro.
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Le Grand Ultimate Powder Tour DETAILS
GUIDED & HOSTED POWDER TOUR
9 Nights | 8 Ski Days | 5+ Resorts
From price based on twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in USD ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 3,495
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Chase the powder in & around the Furano area with qualified guides for 8 epic days. The package also includes quality accommodation with daily breakfast located in the heart of the Furano ski area village plus all lift tickets at up to 5+ ski areas, all private ground transport & welcome & farewell dinners.
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Niseko Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TRIPS IN/FROM NISEKO
For PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 6 guests
From price based on Niseko guided day tour (private groups only of 6 guests). If you are a single the cost is 6X that shown pr person.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 88
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you are in Niseko with a group, you can't go past a guided ski or snowboard day tour in Niseko or at one of the nearby ski areas such as Rusutsu, Moiwa, Kiroro, Kokusai or Tiene. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 6 guests (i.e. you cannot join a group).
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Hokkaido here
Single-Base, Single-Ski-Area Tours
Kiroro Guiding DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TRIPS IN/FROM KIRORO
Private (up to 7 guests) or mixed group
From price based on guided day tour in Kiroro (mixed group).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 132
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you're based in Kiroro, make the most of this powder laden resort by getting a guide to show you all the tastiest spots. Join a group for lift access backcountry riding or snowcat assisted BC touring, or private guiding is available for sidecountry & backcountry tours, or day trips to Niseko, Moiwa, Rusutsu, Teine..
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Mt Rishiri DETAILS
RISHIRI ISLAND BACKCOUNTRY TOURING
Private Customised Tour
From price based on twin/triple-share based on group of 5 (per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
Enquire Enquire
Ability: Advanced, Expert
This CUSTOMISABLE backcountry guided ski/ split board tour heads to Rishiri Island, way up north off the NW coast of Hokkaido, where those famous weather patterns from Siberia bring loads of powder.
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See all Single-Base, Single-Ski-Area tours that visit Hokkaido here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
BDT Lift Assisted Backcountry Tours DETAILS
LIFT ASSISTED BACKOUNTRY TOURS
Niseko Area | PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY | Min 2 Days
From price based on 2 day tour per person - 5 people in private group (lift tickets not included). You cannot join a group on these tours.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 243
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Join Black Diamond Tours on 2 days of guided powder hunting in Niseko or one of the nearby resort or backcountry areas with your own PRIVATE GROUP. Areas include Niseko backbowls, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Tiene & Kokusai.
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Backcountry Delights DETAILS
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Skiing
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,569
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Journey into the heart of Hokkaido with a tour/guiding company that has been running Hokkaido ski tours since 1984. This incredible backcountry tour takes in Tomamu backcountry, Yubari Range, Furano, Kitami Pass and Kurodake.
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Backcountry Classic DETAILS
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
11 Days | 10 Nights | Up to 8 Days Touring/Skiing
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,880
Ability: Advanced, Expert
The Backcountry Classic Tour is pure backcountry skiing at its finest at Asahidake & Tokachidake. Deep, deep dry powder and it's all yours!
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See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Hokkaido here
Cat Skiing Tours
Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures DETAILS
GUIDED CAT SKIING ADVENTURE (2 or 4 days)
Stay in a Traditional Japanese Inn Inc All Meals
From price based on triple share 2-day package.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,276
Book by June 30 2016 and get 10% off advertised price
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
This is the best Japan cat skiing! Departing from Niseko, the trip offers incredible snowcat accessed powder skiing & boarding, staying in a traditional coastal Japanese inn. Ride deep untracked powder all day, feast on Japanese cuisine and soak in the hotel's onsen in the evening.
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Chisenupuri Cat Skiing DETAILS
CAT SKIING NEAR NISEKO (1 day)
From price based on 1 day package per person.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 292
Ability: Strong Intermediate
The cat skiing near Niseko is at the former ski resort of Chisenupuri and is ideal for those learning to ski or snowboard in powder. For any apprentice powder hound heading to Niseko, Chisenupuri cat skiing is a lust-do! Finish the cat ski day with a soak in an amazing onsen.
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Niseko Cat Skiing DETAILS
NISEKO CAT SKIING | Single day, guided
From price based on per person with a minimum of 4 persons to operate. Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
Price p/p
USD 475
Ability: Advanced, Expert
A day of awesome guided cat skiing near Niseko in backcountry terrain with some steep lines, technical trees, and pillows and mushrooms. The snowcat skiing is ideal for those craving bottomless untracked powder runs.
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See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Hokkaido here