Nozawa Onsen: a fabulous all-rounder
Nozawa Onsen: a fabulous all-rounder
Kiroro Resort - is a fabulous family resort with some hidden powder stashes
Kiroro Resort - is a fabulous family resort with some hidden powder stashes
Niskeo Hokkaido is the most popular ski resort in Japan for westerners
Niskeo Hokkaido is the most popular ski resort in Japan for westerners
Rusutsu is a great family ski resort & has some of the best tree skiing in Japan
Rusutsu is a great family ski resort & has some of the best tree skiing in Japan
Asakidake has a single ropeway and no on-piste skiing
Asakidake has a single ropeway and no on-piste skiing
Hakkoda is a backcountry adventure area in northern Honshu
Hakkoda is a backcountry adventure area in northern Honshu
Nozawa Onsen is a great ski area with a special cultural feel
Nozawa Onsen is a great ski area with a special cultural feel
Japan Snow Monsters at Zao Onsen
Japan Snow Monsters at Zao Onsen
Kokusai ski resort is one of Sapporo's local ski areas - great powder stashes
Kokusai ski resort is one of Sapporo's local ski areas - great powder stashes
Myoko Kogen in Honshu is made up of several ski areas - great for families
Myoko Kogen in Honshu is made up of several ski areas - great for families
Kurodake in Hokkaido is for experienced backcountry skiers
Kurodake in Hokkaido is for experienced backcountry skiers
Kagura in Honshu is a great ski area for intermediates
Kagura in Honshu is a great ski area for intermediates
Shiga Kogen is a massive ski area great for beginners & intermediates
Shiga Kogen is a massive ski area great for beginners & intermediates
Appi Kogen in Hokkaido is an excellent family resort
Appi Kogen in Hokkaido is an excellent family resort
Tomamu in Hokkaido is a great all-rounder
Tomamu in Hokkaido is a great all-rounder
Furano in Hokkaido has some of the steepest piste terrain in Japan
Furano in Hokkaido has some of the steepest piste terrain in Japan
Hakuba in Honshu is huge and very popular with westerners
Hakuba in Honshu is huge and very popular with westerners
Gala Yuzawa - quick to get there from Tokyo
Gala Yuzawa - quick to get there from Tokyo
Naeba is a very popular resort for Japanese families and is close to Tokyo
Naeba is a very popular resort for Japanese families and is close to Tokyo
Shiga Kogen is close to the snow monkeys
Shiga Kogen is close to the snow monkeys

Where to Ski in Japan

Where To Ski in Japan? Where To Go Snowboarding in Japan? Can’t decide where to ski in Japan or go snowboarding in Japan? In deciding which ski resort to go to for your next Japan ski holiday, everyone has different factors that are important. To aid in your decision making:
  • Check out our Japan ski resort ratings which are broken down into many aspects such as: terrain for different abilities; the powder; lift infrastructure; family-friendliness; cost; nightlife; and the likelihood of finding “freshies”.
  • See our “best skiing in Japan” awards for ideas on which resort may suit your needs.
  • See our Japan ski resort statistics which includes the proportion of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs, resort size and snowfall.
  • See our ski Japan family page for information on family friendly Japanese ski resorts.
  • See the tables below regarding accommodation and culture.
  • See the information below regarding Japan snow quantity and quality, resort size, and Japan ski resorts where off-piste skiing and snowboarding is possible.
Japan Ski Resorts: Accommodation, Culture and Village Vibe It’s difficult to find a ski resort in Japan that ticks all the boxes! For example, we often receive resort advice queries for a Japan ski resort with western traits such as self-contained accommodation (ie an apartment or house for a group) and where English is widely spoken, and where there’s also plenty of Japanese culture and it's not overrun with westerners. This is a tricky one and there only a couple of ski resorts that provide the westernised elements whilst still retaining some of the essence of Japan.

Self-contained accommodation at Japan ski resorts is rare; most resorts just have pensions and hotels. Finding a resort with a great village or town that’s rich in traditional Japanese culture can also be a little difficult. Many Japanese ski resorts were purpose built during the bubble era and just consist of huge resort hotels. The culture found at these ski resorts is more “modern Japanese” as opposed to what westerners perceive as traditional Japanese culture (as found at Nozawa Onsen or Zao Onsen).

 
Luxury
accom
Budget
accom
Self
contained
accom
Japanese
culture
Village/
town
English
widely
spoken
 Onsens
Asahidake
 ~
           
Furano
 ~




 
Kiroro



~

~  
Niseko






 
Rusutsu


~
~

~
 ~
Sahoro
~





 ~
Tomamu
 ~   ~      ~
Appi Kogen
   ~  ~ ~
   ~  ~
Arai Resort              
Hakuba      
     
Madarao  ~   ~    ~  ~  
Myoko Kogen
 
 ~  ~      
Naeba ~ ~
  ~
~
 ~
Nozawa Onsen
       ~  
 
Shiga Kogen
         ~  ~  
Zao Onsen
             
~ = partially or somewhat
NB Budget accommodation refers to backpacker style accommodation. Some ski resorts also have pensions that offer low cost accommodation.

Family Friendliness, Kids' Ski School
Finding a Japanese ski resort that caters well to English speaking children is somewhat difficult, and if you also want a Japanese cultural experience, your choices are incredibly limited. For information on the ski resorts that provide ski and snowboard lessons in English (group and private) and child care, and other tips on a family oriented snow holiday, see the family friendly Japan ski resorts page.

Japan Snow Volumes Only some of the Japanese ski resorts report the average snowfall per season, so it’s not possible to compare the volume of snow across all the resorts.

Of those that report the statistic, Kiroro and Niseko ski resort in Hokkaido receive the most snowfall and are well known for the deep powder. The cold weather systems that move across the Sea of Japan from Siberia are responsible for the deep dry powder. Nearby Rusutsu also receives abundant snowfall (14 metres), as does Asahidake (14 metres).

Sapporo Kokusai probably gets more snow than Niseko but it’s not well recorded. Ditto for Hakkoda where there are no buffering mountains between Hakkoda and the Sea of Japan, so Hakkoda cops the weather and snow in full force. 

A fraction further south is Appi Kogen. The statistic for the average snowfall per season is cited as 8 metres, but the true amount is much more than that because Appi records the amount of snowfall each day after they’ve squashed it down with the grooming machine. Only in Japan!

Tenjindaira is also renowned for huge snowfalls, although no one really measures it.

Japanese Ski Resorts Size In general the Japan ski resorts are very small compared to Canada, USA or Europe, and are more akin to the size of New Zealand ski resorts. Of course it’s difficult to make accurate comparisons because of the methods used to measure the statistic. For most of the ski resorts in Japan, the size only includes the piste and not the off-piste areas.

According to the Japan ski resort statistics, Niseko is the largest Japanese ski resort at 870 hectares (although the off-piste terrain is probably included in this stat). Compare this to the USA where the average size of a ski resort is 800 hectares and Canada where the average is about 1,000 hectares.

Shiga Kogen has the statistic of 607 hectares yet it’s probably larger than Niseko and has 19 different ski areas. In essence just use the statistics as a very rough guide to the size of the resorts.

Considering that most of the Japanese ski resorts are small or medium sized at most, a lot of the resorts don't provide adequate variety to hold the attention of advanced and expert riders for more than a few days. And some of the small Japan ski resorts are just good for one day. As a consequence, lots of powder hounds like to sample multiple ski areas, either via a DIY road trip, or via a hosted and guided multi-resort Japan ski tour.

Which Japan Ski Resorts Can you Ski Off-Piste?
Is Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding in Japan Allowed? 
As a very general rule, the Hokkaido ski areas have a much more relaxed approach to off-piste riding than the Honshu ski resorts. There are lots of Honshu ski areas that are very old school where off-piste riding is frowned upon, whilst riding under a chair lift is sacrilege! The implications of skiing off-piste at a resort where it's not allowed include being disrespectful, losing your lift pass, and potential insurance consequences, but a positive implication may be that you'll score more freshies than you'll know what to do with.

The information below is provided as a guide only. Skiing off-piste and out-of-bounds has inherent risks. Do so at your own risk and take appropriate avalanche equipment and exercise avalanche precautions. At all Japan ski resorts, backcountry riding is something you absolutely do at your own risk, and any rescue required will be at your cost. Remember if you don’t have the backcountry know-how, you are putting others at risk as well as yourself.

 
Off-piste
riding
permitted
Off-piste
riding
tolerated
Decent
off-piste
Backcountry
riding
tolerated

Asahidake
       
Furano




Kamui Links
       
Kiroro



 
Kurodake        
Niseko



 
Moiwa        
Rusutsu



 
Sahoro



 
Sapporo Kokusai
       
Sapporo Teine
       
Tomamu


 
Appi Kogen
~ ~
~ 
Geto Kogen        
Hachimantai        
Hakuba* ~ ~ ~
 
Hakkoda        
Inawashiro    ~   ~
Kagura
       
Madarao        
Myoko Kogen
~
~
 
Naeba
~

 
Nekoma   ~  
Nozawa Onsen
~

 
Shiga Kogen
~ ~
~
~
Shizukuishi        
Togakushi    ~   ~
Tangram  ~   ~    
Zao Onsen



 
~ = partially or somewhat
Off-piste riding tolerated = ski patrol turn a blind eye to going off-piste
Backcountry skiing and snowboarding tolerated = ski patrol turn a blind eye to going BC
* all the Hakuba ski areas vary somewhat


Japan Hosted & Guided Multi-Resort Ski Safaris  If you are a powder junkie, a multi-resort hosted and guided Japan ski tour 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 competition to get 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 page.