Skiing in Honshu Japan

http://www.powderhounds.com/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/images/Japan/Honshu/Overview/01.JPG
Honshu is the main island of Japan...most Honshu ski resorts are west & north of Tokyo
Honshu is the main island of Japan...most Honshu ski resorts are west & north of Tokyo
The Shinkansen (bullet train) is a fast, efficient & fun way to access the Honshu ski resorts
The Shinkansen (bullet train) is a fast, efficient & fun way to access the Honshu ski resorts
Nagano is the most famous region for ski resorts in Honshu (and Japan)
Nagano is the most famous region for ski resorts in Honshu (and Japan)
Nagano is home to the "must-see" snow monkey onsen
Nagano is home to the "must-see" snow monkey onsen
There are also many historic temples in and around Nagano
There are also many historic temples in and around Nagano
Hakuba is one of the largest Nagano ski resorts with 11 ski area in the one valley
Hakuba is one of the largest Nagano ski resorts with 11 ski area in the one valley
Shiga Kogen in Nagano has 19 interconnected ski areas making it the largest in Japan
Shiga Kogen in Nagano has 19 interconnected ski areas making it the largest in Japan
Niigata is renowned for huge snowfalls & many great hot springs
Niigata is renowned for huge snowfalls & many great hot springs
The biggest Niigata ski resorts are Myoko Kogen which is made up of multiple ski areas
The biggest Niigata ski resorts are Myoko Kogen which is made up of multiple ski areas
Yuzawa is also part of Niigata with 9 great ski areas & just over an hour by Shinkansen from Tokyo
Yuzawa is also part of Niigata with 9 great ski areas & just over an hour by Shinkansen from Tokyo
Gunma is a lesser known area with amazing historic onsens & a rich Japanese cultural experience
Gunma is a lesser known area with amazing historic onsens & a rich Japanese cultural experience
Tenjindaira is the most famous Gunma ski area for foreigners but there are many gems in this region
Tenjindaira is the most famous Gunma ski area for foreigners but there are many gems in this region
Aizu area is becoming a popular destination for foreigners due to its affordability & low crowds
Aizu area is becoming a popular destination for foreigners due to its affordability & low crowds
Aizu ski resorts include Inawashiro, Alts Bandai, Gran Deco, Nekoma & Minowa
Aizu ski resorts include Inawashiro, Alts Bandai, Gran Deco, Nekoma & Minowa
Yamagata is one of Japan
Yamagata is one of Japan's most famous sake regions along with incredible hot springs
The most famous Yamagata ski resort is Zao Onsen which is large & has many historic ryokans with hot springs
The most famous Yamagata ski resort is Zao Onsen which is large & has many historic ryokans with hot springs
Iwate is less frequented by foreigners but watch this space. This area has some epic skiing/riding.
Iwate is less frequented by foreigners but watch this space. This area has some epic skiing/riding.
Appi Kogen is the largest Iwate ski resort followed by Shizukuishi. Other resorts include Geto Kogen & Amihari.
Appi Kogen is the largest Iwate ski resort followed by Shizukuishi. Other resorts include Geto Kogen & Amihari.
Aomori is located at the northern tip of Honshu where the Shinkansen dives under the sea to connect to Hokkaido
Aomori is located at the northern tip of Honshu where the Shinkansen dives under the sea to connect to Hokkaido
The main Aomori ski areas; Aomori Spring & Hakkoda are famous for huge volumes of snow
The main Aomori ski areas; Aomori Spring & Hakkoda are famous for huge volumes of snow

Skiing in Honshu Japan

Honshu, the main island of Japan, has hundreds of ski resorts so you’ll be spoiled for choice with Honshu skiing.

Honshu Skiing versus Hokkaido

How does skiing in Honshu compare to Hokkaido skiing?

Honshu Snow
As a general rule, it doesn’t snow as much in Honshu compared to Hokkaido (especially the coastal resorts). The ski resorts near Nagano come close to the amazing snowfalls of Hokkaido. The main Nagano ski resorts have an average annual snowfall of 10 to 13 metres which is nearly the 14 to 15 metres of Rusutsu and Niseko in Hokkaido. One exception is Tenjindaira where it snows about 16 metres per season. Another exception is Hakkoda where there’s so much snow no one can really measure it. If it snows 8 metres per season at sea level in Aomori, you can start to imagine how much it snows up at 1,600 metres! Other Honshu ski resorts where it snows a lot include Geto Kogen, Tazawako and Ani.

The Honshu snow is usually not as dry and fluffy as in Hokkaido, and this includes the Hokkaido ski resorts that are in close proximity to the coast.

Deep and Steep?
Most skiing in Japan is rather mellow when compared to many ski resorts in North America, Europe and New Zealand. There are of course some exceptions in Japan. When comparing Honshu and Hokkaido, as a general rule, Honshu ski resorts are steeper but there is a wide variation between the ski resorts. If you're looking for steep, head to Tenjindaira.

Cultural Activities
One of the benefits of a Honshu ski holiday is that you don’t just have to ski or snowboard. The Nagano area in particular offers lots of culturally interesting activities such as visiting historical onsen villages such as Shibu Onsen with traditional Japanese architecture, temple hopping, and other fascinating sightseeing.

Once in Honshu it’s also easy to do side trips or stopovers in Tokyo or Kyoto, a real cultural eye opener.

Honshu Ski Resorts Japan

Nagano Ski Resorts
Many of the Honshu ski resorts are within the Japanese Alps in the prefectures of Nagano and Niigata, with quite a few situated near Nagano city (northwest of Tokyo) which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and put some of these areas on the map. Some of the Nagano ski areas include:
  • The Hakuba area consists of various resorts that are interlinked via buses.
  • Shiga Kogen is a group of ski areas that are largely interconnected via the slopes.
  • Nozawa Onsen is the Kyoto of ski resorts, a historic hot springs and ski resort town in northern Nagano.
  • Myoko Kogen is a group of ski resorts located one hour north of Nagano in the Niigata prefecture.
  • Madarao Mountain Resort is located between Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen.
Yuzawa Ski Resorts
The Yuzawa ski resorts are also in the Niigata Prefecture and only 70-90 minutes from Tokyo on the Joetsu Shinkansen. The area is a treasure chest of ski areas with more than a dozen places to play near Yuzawa. A juggernaut with all the bells and whistles is the Naeba ski resort. Next door is Kagura ski resort which is quieter and it offers some nice backcountry.

Other Niigata ski resorts include Arai and Charmant Hiuchi.

Tohoku Ski Resorts
Tohoku, the north eastern region of Honshu, includes the prefectures of Yamagata, Fukushima, Iwate, Akita and Aomori. Tohoku skiing is renowned for negligible competition for the fresh powder because most foreigners haven't heard of many of the ski areas.

The Aizu Ski Resorts are ideal for road tripping around.

Zao Onsen is an onsen (hot springs) and ski resort town near Yamagata that is famous for its snow ghosts (ice rain covered trees).

Appi is a classy ski resort that keeps discerning skiers and boarders very ‘appi! Appi is located near Morioka in the Iwate Prefecture. Geto Kogen is also near Morioka and is renowned for the huge volumes of snow that descend upon it. Other Iwate ski resorts are also great for powder hounds.

Even Hakkoda in the Aomori Prefecture 710km north of Tokyo is easily accessed from Tokyo. The bullet train (Shinkansen) only takes 3 hours. Hakkoda isn’t so much a ski resort, but rather a cable car accessed backcountry experience where there’s so much powder you won’t know what to do with it.

Aomori Spring is also located in the very northern tip of Honshu, and is ideal for beginners, terrain park junkies, and tree skiing fiends.

Gunma Ski Resorts
The Gunma Prefecture is very mountainous and it lies to the east of Nagano Prefecture and south of the Niigata Prefecture. Most of the Gunma ski resorts sit in the northeast corner of the prefecture, and being a little further from the coast, the snow tends to be dryer and less voluminous compared to the Nagano ski resorts.

Tenjindaira is for backcountry powder hounds, and nearby Minakami Houdaigi is a good back-up for weather days. Oze Iwakura is a little gem for powder hounds, whilst Manza Onsen is superb for onsen hounds.

Honshu Skiing with the Family

Most of the high profile Honshu ski resorts have well developed facilities and a couple have an abundance of activities to keep the little folks entertained (e.g. Naeba, Appi). However they don’t necessary cater well to English speaking families. Many of the child care facilities don’t have English speaking staff (which may be a concern for some infants), and whilst it’s possible to get private ski or snowboard lessons, it’s atypical to have group lessons with an English speaking instructor. It’s also rare for a ski resort to have self-contained accommodation such as apartments or houses.

Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen are the only Honshu ski resorts that easily tick all these boxes. Check out the ski Japan with kids page for more information.

Travel to Honshu

Another benefit of skiing in Honshu is that for many international visitors, it’s much easier to fly into Tokyo than to travel to Hokkaido. The Japan railways are very sophisticated, so once in Honshu, the many bullet trains make travel fast and convenient.

There are lots of options for flights into Tokyo. Airlines include Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, Air New Zealand, Air China, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines (you might want to consider a Singapore stopover).

Use one of the recommended flight search engines to find a great flight to Honshu.

If you need to stay overnight near Narita Airport (Tokyo International Airport), here are some listings for hotels near Narita Airport.

Honshu Ski & Snowboard Tours

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Tohoku Storm Chaser
GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN HONSHU
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow, and also experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder on this Tohoku tour. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu.
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room occupancy for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,903
View Details
 
Alps to Coast Tour
HAKUBA & MYOKO BC TOUR
8 Nights | 7 Day Skiing/Riding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This backcountry tour includes the HAKUBA region with its steep alpine terrain and the MYOKO area which receives big snow falls. Choose from either a side country tour (lift accessed backcountry) or ski touring/skinning backcountry. Option to include a day of cat skiing & option for deluxe accommodation.
Price p/p From price based on 8-nights twin share room for group of 5 (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,231
View Details
 
Pow Pow Japan Tour
HOSTED (UNGUIDED) PRIVATE GROUP TOUR
Cultural Ski & Snowboard Adventure
Ability: Beginner to Expert
Ski Japan's famous powder in conjunction with a rich cultural experience on this hosted tour. The tour is hosted by a local Japanese person who speaks fluent English; whilst the focus of the tours is primarily snow sports, you will experience the culture, food & festivities beyond the normal ski/snowboard adventure.
Price p/p From price based on 8-day sample itinerary, twin-share room (group of 6).
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,503
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Honshu here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Myoko Progression Tours
GUIDED PROGRESSION TOUR
8 Days | 7 Nights | 5 Days Skiing | Up to 7 Ski Areas
Ability: Beginner to Advanced
Want to improve your riding to tackle bigger and better terrain? Well this tour could be for you! Get ski or snowboard instruction and learn to ride & ski deep powder whilst immersing yourself in Japanese culture.
Price p/p From price based on twin/triple/quad-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,730
View Details
 
Hakuba Sweet
HAKUBA BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
8 Nights | 7 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Most people who visit Hakuba only ever drool at the possible backcountry endless lines from a distance. Explore the steep & deep backcountry terrain of Hakuba with either a lift accessed side country tour or go deep in the backcountry via skinning/split board.
Price p/p From price based on 8-nights in a twin share room with a group of 5 (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,140
View Details
 
Madarao Ski & Snowboard Clinics
SKI & SNOWBOARD PROGRESSION CLINICS
3 or 5 days | Madarao ski resort
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
This package is ideal for skiers & boarders looking to take their POWDER skiing & riding skills to new heights. Whether it be a quick 3-day brush up clinic or a 5-day powder blaster clinic or something in between, Action Snow Sports will ensure you meet your goals. Also includes instructional days at other resorts.
Price p/p From price based on 3-day clinic; per person.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 945
View Details
 
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Honshu here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Central Iwate looking at Amihari & Iwate Kogen from Shizukuishi
TOHOKU SKI & SNOWBOARDING TRIPS
PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are heading to the Iwate & Akita regions these PRIVATE guiding trips will maximise your Tohoku powder experience. Minimum 4 days. In-resort powder hunting, lift-access sidecountry & backcountry touring options. Resorts include Shizukuishi, Geto Kogen, Tazawako, Ani, Hachimantai, Amihari & Appi Kogen.
Price p/p Displayed based on 4 days per person if 3 in a group 1-3 People: ¥55,000JPY flat rate per day plus tax 4-5 People: ¥65,000JPY flat rate per day plus tax 4-6 People: ¥55,000JPY flat rate per day plus tax
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Displayed price may vary slightly due to currency fluctuations
USD 667
View Details
 
Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours
ADVANCED BACKCOUNTRY TOURS
Fully guided - from 3 days/nights
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This tour is for hard-core skiers and boarders wanting to ski & ride some of the deepest and steepest terrain in Honshu Japan. Whilst some of the terrain is accessible by lift, there will be a degree of hiking / touring involved. Snowboarders will require either a split-board or snow shoes....
Price p/p From price based on 3 nights/days; twin-share tatami room (group 3) for travel in January and February 2020.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 837
View Details
 
Hakuba Guided Day Tours
GUIDED DAY TOURS from HAKUBA
For PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 people
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry or sidecountry. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
Price p/p From price based on PRIVATE group tour with 5 guests (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 131
View Details
 
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Honshu here

Cat Skiing Tours

Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips
2 DAYS CAT SKIING, 2 NIGHTS LODGING
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Score yourself some Hachipow with 2 days of Hachimantai cat skiing. Share the cat skiing slopes with only 7 others! Add a couple of days of Hachimantai cat skiing to your Iwate itinerary or make it your main reason to head to the region.
Price p/p Price per person for 2 days cat skiing & 2 nights at Mountain Hotel twin-share accommodation. Base currency in Japanese yen.
USD 1,365
View Details
 
Shizukuishi Cat Powder Adventure
SHIZUKUISHI CAT + BACKCOUNTRY DAY TRIP
PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY up to 6 guests
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
This fantastic PRIVATE GROUP day-tour includes 3 epic cat skiing runs at a disused ski area plus up to 3 adventurous powder runs in the backcountry of Shizukuishi ski resort. Grab up to 5 other friends & enjoy what is sure to be one of the most memorable days you will have skiing in Japan.
Price p/p Price is per person based on 6 in group for 3 cat runs
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Displayed price may vary slightly due to currency fluctuations
USD 193
View Details
 
See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Honshu here