The 11 Best Japan Ski Resorts

The 11 Best Japan Ski Resorts - UPDATED 2020/21
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Home to over 500 ski resorts, its hosted two Winter Olympics, and the ski season here is one of the snowiest in the world! When it comes to pure, unadulterated powder skiing, the Land of the Rising Sun is undisputedly world-class. Here's our top list of the best ski resorts in Japan!

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Known for

Unbeatable powder skiing for both beginners and experts

Highlights

  • Amazing quality powder with annual snowfall of over 500 in
  • Slopes are much less crowded than nearby Niseko
  • Great mix of off-piste and corduroy groomers to ski
  • Lack of nightlife and only accessible by bus or car

Closest airports

New Chitose Airport - 57 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Rusutsu ski resort Japan
Avoid the crowd in Rusutsu

Rusutsu is home to some of the deepest snow you’re ever likely to experience in your life, a place where crowds are non-existent (for now), and offering true indulgence to enjoy off the slopes. Perhaps what makes Rusutsu such an awesome ski resort is its versatility, with a nice balance of trails to suit all abilities. If you want to party, this resort isn’t the best choice, but honestly, after bouncing through powder all day you’ll probably be too exhausted anyway. It’s really the place to live in luxury for your Japanese ski vacation and comes complete with thermal hot spring baths, lavish to say the least!

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Known for

Most popular Japanese ski resort for international visitors with trails to suit all abilities

Highlights

  • Great village vibe with a vibrant nightlife
  • Easy to get to with plenty of transport options at the base areas
  • Caters for overseas skier as English is widely spoken
  • One of the most expensive places to ski in the country

Closest airports

New Chitose Airport - 70 mi (2 hour drive)
views of Mt Yotei from Niseko
Freshies and stunning views of Mt Yotei, what more could you ask for? 

Niseko is often the first choice for international skiers and snowboarders planning a ski vacation in Japan, and it really is no surprise why. This place caters for English speakers better than any other ski resort in Japan and has plenty of restaurants serving up western fare. Multiple transport connections also make it really easy to get to, plus there’s accommodation to suit every budget and taste. It’s one of the snowiest ski resorts in Japan, with an awesome variety of terrain and access to amazing backcountry! However, its fame has brought with it an increase in prices and crowds on the slopes.

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Known for

Quieter than Happo One, combining two mountains with ski terrain versatility

Highlights

  • Family-friendly including indoor and outdoor play areas
  • Night skiing available suitable for kids and beginners
  • Home to the best terrain park in Nagano
  • Limited nightlife at base and shuttle require to get to Happo Village

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 183 mi (4 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 213 mi (5 hour drive)
Goryu ski resort
Goryu

Hakuba 47 and Hakuba Goryu are interconnected at the summit and are both accessible with one lift pass. Hakuba 47 is known for its winter sports park that offers a half-pipe for professionals and various jumps. Meanwhile, Goryu is more beginner friendly and has the largest night skiing area out of all the resorts at Hakuba. Both parts of the resort will give you an authentic Japanese ski town experience without it being difficult to navigate by English speaking visitors. On the downside, off the mountain there isn’t so much to do, with just a few places to stay, eat, and drink next to the slopes.

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Known for

Largest ski area in Hakuba Valley with the most accommodation, dining and nightlife

Highlights

  • Lots of terrain variety including Olympic race trails
  • Happo Village has everything you need
  • Easily accessible from most resort accommodation
  • Slopes can get very busy on weekends and holidays

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 185 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 216 mi (5 hour drive)
Happo One ski resort
Happo One ski resort!

Made famous by the Nagano Winter Olympic Games in 1998, Happo One is the most popular resort in Hakuba Valley. To accompany Happo One’s huge terrain there are great shops, nightlife and restaurants that cater for those who want both western dining and traditional Japanese Izakaya. Happo really excels in their availability of sidecountry and access to the highly famed alpine backcountry with steep bowls at the ski resort. Although Happo One best suits intermediates, novice skiers will have plenty to do near the Sakka region which is loaded with beginner ski areas, tubing courses, trampolines and a children’s park.

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Known for

Affordable way to experience some of Japan’s steeper slopes and its famous powder

Highlights

  • Home to some of the steepest trails in Japan
  • Easy access - 40 minutes’ drive from Sapporo
  • Doesn't attract many international visitors so theres no crowd
  • Small ski area won’t keep you busy for long

Closest airports

New Chitose Airport - 45 mi (1 hour drive)
Sapporo Teine ski resort
Beginners and Experts, the slopes at Sapporo Teine are all yours!

Skiing at Sapporo Teine offers one of the cheapest ways to experience the legendary powder that Japan is so famous for. It’s not a particularly big resort but does get pretty steep here, something that Japanese ski resorts aren’t renowned for. Being literally just outside of Hokkaido’s biggest city, Sapporo Teine holds something unique over most other ski resorts in Japan. Head to the Highland Zone to see the snow, sea, and sity all in one view. However, intermediates might feel let down by the terrain here so if you fall into this category, consider a more intermediate-friendly ski resort, like Kiroro.

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Known for

Charming traditional village and amazing onsens

Highlights

  • Consistent powder and terrain for all abilities
  • Village is jam-packed with onsens (hot springs)
  • Slopes are never crowded
  • Slopeside restaurants get very busy

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 172 mi (4 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 201 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Kandahar East and West race trails in the distance at Nozawa Onsen
Kandahar East and West race trails in the distance at Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa is blessed with over 32 ft of powder each season and is only made up of one ski area with around 740 ac of skiable terrain. Although originally famed for their onsens, Nozawa is becoming a mecca for keen skiers and après-skiers while still retaining its traditional Japanese charm. In terms of Japanese standards, Nozawa has one of the best après ski scenes with a wide range of bars, restaurants and karaoke joints. Families will find Nozawa especially accommodating as there is a ski school with English speaking instructors and a free-of-charge ‘Kids Park’ on weekends with a bouncing castle as well as tubing and sledding.

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Known for

Perfect corduroy groomers and access to the largest connected ski area in Japan

Highlights

  • Terrain for all skiing abilities
  • Ski-in/ski-out accommodation is the norm
  • Lifts and trails connect you to many neighboring resorts
  • No real ski village at the base area so dining venues are limited

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 188 mi (4 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 214 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Shiga Kogen Nagano
Shiga Kogen offers a massive 19 stand-alone ski resorts

Shiga Kogen is Japan’s largest ski area with 19 interlinked resorts which are all accessible on one lift pass. Experts may find the terrain not challenging enough as there is nothing particularly steep and off-piste skiing is banned at most of the ski areas. The nightlife at Shiga Kogen is very modest, with no central village due to the layout of the resorts and most guests opt to eat, drink and socialise within their own accommodation. Your trip to Shiga Kogen would not be complete without a trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, with daily bus services running between the resort and the park. If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in Japanese culture, Shiga Kogen is the place to go as the resort is not overrun by tourists.

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Known for

Blending amazing skiing with an equally amazing cultural experience

Highlights

  • Large ski resort with a variety of trails for all abilities
  • Nearby city offers plenty of amenities, restaurants, and shopping
  • Cntral location in Hokkaido means snow quality is often better than Niseko
  • Not a great deal of luxury accommodation

Closest airports

New Chitose Airport - 78 mi (2 hour drive)
Furano ski resort Japan
Looking for some of the best pow Japan has to offer?

Furano is one of the most famous ski resorts within Japan, and has adapted very well to its increasing popularity, catering well for international skiers without losing its authentic Japanese charm. Alongside a fulfilling cultural experience, you’ll enjoy some fantastic skiing here too. The ski area is above par in comparison to the rest of Japan, providing plenty of terrain to suit all abilities. Being so close to the city of Furano, just 4 mi away, means you’ll find a huge variety of restaurants serving all manner of traditional Japanese delicacies.

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Known for

Relaxed attitude towards off-piste skiing and amazing family leisure facilities

Highlights

  • Inbounds off-piste skiing is allowed here and it’s awesome!
  • A family-friendly resort with fun activities for non-skiers
  • English speaking staff available
  • Non-existent nightlife (quite common at Japanese resorts)

Closest airports

New Chitose Airport - 68 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Tomamu ski resort
Test out the slopes at Tomamu

There aren’t many ski resorts like Tomamu in the world, being nestled within a pristine national park and blessed with bundles of fluffy powder during the winter. Whatever your first impressions might be, once you stay here you’ll realize just how much of a unique and amazing experience this place serves up! Not only does Tomamu cater well for expert off-piste skiers, there’s also a nice balance of beginner, intermediate, and advanced groomed trails to keep families of all skiing abilities happy. There's an indoor wave pool, church made out of ice, sledding, snow rafting, snowmobile rides, and the list continues.

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Known for

An authentic contemporary Japanese ski destination

Highlights

  • Practically no crowds here
  • Expect huge dumps of top quality powder
  • Amazing backcountry and sidecountry to explore
  • Difficult to get to, few transfer options and difficult to drive yourself

Closest airports

New Chitose Airport - 70 mi (1.5 hour drive)
crowd free skiing Kiroro
You won't find crowds here at Kiroro!

Kiroro is a modern Japanese ski resort that enjoys all the benefits of a well-thought-out layout and a top-notch lift system. It’s perfectly suited for destination skiers ready to spend all day on the mountain, then ski right back into their hotel at the bottom of the slopes. In fact, that’s your only option at this purpose-built ski resort, because there really is little to do outside of your hotel at night. It’s true that not much English is spoken here but if epic skiing is your number one priority, this place is an absolute gem.

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Known for

Offering a truly authentic Japanese ski experience away from the crowds

Highlights

  • Excellent off-piste and backcountry without the crowds
  • Consistent powder makes it easy to find freshies on weekdays
  • Cheap and authentic cuisine to enjoy off the slopes
  • Not many facilities or activities for families and beginner skiers

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 150 mi (3.5 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 180 mi (4 hour drive)
crowd free skiing Kagura ski resort
Excellent skiing without the crowds at Kagura

What makes Kagura so special is the stuff that lies beyond the boundaries - the off-piste tree runs, snow drenched peaks and exceptional powder. Although Kagura is relatively unknown to the international ski world, it means you won’t find many crowds on the mountain here. It really is a hidden gem considering how much amazing backcountry there is to explore, with much of it perfectly suited for a skier’s first foray into a powder-filled wilderness. The only downside to this high altitude is the freezing temperatures and wind chill, so just make sure you wrap up warm!

The 11 Best Japan Ski Resorts
Rusutsu
Niseko
Hakuba 47 & Goryu
Happo One
Sapporo Teine
Nozawa Onsen
Shiga Kogen
Furano
Tomamu
Kiroro
Kagura
Rusutsu