Best Ski Resorts In Japan

Best Ski Resorts In Japan

You'll love skiing and snowboarding in Japan.

The country is a snow lovers' paradise, from scenic landscape views to culture-themed ski resorts with deep, powdery snow.

The land of the rising sun has over 500 ski resorts from Hokkaido in the north to the southern island of Kyushu. The ski fields vary in size, from large world-class snow resorts to dozens of one-lift snow runs.

The ski areas in the northern Japanese regions of Hokkaido and Tohoku have the deepest snow in the country and the world. The same is true of the mountain ranges in Niigata and Nagano, along the coast of the Sea of Japan. These regions have the best ski resorts in the country and have hosted two Olympic Winter Games.

Japan is a top winter holiday destination on most skiers' and snowboarders' lists. This is because of the abundance of ski resorts with terrain that caters to all abilities and budgets.

To help you pick the best destination for your next winter getaway in Japan, we have compiled a list of top snow resorts. You’ll also learn:

  • Top resorts with family-friendly services and activities for the entire family
  • Resorts where you can experience exceptional Japanese cuisine
  • Where beginners can get private and group ski lessons taught by multilingual professionals.

So is Japan on your skiing or snowboarding bucket list? If not, discover why it should be your next winter holiday destination. Be sure also to explore and experience the rich culture and friendly people.

1 Niseko

Niseko is the most well-known snow resort in Japan. It is sometimes referred to as the Powder Capital of the World.

The resort has an international feel and is popular with tourists. Skiers and snowboarders love its all-rounder terrain that suits all abilities and levels.

Niseko consists of four interlinked ski resorts that lie on the slopes of Annupuri, a volcanic mountain. These are:

  • Grand Hirafu (with the largest snow area)
  • Hanazono
  • Niseko Village
  • An’nupuri snow area

The four snow fields join at the top of the mountain, and you can ski between them with a single electronic pass. Together, they make Niseko United the largest combined snow area in Hokkaido.

How to get to the Niseko Ski Resort

Niseko is located in the Hokkaido Prefecture, about 100 kilometers from Sapporo City. Visitors arrive through the nearby New Chitose International Airport, which is 2.5 hours from the resort.

There are plenty of shuttle services to get visitors to the snowfield from Sapporo and the Airport. Shuttle bus services can take between 2.5 and 4 hours, depending on traffic conditions, pick-up location, and destination. You can also rent a car for a 2-hour drive to Niseko.

Why Skiers and Snowboarders love Niseko

Niseko United has the best snow in all of Japan. It receives an average seasonal snowfall of 15 meters, one of the highest in the world.

The resort sits on 325 hectares of terrain, with 80 runs serviced by three gondolas and 30 lifts. Its well-maintained and groomed trails and runs cover over 47 kilometers. Skiers and snowboarders are treated to spectacular views of Mt. Yotei and the surrounding landscape.

The resort is famous for its deep, powdery snow, wide-open powder bowls, and tree-lined ski runs. It has plenty of beginner-friendly pistes loved by novices and families.

Niseko also offers plenty of off-piste and backcountry trails that delight expert thrill-seekers.

Key highlights of the Niseko Snow Resort

  • An excellent après-ski scene with lively bars and restaurants.
  • Superb night skiing where snow lovers shred powder under floodlit slopes.
  • Great Japanese and international cuisine and the famous tender Kobe beef.
  • Excellent accommodation at Moiwa Lodge and dining at Steak Rosso Rosso.


2 Rusutsu

This is the largest ski resort in the Hokkaido Prefecture.

The ski area is sprawled across three mountains, giving skiers and snowboarders ample space to shred powder. In addition, the resort has a family-friendly atmosphere and offers thrill-seekers plenty of activities to keep them entertained.

Rusutsu is an excellent alternative skiing and snowboarding destination from the crowded Niseko resort. It is famous for its deep, dry powder that thrills both beginners and seasoned pros.

While experts will not find many off-piste or backcountry opportunities, the resort is best known for its fantastic tree skiing. In addition, thrill-seekers enjoy scenic views of the three mountains (West Mountain, East Mountain, and Mt Isola), Lake Toya, and the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.

How to get to the Rusutsu Ski Resort

Rusutsu is also located in the Hokkaido prefecture, about a 30-minute drive from Niseko. Renting a car is a great option as it enables you to conveniently access both Rusutsu and Niseko resorts.

It takes 1.5 hours to drive from New Chitose Airport or Sapporo City to the resort. Alternatively, revelers can take shuttles from the airport or conveniently within the city.

Why Skiers and Snowboarders Love Rusutsu

Rusutsu’s trails and runs have deep snow thanks to its high snowfall. It receives an impressive seasonal average of between 12 and 14 meters. Moreover, the powder is often fresh and dry, allowing skiers and snowboarders to glide gleefully.

The snow area covers 236 hectares with a vertical of between 400 and 994 meters. It offers 42 kilometers of groomed trails, served by 19 lifts.

The resort has a friendly terrain with well-groomed runs ideal for beginners and intermediates. Expert skiers and snowboarders love pristine trails with fresh powder and tree paths for tree skiing.

Rusutsu is a family-friendly resort with theme park-like facilities to keep children entertained. Some activities for kids include animatronic bears and antique carousels. While the après-ski is not as vibrant as in Niseko, adults enjoy a great selection of restaurants and bars.

Key highlights of the Rusutsu snow resort

  • A wide selection of activities for kids, including snowmobiling, tubing, and dog sledding.
  • Pool facilities with refreshing heated water and an Onsen.
  • Modern lift and resort infrastructure.

3 Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Opened in 1924, this is one of Japan’s oldest ski resorts. It was a hot spring town long before it became a skiing and snowboarding haven.

Visitors and locals love the ski town with its ancient-style cobblestones. The dreamy village appears magical, with hot steam seeping through the cobblestones.

After a fun-filled day shredding powder, head over to one of 13 public bathhouses for a refreshing spa experience.

How To Get to The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Nozawa Onsen Resort is located in the northern Nagano Prefecture, about 46 kilometers from Nagano city.

Visitors arrive via Haneda International Airport (a 4-hour drive) or Narita International Airport (a 4.5-hour drive). The best and fastest way to get to the resort from there is by taking a 2-hour ride to Iiyama Station on the shinkansen bullet train. Then, take a 25-minute shuttle bus ride from the station to Nozawa Onsen.

Why Skiers and Snowboarders Love Nozawa Onsen

The resort has ample snow, with an average seasonal snowfall of 7 meters. Snowfall peaks in March, creating snow depths of up to 2 meters.

Nozawa Onsen occupies 300 hectares of varying terrain, with more than 36 trails. It has over 50 kilometers of pistes which include moguls and a half-pipe. In addition, the resort has 24 lifts that whisk skiers and snowboarders up to 1.6 kilometers.

The resort offers a true whole-family holiday experience with friendly multilingual staff. It has friendly terrain with 16 green runs and plenty of beginner slopes for kids, beginners, and intermediates.

Its world-renowned international skiing and snowboarding school offers both private and group lessons. The instructors are professionals sourced from all over the world. 

Key highlights of the Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort

  • Modern high-speed lifts
  • Plenty of hot springs for relaxation after a long, fun-filled day on the slopes
  • Magnificent views of Northern Japan Alps and the Sea of Japan from high up the resort
Nozawa Onsen

4 Shiga Kogen

This is the largest ski area in Japan, comprising a group of 19 combined ski resorts. The ski area is too large to cover in a single day, but a single lift pass gives revelers access to all the constituent ski resorts.

Shiga Kogen is popular because of its long ski season, starting in mid-November to the end of May.

The resort has a terrific terrain that favors skiers and snowboarders of all abilities.

How To Get to The Shiga Kogen Ski Resort

Shiga Kogen is a part of the Joshinetsu National Park in Nagano Prefecture. It lies 4.5 hours away from Tokyo.

Visitors arrive through Haneda International Airport (a 4-hour drive) or Narita International Airport (a 4.5-hour drive). From Tokyo, the resort is accessible via an hour’s ride by the shinkansen or shuttle bus.

Why Skiers and Snowboarders Love Shiga Kogen

The resort has some of the best snowfalls in the country, with a seasonal average of 11 meters. This creates perfect skiing and snowboarding conditions, with deep powdery snow.

The resort sits on a 600-hectare mixed terrain, with 18 ski areas and 90 courses. It is served by 48 lifts comprising high-speed gondolas and ropeways. Shiga Kogen has an all-rounder terrain ideal for all abilities and levels.

The resort has ample Japanese culture-themed accommodation. It is also close to popular tourist attractions such as the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.

Key Highlights of The Shiga Kogen Snow Resort

  • Daily bus services that run between the resort and the park
  • Reliable powder due to the resort’s high altitude
  • Snowsport schools for beginners and kids, delivered by multilingual instructors
  • Convenient rental shops for ski equipment

5 Appi Kogen

This is Tohoku’s largest resort, easily accessed from Tokyo via a bullet train.

Most revelers frequent ski resorts in the Hokkaido or Nagano region. However, Appi Kogen is a hidden gem with deep fluffy snow and great accommodation.

The resort offers many family-friendly services and activities to keep the entire family occupied.

How To Get to The Appi Kogen Ski Resort

Appi Kogen is located about 50 kilometers north of Morioka in the Appi Highlands of Iwate Prefecture. The resort can be reached from Morioka station, about 2.5 hours north of Tokyo, via the Tohoku Shinkansen.

Thrill-seekers can take the 50-minute shuttle bus rides from Morioka Station every one to two hours. Free shuttle rides are also available for hotel guests with advance booking. You can also take a local train up to Appi Kogen.

Why Skiers and Snowboarders Love Appi Kogen

Appi Kogen has some of Japan’s deepest snows. It has an average seasonal snowfall of 8 meters, creating the perfect skiing and snowboarding conditions.

The resort sits on 282 hectares of mixed terrain with over 45 kilometers of trails and runs. Eighteen lifts transport guests up the mountain with a vertical rise of about 830 meters. Appi Kogen is known for its long trails that range from 2.5 kilometers and 5.5 kilometers in length.

Snow lovers love Appi Kogen’s well-groomed trails, which are ideal for beginners and intermediates. It also has mogul terrains and ungroomed runs for more advanced skiers and snowboarders.

On clear days, visitors enjoy scenic views of Mt. Iwate, Mt. Hachimantai, and the surrounding mountain ranges from various observation points in the resort.

Key Highlights of The Appi Kogen Snow Resort

  • Family-friendly services including the Appi Family Park with snow tubes, sleds, and mini-courses for kids.
  • Ski and snowboarding rental equipment services that are conveniently located
  • A skiing and snowboarding school for beginners with multilingual instructors.

Need Help Choosing the Best Skiing and Snowboarding Resort with Family Friendly Services? Brealpa Can Help You

A winter holiday in Japan isn’t just a holiday. Rather, it is an experience. 

If you are a deep powder enthusiast, you will love the land of the rising sun. The country’s snow resorts have the highest average snowfalls worldwide, leading to deep, powdery snow-covered trails.

Most of Japan’s ski fields have great terrain that suits skiers and snowboarders of all levels. In addition, they have a family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Brealpa can help you plan your next adventure-filled family getaway. We will provide you with handy information on:

  • The top ski resorts from around the world
  • Inspiration for snow activities to keep your whole family engaged
  • Best times to visit various ski fields to avoid crowdedness or for immersive experiences where you can also make friends.
  • Top-tier accommodation options

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Written by Brealpa

August 9, 2022

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