Japan has quickly become one of the key destinations for powder-hunting skiers in the world. With an impressive culture and a dedicated ski following, Japan has converted many traditional European & North American ski holiday makers to Japanese powder hounds. Having the privilege of hosting the 1998 Winter Olympic Games has made Japan a new super-power in modern day skiing with its huge variety of terrain, modern world-class facilities and traditional culture.
Where to Go
There are two main winter sports regions in Japan. The northernmost area of Hokkaido hosts the most commercially popular ski field, Niseko. This resort is actually four connected resorts near Sapporo, and the season can start a bit late but will often last well into spring, even as late as May.
The other major area is Nagano, previously the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, on the main island of Honshu. Their season is generally from December to April, a bit shorter, but they benefit from very deep drifts and lots of champagne powder.
The easiest way to get into the country is flying into Tokyo’s main airport, Narita Airport. From there, you can reach Nagano by bullet train in only a couple of hours or catch a scheduled shuttle that drives direct from the airport to the slopes.
If you’re going to Hokkaido, the best way is to fly from Tokyo to Shin-Chitose Airport near Sapporo. From there, it’s a two-and-a-half hour ride to the main resort. Shuttle buses and private vans are your best modes of transport to the resorts.
Once You’re There
Outside of the Niseko trail areas, Hokkaido offers a wide range of powder-rich backcountry areas, including the volcano of Mount Youtei southeast of Mount Niseko-Annupuri. Although the resorts have plenty of restaurants and nightlife, you may want to rent a car to explore the region. There are a number of onsens (hot springs) in the surrounding area, many of them being outdoors.
An hour’s drive from the mountains will also bring you to the fishing port of Otaru, with delicious Sushi Shops and a glassworks. Two hours from the mountains is the beautiful Lake Shikotsu, where you can find additional outdoor baths in an especially beautiful, undeveloped national park setting.
Along with this, Niseko is an especially good place for English speakers to go. Not only is there terrain brilliant, but you will also find that ski lessons, staff, and even childcare staff do speak English and are more than happy to communicate in English compared to other parts of Japan.
Nagano offers particularly spectacular views from higher up near the peaks, and also offers outdoor onsens, with occasional snow monkeys to be seen from the bath area.
Before you leave for Japan, you may want to make sure and find a resort friendly to non-Japanese speakers, especially if you’re still a new skier and might need some help. However, you don’t need to speak Japanese to enjoy your ski trip, and to enjoy being in the area.
Ski Japan specializes in providing Japan ski travel packages that cater for all levels of skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts at some of the best prices in the market.
The experienced team at Ski Japan have first hand knowledge or skiing and travelling in Japan and are eager to help create the ski travel package right for you.
Contact the Ski Japan team at SkiJapan.co.uk and get your next Japanese ski holiday started