Top 8 Best Ski Resorts in Japan

Japan has a storied history in many ways, and the ski culture here runs deep. This island nation has hundreds of ski resorts, and the mountains get dumped with snow every winter season. It can be a skier’s dream and is a worldwide winter sports destination.

I’ve been skiing for decades and take every opportunity I can to ski in new locations. I’ve done a lot of research to develop this list and have spoken to several skiers with a lot of experience skiing in Japan. 

This post will highlight all of the best ski resorts in Japan. I’ll explain why each location is worth visiting and what you can expect if you ski here. I’ll also touch on some other information to help you plan an epic ski trip. 

Let’s get started. 

1. Niseko

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 1 (Average)
  • Closing Day: May 5 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Solid skiing reputation, good transportation, English spoken often

Niseko is one of the top skiing destinations in Japan because it has excellent snow, a good reputation, and is easily accessible for international visitors. It’s probably the most visited resort in the country, and that’s why it’s top on the list here. 

This area gets a ton of good snow every season and is well-known for being a powder chasers dream location. If you want to find deep snow and plenty of it, there’s more than a good chance you’ll be able to do it at Niseko. 

There is a wide variety of terrain here, which is another reason it’s so popular. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skier, you’ll be able to find a trail that suits your ability levels and lets you have a ton of fun. 

The transportation system at Niseko is easy to figure out and allows you to reach the slopes quickly. But it is an expensive resort, and you’ll pay top dollar for a ski trip here. Be sure to save up some cash so you can have fun when you visit. 

2. Rusutsu

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: November 25 (Average)
  • Closing Day: April 5 (Average) 
  • Best Known For: Lots of snow, good chance for powder, not as crowded

Rusutsu is another of the top ski resorts in Japan, and this is a good location for powder hunters who want to avoid the crowds of nearby Niseko. The area gets hammered with over 500 inches of snow every year, so the conditions are reliably epic. 

If you are an experienced skier who loves deep snow, Rusutsu is a great place to visit. You can take advantage of inbounds and off-piste runs where the chance of finding a stash of fresh snow is consistent all season long. 

The resort also offers plenty of groomers and less advanced terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers. There are also a lot of hotels to stay at if you want to make an extended ski trip out of your visit. 

You can’t access Rusutsu through the train system, so you’ll need to get on a car or bus to enjoy the slopes. That’s a minor convenience for all of the epic conditions that will be available once you start skiing.  

3. Happo One

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 10 (Average)
  • Closing Day: May 1 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Lots of accommodations, easily accessible, plenty of shopping

Happo One is a popular ski resort, and it has some of the most extensive accommodations and amenities of all the resorts in Japan. If you want a comfortable skiing experience and wish to shop and enjoy yourself when not skiing, this is a recommended destination. 

This is the largest ski resort in the surrounding Hakuba Valley, and there is a variety of terrain to take advantage of. You can access some advanced runs that will challenge your abilities or enjoy long groomers that are good for beginners. 

The accommodations here are epic and abundant. If you want a luxurious ski experience or are looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, you’ll be able to access all of that and everything in between. There is also a lot of shopping if you need gear or want souvenirs. 

Happo One can get very crowded, and these crowds are sometimes hard to predict. If you want to avoid lines, this isn’t the place to go. But if you want access to everything and anything while you ski, this resort offers it all. 

4. Nozawa Onsen

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 5 (Average)
  • Closing Day: May 5 (Average) 
  • Best Known For: Hot Springs (Onsens), family-friendly, diverse terrain

The onsen is practically a tradition if you ski in Japan. These hot springs and bathhouses are one of the best ways to wind down after a long day on the slopes. And Nozawa Onsen is one of the best resorts with easy access to them in Japan. 

The ski resort has a wide variety of terrain that will keep you occupied all day, week, or month long. You can find epic tree runs or go down groomers with the kids. It’s a very family-friendly location that caters to all types of skiers. 

But one of the best things about Nozawa Onsen is the 13 different bathhouses available in town once you get off the slopes. You can soak tired muscles and warm yourself back up while enjoying an authentic Japanese experience. 

Nozawa Onsen is a ways away from Tokyo, but it is still pretty accessible using the train system. There is also a bus in town that will take you to the base of the ski slopes in a matter of minutes. But you might want to reserve accommodations ahead of your arrival to ensure availability. 

5. Hakuba47 and Goryu

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 10 (Average)
  • Closing Day: May 5 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Great terrain park, family-friendly, good snow conditions

Hakuba47 and Goryu are two different ski mountains combined into one resort. This gives you a lot of diverse terrain to explore, making this another recommended skiing destination in Japan. It’s a family-friendly resort with reliably good snow conditions. 

At Hakuba47, you will find one of the best terrain parks in all of Japan. This makes for an excellent opportunity for freestyle skiers to launch off well-built features, or you can just watch some incredible tricks if you are a beginner. 

At Goryu, you can bring the entire family and take advantage of more groomed runs and beginner terrain. And no matter which mountain you decide to ski, you can expect good amenities and English-friendly services. 

There isn’t much of a social scene at this resort, and that’s part of the reason why it’s so family-friendly. If you want to stay up late or party, this isn’t the resort to visit. You’ll also need to ride on the shuttle to access the slopes.  

6. Shiga Kogen

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: December 1 (Average) 
  • Closing Day: May 5 (Average) 
  • Best Known For: Good for all ability levels, ski-in/ski-out accommodations, connected resort

Shiba Kogen is another great skiing destination in Japan, and this area offers you interconnected skiing that makes it one of the largest skiable regions in the country. If you like to explore and want access to a variety of terrain, this resort is recommended. 

With such a diverse variety of terrain available, Shiga Kogen is also a good place for all ability levels of skiers. Whether you are just learning how to go down the mountain or have been at it for years, you can find trails to match your abilities. 

The accommodations here are also excellent, with many ski-in/ski-out options that will give you easy access to the slopes and let you stay in the snow as long as possible. If you want a one-location experience, these rentals are the way to do it. 

Being an interconnected resort gives Shiga Kogen a bit of a different feel than what you might be accustomed to. There isn’t much of a base village area, so there aren’t as many shops and dining options as other resorts.  

7. Sapporo Teine 

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: November 25 (Average)
  • Closing Day:  May 3 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Steeps, affordable ticket prices, fewer crowds

Sapporo Teine is a smaller ski resort in Japan, but it’s still worth visiting if you are an experienced skier who wants to chase powder and access some very challenging terrain. It’s a fun and exciting skiing destination. 

This resort has some of the steepest runs in Japan, and if you are up for the task, you are in for a thrill. There is also reliable snowfall which makes good to great conditions most of the year. That means that powder days are likely, no matter when you visit. 

Sapporo Teine is also more affordable than many of the other resorts in the country, making it a good location for any skier on a budget. It’s also not as busy because it’s more of a local mountain, meaning you can expect fewer crowds. 

This isn’t a massive ski area, so you might not want to stay here for weeks. But it still makes for a great place to visit as part of a Japan ski trip, especially for seasoned skiers looking to get away from the norm. 

8. Furano 

  • Resort Website
  • Opening Day: November 22 (Average)
  • Closing Day: May 5 (Average)
  • Best Known For: Close to Hokkaido, large resort with many trails, good amenities

Furano is yet another fantastic skiing destination in Japan. This location makes for a convenient ski trip because of its proximity to Hokkaido, and it also gets good snowfall throughout the winter to give you quality ski conditions. 

The resort is large and pretty spread out, so you’ll have access to many different trails that can work for a variety of skier ability levels. There are also many amenities whether you are looking for a place to find good food or stay for a few nights. 

Furano isn’t as upscale as some other resorts, so you won’t find swanky lodges or restaurants. But if you aren’t looking for luxury, it still has a lot to offer. 

Additional Tips for Skiing in Japan

Powder is the name of the game when it comes to skiing in Japan. You’ll want to bring your fat powder skis, so you stay afloat on the deep stuff and can take advantage of all the fresh snow you’ll see at the resorts here. 

Check out the video below for some powder skiing tips that can come in helpful in Japan. 

Final Words

Japan is on the bucket list of many skiers that I know. If you ever get the chance to ski here, you are in for a treat. All of the resorts mentioned in this post will help you make the most of a trip here and will help you chase down epic snow and lots of it!

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  • Dave

    Hakuba Cortina is a great ski mountain for advanced skiers. to put on your top 8 places to ski in Japan.

    Like the content of your site!

    • Christine

      Thanks Dave!