Japan is famous the world over for its first-class ski and snowboard resorts with exceptional facilities and diverse attractions. The season officially starts in December and lasts until April, with the best conditions typically in January and February.

The three main areas for skiing and snowboarding are Gifu and Nagano on the main island of Honshu, the northern island of Hokkaido, and Niigata on the Sea of Japan coast. With more than 500 ski resorts to choose from across the country, here’s a selection of 10 of our favorites.

For more ski resorts, because there are over 500 ski areas in Japan and I’m merely giving my favorite 14, check out Snow Japan, or Powderhounds.

And for more ideas of how to spend your time in Japan off the slopes see our list. Or if you have kids, see our ski resorts for families.

THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ THE DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO

Top Ski Resorts in Japan

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ski resort Sapporo
Courtesy of Niseko.ne.jp

Niseko

The top spot goes to Niseko, the largest and most famous ski resort in Japan. Located just southwest of Sapporo, it features 47 kilometers of well-groomed terrain with seven ski areas that boast one of the highest average snowfalls in Japan (at over 15 meters). The resort is renowned for its deep, high-quality, and consistent soft powder snow and long runs, which are ideal for families, beginners, and intermediates. Since it is so popular, it can get quite busy during peak season—but with the fun, international vibe you’re guaranteed to make friends. It is consistently ranked as the best ski resort in Japan. But don’t let that dissuade you from reading the rest of our list and getting a feel for the various ski resorts Japan has to offer.

Niseko Trail Map
Courtesy of Niseko.ne.jp
  • Location: Hokkaido
  • How to Get There: 2 Hour Bus/ Drive from Sapporo
  • Known For: Consistent powder, vibrant nightlife, caters to foreign travelers.
  • Best For: Families with varied skill levels. And powder enthusiasts.
  • Cons: Expensive, far from Tokyo/main island
  • 22/23 Season: Early Dec. 22- April 2, 23* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!

rustusu ski area, ski Japan
Courtesy of Rusutsu.com

Rusutsu

Rusutsu is an all-in-one ski resort with deep, light powder snow and a wide range of activities. It’s the largest single ski resort in Hokkaido, offering 42 kilometers of immaculately-groomed slopes covered in a variety of trails to suit experienced ski and snowboarders, as well as complete beginners. Kids can enjoy dog sledding, tubing and snowmobiling, while the adults can indulge in a great selection of restaurants.

Rusutsu trail map
Courtesy of Rusutsu.com
  • Location: Hokkaido
  • How to Get There: 1.5 Hour Bus/ Drive from Sapporo
  • Known For: Consistent powder with smaller crowds than Niseko
  • Best For: Powder lovers and off-piste junkies.
  • Cons: No nightlife.
  • 21/22 Season: Nov. 27, 21- Apr. 7, 22* estimate
  • Learn More
Japan skiing
Courtesy of snowfurano.com

Furano

Furano with its tree-lined runs, light powder snow, and friendly atmosphere is a fantastic all-rounder to suit any level of skier and snowboarder. The popular resort is spread over two main areas, offering 25 kilometers of well-groomed runs, plus well-developed amenities and services. Beginner runs and an attraction called “Family Snowland,” which provides fun winter activities for kids, make this relaxed resort ideal for families.

Courtesy of snowfurano.com
  • Location: Hokkaido
  • How to Get There: 2 Hour Bus/ Drive from Sapporo
  • Known For: Great cultural experience not found at larger resorts in Hokkaido. Consistent powder.
  • Best For: Families with varied skill levels. And powder enthusiasts.
  • Cons: Not much luxury accommodation, if that’s your thing.
  • 21/22 Season: Nov. 20, 21- May 8, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!
Nozawa Onsen, skiing Japan
Courtesy of nozawaski.com

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen is a charming hot spring village and ski resort located near Nagano City that offers abundant snow, diverse terrain, and an authentic onsen experience. The historic town is one of Japan’s oldest ski resorts and is considered by some to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan (introduced by an Austrian in 1912). The resort features over 50 kilometers of terrain ideal for skiers and boarders of all levels. Make sure you also check out the nearby Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, where you can watch wild snow monkeys bathing in the local hot springs.

See also our Packing List for Winter in Japan.

Nozawa Onsen Trail Map
Courtesy of Nozawa Onsen
  • Location: Nagano
  • How to Get There: 4 Hour drive or 2.5 hour train from Tokyo
  • Known For: City is packed full of onsens
  • Best For: Off-piste skiers, those wanting a traditional Japanese experience, and families.
  • Cons: City and restaurants get crowded
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 3, 21- May 6, 22* estimate
  • Learn More
Japan ski resorts

Hakuba Valley

Host to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Hakuba Valley is one of Japan’s largest and most renowned alpine resorts. Considered the heart and soul of snow sports in Japan, it offers amazing powder snow, snow-laden peaks and valleys, and great conditions. The best part? It’s all within easy reach of Tokyo via the bullet train. Look into the JR Pass if you’re going to be using a lot of trains around Japan. Located deep within the Northern Japan Alps—famous for their natural beauty and 3,000-meter peaks—it features a total of 11 different ski resorts with over 200 runs. Hakuba Valley has a real European feel to it while still remaining very much Japanese.

Some of the most popular ski areas are: Happo OneShiga Kogen, Hakuba 47, Goryu, Tsugaike Kogen. You can find the trail maps here.

Read Also: Our Complete Guide to Ski Resorts in Hakuba Valley

Courtesy of Seventh Heaven Hakuba
  • Location: Nagano
  • How to Get There: 4 Hour Drive or 2 hour train from Tokyo.
  • Known For: Olympic race trails, over 11 ski areas, foreigner-friendly.
  • Best For: Those wanting terrain parks, night skiing, off-piste, kid hills, etc. Many ski areas means something for everyone.
  • Cons: Slopes get crowded on weekends and holidays
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 3, 21- May 6, 22* estimate Each ski area differs.
  • So go check it out for yourself!
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Myoko Kogen Ski Area, Japan snowboarding
Courtesy of myokokogen.net

Myoko Kogen

Myoko Kogen is rich in history, culture, and onsen, offering much more than just your typical skiing and snowboarding experience. The traditional Japanese town is the perfect place for those looking for a real Japanese cultural experience away from the nightclub and party scene. It’s less crowded and more laid back than many of the other popular resorts in Japan with nine main mountain resorts, including Myoko Suginohara, which hosts the longest run in Japan at eight and a half kilometers.

Myoko Kogen trail map
Courtesy of myokokogen.net
  • Location: Nagano
  • How to Get There: 4 hour drive or 2 hour train from Tokyo
  • Known For: Quality snow and off-piste opportunities.
  • Best For: Those wanting a “real” Japanese ski resort experience that doesn’t cater to western tourists.
  • Cons: Not much to do off the slopes.
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 25, 21- Mar. 27, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!
Naeba Ski Area, Best ski resort Japan
Courtesy of enjoyniigata.com

Naeba

Naeba in Yuzawa is extremely popular due to its long snow season which lasts until May, plus the fact it’s only an 80-minute train ride from central Tokyo. Naeba Ski Resort boasts 27 courses of varying skill levels with high-quality powder snow, great facilities, rotenburo (outdoor hot springs) and amazing-tasting sake. The trails include a dynamic four-kilometer downhill course, as well as a playland area above the snow for those with families.

Naeba Trail Map
Courtesy of enjoyniigata.com
  • Location: Niigata
  • How to Get There: 3 drive or 2 hour train from Tokyo
  • Known For: Modern ski resort experience.
  • Best For: “Quick” trips from Tokyo, those wanting well-groomed runs, and many apres-ski facilities.
  • Cons: Not the best area for powder.
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 18, 21- Apr. 10, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!
Kiroro
Courtesy of Kiroro.co.jp

Kiroro

Kiroro is located very close to Hokkaido’s main city of Sapporo and is a very modern family-oriented facility with lots of fun activities. It offers plenty of pristine, soft powder snow surrounded by the majestic nature that characterizes Japan’s northernmost island. There are 21 courses with the longest run being four kilometers. The area receives a lot of snow, with an annual snow fall of more than 17 meters—even more than popular Niseko.

Kororo Trail Map
Courtesy of kororo.co.jp
  • Location: Hokkaido
  • How to Get There: 1.5 Hour Bus/ Drive from Sapporo
  • Known For: Great backcountry, less crowded slopes,
  • Best For: Back country enthusiasts that want no crowds and tons of powder.
  • Cons: Limited advanced terrain
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 4, 21- May 7, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!
Appi Kogen
Courtesy of www.appi-japan.com

Appi Kogen

Nicknamed the St. Moritz of Japan for its glitzy hotel and rather swanky facilities and services, Appi Kogen is one of the country’s most popular resorts. It’s a little more pricey than most but offers a high-quality experience that justifies its price tag. The resort encompasses 45.1 kilometers of terrain with 21 different trails (so there’s a lot of variety) but it’s well-known for its wide, long pistes including groomed and ungroomed, as well as mogul terrains.

Appi Kogen Trail Map
Courtesy of www.appi-japan.com
  • Location: Iwate
  • How to Get There:7 hour drive or 5 hour train from Tokyo or 1.5 hour bus/drive from Iwate Hanamaki Airport.
  • Known For: Being a higher-end ski destination with quality snow and facilities.
  • Best For: Families (child specific ski area), and those that like that like a more international destination-type resort.
  • Cons: Limited nightlife, expensive accommodations
  • 21/22 Season: Nov. 27, 21- May 2, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!
Courtesy of Meiho Ski

Meiho

Meiho ski resort located in the picturesque Gujo region of Gifu Prefecture offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of the Northern Alps, along with top-class runs. It’s regarded as being the number one ski resort in Western Japan with four ski slopes and 12 trails, including a sweeping five-kilometer run from the summit. Great facilities mean you can enjoy chillout time as much as the hours on the slopes.

Meiho trail Map
Courtesy of Meiho Ski
  • Location: Gifu
  • How to Get There: 3.5 hour drive from Kyoto or 5.5 from Tokyo.
  • Known For: Great facilities and onsens, perfect for beginners or intermediate skiiers.
  • Best For: Those who want to base themselves in Kyoto or Osaka. Great for families.
  • Cons: Less variety of trails than other ski areas.
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 19, 21- Apr. 6, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!
Zao Onsen

Zao Onsen

Zao in Yamagata Prefecture, which is located in Tohoku Region, is one of the most famous ski resorts in Northeast Japan. This vast ski resort has over 20 different runs for every level, which you cannot complete within a day. What is unique in Zao is Zao Onsen Ski Resort is also quite famous for two other things. The first is countless trees covered with heavy thick layers of snow due to heavy snowfall and freezing winds, which are called Snow Monsters. Some have noted that these tree runs might be difficult for snowboarders as the very heavy snowfall can make the runs very narrow. Another is the Onsen facilities. Zao has been visited by Onsen lovers for a long time. It is recommended to stay there less than a few days to enjoy skiing and soaking in Onsen.

To learn more about the Snow Monsters, see our list of things to do in Japan in Winter.

Zao Onsen Trail Map
Courtesy of zoo-spa.or.jp
  • Location: Yamagata
  • How to Get There: 5 hour drive or 3hour train then bus from Tokyo, or 1 hour bus from Yamagata Airport.
  • Known For: The famous Snow Monster trees,
  • Best For: Those who want a less tourist-filled resort and a unique Japanese experience.
  • Cons: The weather can be unpredictable.
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 17, 21- Apr. 1, 22* estimate
  • So go check it out for yourself!

Gala Yuzawa
Courtesy of gala.co.jp

Gala Yuzawa

Outside of Hokkaido and Nagano, Niigata Prefecture is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders because of the vast amount of ski areas. GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort in Yuzawa is one of the most popular ski resorts in Niigata. It attracts a large number of skiers every winter season for its high snowfall and its accessibility from Tokyo. It takes only less than 1.5 hours to get there from Tokyo. You can also enjoy Onsen and regional food after skiing in GALA Yuzawa.

Gala Yuzawa Trail Map
Courtesy of gala.co.jp
  • Location: Niigata
  • How to Get There: 2.5 hour drive or 1.5 hours by train from Tokyo
  • Known For: Being the only ski area in the world having its own shinkansen (bullet train) station.
  • Best For: Those who are based in Japan but still want to experience the slopes.
  • Cons: Not many off-piste opportunities. Can be crowded on weekends and holidays.
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 11, 21- May 2, 22* estimate
  • Learn More
Fujiten Snow Resort
Courtesy of Fujiten.net

Fujiten

Mount Fuji is one of the most well-known travel destinations in Japan and many tourists visit the highest mountain for climbing in the summer or taking pictures all year round. It may be less known that there are some ski resorts near Mt.Fuji where you can enjoy skiing with amazing views of the picturesque volcano. Everyone including skilled skiers and the less inexperienced can enjoy Fujiten Snow Resort and Fujimi Panorama Resort. In my opinion, if you’re just trying to get some snow under your skis, but you’re short on time, take a day trip to Fujiten from Tokyo.

Fujiten trail map
Courtesy of Fujiten.net
  • Location: Yamanashi
  • How to Get There: 1 hour 45 min. drive from Tokyo
  • Known For: Fantastic views of Mt. Fuji
  • Best For: Those based in Tokyo and for families with varying skill levels. Includes a sledding area.
  • Cons: Those looking for backcountry and off-piste action will be dissapointed.
  • 21/22 Season: Dec. 23, 21- Mar. 23, 22* estimate
  • Find out More.
Kagura Ski Area
Courtesy of princehotels.com

Kagura

If you are looking for a hidden gem with the finest quality snow near Tokyo, Kagura Ski Resort, located near GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort and Naeba Ski Resort is one of the most recommended ski resorts. Due to the high altitude and dryness, the ski resorts consist of high-quality powder snow which fascinates skiers from all around the world.

Kagura trail map
Courtesy of princehotels.com
  • Location: Niigata
  • How to Get There: 3 hour drive or 2 hours by train.
  • Known For: Uncrowded slopes, consistent snowfall
  • Best For: Families with beginners or young ones, and those wanting to get some easy runs in before heading off to Naeba or Gala Yuzawa.
  • Cons: Advanced skiers might find the slopes unchallenging.
  • 21/22 Season: Nov. 20, 21- May 22, 22* estimate
  • Learn More
best ski resorts in japan

Ski Season in Japan

As I said above, winter generally consists of 3 months in Japan: December, January, and February. However, you can enjoy skiing in Japan other than those 3 months. The skiing season depends on the area, but many ski resorts are available from December to March. Some, like those in Hokkaido, could be open during November to the beginning of May. To enjoy skiing in Japan under the best condition of the snow, the coldest months January and February are the best bet.

How much does it cost to ski in Japan?

It’s great to say that skiing is pretty reasonable in Japan. Lift tickets are cheaper compared to other ski destinations which might surprise some people because Japan has become one of the top ski destinations in the world. Lift tickets for 1-day unlimited rides can cost about 4,000-6,000 yen on average. That’s about $40-60 USD. You can compare this to the average cost for ski areas in the U.S. at $94 per day.

How many days should you plan to ski in Japan?

I should first say that I wouldn’t spend less than 7 days in Japan for your whole trip no matter what time of the year you’re coming. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend 7 days skiing. There is so much to do in Japan, especially in winter, that you might want to pad your trip with some extra days to fit everything in. If you enjoy skiing but it’s not the main point of your trip, 2-3 ski days would be great. But if you’re coming to Japan specifically to ski, it’s recommended to stay for 7-14 days so you can experience ski areas on the main island of Honshu and Hokkaido while giving yourself time to travel and time to rest in between.

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Google Map

If you are still unsure if you want to go skiing in Japan, think no more. Skiing in Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is a must for snow lovers and for beginners alike. The snow and resort atmosphere in Japan doesn’t disappoint and will no doubt remain one of your favorite memories.

THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ THE DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO


Are you ready for Japan?

  • Book Your Flights– To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is a must. Some great options are Google Flights for the calendars to find the cheapest options, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner. For more options see our resources page. For Japan, check flights for both Tokyo Airports (Haneda and Narita), as well as Osaka (Kansai).
  • Find Transportation- Buy your JR Pass for your bullet train and inter-city travel before you leave home. Research a Suica card, the public transportation card you can either buy before or as soon as you arrive.
  • Book Your Accommodation– Look at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia for hotels in Japan. You can also look at AirBnB or VRBO as we’ve had great luck finding inexpensive, large, and clean homes to rent.
  • Book Tours and Experiences- Check Klook or Viator for some of the best tours and attractions for a great price for experiences like Tokyo Skytree, TeamLab Borderless, and Universal Osaka. For Tokyo Disney Resort, check my guide here.
  • Stay Connected– Order a pocket WIFI for airport pickup if you’re with a family or group, or order a SIM card just for your phone. Check out our guide to staying connected here.
  • Buy Travel Insurance- I always recommend World Nomads for insurance. It’s better to protect yourself in case of mishaps. Learn more about World Nomads in this FAQ post.
  • Pack Your Bags– Check out my packing lists, or my favorite travel gear to help you remember all of the essentials.
  • Learn About Japan– Learn about Japan with guidebooks like Lonely Planet, or, shameless plug, search around my site for more info.

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