Best Ski Resorts In Japan

Best Ski Resorts In Japan

Skiing in Japan isn’t just a holiday. It’s an experience! The charm of the alps offers something really unique, a certain, Je ne’ sais quoi but there is something about a snow trip to Japan that provides something which cannot be found literally anywhere else.

Imagine finishing off a long day riding waist deep champagne-like powder with a hot steaming bowl of ramen. Imagine finding the most incredible slack country riding you have ever experienced without having to hike for 2 hours? Imagine slipping through the marked freeride gates on the side of the slopes and being instantly transported to the wild?

If that doesn’t do it for you then. . . Sushi for breakfast or soaking in a natural hot spring onsen at the end of a long day? Sorry, did we also mention world famous and life changing night skiing! 

Alex Meliss1

From the Northern part of the Island to the South, from Hokkaido to Hakuba, there are some stunning secret resorts. Japan doesn’t do resorts like Val D’Isere or Chamonix, the closest would be Niseko but what Japan does have is a series of small, intimate and focused ski resort. The likes of which offer just riding and maybe some killer gastronomy and hot springs on the side.

We put together a guide to the best ski resorts in Japan, paired with some super useful travel information! Japan, after all, has to be experienced to be believed.

Best Ski Resorts In Japan

Fabio Studer and Alex Meliss in Japan

Do you ever get that feeling when you see something that gives you goosebumps? Gets you so pumped to ride that you immediately open tabs on booking platforms? Well, this is the effect that anything from Alex Meliss has on skiers and boarders. 

Switch on his first edit, maximise that screen and put your ski gloves on and sit there while this genuinely epic series consumes your daily life from now on, washing over you like a wave of powdery snow delight, this is tour life now! Venture with Alex, Fabio and Markus from Hakuba valley and beyond, experiencing Japow and as Alex calls is “White Gold” as if you were there with them. Then invite your friends, create a WhatsApp group and start booking as Japan is calling you. . . The call will only get louder, I can assure you. Plus now, you have all the need-to-know info of the best spots thanks to Alex and the lads.

Expert Interviews on Skiing in Japan

Now, you know at Ridestore we want to make sure we bring you the most accurate, up to date info on any adventure. Which is why we have teamed up with our friends, Alex Meliss, Fabio Studer and Åsa Steinars to bring you all the insider info on Japan.

Have you ever wanted to know what the pro’s best secret spot is? Perhaps you wanted to know what’s ideal equipment recommendations for riding that sweet, sweet Japow, or maybe, just maybe, you sat back and wondered what the pros like to eat in Japan plus much more. So you will find, under some selected resorts, the top choice of our pro team and what they think about these incredible destinations.

Favourite Resort?

"Hakuba Norikura Onsen Ski Resort, because we had an awesome time there with the „Road Show“ by Markus Eder and friends. The resort self is not too busy and you can do some fun stuff off the Lift, but there is also a cool ski touring area where you can get steep JAPOW powder runs :)"
Fabio Studer
Montecwear Athlete
Favourite Resort?

"Hakuba for sure. After a lot of research we came up with Hakuba as it has very different terrain and its easy accessible. After a 2h train ride from Tokyo you end up in the crazy mountain of Hakuba where you will also find alpine stuff, so not only treeruns as you know it from Japan. Hakuba is more an area with around 10 different skiresorts you can ski with the same ticket so you will have new stuff every day. My personal favorite was Cortina Hakuba, an absolute powder dream :)"
Alex Meliss
Dopesnow
Content Producer
Favourite Resort?

"Niseko because it has everything. It's the biggest resort with enough variety for a week but also a super cute town with lots of good restaurants and tiny Japanese bars."
Åsa Steinars
Photographer

Get To Know Japan- Skiing In Japan

Best Ski Resorts in Japan

Japan is home to blessed snow, perfect maritime conditions that make for the lightest and driest powder you have ever skied. In the science world it is know as the “ocean-effect”. In early Winter, freezing cold air is blown up from Siberia’s frigid plains, absorbing moisture from the Japanese ocean and then depositing on the countries mountain peaks and volcanoes. Pair that with the bitterly cold January air and the optimal North western situation of resorts, the results of which are storm after storm to create one of the most snow-sure areas on the globe. 

No matter your level of proficiency, from expert freerider all the way to beginner piste bunny, there are both slopes and off-piste terrain to suit everyone.

Best Ski Resorts In Japan

Travelling To Japan & Getting Around

Airports

Sapporo

New Chitose International Airport is the nearest airport to a lot of the resorts in the North such as Niseko, located two to three hours’ drive away. While it’s an international airport, only a few airlines fly direct but now we have Finnair coming straight outta Helsinki to Sapporo. You may have to catch a domestic flight from Tokyo, stopping at Narita or Haneda.

Tokyo

Haneda or Narita airports in Toyko are the best ways to access the southern resorts. With some airlines offering direct flights from Europe or a brief stop in Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Trains

Train travel in Japan could not be easier with many high speed networks running from Tokyo to the North and South, getting you close to the ski resorts. Some of which have local stations, again, e.g. with Niseko, the nearest station is super close in Kutchan. Then it's a case of taking a Taxi or a bus right to your door.

Bus Travel

Bus travel again is extremely easy to use, however, no buses are available to your ski resorts at night, so only during the day but if you are lucky enough to land while the buses are operating, you can jump on almost direct transfers to the major resorts then local buses to the more hidden spots.

Driving

If you’re comfortable driving in the snow and along icy roads, you can hire a rental car from the airport. Hiring your own car is highly recommended, even easier for Brits too as they drive on our side of the road!

Tokyo

Currency & Other Useful Info

The currency in Japan is the Yen (¥) but cash is certainly King! Most hotels in the Japanese Alps, skiing companies and restaurants will accept credit cards, but for some of the smaller ones,  make sure you always carry some cash on you. 

Some ATMs won’t accept international cards. We’d recommend drawing money at the Citibank ATM at the airport when you arrive. If you’re already in resort, then you’ll have to go to a bank or some hotels have ATM’s, or the post office and 7-Eleven also allow you to draw cash. 

We’d recommend getting a good travel card such as Monzo, Revolut or Starling to get the best rates. 

Estimated Costs

Japan is not cheap so you should budget for your trip well in advance. Here are the rough average costs you can expect to spend:

Accomodation

Budget: ¥3,000 for a dorm bed (around €25)

Mid-range: ¥5,000 - 10,000 for a private room in a guesthouse or cheap hotel (€42 - €84)

High-end: ¥10,000 - 30,000 for a fancy hotel or more luxurious chalet (€85 - €250)

Food

Bowl of ramen: ¥800 at a restaurant (€7), ¥300 at a convenience store (€2.50)

Coffee: ¥300 (€2.50)

A Rough Weekly Budget

Budget Traveler: €450 per week

Staying in hostel dorms, grabbing breakfast from the 7-Eleven and indulging in free activities

Mid-Range Traveller: €900 per week

Staying in comfortable mid-range hotels or AirBnBs. You'll want to eat at local Japanese restaurants which are often cheaper. You’ll get around using public transport. Most activities are included but you’ll have to compromise.

High-end Traveller: €1800 per week

Money isn’t an issue for you. You won’t enjoy luxury travel, but you’re willing to pay more for convenience and comfort. You’ll splurge on the things you really want to do.

Best Ski Resorts in Japan
Photo credit to Niseko United Facebook

Useful Travel Info

Visas and Travel Insurance

You may have to get a visa to enter Japan. There are 66 countries that don’t require a visa but the length of stay varies according to your home country.

Visitors from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are able to get a 90-day tourist visa. Other countries will get a temporary tourist visa for up to 15 days. Check out the Japan National Tourism Organization for more details.

Taking out travel insurance that covers you for adventurous activities such as Hokkaido skiing and snowboarding is highly recommended.

Plugs

Japan uses type A or type B plug sockets with a standard voltage of 100 Volts. While the plug sockets are the same as those used North America, the voltage is lower so you may still require a plug adaptor or converter for your visit.

Connectivity

Wi-Fi is widespread in Japan, so buying a local sim card isn’t always necessary. Many coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels have Wi-Fi you can connect to.

If you’re looking to stay connected on the go, you can pick up a Japanese sim card with a data plan from the airport or the Lawson store. The IIJmio Japan Travel Sim is available in resort. Make sure your phone is unlocked and able to work with a foreign sim card.

The Best Ski Resorts In Japan

Geographical overview of the best ski resorts in Japan

For those unfamiliar with the geography of Japan, the concept of getting around can be quite daunting. We have tried to include all the best and most useful info in this article to make a Japanese riding experience more accessible.

But where exactly can good riding be found? Well think of it like this, Japan’s skiable terrain is split into 3 sections. We have Hokkaido in the North, Honshu area and Hakuba Valley. This isn’t technically accurate as Japan is divided into “prefectures”, but so you can quickly gauge where all these unbelievable amazing places are, these 3 zones are the best and most straightforward way to split it.

So, without further delay, shall we dive right in? If you are short on time why not select the resort of choice from the drop down box by zone. Or if you are feeling relaxed and ready to be inspired, why not enjoy reading from top to bottom. 

Hakuba Valley

Norikura Onsen

hakuba japan

Price Range

$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Haneda
308 km

Island

Hakuba

Happo one and Hakuba 47’s lesser known sister is Norikura. As the crowds disperse and the prices drop, you have a more authentic flavor of Hakuba valley’s skiing. Enjoy some of life’s little luxuries for a skier such as  ski-in ski-out accommodation, including the Hakuba Alps Hotel. This quaint atmosphere translates as night falls also, a true Japanese ski town with a calm nightlife to match. 

Ridestore Recommends: Duel ski pass between Norikura and Cortina for the ultimate getaway. 

Ridestore Eats: Yakiniku is barbecued meats and the perfect end of a long ski day meal! 

What is your favourite resort in Japan and why?
Hakuba Norikura Onsen Ski Resort, because we had an awesome time there with the „Road Show“ by Markus Eder and friends. The resort self is not too busy and you can do some fun stuff off the Lift, but there is also a cool ski touring area where you can get steep JAPOW powder runs 🙂

What was your favourite food in Japan?
Of course it is SUSHI 😀

What piece of outerwear is your must-bring for Japan, and why?
Fenix, because it is light and really breathable and if you go ski touring that is the kind of outwear you wanna bring with you.

What board/ski set up did you use?
Völkl Revolt 121 - Marker KingPin

What makes skiing in Japan so unique?
They have a lot of heavy snow storms, because the ocean is surrounding Japan.

What is your best-remembered experience from the trip to Japan?
Goodtimes with the boys and to produce this shot with Alex Meliss

What is your insider tip for having the best time in Japan?
Rental Car is key and google maps and a local skier/snowboarder 🙂

Happo One

Happo One

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
350 km

Island

Hakuba

Happo One, pronounced “Happo On O”, has so many epic selling points. Seen as that is what we are here to do, sell yu on Japanese skiing, not that it really needs, it, here we go: Happo one is a really family friendly resort with ski lessons and child care  available with international English speaking staff. The views of the mountains of the Japanese Alps are nothing short of spectacular. The Happo One Ski Resort itself provides access to steep alpine backcountry terrain which isn’t really available else where, it is some of the steepest skiing in Japan. Happo one is one of the most vibrant and lively resorts of the the valley and the country with more restaurants, nightlife, and ski shops than you can shake a ski pole at.

Ridestore Recommends: Pop over to Hakuba 47 for a day too and do the  touring adventure between the 2 resorts for fresh lines. 

Ridestore Eats: Dine in one of the dining horigotatsu restaurants which are small private rooms at low tables with room for your feet to sink into the floor below. Pretty cool! Then enjoy a traditional hot pot such as  sukiyaki. 

Cortina

Price Range

$$ – $$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
360 km

Island

Hakuba

Cortina is the home of free tree skiing in the Hakuba Valley. Unlike other resorts in the area, the resort is much less strict with the inbound zones leaving you free to explore the powder rich forest. It isn’t a massive resort but what there is, is steeper tree skiing and that is epic, there is no town or base other than one hotel and restaurant so its ideal for a day trip from Happo One. Only down side, a lot of morons with no equipment and not following freeide safety and honor rules so be on guard!

Ridestore Recommends: Take the first list, trust us, you have to, it sadly will be th only freshies you get all day but you do also have free refills! 

Ridestore Eats: Try blowfish sushi at Kikyo-ya in Hakuba where Taylor Swift has famously eaten !

What is your favourite resort in Japan and why?
Hakuba for sure. After a lot of research we came up with Hakuba as it has very different terrain and it's easy accessible. After a 2h train ride from Tokyo you end up in the crazy mountains of Hakuba where you will also find some alpine stuff, so not only treeruns as you know it from Japan. Hakuba is more like an area with around 10 different ski resorts you can ski with the same ticket so you will have new stuff every day. My personal favorite was Cortina Hakuba, an absolute powder dream 🙂

What was your favourite food in Japan?
SUUUUSHI, ITS THE BEEEST! Skiing and sushi all day long !!!!

What piece of outerwear is your must-bring for Japan, and why?
Bring a good ski jacket and ski pants that have good waterproofness, luckily the new DOPE and MONTEC collection are perfect for this!!!

What board/ski set up did you use?
I’ve been riding Völkl skis for the last years and right now I'm riding the Revolt 121. It's 121cm under-foot so perfect for the deep snow in Japan. Make sure to bring a proper powder ski, you will need it!

What makes skiing in Japan so unique?
Culture, snow, food. I think it's the whole lifestyle you will experience. Probably some of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life, the best snow you will ever ski and and an experience you will never forget!

What is your best-remembered experience from the trip to Japan?
It's hard to pick from one experience as I think the whole trip was a crazy experience but pictures say more than words. I would recommend you check out the Vlog i made from our trip so you get a feeling for what I'm talking about!

What is your insider tip for having the best time in Japan?
Best time to ride in Japan is for sure January and February, it's cold and you will have a lot of snow guaranteed.

Tsugaike

Tsugaike Information
Photo Credit: Tsugaike Information Facebook

Price Range

$ – $$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
355 km

Island

Hakuba

Tsugaike Kogen is where dreams are made! The kind of resort that feeds the soul of a freerider lover. The type of resort that really has to be seen to be believed, the promised land. Fields upon fields of slack country powder skiing both in and out of bounds for you and your friends to explore without so much as heading the faint distant sound of another person! If you happen to upon another person, keep your eyes peeled for freeride world tour pros, a lot of the riders visit this resort for the dream like conditions. 

Ridestore Recommends: Head early in the morning to have the “backcountry crash course” before the riding day starts. Be awarded the green arm band. This allows you to explore the mountain undeterred by piste patrol. 

Ridestore Eats: Try hayazushi (rice wrapped in mackerel) or meharizushi (rice wrapped in a pickled mustard leaf).

Hokkaido Island

Asahidake

Photo Credit: Asahidake Ropeway 大雪山旭岳ロープウェイ Facebook

Price Range

$$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose 
200 km

Island

Hokkaido

Ashaidake is a true powder haven and said to have some of the best and deepest snow in the Hokkaido region. The Asahidake mountain is one of the highest mountains in Hokkaido so the snow is not just deep and fluffy, but also kept super cold for the long season. 

There are limited tracked slopes so not great for beginners or intermediates, but is a paradise for the off-piste and backcountry riders. The crowds are minimal so you can locate fresh tracks through the trees easily.
After a hardcore day skiing, the village will provide you with the tranquillity you need to recoup. The village is small and basic but the food is always good, so fuel up for the next day of waist-deep heaven.

Ridestore Recommends: The food! The village will blow you away with authentic Japanese cuisine

Ridestore Eats: Hokkaido Ramen (Miso, Shio, Shoyu) which is an absolutely classic and unmissable eat in Hokkaido.

Niseko

Niseko
Photo Credit: Niseko @lexidupont @stellar_media Facebook

Price Range

$$-$$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose
105 km

Island

Hokkaido

Niseko is the most popular ski resort in Japan; one that’s celebrated for its powder-perfect japow. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Niseko-Annupuri on Hokkaido Island and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan and the Mount Yotei volcano, this luxury ski destination includes four major ski resorts: Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, and Annupuri, and Hanazono. 

The focus in Niseko is on eating, drinking and, of course, skiing. Niseko’s resorts are perfect for visitors, with kilometer after kilometer of impressive ski runs, lightweight powder, night skiing opportunities and plenty of engaging après-ski activities. It’s also one of the only Niseko skiing resorts to offer backcountry skiing! But it’s not just the activities on the slopes that appeal to tourists and locals alike. They’re also surrounded by glorious onsen (hot springs) and highly-acclaimed golf courses. What’s not to love? 

The four main resorts are interlinked so you can ski between each one at mountain level or take the shuttle bus at the base. Can’t choose? The Niseko United All Mountain Pass gives you unrestricted access to the four resorts.

Ridestore Recommends:  The night skiing is so truly out of this world its truly unmissable!

Ridestore Eats: Try Raku Ichi restaurant and try Tatsuru Rai’s world famous soba noddles after you have watched him hand make them. 

What is your favourite resort in Japan and why?
Niseko because it has everything. It's the biggest resort with enough variety for a week but also a super cute town with lots of good restaurants and tiny Japanese bars.

What was your favourite food in Japan?
Sushi is definitely my favourite but while skiing I also love the ramen. It's quick, filling, hydrating and warms you up at the same time. There's no better ski food than this!

What piece of outerwear is your must-bring for Japan, and why?
I skied in a Dope Akin jacket and high bib pants for the powder. The weather always change so it's important to have something warm but also breathable for the powder laps.

What board/ski set up did you use?
I ride on Faction Agent 2.0 with a pair of king pins to always be ready for a hike if the sun comes out.

What makes skiing in Japan so unique?
Just being in Japan is already unique with all the culture and food. Then add probably the best and fluffiest powder on earth and it's a perfect combo. It's just crazy how much it can snow there.

What is your best-remembered experience from the trip to Japan?
In Niseko on a sunny day you can hike the peak. It takes about 30 minutes. From there we skied down the backside (with amazing snow and first tracks) where there's a tiny onsen (natural hot spring). Skiing into a natural onsen in the afternoon and sitting in the hot water only happens in Japan and is really amazing. They also sell cold beer from a vending machine, that's perfection!

What is your insider tip for having the best time in Japan?
Go with someone who knows the area or get a guide. Japan is hard to navigate, both on and off the slopes so if you want the most out of your trip team up with someone with insider knowledge.

Daisetsuzan Sounkyo Kurodake

Photo Credit:www.snowboardguides.com

Price Range

$-$$

Closest Airport

New Chitose Sapporo Airport 
158 km

Island

Hokkaido

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

The awesome resort of Kurodake ski area in Hokkaido is a part of the Daisetsuzan National Park. But what does it mean I hear you ask? The translation of Daisetsuzan means “mountains of big snow” or “big snowy mountains”. This is pretty much an ideal and accurate name for this snowy and stunning resort. Probably one of the steepest resorts in Hokkaido, its Niseko’s more quiet, less flashy and more fierce younger sister. And Kurodake wants you- the best and most passionate riders to drop by for a visit. Don’t tell your friends though! Just be prepared to earn your turns, the slack country is few and far between. 

Ridestore Recommends: Ski touring! There is ample terrain. 

Ridestore Eats: Kaisen-don is a bowl of hot rice, topped with fresh seafood and sashimi. Common toppings include fatty salmon, juicy crab legs, shiny ikura (salmon caviar), sweet scallops, and creamy uni (sea urchin). A Perfect mountain lunch!

Tokachidake

Tokachidake
Photo Credit: Tokachidake Tourism Website

Price Range

$

Closest Airport

Asahikawa
47 km

Island

Hokkaido

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

This resort is not your average ski resort. Imagine it like La Grave’s eatern cousin. No lifts, no queues, nothing, just solitude and tranquility with you and your crew. Bring your touring gear and get ready to skin up and discover what the mountain has to offer. Avalanche gear is a must.  Head to hokkaidopowderguides.com to see what courses and guided trips are on offer so you and your squad can link up with like minded riders. 

Ridestore Recommends: Stay at Ryounkaku Tokachidake Onsen, this gorgeous onsen also has accommodation for back county skiers. 

Ridestore Eats: Kaisendon is a great way to taste a wide variety of seafood at the same time, it’s a scrummy seafood soup. 

Furano

furano-shi hokkaido
Photo Credit: Furano-Shi Hokkaido Facebook

Price Range

$-$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose 
125 km

Island

Hokkaido

Furano is a real must-visit destination! Furano in the Hokkaido area is perfect for all abilities, families and experts alike for a number of reasons. Firstly, the snow is always of excellent quality and there are many marked pistes that are groomed to perfection for the beginners. 

Those who are seeking the Japanese heaven of extreme, deep powder, off-piste and backcountry, then you will not get bored in Furano and have plenty of fresh snow to get stuck into. 

The resort is large and has a great atmosphere, with an electric mix of traditional Japan and Western ski resort vibrancy. 

Ridestore Recommends: A cat skiing tour!

Ridestore Eats: It’s a no brainer in Hokkaido and while staying in Furano, try Osyokujidokoro Misaki and Osyokujidokoro Naramuraya the famous sea urchin.

Moiwa

Niseko Moiwa Ski Resort
Photo Credit: Niseko Moiwa Ski Resort Facebook

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose
115 km

Island

Hokkaido

Moiwa is often referred to as the forgotten resort of Niseko, but we think its best to keep it that way!

this way, we don’t want to share this incredible resort with anyone. The secret of this resort is that it still has the best fluffy, deep and neverending supply of snow, like its sister resort but without the crowds. 

If you are staying in the main resort of Hirafu, then you are a 10 minute bus ride to this crowd-free powder paradise, so a day trip is more than doable. If you are planning on staying in resort, you may find that this is kinder to your pocket- we know where we would decide to stay! 

Ridestore Recommends: The Lodge Moiwa 834 for convenient Japanese style accommodation

Ridestore Eats: If you have a sweet tooth, why not try Shiroi Koibito with chocolate sandwiched between two thin butter cookies.

Rusutsu

Photo Credit: Rusutsu Resort (Official) @KjerstiBuaas Facebook

Price Range

$$ – $$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose
90 km

Island

Hokkaido

Rusutsu is another amazing resort less known by those who frequent neighbouring resort Hirafu- Niseko. Rusutsu in the Hokkaido region, is known for its endless amounts of deep snow that is a breeze to glide through. The off-piste, treeline and even the backcountry skiing is easily accessed from the lifts, so you can save your energy for the ride down. 

The small joys in life are appreciated here at Rusutsu as the lift and resort infrastructure is modern and efficient so you be sure to spend more time freeriding. 

The resort is relatively large with an abundance of restaurants and facilities but does lack in nightlife for any apres-ski fun. 

Ridestore Recommends: One of the only places in Japan for heli-skiing. 

Ridestore Eats: Try Ajidokoro Takeda which is another seafood rice bowl. Served cold but still filling and delicious. 

Kiroro

Photo Credit: キロロリゾート(KIRORO RESORT

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose
105 km

Island

Hokkaido

This resort in the area of Hokkaido is another resort in Japan that is an all-rounder and can rival even some of those in the West. The resort is large with 21 marked pistes to go after for the beginners and intermediates and even some black runs for the advanced among you. Outside of the marked pistes, you will have some of the best snow to go crazy on! Get the skins on and go a little further afield to get access to the untouched haven. 

As Kiroro is well known for its snow depth and quality, it also means the secret is out and the crowds will flood in. This means an exciting atmosphere, but less untouched areas to test your skills. 

Ridestore Recommends: A snowcat sightseeing tour

Ridestore Eats: Ishikari Nabe is a traditional Japanese hot pot . The ultimate after skiing warming dinner. 

Tomamu

Tomamu
Photo Credit: Tomamu Facebook

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose
110 km

Island

Hokkaido

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

Tomamu is in the Hokkaido area, so is blessed with the unrivalled snow that famously fluffy and easy to glide through. The off-piste and backcountry is allowed in resort, so the freeriders can go explore the incredible terrain and powder (but you won’t be the only one with this idea). If you are a piste skiier or boarder then you will also have plenty of slopes to test your skills on. If you find there isn’t enough to fill a week trip, the location of Tomamu means you can hop on a bus and go for day trips. 

Don’t be put off by the skyscraper and modern vibe of this resort, as it’s not very traditional, but it does mean the facilities are top notch. But the resort is surprisingly not too large, so still has a cosy resort vibe. 

Ridestore Recommends: For a different kind of apres-ski, try the huge wave pool in resort. 

Ridestore Eats: Sounds odd but “Soup curry” is a with meat, vegetables, rice, eggs and other toppings. 

Sapporo Teine

Sapporo Teine
Photo Credit: Sapporo Teine Facebook

Price Range

$ – $$

Closest Airport

New-Chitose
75 km

Island

Hokkaido

Sapporo Teine is close to Sapporo and is where we would recommend you stay for your visit to the ski area. This means you can get double the fun, the big city at night and the big mountain during the day, although you may miss staying in a mountain village. You may think this resort will be packed full of people, but it doesn’t get as much hype as the nearby resorts, but it’s always best to keep the secret. 

The snow is deep, plentiful and remains in great condition throughout the season, so be sure to make the most of the off-piste and tree line runs. If you are a beginner though, you will find some great pistes to develop your skills. 

Ridestore Recommends: Head to the top for the Sapporo Teine Highland for some incredible views and great powder riding. 

Ridestore Eats: Sapporo beer. . .  come on, ask us a tough question. Pair it with delicious Hokkaido Tempura veggies. 

Honshu

Tazawako

Tazawako
Photo Credit: Tazawako Official Facebook

Price Range

$

Closest Airport

Akita
59 km

Island

Honshu

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

Another unmissable secret spot. The lifts are a little old school and the weather days can be pretty gnarly; but you’ll also have the powder lines all to yourself. Not only that but a pretty stunning view of the local lake which is famous for being the deepest in Japan.

Ridestore Recommends: A cat skiing tour with stunning views over the lake. 

Ridestore Eats: Japanese sandfish is mainly used on sushi, it is salted, unsalted and then marinated with winter veg, rice and kombu (seaweed)- delicious!

Shizukuishi

Shizukuishi
Photo Credit: Shizukuishi Official Facebook

Price Range

$

Closest Airport

 Iwate Hanamaki
51.5 km

Island

Honshu

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

There is one word that springs to mind when thinking about Shizukuishi. . . Authentic. Authentically Japanese, authentically Japow. The resort is totally unlike the northern counterpart of Niseko or Cortina inn the south, the resort isn’t used to masses of crowds. Eat like a local and ski like a local, uncontested lines every day. However freeriding isn’t strictly allowed to make sure you are smart. 

Ridestore Recommends: Stay at the Shizukuishi Prince Hotel for the convenience of a fully ski-in ski-out hotel

Ridestore Eats: Morioka ramen, is served in small bowls chilled. Cold noodles? Yes- delicious! 

Tenjindaira

Tenjindaira
Photo Credit:Tenjindaira Facebook

Price Range

$-$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
207 km

Island

Honshu

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

Tenjindaira is an ideal resort for beginner freeriders just wanting to start out riding the pow. The majority of the area is patrolled for avalanche danger which means you can freely explore. If you do want to venture into the deep back county you will surely be treated for your efforts as you are almost guaranteed freshies. From December to May enjoy quiet, blissful solitude. 

Ridestore Recommends: Stay in the  local ryokans (a traditional Japanese inn, with tatami mats on the floor and the futons to sleep on). Tres Authentic. 

Ridestore Eats: Oyaki Dumplings, stuffed with vegetables, seasoned with miso and soy. 

Geto Kogen

Geto Kogen
Photo Credit:Geto Kogen Official Tourism Website

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
486 km

Island

Honshu

*Ridestore Secret Spot Alert*

Big time secret reveal time, Geto Kogen is located in Japan’s top region for record snow cover, consistently every winter. The all-important ‘powder reset’ rate at Geto Kogen is in the top ranking in Japan! That means free refills in your tracks and a never ending supply of the champagne stuff.

Geto Kogen is located in a valley of stunning mountains,this means huge amounts of snowfall in a concentrated area every winter without fail. The area is in a bowl shape which means the conditions are optimal all day long.

Ridestore Recommends: Just enjoy that world  class secret tree skiing. 

Ridestore Eats: wanko soba is served in small bowls, stack em up and eat as many as you can!

Alts Bandai

Alts Bandai
Photo Credit: Alts Bandai Tourism Website

Price Range

$-$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
299 km

Island

Honshu

Alts Bandai is an extensive  ski resort extending over three mountain epic ranges: Mt. Bandai, Mt. Nekomagadake and Mt. Umaya. You have an undisturbed birds-eye view of Lake Inawashiro in this world-class ski area which boasts a generous 25 different ski runs.

No matter where you are on the hill you’ll be able to see the stunning lakes and mountains, Instagram opportunities for days. Also, since the mountain is south facing, you’re always basking in the sun’s rays as you head down our slopes, European alpine style.

Ridestore Recommends: They have a whopping 5 terrain parks! Freestylers unite!

Ridestore Eats: kozuyu is a clear soup made with dried scallops, konyaku jelly and noodles- Yum!

Appi Kogen

Appi Kogen
Photo Credit: Appi Kogen Tourism Website

Price Range

$-$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
486 km

Island

Honshu

Confidently boatsing the most snow on earth, Appi Kogen has a lot of offer to rival the big leagues of Niseko.

Japanese pow, backcountry riding, snowparks and a variety of trails with a total of 43km cater to all levels of skiers/snowboarders.
So many awesome activities  for kids and families too, both on and off-piste throughout winter. Appi is true snow paradise for everyone.

Ridestore Recommends: Try a guided snow shoeing tour in the day time and finish off with Karoke in the town by night!

Ridestore Eats: Jajamen noddles are similar to udon and very filling after a days riding.

Hakkoda

Hakkoda
Photo Credit: Hakkoda Official Facebook

Price Range

$

Closest Airport

Aomori
34 km

Island

Honshu

Hakkoda is home to a couple of ungroomed runs, whilst the rest of the area is one huge off-piste heaven with 654 metres of vertical drop. Hakkoda is made up of eight mountains, and beyond the ropeway serviced slopes, there are extensive areas for backcountry enthusiasts. It’s like being inside Alex Meliss’ head!

Powder Hounds have some great advice, they say “People frequently get lost, particularly during the frequent white-outs near the top. The trails are not roped off and are only marked with the occasional pole, so hire a guide if you’re not a highly experienced backcountry skier or boarder.”

Ridestore Recommends: Skiing is the main activity hear, ride all day and get an early night!

Ridestore Eats: Grilled scallops with miso. The fresh scallops are marinated in miso before being grilled and topped with beaten egg—simple but delicious.

Lotte Arai

LOTTE ARAI RESORT ロッテアライリゾート
Photo Credit: LOTTE ARAI RESORT ロッテアライリゾート Facebook

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita 
370 km

Island

Honshu

Lotte Arai is famed for being a great resort that shut down but reopened in 2017 with a bang! This resort is another lucky one to get copious amounts of snowfall each season so, you will be sure to never go without. This amount of snow means the off-piste skiing is at a plenty and more than enough to entertain you crazy free-riders. There is even great off-piste above the treeline for big bowls of powder skiing, although the winds can limit the amount you can do. 

The resort itself is for those who want to ski hard but end the day in luxury and style, with many upmarket hotels and restaurants. For those on a budget, Lotte Arai may not be accessible but day trips to the resort are a must!  

Ridestore Recommends: Another way to get down the mountain is Ziplining.

Ridestore Eats: Sasadango which is a traditional sweet made with mugwort-flavored mochi (yummy Japanese rice cake) and red bean paste. 

Yuzawa

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort
Photo Credit: Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort Facebook

Price Range

$$ – $$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
265 km

Island

Honshu

This resort is conveniently located for those coming from Tokyo and has access to 12 ski areas from the village, so you are spoilt for choice! Staying in Yuzawa can be crowded though, due to its convenient location and accessibility, so be sure to book ahead for accommodation. Stay in the town and take day trips by quick buses to each ski area, which will ensure you will not be skiing the same run twice! 

If you are looking for a traditional Japanese experience for your ski trip but also enjoy the vibrancy of the Alps, then Yuzawa is the best place to be. Due to the number of people who visit here each week, there are plenty of activities, restaurants and even Japanese Karaoke to give a go, if you are not too tired from the day. 

Ridestore Recommends: Try to the traditional Onsen’s (the hot springs)

Ridestore Eats: Try Noppe, a seasonal vegetable stew that features shiitake mushrooms, burdock root and carrots in a soy-sauce–based broth- Veggie vibes! 

Nozawa Onsen

Photo Credit: Nozawa Onsen Facebook

Price Range

$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
320 km

Island

Honshu

Nozowa Onsen is one of the first ski resorts in Japan, so it is a well known and loved place by the Japanese and internationals alike! The draw to the resort is the charming, rustic cobblestoned village that oozes Japanese spirit and culture. The resort is also fairly large, so Nozowa can cater for families, large groups and hardcore riders. 

The backcountry and unmarked areas are banned, so you can not be venturing far off the marked pistes but there are plenty of tree-lined runs and powder to give a go. Although, the snow may not be as fluffy and easy to glide through than the other resorts away from the sea. 

Ridestore Recommends: Try one of the 30 hot springs, many of which are indoors so you don’t freeze. 

Ridestore Eats: Togakushi Buckwheat noodles  as well as Oyaki dumplings stuffed with vegetables, seasoned with miso and soy.

Shiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen
Photo Credit: Shiga Kogen Facebook

Price Range

$$ – $$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
350 km

Island

Honshu

Shiga Kogen is lucky enough to be one of the highest resorts in Japan, so we know that only means good things for snow quality, amount and depth. With this amount of snow, means a large and varied ski area with lots of marked pistes, so you do not have to be an expert rider to enjoy this incredible resort. 

The way the resort is set up is of 19 different ski areas that are connected by slopes and lift systems, this means we guarantee you will not be getting bored. Although, the downside is that off-piste is mostly banned so most of your fun must be enjoyed on-piste. 

Ridestore Recommends: Go visit the Jigokudani Snow Monkeys not too far from the resort.

Ridestore Eats: Try Nozawana-zuke (pickled mustard leaves) as a side dish which is very authentic, super good!

Myoko Kogen

Photo Credit: Myoko Kogen Facebook

Price Range

$$ – $$$

Closest Airport

Tokyo Narita
350 km

Island

Honshu

Myoko Kogen is the village that is connected to two ski area called Akakura Kanko ski resort and Akakura Onsen. These areas can be easily accessed from the traditional and rustic Japanese village. The pow pow chasers and free-riders will fall in love with the amazing quality of snow and backcountry with plenty to explore (especially if you are looking for something steeper). 

The access to the two ski areas and the shuttle bus systems from Myoko Kogen to many other local ski areas,  means you can make the most of a week trip! 

The village of Myoko itself is blessed to still be traditional and not overtaken by the Western vibes, so be sure to get immersed in the food, the culture and the overall experience. 

Ridestore Recommends: Take a Myoko powder tour to know where to find the best snow and off-piste areas.

Ridestore Eats: You are so close to the coast so you have to try Red snow crab or beni zuwai-gani.

Alex Meliss Japan

And That’s it!

Whether you’re looking to ski or snowboard, soak in hot springs, play a round of golf, or eat your body weight in ramen, Japan skiing holidays are some of the best in the world. If you have the chance to hit the japow, you won’t be disappointed!

Skiing Japan

If you are heading on an adventure to Japan this Winter, send us a pic, tag us online and let us know how you got on tag @dopesnow or @ridestore using #Dopesnow #Ridestore.

PS. 

Hey Riders, note from your gal Angelica here. All prices are/were correct at the time of writing through research and extensive knowledge of skiing in Japan, however, there are a few resorts I haven’t yet had the chance to visit. All advice is my own. However, maybe you have some better information to offer or any addendum or changes to make, in which case, feel free to email me on angelica@ridestore.com, and we can consider adding them in! 

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