Powdery slopes, incredible ski domains, stunning accommodations, and delicious local foods – the Japan ski season has it all. If you’re craving some time on the slopes and want to have a wide variety at your disposal, the snowy mountains of Japan are where you need to be.
Perfect for families, friends, and couples, here’s what to expect from a Japan ski season.

A Closer Look at Japan

Japan, an island country in East Asia, is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the northwest and the Sea of Japan to the west. It extends from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north, toward Taiwan, the Philippine Sea, and the East China Sea in the north.

Japan is part of the Ring of Fire, spanning an archipelago of 14,125 islands. Out of those, the main five islands include:

  • Honshu (the mainland)
  • Hokkaido
  • Shikoku
  • Kyushu
  • Okinawa

As the 11th most populous country in the world, Japan has more than 125 million inhabitants. Its capital, Tokyo, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world and is home to 13.5 million people.

Japan’s incredible snow conditions make it one of the best places in the world to go skiing and snowboarding. With endless powdery snow, friendly locals, and delicious food, the Japan ski season has something for everyone.

Japan has always been a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding, but like many attractions, it saw a steep decline in visitors back in 2020. Fortunately, more and more people have been hitting the slopes in Japan again and enjoying the world-famous powder snow.

Popular among tourists from Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, Japanese ski slopes are seeing an uptick in visitors. This Japan ski season promises to be better than ever for those reasons and more.

Where to Ski in Japan?

Owing to Japan’s incredible landscapes and unique topography, the country has many wonderful skiing and snowboarding destinations. Let’s take a closer look at the top ski destinations in Japan and where to ski once you’re there.


Hokkaido is the northernmost and least developed of Japan’s main islands. The weather in the second-largest Japanese island is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall, frozen seas, and below-zero temperatures. The summers aren’t as hot or humid as in other parts of the country.

With its rural landscapes and unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, especially ones who like to ski and snowboard. Niseko, a town in Hokkaido, is one of the most popular ski destinations in Japan.

Home to many ski resorts, Niseko is very accessible and welcoming to tourists. In addition to kilometres of ski trails, Niseko also offers off-trail skiing, an activity growing in popularity.


If you choose the Nagano Prefecture for your Japan ski season, you can look forward to 800 km of slopes, served by 470 lifts. What’s more, Nagano boasts some of the best ski resorts in Japan and has some of the deepest powder in the world.

Attracting skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, Nagano was the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics and has a pedigree that speaks for itself. Also, it rivals Hokkaido as the premier winter destination in Japan, which is why many tourists have trouble deciding between the two.


If you’re looking to ski away from the beaten track and avoid large crowds – Tohoku is a ski destination to consider. There, the cultural immersion is at an all-time high as the resorts are mostly frequented by the Japanese.

Located in the north of Honshu Island, Tohoku spans six prefectures and is a beloved ski destination among skiers of all levels. It has reliable and heavy snowfall each ski season and hosts many traditional festivals with some of the best onsen throughout.


Niigata has a long history of welcoming skiers, dating back to the early 1910s and it has around 55 resorts still operating. Located northwest of Tokyo on Honshu, Niigata stretches for around 240 km.

Niigata is known the world over for its large volumes of snow (as well as its sake). In fact, some areas regularly see upwards of 16 metres of snow per season.

A Closer Look at the Japan Snow Season: When Does Japan Ski Season Start and End

Now, let’s answer some of the most important questions: When is it the best time to ski in Japan, when does Japan's ski season start, and when does the Japan ski season end? If you’ve got questions, we’ll help you with the answers!

Japan Ski Season 2022-2023

The 2022-2023 Japan ski season was the most anticipated one so far. As the country closed its borders at the start of the pandemic, the 2019-2020 season came to an abrupt end and was fully closed until 2021-2022.

For the Japan ski season 2022-2023, some resorts opened their doors as early as mid-November. Resorts in Hakuba started operating in mid-November, while in late November 2022, Rusutsu and Nozawa Onsen opened up.

Then, as December started rolling around, the majority of resorts and ski destinations in Japan began opening up. These included Niseko, Furano, Sahoro, Tomamu, Myoko Kogen, and Shiga Kogen.

Japan Ski Season 2023-2024

Now that Japan has officially opened its borders, the 2023-2024 ski season is shaping up to be the best one yet. Let’s take a closer look at when your favourite Japanese ski resorts are going to be welcoming guests.

Once again, Hakuba is the first to open its doors in mid-November, while Rusutsu is close behind. That means you can ski in Hokkaido and Nagano as early as November.

Even though Rusutsu is the first to open, the rest of the Hokkaido, Japan ski season is closely following. Both Sahoro Hokkaido and Tomamu Hokkaido are scheduled to start their seasons on December 1st.

The Niseko Japan ski season is officially open on December 2nd, 2023. With incredible slopes and amazing activities, like nighttime skiing, adventurers can truly have it all.

Finally, mid-December is when all other resorts start opening up, including Furano, Myoko Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, and Shiga Kogen.

Best Time to Ski in Japan

Now that you know when the Japan ski season is starting this year, it’s time to see what the best time to ski in Japan is. But keep in mind that there’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. The best time to ski in Japan for you is going to depend on personal preferences, budgets, and more.

Early Japan ski season

From mid-November to mid-December is the early Japan ski season and the first tracks of winter can be quite tempting. That’s when you’ll see fewer crowds and typically lower prices on your accommodations. However, the lower prices are for a reason as snow coverage can be unreliable this time of year.

Christmas and New Year in Japan

From the end of December to early January is considered the best time to ski in Japan and the perfect place to spend the holidays. Even though the snow base might not be deep enough for backcountry skiing, there’s sure to be a decent amount of snow.

Also, as New Year is one of the most celebrated times of the year in Japan, you’re bound to have a magical time. But keep in mind that at this part of the Japan snow season, the prices can be pretty steep.

Peak Powder Season in Japan

If you’re wondering what the best Japanese ski season months are, most would tell you they’re from early January to mid-February. It’s the peak powder season in Japan, with immense snowfall and consistent snow conditions.

That said, like Christmas and New Year, the peak powder season is when Japanese slopes see the most visitors and the highest prices. To ensure your place, it’s best to book in advance and secure a good deal.

Post-Peak Japan ski season

From late February to early March, there’s still plenty of powdery snow left on the slopes, as well as abundant snowfall. That said, some years, the spring tends to creep in a bit early, so the skiing conditions aren’t pristine.

But if you still want to visit during this time, know that you’ll probably get great snow at an excellent price. You can also expect better rates for accommodations in Niseko and Hakuba this time of year.

Spring Skiing in Japan

Finally, from the middle of March to early April, there’s spring skiing in Japan. That’s when the temperatures start to rise a bit and you’re less likely to see the amazing spring powder dumps the country is famous for.

The prices are lower this time of year and you can explore so much of the mainland if you want.

When Does the Japan Ski Season End?

When does ski season end in Japan and when is the latest you can go to ski or snowboard?

Depending on where you’re going, that answer is going to vary. For example, Hakkaisan in Niigata is typically the first to close and in 2024, it’s going to be late March.

Then, the majority of ski resorts in Japan close in early April, including the Rusutsu Resort Ski Area and the Shahoro Resort Ski Area. The rest of the resorts shut down by the end of April, including those in Gunma, Nagano, Iwate, and Hokkaido.

Finally, the last resorts that close their doors in early May are mostly in Nagano and one in Aomori.

Final Thoughts on the Japan Ski Season

If you’re looking to make the most out of this year’s Japan ski season, it’s time to book your stay with Club Med. With four stunning, all-inclusive resorts, Club Med Japan has access to some of the world’s best pistes, slopes, activities, and more.

Choose between Kiroro Grand, Tomamu Hokkaido, Sahoro Hokkaido, and Kiroro Peak and book now to ensure your place this snow season.