If you’ve got questions about ski resorts in Japan, the ski season, snow quality, or anything else – we have the answers for you.

When does the ski season start in Japan?

The start of ski season in Japan depends on the part of the country. Typically, the northernmost part of the country, Niseko, opens at the end of November.
However, the Hakuba ski season, which is located on the mainland, is often more gradual. While some resorts start operating in November, the full openings usually take place around mid-December. The ski season in Hokkaido also starts heating up in mid-December and provides ideal conditions for beginner and intermediate skiers.

When is the ski season in Japan?

As Japan sits in the northern hemisphere, the Japanese ski season dates fall between November and May. However, the most popular times when skiers visit are typically between December to March.

The northernmost ski areas are usually first to open, with the Niseko ski season often starting in the last week of November. That part of Japan receives abundant snowfall, even at sea levels, which is why ski resorts there open so early.

How long is the ski season in Japan?

In significant ski areas in Japan, the season can last up to May as there’s still snow coverage then. However, those looking for the perfect, powder-snow conditions should consider mid to late December to March or April.

In fact, April is the best time to snowboard and ski in Hokkaido. In April, the prices are lower compared to peak season, there are no crowds, and the weather is often ideal.

Even though the snow on off-piste areas has most likely faded in April, the on-piste snow remains of good quality.

After April, the snow coverings are minimal and snowboarding or skiing becomes impractical. That said, the mountainous areas of Japan remain a sight to behold even in springtime, offering a wide variety of non-snow-related activities.

When is the best time to ski in Japan?

The best time for skiing in Japan will depend on many different factors, including price, preference, skill level, and more.

For the best powdery snow coverage, consider January and February. Late December and late January to mid-February are the best times to visit if you want to experience different festivals and events. However, if you’re looking for great deals on accommodations and skiing, consider late November/early December or March and April.

What is the snow quality like in Japanese ski resorts?

Ski resorts in Japan are renowned for their excellent snow coverage, which is often referred to as Japow or Japanese powder. The light dry powder is a result of cold storms from the northwest.

Across Japan, Hokkaido, and especially the central parts, has some of the finest snow quality in the world. Also, the Iwate Prefecture and the Gunma Prefecture are famous for their lovely snow coverage and quality.

Where to ski in Japan?

Known for its deep powder soon, beautiful trees, and stunning slopes, Hokkaido is the top spot for skiing and snowboarding. Depending on where you’re staying, you can expect the snow season to be between 120 and 160 days.

At Kiroro Grand, Kiroro Peak, and Sahoro Hokkaido, the slopes are perfect for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, while Tomamu Hokkaido is a great fit for beginners and intermediates.

How many ski resorts in Japan are there?

Since Japan is a world-class ski destination with beautiful scenery, relaxing hot springs, and high-quality snow, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of ski resorts in the country. That said, from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern island of Kyushu, Japan boasts over 500 ski resorts.

The ski resorts in Japan vary in size from large, luxurious resorts with dozens of runs to small ones with one-lift slopes. Most of the best resorts are found in the northern part of the country, in Hokkaido.

What is the best ski resort in Japan?

Ski resorts in Japan boast an incredible variety, and there is no definitive answer to what the best one is. That said, if you want access to world-class slopes, gourmet cuisine, and superior accommodations, Club Med Japan is the place for you.

With four luxurious, all-inclusive resorts – Kiroro Grand, Kiroro Peak, Tomamu Hokkaido, and Sahoro Hokkaido – we can offer a high-quality, comprehensive service. Accommodations at all our ski resorts in Japan come with a lift pass and group lessons included in the stay.

Where can you ski in Japan during March?

March is becoming more popular with skiers in Japan as it typically features stunning weather, no crowds but continued snow coverage. Not only that but the prices for accommodations and ski lifts also often drop at this time.

That said, if you want to experience skiing in Japan during March, you should consider Hokkaido as your top pick. With excellent snow depth, the coverage lasts well into May. What’s more, there are still some events this time of year.

You can also visit Honshu, which has some of the highest peaks in Japan. However, many of them are unreachable in the middle of the winter due to wind, poor visibility, or frigid weather conditions. With clearer weather conditions in March, Honshu’s legendary peaks become more attainable.

What are the best nightlife ski resorts in Japan?

The first thing to know is that the Japanese après ski tradition isn’t quite the same as it is in Western resorts. Often, Japanese custom is to finish a day on the slopes with an onsen, stay in or head for dinner, and go to bed.

That said, Niseko in Hokkaido and Hakuba in the Nagano Prefecture both have a vibrant nightlife scene. However, if you feel like staying in instead of heading out, you should know that all our ski resorts in Japan have stunning restaurants, featuring both local and international dishes.

What’s more, all of our resorts feature thrilling bars with exciting cocktails and beverages, where you can unwind after a long day on the slopes. Not only that but to top it all off, all our ski resorts in Japan have live music, DJ sets, local entertainment, dance, and more.

What are the best ski resorts in Japan for advanced skiers?

At Club Med, our ski resorts welcome skiers of all levels and skills. All resorts have access to different runs, many of which are for advanced skiers. So whether you choose Kiroro Peak, Kiroro Grand, Tomamu Hokkaido, or Sahoro Hokkaido, you’ll be able to have a thrilling time on the slopes.

Are there ski-in/ski-out resorts in Japan?

Yes, there are many ski-in/ski-out resorts in Japan with easy access to both the slopes and the resort. Kiroro Grand, Tomamu Hokkaido, and Sahoro Hokkaido are all ski-in/ski-out resorts with slopes right outside your doors.

Is it necessary to book accommodations in advance?

When it comes to skiing in Japan, it’s always a good idea to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak season. Popular resorts can get crowded so booking in advance ensures that you’ll have a place to stay and ski.

What’s more, if you book your stay with Club Med, in addition to accommodation, you will also have a lift pass included in your stay. Guests can also book their flights with Club Med for a more enjoyable and carefree travel experience.

Are there ski resorts in close proximity to major cities in Japan?

Yes, many ski resorts in Japan are close to major cities. All of our resorts are located near cities or villages, where guests can explore or unwind after a long day on the slopes. There are also a few resorts close to Tokyo, the country’s capital, which guests can visit with a short, 1–1.5 hour trip by train or car.

Can I rent ski equipment at the resorts?

Yes, most ski resorts in Japan (and the world) allow you to rent some type of ski equipment. However, the type of equipment you’ll be able to rent will vary from one place to the next.

That said, most resorts will have skis, snowboards, boots, poles, helmets, goggles, and gloves available. Some also have ski and snowboard pants and jackets, and you might be able to get everything separately or bundled together.

Are there non-skiing activities available at the resorts?

Yes, most if not all, ski resorts in the world feature some non-ski-related activities for their guests. Whether it’s Après ski, evening entertainment, or other activities, most ski resorts want to provide a well-rounded experience.

At Club Med, we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of activities and experiences. These include wellness treatments, fitness, excursions, and many other activities.

Are there dining options available at Japanese ski resorts?

Yes, all-inclusive ski resorts in Japan, like Club Med, offer a wide variety of dining options at their locations. At Club Med, our guests can sample local delicacies, international dishes, and much more – all included in their stay.

How can I travel to Japanese ski resorts from major cities?

Japan in general is very well-connected and tourists have a wide variety of travel options to choose from. How you decide to get to your resort will depend on your budget, time constraints, and the size of your luggage.

That said, depending on where you’re staying, you will most likely have access to trains, taxis, buses, or rental cars. Trains are fast, convenient, and enjoyable, while taxis are readily available and reasonably priced.

If you don’t want to cart your bags on trains, buses, or taxis, you should know that Japan has excellent courier systems. You can send your luggage between the airport and your ski resort, and the process typically takes 24 hours.

Are ski resorts in Japan crowded?

Whether or not you encounter big crowds while skiing in Japan mostly depends on when and where you go. If you visit during peak season, which is from mid-December to the end of February, you’ll likely encounter some crowds. However, if you visit during the off-season, which is March or April, you’ll still find powdery snow on-piste, have access to much better deals and have fewer crowds.

Are English-speaking instructors available at Japanese ski resorts?

At Club Med ski resorts in Japan, we offer group ski lessons, taught by the top, nationally accredited, English-speaking instructors. Guests can join group lessons or book private ski/snowboard lessons.

What’s more, at certain ski resorts in Japan, we also offer group lessons for kids, teens, and adults. You should also know that group lessons are included in your stay at all Club Med ski resorts.

Are there ski resorts in Japan that offer night skiing?

Night skiing in Japan is very popular, which is why many resorts include it in their offer. If you’re interested in the activity, you can check out Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Tomamu, some Hakuba resorts, certain Shiga Kogen Resorts, Naeba, Arai Resort, and Appi.

Are there ski resorts in Japan that are family-friendly?

Yes, there are many family-friendly ski resorts in Japan, and Club Med is at the forefront of family fun. Kiroro Grand, Tomamu Hokkaido, and Sahoro Hokkaido all have kids’ facilities, catering to infants, toddlers, tweens, and teens. Our services and facilities were specifically designed to ensure your children are engaged and entertained.

Are there babysitting and childcare arrangements in resorts?

Whether or not there are babysitting and childcare services at the resort you’re staying at will depend solely on the resort. At Club Med Kiroro Grand, we have the Petit Club, Mini Club, and Junior Club. Both Tomamu Hokkaido feature Petit Club, Mini Club, and Passworld, which will keep the little ones entertained while the parents take their ski and snowboarding skills to the next level.

Which resort is closest to the monkey park?

The Jigokudani Monkey Park is a popular tourist spot and home to Nagano’s spring-loving monkeys. Some smaller resorts are a 25–30 minute drive to and from the park, like the Shiga Kogen. There’s also the popular Nozawa Onsen, located 50–60 minutes from the park.

How much does it cost to ski in Japan?

The cost of skiing in Japan will depend on many different factors including accommodations, time of travel, and lift passes. The prices will also vary based on locations, exchange rates, and specific resort offerings, i.e. is it all-inclusive or not? It also depends on where you’re travelling from, the flights, the length of your stay, and more.

How to become a ski instructor in Japan?

To work as a ski instructor in Japan, you’ll need to go through four essential steps. First, you’ll have to gain an internationally recognized ski instructor qualification. Then, you’ll need experience working as a ski instructor. Following that, you will need a Japanese working holiday visa. The last step is to choose where you want to work and apply for a ski instructor position.

Are ski lessons available for beginners?

Depending on the ski resort you’re staying in, you might have access to ski lessons for beginners. At Club Med, we provide group ski and snowboard lessons for all levels. The intimate group lessons have a maximum capacity of 12 people and are taught by English-speaking instructors from the best, nationally accredited ski schools.

Is it necessary to purchase travel insurance for skiing in Japan?

While having travel insurance isn’t obligatory, it’s highly recommended. Your policy should cover overseas medical expenses, expenses for ski-related injuries, cancellation fees for flights, accommodations, ski equipment rentals, and lessons.

What are the typical temperatures in Japan during ski season?

Generally, Japan gets pretty cold during the winters and it snows in many places in the country. In Tokyo, December temperatures tend to be around 12°C in the afternoon but drop to 5°C in the morning and night.

In January, afternoon temperatures dip to around 10°C, and between 2°C–3°C in the mornings. February temperature is pretty similar to January, and in the capital, the winters are generally sunny with little rain or snow.

That said, the higher up the mountains you go, the lower the temperatures will be, so make sure to bring lots of warm clothes and maybe even get some kairo, or heating pads.

Is it expensive to ski / snowboard in Japan?

Skiing and snowboarding prices are definitely on the rise in ski resorts across the world, and Japan is no exception. However, the biggest contributing factor to price is where you’re coming from.

Luckily, travellers from Australia and New Zealand will find that Japan is one of the more reasonably priced ski destinations. What’s more, once you get to your chosen ski resort, you’ll find that the lift passes are generally cheaper compared to Europe or the US. Not only that but the prices of accommodation and food are comparatively less compared to the bigger ski resorts in Europe or US.

Can I ski off-piste?

Skiing off-piste depends on the resort, as some will allow it, while others strictly prohibit it. If you’re interested in off-piste skiing, make sure to check with the resort you’re staying in beforehand. However, as this type of skiing is considered dangerous, be sure to only visit areas that have been designated as safe by local authorities.

Which is the best ski area in Japan – Nagano or Hokkaido?

Answering which ski area is better, Nagano or Hokkaido, is a relative thing and will depend on your personal preference and priorities. Both have their own pros and cons, and their own unique charm.

That said, Nagano is very accessible and can be easily reached from Tokyo. It also features a variety of resorts and many different cultural attractions.

On the other hand, Hokkaido’s snow quality is unparalleled and offers a longer ski season. What’s more, it offers incredible backcountry and off-piste skiing opportunities, attracting advanced skiers and snowboarders.

What is the average elevation of the resorts?

Most resorts in Japan sit at an elevation of around 1,000 metres and typically provide 500 to 1,000 metres of vertical skiing. The exceptions to this are Asahidake and Kurodake, which can take skiers up to 1,520 metres and 1,600 metres.

Will I get altitude sickness?

The likelihood of experiencing altitude sickness while skiing or snowboarding in Japan depends on the altitude of the ski resort you’ve chosen. It also depends on how quickly you ascend to higher elevations.

Keep in mind that most ski resorts in Japan sit at moderate to high altitudes, typically ranging from 500 to 1,500 metres above sea level. Also, altitude sickness is more likely to occur when ascending quickly to high altitudes without proper acclimatization.

Personal factors, such as age, fitness level, and previous experience can also influence susceptibility. If altitude sickness is a worry, there are ways to prevent it and remedy it. To mitigate the risks, make sure to stay hydrated, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and pace yourself when skiing at higher altitudes.

I am thinking about driving in Japan, what do I need to know?

In Japan, driving is done on the left side of the road. As a tourist, you can drive in Japan, as long as you have a valid driving license from your own country, as well as an International Driving Permit. Both the permit and driving license should be acquired before arriving in Japan.

You should also know that most of the signage is written in both Japanese and English in most areas. What’s more, Japan has a zero percent blood alcohol level standard for driving.

If you want to rent a vehicle on your ski holiday, you’ll have access to 4WD vehicles, along with snow tires. Snow chains are also an inexpensive alternative for driving in the snow.

Discover more...

Kiroro Peak
Kiroro Peak
Luxury range

Kiroro Peak