Japan, also known as ‘Land of the Rising Sun,’ is a country that’s pretty much a must-visit for unique travel experiences. Not only is it home to countless anime series, it’s also the land of delicious fare like ramen and sushi. That aside, the country’s also blessed with abundant, high-quality snow across prefectures—from Tokyo to Hokkaido and beyond. In fact, you’ll find more than 500 ski resorts in Japan that vary from small to large; each with its own charm and beauty.
There’s more to this country than Mount Fuji. If you haven’t heard, snow in Japan is deep and powder-like, which often results in the softest slopes imaginable. Here’s a list of the best Japanese ski resorts to add to your travel itinerary for an ultimate bundle of fun in the snow!
1. Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido
Located in Hokkaido, Rusutsu Resort is a safe haven for families looking to enjoy some blissful time skiing on the softest of snow. Some of the standout features of this resort include its immaculately groomed trails, such as tree-lined courses that are designed for skiers of all experience levels, including those who are looking to do off-piste skiing.
If you’re planning to spend a night or two at the resort itself (it’s approximately S$121 per night for a twin room), expect to find whimsical decor that makes the snow resort closer in spirit to Disneyland. Yes, we’re talking about antique merry-go-rounds, singing trees, and even animatronic dancing bears that’ll greet you at the entrance of the accommodation. Be sure to bring along tech gadgets like your cameras to snap some pics!
The day after a huge snowfall is termed as a powder day—it’s when a fresh, thick layer of snow covers the run. This resort is renowned precisely for these light “powder runs” and fresh tracks, which help provide a more speedy and smooth experience for the skier.
Rusutsu is also definitely a family-friendly snow resort. There’s a kids’ snow park packed with fun activities like tubing and dog sledding—perfect to keep the little ones entertained. Worried about getting lost in translation? Thankfully, there are multiple English signs and English-speaking staff at Rusutsu Resort that’ll smoothen the experience for tourists from all over the world.
Best of all, the resort offers numerous other attractions, including pool facilities and hot spring baths that’ll help wash your exhaustion away after a long day out in the cold.
13 Izumikawa, Rusutsu-mura, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1711
How to get there:
Located near Mt Yotei, Rusutsu can be accessed via shuttle buses from New Chitose Airport or Sapporo City. For more information on bus schedules and rates, check out these sites: Chitose to Rusutsu and Sapporo to Rusutsu. To be safe, we’d recommend booking the transport in advance.
2. Hakuba Valley, Nagano
Nestled in the Nagano Prefecture, Hakuba Ski Resort is approximately 3 hours away by bullet train from Tokyo. For the uninitiated, this charming ski town actually took the global stage back in the 1998 Winter Olympics. In other words, it’s a worldwide stunner.
Back then, the sporting event occurred specifically at Happo-One Ski Resort. It is high in elevation, with 35 lifts and over 200 trails. In fact, it's the biggest and oldest among the ten ski resorts you’ll find within Hakuba Valley.
Its peak stands at over 1,000m above sea level, resulting in Happo-One receiving some of the country's best snowfall. The longest course even stretches to 8,000m-long! With its fresh tracks covered with fluffy powder snow, it’s no wonder why advanced skiers and snowboard enthusiasts consider this the perfect winter playground.
That being said, you will still find some gentle terrains within this large ski area. You’ll even find two different kids’ parks within family-friendly Happo-One itself, where little ones can go wild building snowmen and getting into fun snowball fights. We’d recommend getting the Hakuba Valley Lift Pass (~S$75 per adult, S$43 per child for a day pass). This lets you conveniently ride into any of the main zones—from Hakuba Goryu, Kashimayari, Jiigatake and more.
Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
How to get there:
Hakuba can be easily reached from various parts of Japan, such as Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai regions. The most accessible way to this family-friendly resort is through bullet train. If you’re coming from Tokyo, catch the Narita express from the airport to Tokyo CPD. Thereafter, take the bullet train from Tokyo station to Nagano, then a bus from the station to Happo-One.
3. Niseko Ski Resort, Hokkaido
Think of Niseko as a hot tourist spot for international skiers. Drawn to its amazing snow quality and rich nature, its popularity first boomed on social media when international visitors arrived in the 2000s, and that has never dimmed since.
Today, it is considered one of the top winter destinations among English speakers to the point where many locals see tourists as a permanent fixture of the town. You’ll easily find long-term stay condominiums targeted at foreigners and even international schools within its vicinity, making it an excellent choice for long-term visitors.
Niseko Ski Resort is essentially one mountain with four interconnected resorts and a variety of terrains you can choose from. Among the resorts, we’d recommend heading to Niseko Annupuri especially if you’re new to skiing. This is located in the westernmost part of Niseko, with well-maintained beginner slopes and gentle slopes that are much less intimidating.
Feeling fatigued by all that cardio? Take a moment to soak in the spectacular views of Mount Yōtei while you’re at the peak point. In between breaks from the ski slopes, snap a few Instagram-worthy shots with the mountain casually sitting in the background much like a computer screensaver.
For the more advanced folks, consider heading to Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort instead. This is the largest ski resort you can find at Niseko with an extensive variety of terrains, including 30 marked ski courses, 15 ski lifts and gondolas - truly an advanced skier’s dream. Fret not, there are still many beginner runs meant for new skiers and families located there too.
Being one of its more popular spots though, you’ll need to mentally prepare yourself for heavy foot traffic. The resort at Hirafu is a lot more vibrant at night too. At the Niseko Village, you’ll find a ton of restaurants and shops for snacks and meals, including Michelin-quality food at Kamimura restaurant and Niseko Ramen that’s both delicious and hearty to beat the cold.
485 Niseko, Abuta District, Hokkaido 048-1511, Japan
How to get there:
The most common way to reach Niseko Ski Resort is by flying to New Chitose Airport, then hopping on a coach that takes you directly to Hirafu Welcome Centre. From there, you’ll be provided with directions based on your chosen accommodation.
4. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, Nagano
Here’s a fun fact: skiing was introduced to Nozawa Onsen back in 1912. To some locals, this is even considered the birthplace of skiing in Japan. Situated near Nagano, this charming ski resort village provides a 50km trail and 297ha surface, which makes it a great spot for moderate skiing. That’s only one of the many things that makes this place a must-visit though.
Nozawa Onsen is not only famous for its abundance of hot springs that melt your stress away, but also traditional inns and Japanese architecture, which all add to an authentic cultural experience. More than anything, it is its rustic ambience that sets Nozawa apart from other areas.
Beyond that, you’ll stumble onto hundreds of temples and shrines, and even get to witness geishas wandering down the street in their yukatas (originally bathrobes, they have evolved and are now worn as unlined cotton kimonos).
If you happen to be at Nozawa Onsen early in the year (January 15th to be exact), be sure to check out the magnificent Dosojin Fire Festival too. With flames of torches held to light up the night, this is one of Japan’s largest festivals intended to dispel bad spirits and usher good fortune.
It’s no wonder Nozawa Onsen is one of the most popular ski resorts in central Japan!
7653 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen, Shimotakai District, Nagano 389-2502, Japan
How to get there:
The most convenient way to reach this Japanese resort directly is via shuttle bus from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport. There are different departure timings and rates, so be sure to check them out and book a week in advance.
5. Shiga Kogen Ski Resort, Nagano
Encompassing a grand total of 18 different ski areas, Shiga Kogen is another large ski resort in Japan you should consider visiting. This particular one stretches across in size from a height of 1340m by 2307m, with 48 ski lifts and gondolas in total—notably higher than any other resort within the region.
The area is so large that it would be almost impossible to cover all grounds within a single day. For a better experience, purchase the lift pass tickets (~S$60) that’ll grant you easy access to multiple resorts within the ski grounds. It’s been said that the combination of altitude and natural topography helps make snow stay longer in Shiga Kogen. In fact, it typically runs from November to late-April. Should you miss winter vacation, spring-skiing is still viable here. Consider heading over for a day trip!
Aside from skiing activities, other forms of entertainment can also be found at the nearby hot spring towns, such as Shibu Onsen and Jigokudani Monkey Park.
The latter definitely makes for a memorable experience, for you’ll get to see wild monkeys up close—Japanese Macaques, or Snow Monkeys, inhabit this area and are often seen bathing in the natural hot springs. Fret not, they’re accustomed to humans and typically completely ignore guests. Just be sure not to touch or feed them.
148 Hirao, Yamanochi, Shimotakai District, Nagano 381-0401, Japan
How to get there:
To reach Shiga Kogen, it takes approximately a 1-hour bus ride from Nagano City and 5 hours from the Northwest of Tokyo. These can be accessed via express buses from Nagano Station as well as Tokyo airport. Depending on where your starting point is though, transportation options vary greatly. Check the full list of transportation options out here.
6. Furano Ski Resort, Hokkaido
More than anywhere else in Japan, Furano has hosted the Ski and Snowboard World Cup for up to 12 times. Opened in 1962, it has since seen about 200,000 visitors annually. This is no surprise, considering it has 23 marked runs and up to 950m of vertical terrains.
On top of that, this popular resort is also renowned for having long-groomed runs catered to beginner riders looking for an easier cruise. At the Kitanomine zone, for instance, you’ll get to ride along a wide course that’s ideal for casual practice. Generally, Furano’s ski season begins late November and finishes around May. Snow quality is exceptionally light and fluffy here. At times, they may even be waist-deep.
If you’re lucky enough, you’d even get to enjoy an unparalleled view of the Daisetsuzan Mountain range during clear weather. For overnight stays, check out the plethora of accommodation options either in the village located at the base of lifts, or at downtown Furano. The town’s dotted with a wide range of eateries serving authentic Japanese food – from Izakaya to curry rice, and even cosy noodle bars, you’ll easily be able to take your pick.
Nakagoryo, Furano, Hokkaido 076-8511, Japan
How to get there:
From Sapporo station, hop on a train that’s bound for Takikawa. Get off there, then transfer to the line that’s bound for Furano. Once you arrive, take a taxi to the resort. At this point, it's only about 10min-away. If coming from Asahikawa Airport, take a bus to Furano instead, which takes less than 2h-long.
Hit the slopes & embark on epic snow adventures at these premier ski resorts in Japan
With Singapore devoid of ski seasons, we can’t help but be in awe of the endless snowy slopes at these popular resorts
Combine high-quality, fresh powder snow, yummy sushi, steaming hot springs and an unparalleled view amidst the chilly weather of Japan—and it’s not hard to see why the country’s the perfect spot for a getaway. In the words of Barney Stinson, guess it’s time to suit up for some icy fun!
For more updates on Changi Airport, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, Telegram and YouTube. You can also sign up for a Changi Account and have the latest news and articles delivered right to your inbox.
Shop before you fly!
Shop 30 days in advance and up to 12 hours before your flight in the comfort of your own home. Plus, enjoy tax- and duty-free prices and online-exclusive offers. Shop now at iShopChangi!
Be rewarded when you shop at Changi!
Leap into a world of exclusive privileges as a Changi Rewards member. Enjoy GST-absorption for your purchases at participating outlets in the public areas of the airport and more. Sign up for the FREE membership here.
WiFi routers, travel insurance, attraction tickets and more!
Specially curated to meet your travelling needs, Changi Recommends offers an extensive range of travel necessities such as WiFi routers, travel insurance and more to help you get ready for your holiday. Shop now at Changi Recommends!
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Japan for skiing and snowboarding is typically from December to March. During this ski season, the country experiences abundant annual snowfalls and the ski resorts are fully operational. January and February are particularly popular months for winter sports due to consistent snow conditions.
However, it's worth checking the specific resort and region you plan to visit, as some areas may have slightly different snow seasons. Additionally, keep in mind that weekends and holidays tend to be peak seasons, so you may consider weekdays for a less crowded experience.
Railway: Japan's extensive railway network, including the famous Shinkansen, offers a reliable and efficient way to travel between cities. The Japan Rail Pass is a cost-effective option for tourists, allowing unlimited travel on JR trains for a set period. Tourists can also make use of rechargeable smart cards like Suica or Pasmo that can be used for seamless payment on trains, buses, and even taxis.
Taxis: Taxis are widely available in urban areas and can be hailed from designated stands or called through mobile apps. While slightly more expensive than public transportation, taxis are convenient for short distances or when carrying heavy luggage.
Domestic flights: When travelling long distances or to remote, lesser-known destinations, domestic flights offer a time-saving option. Several airlines operate frequent flights between major cities and popular tourist spots.
Japan’s currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY).
You can get to Japan via a direct flight to Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport. Book your tickets to Japan now!