Japan is known as the land of the rising sun and is an increasingly popular ski destination for slope enthusiasts heading to Asia for winter sports. Niseko and Hakuba are probably the most popular destinations, meaning they can get a little crowded and expensive. Japan boasts a plethora of ski resorts for snow lovers seeking lesser-known powdery slopes. Little Steps uncovers its top ten choices for skiers of all levels.
Are you ready to gear up and plan the best winter adventure with the gang at a ski resort you didn’t know about?
Yuzawa is a famous onsen area surrounded by the glorious Japanese Alps. The region has a rich, almost 1000-year history. It boasts beautiful landscapes, quality accommodation, and ample skiing and boarding facilities if you enjoy winter sports and endless nature.
A short but high-speed 90-minute journey by shinkansen will get you from Tokyo to Yuzawa, one of Japan's snowiest areas. Located in the Niigata Prefecture, Yuzawa's snowfalls are known to exceed over one meter of snow overnight resulting in a long season running from mid-November to late May.
There are nearly 20 resorts, all of which are accessible by public transport, even if they are in more remote areas. All Yuzawa ski resorts offer combined lift tickets, allowing you to go skiing and snowboarding from one resort to another.
Yuzawa Kogen, Iwappara, and Yuzawa Nakazato are the top choices for families in the area. With easy access, well-groomed beginner and intermediate runs, kids' snow play areas, and snowmobile rides, both kids and grownups will have a blast!
Yuzawa Kogen, https://www.yuzawakogen.com/en/
There are ample reasons to go back during the summer months as well!
Yuzawa Nakazato, www.yuzawa-nakazato.com/summer/
Appi Kogen's ski area is impressively expansive and happily boasts over 40 kilometers of runs and 11 ski lifts. The area is ideal for keen skiers with families. Skilled skiers will enjoy challenging runs, while the kids will enjoy the family park with courses and snow tubes for pint-sized skiers. If you are seeking an authentic Japanese winter vibe, then Appi Kogen is ideal as it caters mainly to locals.
Located about 560 km north of Tokyo, Appi Kogen's is one of Tohoku's area top ski resorts. No major cities are close, so the Hotel Appi Grand caters to most ski visitors. Although the complex is vast, be sure to book well in advance! The season starts early from 1 December.
Appi Japan, https://www.appi-japan.com/
Appi Japan Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AppiResort/
Furano has a slope suitable for every level of skier. It's the perfect choice for multi-level families looking for an Asian skiing holiday. There's a beautiful slew of runs suited for your little beginners or Olympic-standard moms or dads. Furano has fast, steep, and long runs that were used by champions taking part in the World Cup Races. There really is something for everyone!
The Furano Family Snowland has a range of snow activities for the entire family, including snow rafting, dog sledding, and snowmobiling. For the adventurous, the brave can take to the skies parasailing!
You can find accommodation at either of the Prince Hotels in the area or one of the many lovely family-run guesthouses.
The Furano Zone ski season starts in late November and stretches into the beginning of May, while the Kitanomin Zone starts later in mid-December until the end of March.
Furano Hokkaido, https://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/furano/
The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is for skiers of all levels. It's one of Japan's oldest ski resorts, close to its namesake onsen town. You'll find gentle slopes to a half pipe for the professionals in the family! After a full day on the slopes, you and your family can indulge in some well-deserved after-ski 'me time .'Immerse yourself in the highlights of Japanese culture.
If your children are eager to improve their skills, they can join English-speaking instructors for some classes during their holiday. You’ll appreciate the English maps that guide you around Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort and the various slopes.
Located just 48 kilometers from Nagano, Nozawa is accessible by car; the ski field is right next to the town center so you can get there on foot.
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, https://en.nozawaski.com/
Located mid-way between Niseko and Sapporo in Hokkaido, the Kiroro Ski Resort is easily accessed by public transport. If you want a change of scenery from the resort's 22 snow slopes which cater to all levels of skier, go into the backcountry and off-piste to slide your way through forested areas, the deepest snow for some epic adventures. Kiroro experiences vast amounts of perfect powder snow that even neighboring mega-famous Niseko would be proud of. The season runs from mid-December to mid-April.
Your kids will love the family-friendly snow park or enjoy hanging out at the Game Park Granship indoor playground. There are plenty of games, puzzle mazes, amusements, and even a bouldering wall here.
If you still have the energy to spare after a day at the slopes, have some fun and hit some high chords at the karaoke! Backing singers are welcome.
For accommodation, enjoy a ski-in-ski-out stay in style at any luxury hotel within the resort grounds, including the Yu Kiroro ski-in ski-out luxury condos in the heart of nature boasting one-bedroom suites to the four-bedroom penthouse with balcony onsen.
Kiroro Ski Resort, www.kiroro.co.jp/
Sapporo Teine is easily accessible from Sapporo, making it an ideal day trip for you and your family. Take the train from Sapporo and take advantage of the half-day pass. It's a great way to ski on world-class slopes without breaking the bank. The ski field boasts courses for absolute beginners to thrill-seekers and experts. World-class athletes used many of the runs during the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics! If your kids have never skied, instructors have special packages for children under seven keen to get on the slopes. It's essential that you book in advance to avoid any disappointment. The ski season in Sapporo Teine runs between the end of November and the beginning of May.
Sapporo Teine, https://sapporo-teine.com/snow/lang/en/
If you enjoy having endless choices, Shiga Kogen gives you a wide variety of terrains and runs. It's a perfect location for you and your snow gang! Shiga Kogen is relatively close to Nagano, so you can pop over for a day trip or spend a few days mastering the impressive slopes. The ski season runs from mid-December to late-March
Shiga Kogen comprises 19 ski resorts that have partnered with each other to provide ease of access. One lift pass allows you to ride on over 50 lifts and use the shuttle buses connecting all areas of the resorts!
There are various accommodation options in and around Shiga Kogen and the surrounding areas.
Shiga Kogen, https://shigakogen-ski.or.jp/english/
With over 40 kilometers of groomed slopes, forested backcountry courses, and a slew of family-friendly activities, Rusutsu is one of Hokkaido’s top ski resorts. Everything is easily accessible by bus from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport. You can enjoy the hot springs, pool, and a wide range of shopping facilities. The area also boasts a popular gastronomic scene. Keep your eyes keen for a weekend getaway promotion by booking accommodation and Early Bird Ski and Stay deals! If traveling with friends and family, you can book a cozy chalet and hunker down for evenings by the fire. Rusutsu Ski Resort has daycare facilities, so you don't have to worry about leaving the little ones for a couple of hours of carefree skiing. The prime skiing season is from late November to early April.
Rusutsu Ski Resort, https://rusutsu.com/en/
Fujiten and Snow Town Yeti are two of the resorts that are in the shadows of Mount Fuji. Fujiten Snow Resort nestles on the slopes at the base of Mount Fuji, and Fujiyama Snow Town Yeti is on the southern base. These two ski fields are great for families with small kids who want to get a taster of the skiing scene in Japan. Both resorts are pretty small, with no more than four lifts, but they have a good variety of courses and snow play areas for the kids. Snow Town Yeti also has a child daycare facility so that you can hit the slopes for an hour or two!
The staggering views of Japan’s most-beloved mountain make these small resorts stand out. What’s more, Snow Town Yeti is the first ski field to open early each year, with the season starting early in October thanks to man-made snow. So if you are in Japan just before the 'real' season starts, this is an excellent choice for you and the little ones! Take the observation lift in Fujiten for unrivaled Instagrammable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko.
Head there on a day trip from Tokyo or stay overnight in one of many Kawaguchico’s hotels and guest houses.
Fujiten Snow Resort, www.fujiten.net/pc/en/#aboutSec
Fujiyama Snow Town Yeti, www.yeti-resort.com/en/
From snow rafting to cross-country skiing, paraskiing, and snowshoeing, the Tomamu Ski Resort offers endless winter sports for your family. The resort is modern and has upscale facilities for skiers of every level. The kids can take lessons in the kid’s park and join in some fun activities when they are not on the slopes; they will be entertained for hours. Try paddleboarding in the indoor pool, a lake picnic, ice fishing, ice curling, and even night snow camping! Mom and dad can even renew their wedding vows in the ice chapel. You can easily access the resort from Sapporo using a Japan Rail Pass. It’s a two-hour journey from Sapporo, and there is so much to do that Little Steps recommends that you stay for a few days.
It’s time to get fancy! Choose between Tomamu Hoshino Resort or the trendy Club Med hotels! The ski season is from the beginning of December to the beginning of April.
Tomamu Ski Resort, www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en/
Club Med Tomamu Hokkaido, https://www.clubmed.co.th/r/tomamu-hokkaido/w
Tomamu Hoshino Resort, https://www.hoshinoresorts.com/en/resortsandhotels/uniquehotels/tomamuthetower.html