If you are a skiing enthusiast, for sure Japan is on your list. If not, add it!

Japan is an amazing country with so many things to see and do. It offers four seasons and a wide variety of sights and activities for all kinds of travelers. And when it comes to skiing, powder hounds will surely appreciate what Japan has to offer.

If you are now planning a ski adventure in Japan, knowing the best time to go will help you make the most of your visit.

Pre-Christmas Skiing in Japan – Early Snow Season

A few weeks before Christmas, the famous ski places in The Land of the Rising Sun will start getting snow. There will be fresh powder for you to enjoy but the volume may not be that much yet.

If you want to kick off your skiing holiday really early, go to Hokkaido. The area tends to get snow earlier than Honshu.

For best pre-Christmas skiing in Japan, head to resorts like Niseko and Kiroro. The on-piste snow in these resorts will usually have enough snow for beginner and intermediate skiers.

As for off-piste powder, there won’t be as much yet. Shrubs will still be poking out here and there. Conditions may not be that ideal but still, there will be enough snow to keep you occupied.

The great thing about pre-Christmas skiing in Japan is that tickets for lifts and resort room prices are still not that high. In fact, you are most likely to find discounted prices, perfect if budget is an issue.

Christmas Season to New Year Skiing in Japan

Most skiing hubs in Japan will be crazy full during the holidays. Tourists will be coming over from different parts of the world. Couples, large families, groups of friends – you name it.

The Japanese are avid skiers too so you don’t only have to contend with other tourists but the locals as well. Seeing as it is a popular time of the year to ski, prices will ratchet up.

Expect room prices to be higher than usual.

Since December is considered early in the skiing season, some off-piste areas are not yet adequately covered. This limits the areas that you can carve or ski downhill. For a full experience, wait until the holidays are over before you go on a ski trip.

“4 of the top 10 Cities by snowfall per year are in Japan”

Post-New-Year Skiing in Japan

If you want to experience awesomely cold temperatures, smooth runs, and cloud-like powder, January is the best time to go skiing. But you should choose your ski resort wisely.

While most of the big and foreigner-friendly resorts are busy during this month, it is busier at the Nozawa Onsen where the fire festival is held every January 15th. The crowd it draws, along with all the skiers, can be too much to handle for some.

Expect accommodation in popular resorts to sell out fast and at a high price. There are less popular options but those resorts may not have English-speaking staff.

Late January to Mid-February Skiing in Japan

With snow still covering most of the slopes, extend your skiing holiday from late January to the middle of February.

As long as you choose dates before or after the Chinese New Year, you can ski without elbowing your way through an influx of tourists. Should you wish to ski in Japan during these times, consult a lunar calendar.

March Skiing in Japan

If you plan to enjoy the slopes in Japan for backcountry skiing, piste skiing, and snowboarding, March is the best time to go. But book a resort in the northern parts of the country or those in high elevation to enjoy beautiful powder days.

What is great about this month is that you don’t need to compete with other skiers for fresh powder. But because temperatures can be warm in some days, snow quality may not be up to par.

April Skiing in Japan

If your skiing skills are at the beginner or intermediate level, April is the best time to test them. A decent amount of snow will cover the trails and in some resorts will serve as your playground. You can enjoy low-cost accommodation and lift tickets, fine weather, and no crowds.

Just note that because the skiing season is nearing the end, many resorts, ski schools, rental shops, restaurants, and tour operators are closing up shop.

Best Places to Go Skiing in Japan

Hokkaido

Known all over the world for its dry powder snow, Hokkaido is one of the best places for skiing in Japan. The cold Siberian winds that blow across the Sea of Japan bring moisture and fresh snow to the island’s many resorts–Furano, Kiroro, Niseko, Rusutsu, and Tomamu. In fact, the updraft of clouds and moisture help shape the well-formed Japanese Alps.

The best time to hit the slopes of Hokkaido starts in December until the end of February. Throughout March, snowfall will hit sporadically. Excess snowfall can also happen in Spring.

Honshu

With only 25 km between this island of Japan and the Sea of Japan, major ski resorts in the area receive exceptional snowfall. Take a pick from any of the renowned ones, especially those in the Nagano and Niigata prefectures.

In one ski season, dry powder can go as high as 16 meters as moisture is drawn up and then becomes snow as it condenses.

The best conditions of powder snow happen from January to the end of February. Early March, skiing conditions remain great, especially with low crowds. But airport transfer and services from some tour operators may be limited. December is usually hit and miss, so wait until January comes around.

Hakuba Valley

Located in the Northern Japan Alps, Hakuba is home to 11 different ski resorts, including the Hakuba ski resort that boasts more than 200 courses and 137 km of piste. Its main village, Happo, offers skiers and tourists excellent restaurants and izakayas.

The Best Ski Resorts in Japan

Here’s a list to help narrow down your options:

  • Appi Kogen Ski Resort in the Iwate Prefecture in the Appi Highlands
  • Asahidake Park in the Daisetsuzan National Park on Mount Asahi
  • Niseko Ski Resort, southwest of Sapporo
  • Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, northern Nagano Prefecture
  • Furano Ski Resort in Hokkaido

Ready to go skiing in Japan?

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