Though it might not be your first thought about a ski destination, ski resorts in Japan offer an unforgettable ski experience. Therefore, when searching for the ultimate powder experience, there’s only one destination to consider; it’s Japan. Skiing in Japan needs to be any thrill-seeker’s next destination.
Over the past few decades, Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido has become a bucket-list ski destination, with photos of deep, fluffy ‘Japow’ being associated with the ideal holiday of powder skiing. In Hokkaido, you will have to cope with huge amounts of snow. It is a very different type of snow, smoother and drier, more like light caster sugar.
Hokkaido’s resorts boast a rare mix of spectacular back-country scenery, well-groomed pistes, and a variety of ski touring and cat-skiing opportunities to ensure skiers can make the most of these epic snow conditions. It is one of the best locations in Japan and the world for those seeking an exceptionally unique off-piste adventure.
Rusutsu Resort, Niseko
Rusutsu is one of Hokkaido’s best resorts, a 90-minute drive from Sapporo and New Chitose Airports. It is a little less well-known than nearby Niseko and thus enjoys much quieter slopes during the season.
With 14 lifts and four gondolas, the ski area covers three peaks. Rusutsu receives an impressive average annual snowfall of 13 metres, with a wide range of terrain to enjoy it. The snow stats do not disappoint either. If you want to experience Rusutsu’s popular tree skiing, there’s something for everyone, gentle powder fields or steeper challenges.
Niseko Mt. Resort Grand HIRAFU
This ski resort offers skiers an opportunity to enjoy some of the best snow in Japan, as well as the chance to relax in style afterward in one of the resort’s many hot springs, swimming pools, or massage facilities.
Some of the most extensive slopes in Niseko are found here, plus six un-groomed runs for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The ski season here is lengthy, making it an excellent choice for skiing in the spring.
Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort, Sapporo
The ski resort of Sapporo Kokusai is one of the most easily accessible ski resorts in Sapporo and is a recommended destination. It’s a little smaller in scale than other Hokkaido snow resorts, but it offers everything you’d like to experience in Japan on a ski trip. With spacious slopes, less crowded lifts, and days of untracked snow, it is an enticing destination for many skiers looking for the perfect experience of Japow.
Sapporo Kokusai is Hokkaido’s secret gem, with superb facilities off the slopes, including a state-of-the-art lift system and an outstanding ski school. There are several well-developed areas for inexperienced skiers, and there is an abundance of excellent powder snow for more experienced skiers to enjoy.
Kamui Ski Resort, Central Hokkaido
The locals ski at Kamui Ski Ties; therefore, Kamui is undoubtedly one to place on your list if you want to escape tourist traps and enjoy the most authentic Japanese ski vacation.
Of course, with one high-speed gondola and five chair lifts, it’s not the ski areas’ biggest. However, thanks to Kamui’s unique position, further north than Sapporo and far enough inland that the snow has little moisture, the snow record is on a par with any of the larger resorts in the region, the perfect combination for great powder.
With Kamui providing one-third beginner, one-third intermediate, and one-third advanced runs, it’s unusual for a ski resort to be evenly split for all skills. Moreover, only 68% of these runs are tracked around the tiers, so there are plenty of opportunities, regardless of your ability, to experience the world-renowned Japow.
Asahidake Ski Resort
Asahidake ski resort is an entirely un-groomed resort for more experienced skiers on the highest mountain in all of Hokkaido, offering incredible back-country snow and spectacular tree runs. If you want the total experience of Japow; the most serene scenery, the completely untouched, knee-deep powder, the fantastic views, the place for you is Asahidake.
With wild, rough beauty and arguably some of the best powder in Japan, this is a location for true explorers. While it is not the most developed resort, it is wonderfully quiet, free of the crowds of some other resorts in terms of facilities.