10 Best Places to Enjoy Powder Snow in Japan: Hokkaido, Niseko, and More!
Winter in Japan is, in a single word, amazing. Its spectacular scenery steals the hearts of many visitors, and its famous powdery and feather-light snow offers travelers the perfect chance to indulge in skiing and other winter sports. Coupled with delicious seasonal food and lively snow festivals, Japan offers a memorable winter experience. Why not embrace the holiday season at some of its most interesting winter resorts? Here are ten ski resorts from all over Japan we have specially curated to share with you! Hokkaido, Niseko, Nagano, Niigata—the list goes on!
Dec 12 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
The Green Leaf Niseko Village
Renowned for its pristine snow and picturesque weather, thousands of visitors flock to Niseko in Hokkaido during winter. Of particular interest to couples and families will be The Green Leaf Niseko Village. Conveniently located a mere 3.7 km from JR Niseko Station, this resort showcases ski-to-door access that enables you to indulge in skiing at the base of Mt. Niseko Annupuri, which is renowned for having the highest peak in the Niseko mountain range. If you have children who feel squeamish towards skiing, fret not, for the multitude of activities ranging from reindeer sledding to guided snowshoe tours are bound to keep everyone in the family engaged.
After immersing yourself in the embrace of Mother Nature, treat yourself to either a rejuvenating massage at Green Leaf Spa or a relaxing dip in the hot baths! After that, retreat to one of the 200 gorgeous rooms, each offering a gorgeous view of the ski resort or mountain range. What's more, each room comes with free Wi-Fi, ensuring that you can keep in touch with your loved ones easily.
Shikaribetsu Kohan Onsen Hotel Fusui
Aside from Niseko, Tokachi is also an idyllic place to spend your winter vacation, as it boasts the placid sight of Lake Shikaribetsu completely covered by snow. Get yourself a room at Shikaribetsu Kohan Onsen Hotel Fusui. These rooms are Japanese-style, so you can wear a bathrobe and immerse yourself in a quintessential Japanese experience. Plus, every room overlooks the lake, so you can stare out at the stunning scenery and feel your worries slipping away!
After admiring your fill of the lake, it's time to have some action, so you may want to hop over to the ice village located near this hotel. Perfect for couples and families alike, the ice village inside Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan features lovely igloos. Inside each igloo lies a fascinating world; you and your loved ones will have a whale of a time exploring an ice bar where you can enjoy a drink from an ice glass you carve, a chapel, a concert hall, among others.
Also not to be missed is the hot spring, where you can savor the warmth of the hot waters - right on the frozen lake!
If you wish to give your better half or family a unique European-style winter vacation in the middle of a tranquil forest away from the urban landscape, look no further than Nakasatsunai Feriendorf in Tokachi. Lovingly designed by a German architect, this guesthouse boasts a stunning array of cottages that will take your breath away. Each cottage comes equipped with a fireplace, a spacious kitchen, and three splendid bedrooms; its decor will make you feel as if you are in Europe!
Here, you will be happily engaged all day long. Try out the snowmobile, snowshoes, and even fat bikes, and have a wonderful time out in the fine soft snow during the day. If you desire a change of scenery, you can even venture out into the nearby Sahoro Ski Resort and feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins as you ski down the slope. At night, return to Nakasatsunai Feriendorf, have a hearty barbecue on the terrace outside your cottage, and tuck into a meal made from fresh, local ingredients.
The Westin Rusutsu Resort
If you are a die-hard skiing enthusiast who just wants to ski all day long, you may wish to consider Rusutsu in Hokkaido, as it receives an impressive 14 meters of snow every year. Its deep and feather-light snow is a godsend to travellers who want to enhance their skiing skills. No wonder truckloads of visitors flock over to The Westin Rusutsu Resort, as it is a mere ten minutes from Rusutsu Ski Resort. Rusutsu Ski Resort showcases an astounding array of 37 trails spread out over three majestic mountains; you are bound to find a trail that is perfectly tailored to your interests and ability.
Ski until as late as 8:45 pm, make yourself at home in the spacious living room, and then doze off on the Westin Rusutsu Ski Resort's signature Heavenly® Bed. Wake up to repeat the cycle the next day. Oh, what an idyllic skiing adventure this ski resort provides you with.
Nikko Astraea Hotel
Hokkaido is a splendid location for powder snow, but perhaps your travel itinerary does not allow you to visit it. If this sounds like you, then consider paying a visit to Oku-Nikko in Tochigi. Once there, outdoor-loving couples and athletic groups of friends will definitely want to stay overnight at Nikko Astraea Hotel, as it is nicely nestled within Nikko National Park. Access from Tokyo is also easy, as you can get to JR Nikko Station from JR Tokyo Station within two hours. At JR Nikko Station, you can then embark on an hour-long ride that will bring you directly to Nikko Astraea Hotel.
This hotel thoughtfully offers rental services for skiing equipment, so you can immediately head out to the Kotoku Farm, which is situated beside the hotel. Take your pick from the various cross-country skiing options ranging from 1 to 10 kilometers and ski to your heart's content as you zap in and out of the forested trees at a high speed.
Lodging-wise, Nikko Astraea Hotel enables you to choose from either Western-style rooms or Japanese-style rooms. Put on the yukata robe found inside each room and enjoy the free Wi-Fi!
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East
Apart from Nikko, another place that will transform into a winter wonderland while still being a stone's throw away from Tokyo is Karuizawa. Soak in the breathtaking snow-capped scenery at Karuizawa Prince Hotel East and prepare yourself to have an amazing time. Inexperienced skiers may wish to book a cottage where they can enjoy ski-to-door access and indulge in the various routes featuring terrain that is suited for beginning and intermediate skiers. Families with young children will also feel at home here, for they can enroll in lessons at the ski school in the hotel. After an intense session of skiing, hop onto the free shuttle bus service and shop at the nearby Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza.
The guest rooms are well furnished with amenities, including an LCD TV, electric pot, and fridge. Dog lovers should rejoice because some of these rooms are classified under Prince Dog Cottage, which means that your dog gets a fabulous vacation, too!
Naeba Prince Hotel
When it comes to skiing in Japan, we would be remiss to not talk about "Snow Country," which is a region made up of 7 municipalities from 3 prefectures, one of which is Minami Uonuma City in Niigata Prefecture. At Minami Uonuma, you can consider Naeba Prince Hotel - a fabulously well-furnished resort that is paradise on earth for couples and families alike. Enjoy easy access to Naeba Ski Resort which boasts intriguing skiing routes that cover the entire gamut, from beginner trails to terrain parks and even night trails.
As if this isn't enough, you can hop onto the Dragondola, incidentally Japan's longest gondola, and enter the neighbouring Kagura Ski Resort for a more varied skiing and snowboarding experience.
If you are bringing children who have never tried out skiing before, they can pick up the basics by practising at the indoor children's ski area. And don't forget to enjoy quality bonding time by dipping in the hot springs within the hotel.
You can choose to stay in a room that showcases either a ski run view or a river side view. No matter the view, enjoy your stay at a room that comes with amenities like a hair-dryer, a kettle and a fridge. Pamper yourself to the max!
Yuzawa Toei Hotel
Another spectacular area for powder snow in the Snow Country is Yuzawa Town. Located a 1.5 hour shinkansen ride away from JR Tokyo Station, Yuzawa Toei Hotel is another idyllic resort for families. Its most attractive selling point is its easy access to several ski resorts which have trails that are catered to skiers of all levels, from amateurs to experts. For instance, novices should attempt the relatively manageable trails at Ipponsugi Ski Resort while experienced skiers should challenge the notoriously difficult ones at GALA Yuzawa Ski Resort.
Families who would rather bond with their children can visit Nunoba Snow Land so that they can frolic in the snow in varied ways. Your children will love hopping from the snow sleds to the snow tubes and slides. There is even a snow escalator that enables you all to advance the slop quickly. Be sure to take lots of Instaworthy shots.
Another selling point is its unique selection of rooms. Apart from the usual Japanese-style and Western-style rooms, visitors may also choose to stay at the intriguing Character Room and dive into the world of classic Japanese superhero - Kamen Rider Ghost. It's guaranteed to make your hotel stay memorable.
Minakami Kogen Hotel 200
Yet another spellbinding part of the Snow Country is Minakami Town in Gunma. If Gunma is on your travel list, you will do well to stay at Minakami Kogen Hotel 200, as it is directly connected to the Minakami Kogen Ski Resort. Couples will surely relish the idea of sitting on the ski lift and savoring the paranomic view of the mountain range. On the other hand, dog lovers will especially gravitate towards this ski resort, because coupled with the usual skiing and snowboarding options, it offers dog sledding! Humans can choose from a range of hand-held sleds too, so imagine the bliss you will feel when you indulge in sledding alongside your canine companion.
Minakami Kogen Hotel 200 also has two hot springs, so it's great if you wish to center yourself after a long day of skiing. One of them is an outdoor bath, so you can rejuvenate your soul out in the open fresh air.
The rooms here also come with a large picture window, a fridge and an LCD TV, so you can enjoy modern conveniences without being denied the sensory pleasure of Mother Nature.
Kiyosato Kogen Hotel
If you are a savvy traveler who cares about the aesthetics of your photographs, you will probably relish the idea of skiing with Mt. Fuji in the background. Well, you are in luck, for staying at Kiyosato Kogen Hotel in Hokuto, Yamanashi enables you to visit the Sun Meadows Kiyosato Ski Resort. This ski resort towers at 2,899 meters and showcases ten different courses that empowers you to ski, knowing that the life-affirming spiritual force of Mt. Fuji is watching over you.
After you have had your fill of skiing, you can make your way back to the hotel. Since Kiyosato Kogen Hotel is located up high in the mountains at 1450 meters, you can go to its in-house astronomy observatory and have a leisurely evening by admiring the starry sky through the telescope.
Kiyosato Kogen Hotel is a cut above the rest because not only does it offer Western-style and Japanese-style rooms, but its Japanese-style rooms come with an in-built bath. Perfect for those who crave for a little more privacy!
We at tsunagu Japan have painstaingly curated this list of hotels and resorts so that you can experience a truly magical white Christmas in Japan. Blessed with powder snow from December to April, these places will tug at your heartstrings, so book accommodation early to avoid disappointment. Remember to pack warm clothes for your vacation in a winter wonderland!
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Title Image: Cascade Creatives / Shutterstock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.