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Many might know Japan for its stunning Sakura blossoms, but Japan has more than that. If you are visiting Japan this winter, why not include ski activity in your itinerary?
There are more than 500 ski resorts available in Japan. Although Japan does not have grand size ski areas like those in the United States or Europe, but they are sufficient for those who want to spend a few days to ski.
Although ski resorts are available throughout the country, but the northern Hokkaido and Tohoku are said to have better snow conditions. For those who stay around Tokyo, try to opt for ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano, where snow conditions are reported to be good too.
Asahidake is located in Central Hokkaido. The ski area is situated on Mount Asahi, a part of the Dausetsuzan National Park. It is about one hour drive from Asahikawa.
Located in Otaru town, Asari Ski Resort is a little ski area that has four lifts. The ski area is located in Asarigawa Onsen, a hot spring area which is only 9km from Otaru town and about 35km from Sapporo.
Located close to Rankoshi town, this little ski resorts is owned by the army. It is about 30 minutes away from Hirafu.
Furano is one of the ski resorts that is considered big and come along with complete facilities and amenities. It is located at about 140km away from Sapporo.
5. Kamui Ski Links
A little ski resort with only 9 courses, Kamui Ski Links is located near the downtown of Asahikawa. The resort is about two hours away from Sapporo.
Equipped with modern facilities, Kiroro is a medium ski resort that is not as crowded as other nearby ski resorts. Located near the Akaigawa Village, it is just 43 km away from Sapporo.
Formerly known as La Ponte, Maiwa Ski Resort is the little ski resort under Niseko. It is located at about one km from An’nupuri ski area of Niseko. It is about 11km from Hirafu.
One of the most famous ski resort in Japan, Niseko is located close to the Mount Fuji of Hokkaido, Mount Yotei. Because of it strategic location to capture the snow, it is one of the resorts that receive constant snowfall, making it a favourite location for local and international skiers. Niseko is situated at about 100km away from Sapporo.
A ski resort that is relatively quieter compared to its neigbour, Niseko, Rusutsu Ski Resort is ideal for those who prefer a quiet area to ski. It is located about 90 minutes from Sapporo.
Another small to medium size ski resort, Sahoro is just 160 km away from Sapporo. The two hotels available – Club Med Sahoro and Sahoro Resort Hotel are to give you two different experiences – western style and local Japanese style.
11. Sapporo Kokusai
Another Hokkaido ski resort that always fill with snow, Sapporo Kokusai is said to received same or perhaps more snowfalls compared to Niseko. Located at close proximity to Niseko, Sapporo Kokusai is only about 45 km from Sapporo.
12. Sapporo Teine
If you are in Sapporo and opt for small ski resort, then Sapporo Teine is for you. It is only 20 km away from Sapporo, an ideal location to make a day trip to ski while staying in the city center.
14. Zao Ski Resort
A medium size ski resort, Zao Ski Resort is also few steps away from the Zao Hot Springs Resort. It is perfect to relax at the hot spring after skiing for a full day. Zao Ski Resort is located in Yamagata Prefecture. It takes less than 3 hours from Tokyo to Yamagata city with Yamagata Shinkansen train.
15. Appi Kogen
Considered as one of the biggest ski resorts in the mainland Japan, Appi Kogen is also known for its good quality ski tracks. Also known as the St Moritz or Aspen of Japan, Appi Kogen is located in Iwate Prefecture, about 580 km from Tokyo.
16. Alts Bandai
Well known for its family-friendly ski resorts, Alts Bandai is a medium size resorts located at Fukushima Prefecture. The ski resorts along the Mount Bandai’s slopes offer an incredible views of Lake Inawashiro.
17. Geto Kogen
One of the very few ski resorts in the mainland that received high snowfalls, Geto Kogen is a relatively small among other medium size ski resorts in the country. Located in Iwate Prefecture, Geto Kogem can be translated as Summer Oil Plateau Ski Area. It is just about 50 km from Morioka city.
A relatively small ski resort, Hachimantai has two ski areas which could be accessed with the same ticket. It is located at about 15 km from Hachimantai city in Iwate Prefecture, about 50 km from Morioka city.
Made up from 8 mountains, Hakkoda is a hidden gem resorts with a lot of snowfalls. It is located at less than an hour drive from Shin-Aamori Station in Aomori Prefecture. With the Shinkansen, it takes about 3.5 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Aamori Station.
One of the few resorts located on Mount Bandai, Inawashiro Ski Resort is not crowded and if you are lucky, you might ski with the fantastic view of Lake Inawashiro during clear days. It is located just 5 km away from Inawashiro city in Fukushima Prefecture.
Another non-westernized ski resort, Nekoma Ski Resort stands on the north of Mount Bandai. It is about 25 km from Inawashiro town in Fukushima Prefecture.
22. Kusatsu Kokusai
Another ski resort that is situated at a close proximity to popular onsen, Kusatsu Kokusai is near the border of Nagano Prefecture. Located in Gunma Prefecture, it is about 3 hours from Tokyo riding on Shinkansen and bus.
23. Nikko Yumoto
A little ski resort, Nikko Yumoto is located near Chuzenjiko Lake. It is about 30 km from Nikko central. This is another ski resort where you could find onsen nearby.
Hakuba Valley consists of 11 ski resorts. Because it is a well know ski area among foreigners, you will find it easier to get someone who speaks English. The Hakuba town is about 45 km from Nagano and about 270 km from Tokyo.
Well known for its high snowfalls, Kagura ski resort consists of three areas – Kagura, Tashiro and Mitsumata. It is about 10 km from Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture, and about 170 km from Tokyo
26. Madarao Kogen
A medium size ski resort, Madarao Kogen will give you a good view on Mount Myoko on clear days. It is located at about 40 km from Nagano city.
27. Myoko Kogen
Myoko Kogen Ski resort is well known for its authentic Japanese ski experience. But unlike traditional ski resorts that prohibit off-piste skiing, Myoko Kogen allows you to venture your own way. Sit in Joshinetsu National Park, Myoko Kogen is only one hour from Nagano City.
Linked to Kagura by Naeba-Tashiro Gondola, Naeba is part of the area that formed Mount Naeba. It is reachable from Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture in less than 40-minute. It is located at about 180 km from Tokyo.
A historic site to ski in Japan, Nozawa is considered as the birthplace for skiing culture in the country. It was first introduced by an Austrian in 1912. Famous for its onsen as well, Nozawa is located at 45 km from Nagano City and about 250 km from Tokyo.
30. Shiga Kogen
First gained its fame during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, today Shiga Kogen is one of the most sought ski resort in Japan. Situated in the Joshinetsu National Park in Nagano Prefecture, it is about 250 km from Tokyo.
31. Oku Ibuki
Oku Ibuki has one of the largest trail areas in Kansai Region. The resort has increased its snow machine in recent years in order to keep a good snow condition on its trails. It is located in Maibara city in Shiga Prefecture.
32. Biwako Valley
One of the most famous city-gateway ski resorts, Biwako Valley is located less than an hour from Kyoto. This ski resort is perfect for those with limited time but would love to ski in Japan. It is situated in Otsu City in Shiga Prefecture.
A perfect family-gateway ski resort, Hakodateyama gives a wonderful view of Lake Biwako from the slopes on clear days. It is reachable in less than 2 hours from Osaka via train and bus. It is situated in Takashima City in Shiga Prefecture.
34. Chikusa Kogen
Chikusa Kogen Nature Land is a little ski resort suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowborders. It is situated in Shiso City in Hyogo Prefecture, about 140 km from Kyoto.
35. Mizuho Highlands
A medium size ski resort, Mizuho Highland has 7 ski lifts with 13 tracks. It is located in Shimane Prefecture and Hiroshima city is less than 50 km away.
36. Asahi Tengston Park
Asahi Tengston Park is one of the rare ski resorts in western Japan that rely on natural snowfalls instead of artificial snow. It is located at Hamada City in Shimane Prefecture and surrounded by virgin forest of Beech, Japnese Ceda and Hinoki Cypress.
37. Sol-fa Oda Ski Gelande
There are few ski resorts at Sol-fa Oda Ski Gelande. It is located at Kita-gun in Ehime Prefecture. From Matsuyama, it will take less than two hours, about 55 km away
38. Kuju Shinrin Koen
If you are in Kyushu, make sure you visit the region’s largest ski resort – Kuju Shinrin Koen. It is situated at Kuju Plateau in Oita Prefecture. As Kyushu is relatively warmer compared to other part of Japan, the resort depend on its 70 snow making machines during the warm days in winter in order to keep the slopes in good condition for skiers and snowboarders.
(Thumbnail image: 極地狐/Flickr)