Japan

11 Ski Resorts In Japan For Beginners To Burn Calories At After Stuffing Down Sushi & Ramen

Best ski resorts in Japan


Home of Pokemon, cherry blossoms and onsens, Japan is also a destination for adrenaline-seekers in the winter months. Unlike European ski destinations which are at least a 12-hour flight away, Tokyo is only 7 hours away, with ski resorts as close by as 1 hour out of the capital city. 

If you’re a beginner looking to try skiing there, we’ve rounded up some of the best ski resorts in Japan which are also newbie-friendly. This year’s season isn’t over yet, so you can still plan a trip for 2024.

P.S. All the ski resorts listed here conduct English-language ski classes, so there’s no need to download Duolingo on your way up.


Where to go skiing in Japan?


Ski resorts in Japan are mostly found up north, in areas such as Hokkaido and Tohoku. That said, some can also be found in the mountainous regions of the Japanese Alps. These include areas such as Niigata and Nagano.


Is Japan cheap for skiing?


Ski resorts in Japan are comparatively cheaper than their counterparts in North America, Europe or even Australia. This is due to the fierce competition amongst the resorts, which forces them to keep prices low to attract more tourists.


– Ski resorts in Central Japan: Near Tokyo & Osaka –


1. Naeba Ski Resort


Has ski machines for newbies & one of Japan’s longest ski seasons


Image credit: @ryukoayako via Instagram

Rookies looking to gain some confidence before hitting the slopes can pay Naeba Ski Resort a visit. Much like Trifecta, the resort has ski machines for newbies to hone essential skills, like starting and stopping, before moving on to the base of the mountain for the real deal. 

Given that the resort is situated at a lofty 1,800m above sea level, it has one of the longest ski seasons in Japan. It’s perfect for visiting during off-peak season, where you can learn in peace without being gawked at by thousands of other skiers.

Ski season: December – April
Getting there: 1 hour 15 minutes from Tokyo via Shinkansen, 40-minute shuttle bus to the resort

Ski lift ticket: From ¥2,500 (~S$22.45)
Equipment rental: From ¥8,000 (~S$71.83)
Address: 202 Mikuni, Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District, Niigata 949-6212, Japan
Contact: +81 25-789-4117 | Naeba Ski Resort website


2. Shiga Kogen Mountain Resort


Japan’s largest ski resort, with 14 ski areas


Image credit: @ak1c_ha_n0 via Instagram

Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen Ski Area is an amalgamation of a whopping 18 different ski resorts all operating together as one. With that in mind, the crowds here are thinner compared to most other ski resorts, as there are 14 different ski areas to choose from. These range from 1,325m to 2,307m in altitude and are connected by a series of 48 chairlifts and gondolas.

After you’ve had your day of fun, catch the shuttle bus down to Yudanaka Onsen and Shibu Onsen. Dating back nearly 1,300 years, these onsen towns are located at the bottom of the ski mountains and come complete with traditional Japanese inns lining cobblestone streets. Between them, they offer more than 50 different onsens, where you can go onsen-hopping to soak away the aches after a day on the slopes.

Ski season: December – May
Getting there: 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo via Shinkansen, 1-hour 30-minute shuttle bus to the resort (4 times a day)

Ski lift ticket: From ¥7,500 (~S$67.13)
Equipment rental: From ¥5,600 (~S$50.12)
Address: 7148 Hirao, Yamanochi, Shimotakai District, Nagano 381-0401, Japan
Contact: +81 269-34-2404 | Shiga Kogen website


3. Lotte Arai Resort


Best ski resort in Japan 2023, with ski classes from 8.30am



Image credit: @lottearairesort via Instagram

Much like early birds that catch the worm, skiers who start the day early get to call first dibs on the freshest snow. This is especially so at Lotte Arai Resort, which was crowned the best ski resort in Japan in 2023. The resort offers 1 hour 45 minute-long classes as early as at 8.30am, so you can carve a trail for others to follow while you learn the ins and outs of skiing. 

Those needing a little more time to learn will be glad to know that multi-day courses are also available, while those looking to involve their disabled friends or family members can join their adaptive snowsports classes.

Ski season: Mid December – mid May
Getting there: 1 hour 46 minute from Tokyo via Shinkansen, 20-minute shuttle bus from JR Joetsu Station.

Ski lift ticket: From ¥3,300 (~S$29.54)
Equipment rental: From ¥5,500 (~S$49.23)
Address: 1966 Ryozenji, Myoko, Niigata 944-0062, Japan
Contact: +81 255-75-1100 | Lotte Arai Resort website


4. Hakuba Happo-one Ski Resort


Hosted 1998 Winter Olympics, has designated family area


Image credit: @habukahappoone via Instagram

Having played host to the ski event at the 1998 Winter Olympics, Happo-One Ski Resort boasts a total of 13 different courses, ranging from 500m for beginners, all the way to 3,000m for the pros. 

Those looking to try out skiing for the first time can head over to Nakiyama Snowland, a designated area for first-timers, families and kids. There, you can learn the basics, such as starting and stopping, all on a very gentle 5-degree slope. Classes start as early as 8.30am too, so you’ll get the freshest snow to train on, much like Lotte Arai Resort.

Ski season: Mid December – end April
Getting there: 3 hours 45 minutes from Tokyo via Shinkansen

Ski lift ticket: From ¥6,000 (~S$53.70)
Equipment rental: From ¥7,300 (~S$65.34)
Address: Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
Contact: +81 261-72-3066 | Hakuba Happo-One website


5. Dynaland


Longest opening hours from 6am-11pm & equipment rental discounts


Image credit: ダイナランド via Facebook

Part of the Takasu Mountains ski area, Dynaland has some of the longest operating hours amongst the other resorts on this list, opening its doors at 6am and only closing for the day at 11pm. To cope with the high volume of skier traffic, the resort uses snowmaking machines to ensure there’s enough powder to go around even when Mother Nature can’t keep up.

Do note that there aren’t any accommodations at Dynaland, so this place is more suitable for a day trip. That said, the nearby Hotel Montsaint has a tie-in with Dynaland for cheaper lift tickets and rental set discounts, while also offering a shuttle service between the locations.

Ski season: Mid December – end April
Getting there: 55 minutes from Nagoya via Shinkansen, 2-hour 15-minute shuttle bus to the resort.

Ski lift ticket: From ¥2,000 (~S$17.90)
Equipment rental: From ¥10,000 (~S$89.50)
Address: 3035-2 Takasucho Nishibora, Gujo, Gifu 501-5305, Japan
Contact: +81 575-72-6636 | Dynaland website


6. Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti


Ski against the backdrop of Mount Fuji, just 1 hour from Tokyo


Image credit: Visit Mt. Fuji – The top of Japan via Facebook

Commonly viewed in posters or from afar through the window of a Shinkansen, Mount Fuji is certainly one of the first few things that come to mind when we think of Japan. But if you’d like a closer look at the sacred mountain without having to scale it, you’ll be glad to know that it’s home to Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti.

Located roughly a third of the way up the mountain, the resort is rather small, featuring only 4 slopes and 3 chairlifts, so queues here are to be expected. That said, you’ll get to enjoy views of the summit while you ride the ski lifts up.

Ski season: Mid December – end April
Getting there: 55 minutes from Tokyo via Shinkansen, 1-hour 10-minute shuttle bus to the resort.

Entry ticket: From ¥2,900 (~S$25.96)
Equipment rental: From ¥9,000 (~S$80.55)
Address: 2428 Aza Fujiwara, Suyama, Susono-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture 410-1231, Japan
Contact: +81 55-998-0636 | Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti website


– Ski resorts in Northern Japan: Around Hokkaido & Aomori –


 

7. Aomori Spring Ski Resort


Runs ski camps for beginners, with views of the Sea of Japan


Image credit: @aomorispring via Instagram

Those wanting to switch up from the mountainous views can pop by Aomori Spring Ski Resort. Nestled on the northern face of Mount Iwaki, the resort is located a mere 10km away from the Sea of Japan, which allows for some nice sea views on the way down.

If you’re one to prefer a little more hand-holding, you’ll be glad to know that  homegrown boardsports brand therideside offers 8D7N ski camps at Aomori Spring Ski Resort for skiers of various levels. Available from S$2,590, these include essential lessons on topics such as mountain safety and etiquette, ski-donning and turning on slopes.

Ski season: Late December end March
Getting there: 1-hour 20-minute shuttle bus from Aomori Airport (¥4,400/way, ~S$39.41), 1-hour 15-minute domestic flight from Haneda Airport (Tokyo).

Ski lift ticket: From ¥4,700 (~S$42.07)
Equipment rental: From ¥8,500 (~S$76.08)
Address: Ajigasawa-kogen, Ajigasawa-machi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture 038-2793, Japan
Contact: +81 173-72-1011 | Aomori Spring website


8. Rusutsu Resort


Priority boarding on ski lifts for learners & beginner-friendly skis


Image credits: @shucarlife via Instagram

It’s no secret that Singaporeans are world-class queuers who’d get in line for anything from Taylor Swift tickets to Hello Kitty merch in a heartbeat. But if you’re worried about your legs cramping up as you queue for a spot on the ski lift, fret not. Rusutsu Resort has priority boarding for learners, so you can spend more time honing your skills on the slopes rather than waiting in line.

The resort even offers special skis for beginners to rent. These are specially designed to be easier to don, and be more manoeuvrable than other skis, which make them great for rookies to cut their teeth on. Their rental packages also include gloves and goggles, which other resorts require you to purchase.

Ski season: Late November – end March
Getting there: 2-hour shuttle bus from New Chitose Airport (​​¥4,000, ~S$35.80 one way)

Ski lift ticket: From ¥8,500 (~S$76.50) online, ¥10,000 (~S$89.50) in person
Equipment rental: From ¥23,100 (~S$206.75)
Address: 13 Izumikawa, Rusutsu-mura, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1711, Japan
Contact: +81-136-46-3331 | Aomori Spring website


9. Kiroro Snow World


21m-average snowfall over ski season & car rental discounts


Image credit: @imshinta515 via Instagram

While it might not have the commanding heights that the other resorts on this list might have, Kiroro Snow World more than makes up for it with incredible snowfall. On average, 21m of snow falls on the resort over the duration of each ski season, ensuring that there’s more than enough pow to go around.

But if its remote location and lack of transport options puts you off, you’ll be glad to know that Nippon Rent-A-Car has a tie-in with the resort, where guests are entitled to discounts of up to 20% on car rentals.

Ski season: Early December – early May
Getting there: Rent a car from New Chitose Airport (1-hour 41-minute drive)

Ski lift ticket: From ¥4,770 (~S$42.69) online, ¥5,300 (~S$47.44) in person
Equipment rental: From ¥11,000 (~S$98.45)
Address: 128-1 Aza-Tokiwa, Akaigawa-mura, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido, Japan
Contact: Kiroro Snow World website


10. Niseko United


76 slopes over 4 resorts, with 31 for beginners



Image credit: @nisekounited via Instagram

Comprising 4 different resorts located on different areas of the same mountain, Niseko United is no stranger to those in the ski circuit. Out of the whopping 76 slopes here, 31 are catered exclusively to beginners, including the likes of the Mango Salad slope, with its gentle 8-degree grade.

The area’s also home to many apres-ski, or after ski, activities. These include the many izakayas, bars and restaurants to refuel at, after a long day on the slopes, while songbirds can pop into nearby Kutchan town, which features many karaoke parlours.

Do note that Niseko can get crowded especially during peak periods, so it’s advisable to book your slot early.

Ski season: December – May
Getting there: 3-hour shuttle bus from New Chitose Airport

Ski lift ticket: From ¥5,600 (~S$50.12) for 12 lifts, from ¥9,600 (~S$85.92) for all
Equipment rental: From ¥12,000 (~S$107.40)
Address: 1-jo, 2-choume, 9-1 Niseko Hirafu, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
Contact: Niseko United website


11. Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort


Quiet ski resort with little crowd & shortest beginner slopes


Image credit: @shokudou2023 via Instagram

If you hate that the hills of Niseko are alive with the sound of skiers, Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort is a good alternative. Located 1.5 hours from Sapporo, it has some of the shortest beginner slopes amongst the resorts on this list, with the First Fly Street and the Chibikko Street stretching 100m and 200m respectively – perfect for honing those basics before advancing.

Ski season: Mid November – mid May
Getting there: 1-hour 30-minute shuttle bus from Sapporo station (¥1,300/way, ~S$11.65)

Ski lift ticket: From ¥4,500 (~S$40.27)
Equipment Rental: From ¥10,000 (~S$89.49)
Address: 1-jo, 2-choume, 9-1 Niseko Hirafu, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
Contact: +81-11-598-4511 | Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort website


When is ski season in Japan?


Ski season in Japan varies from area to area, with the period between December and March being the peak season. Despite this, some resorts located at higher altitudes open earlier in November and the ski seasons here end later, around April or even in May.

The stated ski seasons are accurate for 2024 – do note that they’ll vary every year, depending on weather conditions.


Hit the slopes today


Whether you’re zooming in from Tokyo via speedy Shinkansen or heading for snowy Hokkaido, there’s plenty of ski resorts to choose from if you’re looking for great powder days. ‘Nuff said, it’s time to hit the slopes.

For more Japan related content:


Cover image adapted from: Visit Mt. Fuji – The top of Japan via Facebook, @nisekounited, @lottearairesort via Instagram

Mattias Tan

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