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Cheat the heat with a trip to Japan – skis optional

As we stare down the barrel of another summer that may feature bushfires, 40 degree days, floods and everything in between, a cool change to the land of the rising sun is a tempting thought. Winter in Japan is a magnificent season, with its snow-covered landscapes, delicious culinary specialties and sublime festivals.

Often less touristy, it’s actually one of the most pleasant seasons to visit Japan. This winter, Japan Experience is introducing you to Japan’s mountains and ski resorts. And for the less sporty among you, discover winter in Japan with their top travel tips for this magical season that brings the year to a close.

If Japan isn’t already on your list of skiing destinations, it may well will be by the end of this. With a geography characterized by thousands of mountains and volcanoes, almost three-quarters of Japan’s territory is mountainous. When winter wraps Japan in its white cloak every year, many parts of the country become snowy paradises for powder snow lovers. I’ll let Travel Japan take you from here to show you the best Japanese ski resorts to enjoy winter sports under the Nippon sun!

Close to Tokyo

Thanks to its relative proximity to the Japanese Alps mountain range, Tokyo has ski resorts that have nothing to envy our European resorts, even if some are less than two hours from the Japanese capital!

In Nagano prefecture, Hakuba is perhaps one of Japan’s best-known ski areas. Around four hours from Tokyo, this mountain town is proud to have hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. You’ll find a choice of over a dozen ski resorts!

The Yuzawa region in Niigata prefecture is also a popular destination for skiers. It’s also one of the closest selections of ski resorts to Tokyo, accessible in around 2 hours!

Back in Nagano prefecture, in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Shiga Kogen is another popular region for its 21 ski resorts, a paradise for ski and snowboard enthusiasts, with a unique variety of slopes.

Just two hours from Tokyo, Mount Naeba and its ski slopes perched high up in Niigata prefecture can even be a day trip from the Japanese capital, for a skiing getaway.

For those more interested in the setting than the quality of the slopes, it’s hard to beat the nearby Fujiten Ski Resort, or Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti.

As their name suggests, these resorts are located at the foot of Mount Fuji, offering breathtaking views of this timeless symbol of Japan.

North of Japan

Moving away from Tokyo, the north of the main island of Honshu and especially the island of Hokkaido boast some of the best ski resorts in the world, with more powder – at the price of much colder temperatures.

Niseko, in Hokkaido, is surely Japan’s best-known ski region. The epicenter of Japanese skiing – Niseko has been dubbed “the powder capital of the world”, no less. Approximately two hours from Sapporo, this huge resort boasts slopes for all levels and a variety of winter sports, as well as off-piste.

With more snow and fewer people, Rusutsu is a great alternative to Niseko. Just 30 min from Niseko, Rusutsu can also be a day trip for a change of scene!

Close to Sapporo, Teine is the largest ski resort on the outskirts of Hokkaido’s capital. Used during the 1972 Winter Olympics, this resort is pleasant for all levels and easily accessible!

In the Tohoku region, and more precisely in Iwate prefecture, Appi Kogen boasts 21 different ski resorts, easily accessible and appreciated by locals and international tourists alike.

Known for its famous “snow monsters”, a fascinating natural phenomenon, Zao resort is another must-see in the Tohoku region. These snow monsters are illuminated at night in some places, and some slopes are usable at night!

For a tailor-made winter escape and more ideas (like spa-resorts for the less sporty rover) explore Japan Experience’s options by CLICKING HERE or to book a 14 day self-guided ski tour starting early January, CLICK HERE.

Michael G Browne
Michael G Browne
Michael G Browne is a crime author (Money Bags), comedy writer an inveterate traveller.

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