Japan, also known as Japow, gets an incredible amount of snow just might be the snow capital of the world. But finding the best place to enjoy that snow is easier said than done. With that in mind, we’ve put together this quick guide so you can start planning the trip of a lifetime.
Best time to ski and snowboard in Japan:
Similar to the States, ski season in Japan happens from late November – April. The busiest time to go is typically from Christmas through the New Year and Chinese New Year (dates vary each year). Also, Australian work and school breaks are in January, so expect resorts to be crowded then as well.
Typically, resorts and lodging will give deals during the non-peak season, to encourage guests to visit outside of the typical holiday season. These deals usually appear from early to mid-December, as well as March and early April. If you’re dreaming about your powder consumption, the best of the best typically occurs from January to February. February just might be your best bet at avoiding crowds and getting more of that pow to yourself.
Where to ski and snowboard in Japan:
There are two islands to consider when looking to shred in Japan. You have the north island of Hokkaido and the main island of Honshu. Many recommend flying into the Tokyo airport before reaching your final ski destination for a day of exploring the city (and cheaper plane tickets). From the airport, you’re able to reach Hokkaido by train, or a more popular option is getting a plane from Tokyo to Sapporo’s airport. From Sapporo, rent a car (international license needed), or order a taxi to reach your final dream powder destination.
If you decide to ride on the mainland of Honshu, you can reach your ski destination by train, car, or bus from the Tokyo airport. (No extra flight needed when staying in Honshu!)
Fortunately, Heli works with some of the most renowned ski operations in Japan so you can have the best powder days of your life. Keep reading to find yours.
Japan Ski Tours
A unique guided snow adventure, Japan Ski Tours offers the Hokkaido Storm Chasers; a guided off-piste ski road trip through different Hokkaido resorts, in search of the best possible powder. No trip is the same; expert ski guides take you to the best possible in-bounds and side-country powder available that day on the island of Hokkaido. Not only will they help find the best snow, but they also take you to eat the best food around. Hokkaido recommends that you’re comfortable riding side-country terrain, as 70% of the skiing lies off the resort trails to find the deepest of untouched snow. Focus on deep laps and pow shots while Hokkaido Storm Chasers does the rest.
Iwanai Cat Tour
Based from Iwanai Resort in Hokkaido, Iwanai Cat Tour gives you access to the best powder on the planet while riding in a heated snow cat. Iwanai is located on a coastal corner of the Sea of Japan, rising 1086m above the bay. It’s 40 minutes away from the town of Niseko, perfectly hidden from the crowds. Ski with oceanfront views and lines of endless powder.
Iwanai cat guides place you through perfectly spaced old-growth birch trees, long vertical bowls, open powder fields with no one else in sight, and endless backcountry terrain with gorgeous snowscapes sure to take your breath away.
Whiteroom Tours specializes in snow travel, guided tours, and backcountry guiding services throughout Japan, ranging in duration from 7-13 nights. Trips include accommodation, lift passes, transportation, breakfast, welcome and farewell dinners, and most importantly, some of the best skiing of your life. Think of Whiteroom as your go-to travel buddies specializing in powder-filled vacations. Let experienced guides take you through lift-assisted slack and backcountry runs through the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions.
Whiteroom offers a variety of adventures, including a Powder Progression tour, where coaching is maximized by including only 4 spots each tour. This is the best way for a powder newcomer to learn the best practices to ski Japan’s deep powder. For the more experienced, consider signing up for the Powder Belt Backcountry tour, where guides take you through both life-accessed terrain and backcountry terrain only available with a touring set-up.
Get the best of both worlds on this trip, where guides lead you through various resorts in Furano, Tomamu, Kamui, Asahidake, Kurodake, and Sahoro. There are also options for full touring days in other lesser-known backcountry areas. Whiteroom has endless options to make sure you’ll find the best powder runs of your life!