After the long hot humid summer months are finally over, the short month of fall is here with the colorful foliage everywhere around us. Stroll down Jingu Gaien with its 172 well manicured ginkgo nut trees as all the leaves are turning golden yellow. Grab some hot roasted sweet potato along the way from the vendor with a small mini van with a red lantern hanging on the side. Right around the corner is the wonderful winter season in Japan with its great skiing and snowboarding.
Ski season in Japan officially starts from December ending in some parts in April or early May. The best time for the powder snow is January through the end of February. From the northern island of Hokkaido then Tohoku, Niigata, and Nagano.
A ski holiday in Japan is very different then skiing elsewhere, either in the Alps of Europe, Whistler in Canada or any mountain in the United States. With its powdery snow some deep as up to your chest, mouth watering cuisine and resting your body in the local onsen to ease the pain of the days run on the slopes. The scenery is fantastic with the “ Snow Monsters “ in Zao to the vast open areas of Hokkaido. A perfect place to spend your winter holiday with family and friends.
Close by resorts are in Nagano, which is north-west of Tokyo. Such venues are Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Madarao and Hakuba Valley. Shiga is the largest ski area with the most amount of snow during the season. Nozawa Onsen is best known for their hot springs all year round. Nagano has great terrain, wonderful powder snow, fun in the evenings and easiest to get to from Tokyo.
Then there is Gunma with the following resorts and onsen areas. Manza Onsen, Minakami Hodaigi, Katashina, White Valley, Oze Iwakura, Ogna Hotaka and Kusatsu Onsen.
Gifu has Meiho, with its panoramic view of the Northern Alps. Has 4 ski slopes and 12 trails, wonderful time spent on the mountain.
Iwate prefecture has Appi Kogen, nicknamed as the St. Moritz of Japan by many ski fans. Well known for its wide trails and long pistes, which some are groomed or ungroomed. Very high end resorts and top restaurants can be found.
Niigata has one of the deepest powders, such as Myoko Kogen, Akakura Onsen, Suginohara and Ikenotaira. About 2 hours away is Gala Yuzawa. And Naeba Ski Resort.
Last but least is Hokkaido. You’re ever famous Niseko with its long ski and Snowboarding season. Known to have one of the best snow in the world, and of course the best in Asia. Farthest away from Tokyo, must travel by plane. Some of the resorts are; Niseko United, Furano, Kiroro, Rusutsu. Sahoro is great for children. Tomamu Ski Resort is a very modern resort with off-piste skiing.