Skiing in Japan


Incredible Powder, Incredible Culture – Skiing in Japan

Skiing in Japan isn’t something that many British mountain-lovers get to experience. Why? Perhaps they view it as too far away, a long flight that could be deemed unnecessary when you have the mountains of Europe on your doorstep! However, this could not be further from the truth.

As you have probably heard, the snow in Japan is unlike anywhere else, a true powder paradise, however this is just one of the many reasons you should have Japan on your bucket list. A ski trip to Japan can be the a unique opportunity to experience the country’s unique and fascinating culture.

The skiing in Japan is something that truly has to be seen to be believed, with huge snowfalls each year that provide some incredible and unique conditions. Thanks to massive Siberian low-pressure systems, Japan experiences some of the lightest, driest powder in the world. It’s the stuff of movies; waist deep and gloriously floaty, the sort of powder us Europeans rarely get the chance to experience. Yet in Japan, it’s a way of life. This may sound more appealing to those that are at home in the powder, but it should not put off any other skiers. Japan is the perfect place to practice your off piste skills in gentle, forgiving conditions.

Image Credits: Niseko Village

Niseko is Japan’s leading ski resort and with well serviced lifts, fantastic skiing and a thriving resort atmosphere, there’s no surprises as to why. It’s the largest ski area on the island of Hokkaido, which is renowned for it’s picture-perfect skiing and historically impressive snowfall, boasting over 50 feet of snow every winter. Niseko also offers possibly the most epic backdrop of any ski resort, with the majestic extinct volcano Mount Youtei dominating the landscape. It has vast terrain to suit all levels of skiers, with seemingly never-ending off piste and epic tree runs.

Off the slopes in Niseko, several beautiful, natural Onsen (hot springs) in the area offer you the opportunity to wind down in true Japanese style. Down in the area’s three resorts, you can take your pick of après-ski, nightlife, shops and restaurants and ski-in ski-out accommodation. They have a great variety of slope side accommodation and a culinary scene large enough to rival that in many top European, American or Australian resorts, with cuisines to suit all tastes, alongside traditional Japanese options.

Skiing in Japan also allows you to relax before your holiday safe in the knowledge that the snow is practically guaranteed to be perfect. In fact, it might just be the best value for money a ski holiday can be.

Image Credits: Niseko Village

Japan’s ski resorts are surprisingly easy to reach, all things considered. A direct flight to Tokyo, followed by a short (1 1/2 hr) flight to Sapporo and a 2 1/2 hour transfer to Niseko and you’re in powder paradise. Alternatively, you can even take a train from Tokyo to Niseko, for those that might want to experience more of the country on their journey.

However, it is admittedly quite a way to come from the UK, so if you’re doing the trip, why not make the most of it and experience the entirety of this wonderful country? Japan truly is an incredible place, totally unique and world’s away from your usual European ski destination. It is one of the only places where you can combine a ski holiday with a once-in-a-lifetime city getaway. A relatively inexpensive way to add another element to your holiday, a city stopover is definitely something you should try and add into your Japan getaway.

The people are friendly, the food is fantastic and the culture is second to none, with a huge amount of unique experiences available, from volcanos and snow monkeys, to vibrant metropolitan cities, awe-inspiring temples, highly entertaining sumo matches or the legendary Mt Fuji. You could spend weeks exploring and still not scratch the surface, but there are a few stops that should definitely be on your list.

A highly popular stopover for skiers is the ‘must-visit’ city of Tokyo. A true metropolis with a buzzing atmosphere, it’s as far as you can get from the quiet, peaceful Japanese slopes. Teeming with technology, retail and culinary opportunities, travellers here leave enriched and enthralled.

Alternatively, you can head to the town of Kyoto. With it’s tranquil temples and unique architecture, it makes a nice break from the madness of Tokyo.  You can visit Kyoto on a day tour from Tokyo on Japan’s famous ‘Bullet Train’. Reaching staggering speeds of up to 300km per hour, these trains can make the journey from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka in just under three hours. Or, if you want a truly magical experience, Osaka is accessible by train from Tokyo and is home to the huge Universal Studios Japan.

The best way to enjoy all of Japan is to use a specialist tour operator that can help you plan your perfect holiday. Tour operators Ski Independence offer tailored itineraries to each traveller, meaning that you can create a holiday with the perfect balance of skiing and culture. If you’ve not got much time to spare, they can advise on the best ways to spend your days, with multi-day tours. For example if you only have four days to explore Japan, they have an itinerary that encompasses Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Hakone, Kyoto and Nara, ensuring you get the full Japan experience.

With a tailor-based, service-led approach, it’s no surprise Ski Independence are one of the UK’s leading independent ski tour operators. As part of a family owned and run travel firm established over 50 years ago, they have realms of experience in the skiing sector and believe Japan is somewhere that should be accessible to all. They have been selling ski holidays here for many years and offer a wide range of carefully hand-picked Japanese ski hotels in their recommended resort of Niseko.

The ski season in Japan runs from mid November to mid April, so there’s plenty of time to get your holiday of a lifetime planned!

To book your Japan ski holiday, call Ski Independence for a tailor-made quotation on 0131 243 8097 or visit