With winter starting to show up in the northern hemisphere, skiers are beginning to wake from summer hibernation and turn their thoughts to the mountains. With each new winter comes and endless set of possibilities – new tricks to learn, new peaks to be explored, and bucket list trips to tick off. Japan has long been one of these destinations that skiers dream of, and while it may seem far fetched, shredding Japan has never been easier. Thanks to the advent of new ski passes and a developing ski scene, now is the time to make that trip a reality. Need more convincing? Check out more reasons you need to ski Japan.
We’ll get the obvious out of the way first, Japan has some of the best snow in the world. It dumps constantly in Japan stacking the trees, pillows, and peaks deeps with pow. Areas like Niseko receive over 600” of snow on average. That is 100” more than some of the snowiest areas in the United States, Alta and Snowbird. Book your Japan ski trip any time between December and February and the odds are high that you’ll be riding some of the deepest pow of your life. It’s not only deep, but light here – thanks to the super cold air that comes off of places like Siberia, the pow falls feathery light.
What good is all this pow without good terrain to ski down? Well no worries there either, Japan has the goods. Whether you’re gunning for the big mountain skiing on mainland Honshu, or popping pillows in Hokkaido, you’ll be sure to find something fun. Honshu is the largest Japanese island, home to Tokyo and skiing destinations like Myoko, Hakuba, and Nagano. These areas live in the Japanese Alps, towering above the valleys below. Hokkaido, meanwhile is a more northern island. Home to cities like Sapporo and resorts like Niseko, Hokkaido is famous for it’s insanely light snow and best in the world tree skiing.
Traveling to ski in Japan is now easier than ever, too. Both the Epic and Ikon passes include days at Japanese ski areas. The Epic Pass includes 5 days at the areas in the Hakuba valley, an area known for its amazing big mountain skiing and backcountry access. The Ikon Pass, meanwhile, has days at Hokkaido’s most famous resort, Niseko. Eric Pollard and the Nimbus crew have been travelling here for years. The logistics of lift tickets may be easier, but you’ll still have to travel, so grab a ski bag with wheels and get packing!
Speaking of Pollard, his skis are a perfect pairing with Japanese powder. The Pescado is a particular favorite powder ski for Japan for the folks here at evo. The Mordecai and Magnum Opus are a good choice, too, for skiers looking to emulate the switch powder carves and landings of the Nimbus squad. The Sakana can really shine if you go later in the spring, too. Bottom line is, bring your powder skis, because you’re going to need the float!
The snow and the skiing are obviously some of the biggest draws to visit Japan for skiers, but some of the best experiences come off of the mountain. The food in Japan is a compelling reason to visit Japan in its own right. Sure, you can get sushi just about anywhere nowadays, but there is oh so much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi, and the sushi in Japan is better, too. There is perhaps no better apres ski routine than grabbing a giant bowl of ramen, that is other than grabbing a giant bowl of ramen then heading to the onsen.
Onsen are Japanese hot springs, and are an integral part of the Japanese skiing and snowboarding experience. You don’t have to look far to find the, either, these naturally fed baths are all over the ski areas in Japan – nearly every hotel, lodge, ski areas, and town has their own onsen. They can range from more established western-style pools to traditional bathhouses. Check out our guide to skiing Japan for some tips on onsen etiquette.
So, yes the skiing in Japan is legendary for a reason – the pow is deep and the terrain is fun, but the reasons you should make your powder pilgrimage go far beyond the face shots. You’ll come for the skiing, and come back for the food and culture! Whether you are already planning your trip, or waiting another year, this is a trip that certainly needs to make its way to the top of your bucket list.
Looking for an organized trip where all of the logistics are taken care of for you? Travel to Myoko, Japan with evoTrip and Line.