Irasshaimase! Welcome to Japan – a country very dear to our hearts. While it may come as a surprise that Japan’s skiing is world-class, there's much more to visiting this little string of islands than for just the snow. Japan positively bursts with charm and individuality - a wonderfully atmospheric ancient civilisation with feet firmly planted in the 21st Century.
But first and foremost, let's clearly reaffirm that Japan is the place to go for deep, dry powder snow. The stories you've heard? All true. The skiing and snowboarding in Japan is without equal anywhere in the world and we don't know any skier or boarder who's headed East just the once - they always come back for more! To say we are passionate about the place would be an understatement; we've skied all over Honshu and Hokkaido, and travelled the length and breadth of the country several times in search of the infamous Ja-Pow.
It is distinctly unlike anywhere else in the world, with a culture, ideology, aesthetic and success story all of its own; a place where ancient practices and peaceful monasteries share the stage with gigantic neon adverts and bamboozling vending machines; it nourishes and bombards in equal measure. Its people are kind and considerate, with a delightfully quirky sense of humour; its infrastructure leaves others in the dust; and its beautiful landscape shimmers in the snow, undulating from serene to sense-assaulting and back again. Let Different Snow show you our Japan - all you really need is a sense of curiosity and adventure (and some fat skis).
The ski season lasts from December through to April, very similar to Europe. The most notable difference is the dependability and sheer amount of snow - the Siberian weather systems guarantee massive amounts of light, dry powder every year. Even at sea level.
Christmas and New year are usually very busy and then the Chinese New Year week, usually in mid February, is also considered high season. For us, late February and March is the perfect time to travel as the base is deep, the slopes are quieter and there are more of those perfect blue-sky days to enjoy.
Japan has over 500 ski resorts. Yes, you read that correctly. The mountains vary in size, from large resorts with dozens of runs to small single-lift slopes. Truth be told, the best resorts and snow conditions are to be found on either northernmost Hokkaido Island or in the central Japanese Alps on Honshu, a mountain chain running along the Sea of Japan Coast. For the best powder snow? Head north to one of the resorts of Hokkaido. In search of sunshine? Stay in the Japanese Alps. Wanting to build Tokyo, Kyoto or elsewhere in to your Japan holiday? That's okay; it's perfectly possible to do so from either.
"Niseko is where most people head - and why not?! Amazing snow, varied terrain and world-class accommodation ... but, there's so much more to Japan..."Rob Stokes (Co-Founder, Different Snow)
Most resorts in Japan are family-friendly. Several are built around local hot springs which becomes an integral part of the experience. One or two have riotous aprés on offer, whereas others are low-key and the focus is purely on the ski mountain. All have their own unique Japanese charm. However, if you do not know Japan already, then which resort is not a choice to be made without seeking advice from someone who knows - we implore you to get in contact and we'll steer you through the options.
Tap on the resorts below to find out more:
Japan’s most internationally renowned and popular ski resort. Four resorts link to create a large ski area, famous for its luxurious powder snow. English is widely spoken in restaurants, bars, onsens, etc.
A ski resort with a town within easy reach. Less ‘Westernised’, more ‘Japanese’. The ski mountain is renowned for its many long, perfectly-groomed runs - although there is a prohibition on off-piste skiing.
Most people will fly in to either Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda or Kansai (Osaka) airport. For those skiing up on Hokkaido Island there are a few direct flights from Asia in to Sapporo Chitose airport, but the vast majority will need to route in through one of these hubs. Connections through Tokyo and Kansai are usually good, though there is the possibility you may need to get from Narita (largely international) to Haneda (largely domestic). Different Snow will provide clear directions on how to negotiate this - we've done it countless times ourselves!
To get from the airport to your ski resort on either Honshu or Hokkaido we use coach transfers, private taxis or the reliable, dependable rail network. We'll discuss the options with you. To explore Japan, we'll most likely use the shinkansen (bullet-trains), a wonderful uniquely Japanese experience in it's own right.
Different Snow are a fully licensed and financially bonded tour operator - we can organise both international flights and domestic travel in Japan. Often we have access to better fares than what would be available directly to you - at the very least, as good as. For your piece of mind, it's better to keep it all under one roof - therefore, if one element fails for whatever reason, it's then our responsibility to get things back on track.