LET'S ODEKAKE5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo


5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

If you're living in Japan and crave the thrill of winter sports, or simply want to play in the snow, worry not – while Tokyo is not synonymous with snow-capped peaks, venture just a few hours away and there are winter wonderlands galore.

Here are five of the best ski resorts near Tokyo where expats can escape the city's dreary winter feel and instead take in the beauty of Japan's idyllic winter towns and snowy slopes.

Hakuba, Nagano

5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

Hakuba is a popular ski resort in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture, commonly known as the "Japanese Alps," with ample luxury cabin and lodging options, and several Olympic facilities left over from the 1998 winter Olympics. It is one of Japan’s most famous powder snow areas, offering exceptional skiing and snowboarding experiences.

If you love winter sports and want to enjoy stunning snowy scenery, Hakuba is a great choice for your winter getaway. There are several slopes in the area, located an easy drive apart. There are buses that can take you to each, and many hotels offer lifts. You can also take a taxi if preferred.

In Hakuba you can relax in the traditional onsen after a day on the slopes – these are available to visit even if you don’t stay in the particular hotel. There is also some nightlife in Hakuba, so if you fancy dining out or going drinking, you will not be disappointed. The food options are more varied than in many ski towns (Niseko excepted) as Hakuba is possibly the most popular ski area with foreigners near Tokyo.

The slopes:

Hakuba has nine ski slopes, so you will never get bored. These are:

Happo One - The biggest and most popular of the ski resorts in Hakuba. It has terrain for all levels, including backcountry runs which are said to be amazing. There is a small sledding area for kids, but the elevation is low so it is best for small kids.

Goryu - Goryu also has slopes to suit all levels, from beginner to advanced. It is very popular, although slightly less central than Happo One. There is one sledding hill for kids with a steeper slope than Happo.

Hakuba 47 - You can access Hakuba 47 and Goryu with the same ski lifts, and together they make up the second biggest ski area in Hakuba. 47 is popular with snowboarding fans and has a good halfpipe area.

Tsugaike - Tsugaike is good for families as it has a kid's area and many easy level slopes. More advanced skiiers can come here to, but it lacks the super challenging slopes that other areas have.

Iwatake - Iwatake is said to be a good option for snowboarders and experienced skiiers who are not quite advanced. There is no kid's area at the base but if you take the gondola up the mountain you will find a sledding area, a modern cafe and lookout and some interesting sculptures.

Cortina - Cortina is a little further out, but has amazing powder snow and has good options for advanced skiiers and beginners down the bottom.

Sanosaka - Sanosaka has great views of Lake Aoki and is a good option for intermediate skiiers. It's quite small compared to other slopes.

Norikura - Norikura is less well known than other slopes so if you want a peaceful experience you might try here. The snow quality is said to be fine powder.

Kashimayari - This resort is mostly overlooked by foreigners who prefer to go to resorts closer to Hakuba central, but it has slopes for all levels and a Pokemon themed kid's park.

Access: JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano then take a direct bus from Nagano to Hakuba.
Official site: https://www.hakubavalley.com/en/

Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort

5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

If you're not a serious skier but you want to give it a try and have fun in the snow, Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort is a good option.

Karuizawa is a short shinkansen ride from Tokyo and a great destination in its own right, with hiking and many sightseeing opportunities. As a former holiday spot for foreign residents, there are also many western style restaurants and shops, so you feel almost like you are not in Japan. For those who like shopping, there are cheap outlet brand shops in Karuizawa as well.

The slopes:

There is not as much natural snowfall here as in other places, but they use snow machines to ensure the slopes will be in good shape. Half their slopes are beginner level, with a couple of options for more experienced skiers. There are also two kids’ parks down below.

Access: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Karuizawa then walk 10 minutes.
Official site: http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/karuizawa/

Nozawa Onsen, Nagano

5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

Nozawa Onsen is another hot spring area and ski resort in Nagano Prefecture, dating back to the 8th century. Nozawa Onsen is popular for its quality powder snow and its 13 atmospheric and free public bathhouses called Soto-yu, which are free of charge and open to everyone. Each bath is housed in a beautifully designed building, and the sight of them dotted around the town with icicles hanging off their eaves is truly wonderful.

In Nozawa you can try cooking your own onsen tamago (hot spring eggs) at the Ogama hot spring, or enjoy local delicacies such as soba noodles and sasa dango (rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves).

There are plenty of lodging options to fit all budgets, in both western and Japanese style, as well as plenty of dining options. Nozawa feels like more of a Japanese experience than somewhere like Niseko, so it is great if you want to feel like you are properly in Japan. If you want to try something really special, head nearby to Restaurant Kamakura Village to dine inside a real igloo.

Nozawa is also good for families, as everything is contained in the small village, and there is a big moving walkway that takes you directly from the town to the slopes. On the main slope you can find a children’s daycare for babies, and a kids’ play area.

The slopes:

Nozawa is a big resort with 25 lifts and 20 pistes. There are options for all levels. There is also a terrain park and half pipe for snowboarders. The main areas are:

Yamabiko - Five courses, intermediate to difficult level.

Skyline – High elevation, difficulty is high. Several ungroomed courses near the bottom.

Uenotaira - Wide and gentle slopes which are good for beginners.

Paradise - Wide open beginner area with many facilities nearby.

Schneider - Very steep and ungroomed, good for advanced.

Challenge 39 degrees - A steep open face, a challenge for advanced powder runs.

Challenge - Challenge 39 joins the challenge course which is popular with intermediate and advanced skiers.

Forest - Connects Paradise with Hikage. Narrow but suitable for beginners onwards.

Hikage - The main area where there are restaurants and kids’ areas.

Karasawa - Nice big area for beginners with good views.

Access: Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Iiyama then Nozawa Onsen Linger bus.
Official site: https://en.nozawaski.com


5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

Mt. Naeba is a popular skiing area in Niigata Prefecture. It is actually two ski areas joined together: Naeba and Kagura, and you can get a combined lift ticket for both.

In summer Naeba plays host to the world-famous Fuji Rock Festival, but in winter it becomes a wonderland of snow - the area is part of "yukiguni" (snow country).

The slopes:

Mt. Naeba is a good all-rounder destination, as it has roughly equal courses for all levels, with the majority being intermediate.

There is a snow park at Naeba with jumps and banks, as well as three different kids’ parks. Kagura has several snow parks, including one specifically for beginners. They also have one kids’ park.

Access: JR Joetsu Shinkansen from Ueno to Echigo Yuzawa then a direct bus to Naeba.
Official site: https://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/naeba/index.html

GALA Yuzawa

5 of the Best Ski Resorts Near Tokyo

Gala Yuzawa is probably the easiest to reach from Tokyo, and super convenient with a direct shinkansen right to the slopes. For after, there is an onsen called Spa Gala-no-yu where you can warm up. Gala is great for a day trip, they have everything in one spot and you can be home in time for dinner.

The slopes:

There are three main areas - the Southern, Central and Northern areas. The Southern section is challenging and best for intermediate to advanced skiers. Central can be reached directly from the gondola which leaves from the Ski Center down below. Central has many good beginner courses, and a rather large kids park with great tubing, so even teenagers would enjoy it. The Northern area is a bit more challenging, mostly intermediate. It also contains a snow park.

Access: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa.
Official site: https://gala.co.jp/

If you are staying in Japan over the winter holidays this year, we hope this list has given you some ideas for exploring some of Japan’s many epic ski slopes. This list is just the beginning of your adventures, so happy skiing and snowboarding!

Article courtesy : OMAKASE Tour   https://omakase-tour.com/