Learning to Ride – Ski and Snowboard in Japan

I’ve been a skier for 15+ years. This year – since it seems everyone here in Japan rides a snowboard – I learned how to ride. Let me say this has been an awesome year for boarding! I’ve loved every minute of spending time with friends on the slopes. And Japan has plenty of great places to ride. We’ve gone countless times with many different groups of friends.
Places we went boarding/skiing:


  • Hokkaido: The ultimate riding/skiing is in Hokkaido. The link shows there are 120+ resorts here! Flying here is the fastest. A bus from the airport to the ski area is several hours in length. We stayed for about a week in Niseko, and in particular at Niseko Annupuri Kokusai village area. All 4 of the areas connect in some way – either on the mountain or via bus transport around town. (Free with a valid lift ticket.) The snow in Niseko is perfect. Usually you get lots of fresh powder. Many Ausies come here so you will find EN services aplenty. Skiing and boarding here was awesome. Highly recommended.

  • Naeba, Kagura, Tashiro: these are 3 resorts in Niigata prefecture. Best place to stay is the Prince hotel at the base of Naeba. Access to here is granted via Shinkansen (Echigo Yuzawa St) and then a 30 min bus. Personally I found Naeba icy but liked Kagura and Tashiro. During peak season you can transit between Naeba and Tashiro via a long (20 min) gondola ride.

  • Gala Yuzawa: This is the easiest resort, I found, to access from Tokyo. You can leave early in the morning, arrive when the slopes open, and return back to Tokyo the same evening. All that is doable via Shinkansen to Gala Yuzawa station. The slope is right outside the station. Because of the easy access the slopes can be crowded. Look for JR package deals – you can get ski and Shinkansen tickets cheap during some periods (10,000JPY). There are actually 2 or 3 mountains you can board.

  • Hakuba: Nagano prefecture. Took overnight buses to travel here. An overnight bus isn’t something you want to do more than once or twice a season! But once you arrive it is worth it. Hakuba has several mountains with Hakuba 47 being the most popular. I think we mainly skied/boarded Happo-one and Goryu/47. Snow was pretty decent. Stayed at a pension when here but there is a large hotelat the base of the main mountain.

  • Kusatsu: Gunma prefecture. Took overnight buses to get here, too. The main resort is Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel. There is a Hyatt at the base, if I recollect. Again, snow was pretty decent; many mountain areas to ski. You can spend several days here!


I’ll be posting more pics but let’s start with a trip to Kagura and Naeba.