Due to the fact that there are 4 distinct seasons in Japan, winter comes with ample snowfall in the higher altitude regions of the country. In fact, Hokkaido is so renowned for its high-quality powder snow and large scale resorts that many foreign travelers come from all over the world to enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding in Japan’s winter wonderland. But if you live or stay in the Tokyo area, sometimes you don’t have the time or just don’t want to make the trek all the way up north. The good news is that there are several winter sport resorts that you can make use of by day trip from Tokyo. Here are 5 of our favorite ski resorts with easy and quick access from Tokyo!
Before we dive into our recommendations, we would like to mention that due to the fact that Tokyo is such a vast area, it may take shorter or longer to get to each resort depending on where you are leaving from. The times we have listed are on average.
With a long history as an onsen resort, many visitors of Nozawa Onsen combine their ski trip with a nice warm soak in the area’s hot spring baths. Nozawa Onsen in Nagano prefecture, has a very large ski resort area with plenty of slopes for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers. The best quality snow can be found in the higher altitude areas, and the Yamabiko area has some of the most interesting runs for more experienced winter sporters. Beginners will have a great time on the Uenotaira slope with its wide, gentle slopes. You can reach Nozawa Onsen from Tokyo Station by taking the Hokuriku shinkansen to Iiyama Station and then taking a short bus ride from there.
One way travel time: 2 and a half~3 hours
One of the most famous ski resorts that makes for a perfect day trip from Tokyo is Gala Yuzawa, which is only a 75-minute train ride away. Because it has its very own shinkansen station, getting there is a breeze. You won’t lose much time between getting off the train and getting on the slopes as the station’s infrastructure is made in a way that you will walk past the rental shops and then are able to go straight up the lifts. With 16 slopes you can explore plenty of different runs on your ski trip.
One way travel time: ~1 hour 15 minutes
Did you know that you can ski in Japan with a view of Mt Fuji in the background? The relatively small Yeti Resort is located south of Mt Fuji in Shizuoka prefecture and one of its claims to fame is how early they open in the ski season. Unlike other resorts that typically open up in November or December, Yeti Resort opens up in October! The resort is very beginner-friendly with half of the slopes suitable for first-timers or those who don’t have confidence in their skills yet. Another 40% of the slopes are of an intermediate level, and only 10% are for advanced skiers. This means that if you are an experienced skier, Yeti Resort is a great place to start early in the year as a warm-up for some more serious slopes later in the year. And if you are a beginner, this could be a great option for you all year!
One way travel time: ~3 hours
Located at the base of the Northern Alps, Hakuba Valley in Nagano prefecture is one of the largest ski resort areas in all of Japan. With 10 resorts all in close range of each other, there is something to experience for skiers of all levels from complete novice to black piste experts. It may be hard to believe, but the longest run stretches for a leisurely 8 kilometers. It takes a little less than 3 hours to get to Hakuba Valley from Tokyo. First take the Hokuriku shinkansen to Nagano Station and then hop on a bus that will take you straight to the ski resorts of Hakuba Valley.
One way travel time: ~3 hours
Fujiten Snow Resort
Just like Yeti Resort, Fujiten Snow Resort is situated at the foot of Mt Fuji, but in Yamanashi prefecture, where you can enjoy awesome views of Japan’s most famous mountain while you are sliding down the slope. While Fujiten is not as large as most other resorts, you will still find plenty of fun challenges that are great for a day trip. There are 4 slopes that are fit for beginners and an additional 4 slopes for skiers and boarders with more experience and like steeper runs. You can access this resort from Tokyo via train or bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko first, and then you can take a 20 minute ‘ski taxi’ that will take you straight to the resort. If you take the ‘ski taxi’ from Kawaguchiko Station, you will get a discount on your lift pass.
One way travel time: ~3 hours
Day Trip Ski Prices in Japan
The largest cost of your trip will consist of transportation fees. For most of the resorts above, round trips will cost you around 15,000-20,000 yen per person. If you go with more than 2 people and you have a valid driver’s license, it might be cheaper to rent a car for the day and travel that way. It is easy to rent ski gear and winter wear at the ski resorts in Japan. Most resorts have multiple rental shops to choose from, and you can expect to pay around 4,500 yen per day for either a set of skis(skis, boots, and poles) or a snowboard set(boots and a board). Half day rates tend to be only slightly lower than full day rates. If you need to rent a jacket, pants, goggles, and/or gloves, it will cost you about another 2,500 yen(total). Lift tickets go for around 4,500 yen per day and 3,500 yen per half day. For all the above mentioned costs, kids under 12 years old typically only have to pay half the price of adults. Some resorts offer discounted package day trips that include train fares and lift tickets as well. Check out each resort’s website for more information.
Traveling in Japan
Japan is vast and diverse, so when you travel here there is always something new to discover and fun activities waiting for you. One activity we can wholeheartedly recommend for an unforgettable day is a private tour. Whether you are a first-time tourist or a long-term resident in Japan, when you are traveling here you will always have a good time with a private guide. Local guides know their cities inside and out, and they are always able to show you something new or surprising while telling you about their city’s history and culture. Our private tours are fully customizable, so if you have any special interests, the guide can adjust the program to fit what you are looking for. We also organize tours that are more focused such as food tours, a Japanese comedy experience, a hiking tour, or an anime tour to name a few. Make sure to remember to book your special experience with us before your trip!
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Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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