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Japan’s Ski Areas

Winter tourism in Japan

It is still January, and skiing is on the agenda. What are your plans for travel? You’ve skied in the Alps of Europe, the western United States, Canada, and New England. So, you’ve finished everything, right? The answer is clearly NO!! Skiing in Japan should be on your bucket list if you’re a serious skier, regardless of where you’ve already gone. But why do tourists go such a long distance to ski in Japan? Here are a few reasons.

Japan's Ski Areas

Why is the snow so beautiful in Japan?

So, on average, we get 500+ inches of blowing snow every year…what gives? Without getting too technical, it all boils down to the region’s topography. On Japan’s main island of Honshu, you have the Japanese Alps on one end, which operates as the region’s heart. Then there are the severely cold westerly winds (originating in the west and traveling east) that blow down from Asia or Siberia. When you combine them with highly wet clouds, you go waist-deep powder that stays dry for days.

How’s the skiing going?

Skiing in Japan is suitable for people of all abilities. While Niseko boasts excellent beginning and intermediate terrain, it is also a haven for elite skiers hunting for those elusive snow stashes. Niseko comprises four main ski regions, each with a variety of beginner and advanced routes. Off-piste tree skiing, side country skiing, and organized wilderness skiing are all fantastic options for expert skiers searching for something different.

If you’re searching for a supervised backcountry adventure or want somebody who understands the mountains to guide you through, show you where to locate the best powder, and teach you how to escape the crowds, Journey Bound has created smart partnerships with local partners to put you in touch with the appropriate individuals. The guides have been thoroughly verified, speak English, and are quite knowledgeable about mountain-related things.

Niseko is also a good base for day visits to other ski resorts like Rusutsu (approximately a 45-minute drive) and Kiroro if you’re there for a week or longer (about a 1-hour drive). Both are far less developed in terms of infrastructure in terms of lodging and food, but they provide excellent skiing and fewer people.

Japan's Ski Areas

What hotel should we book?

Niseko has made a conscious effort to invest in its resort facilities out of all of Japan’s ski areas. This begins with the lodgings, which range from high-end, ski-in/ski-out hotels that appeal very well to the skiing population to ryokan-type lodgings that concentrate more on the Japanese Culture styled lifestyle.

In the heart of it all, ski-in/ski-out

Stay in the Grand Hirafu village if you want ski-in/ski-out access and to be in the heart of it all. The greatest eating, drinking, and shopping can be found here. When you’re not skiing, there’s enough to keep you occupied.

Not to mention the onsens, a significant selling point for Japan’s après-ski culture! On-site onsens are available at both sites, with public and personal alternatives available according to your preferences.

The newest high-end ski-in/ski-out resort

Consider what will be the newest (and indeed the most luxurious) property to hit the Niseko ski scene in January 2020 if you want high-end but don’t want to be in the middle of the action: The Park Hyatt Niseko is a luxury hotel in Niseko, Japan. It is ski-in/ski-out. However, it is situated in Hanazono, a less populated community. Although there isn’t much in the way of eating, drinking, or shopping in this hamlet, the Park Hyatt will feature 11 restaurants and bars on-site, giving guests lots of delicious food and beverage choices. The icing on the cake? Two Michelin-starred cooks will be part of Park Hyatt’s food scene!

The Japanese cultural experience

Zaborin is a beautiful facility just out of the Hanazono village region that will provide you a genuinely Japanese ryokan atmosphere if ski-in/ski-out isn’t your style and you don’t mind being a little isolated. The emphasis here is on the service, the food, and the healing properties of onsens.

It is uncommon for visitors to remain at this hotel for more than a few days on a ski vacation lasting a week or more, nor for guests visiting Japan to stay at a ryokan for more than a few days. For most western guests, it’s somewhat different, so if you’re looking for a ryokan experience in Niseko, it’s advisable to divide your time between Zaborin and one of the other hotels described above.

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