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Planning a Ski Holiday to Japan
Japan is world renowned for some of the best powder skiing in the world with an average of 10-
17 metres of snowfall per season. With ample high quality snow, beautiful scenery, great food
and relaxing hot springs. A ski holiday to Japan is one you’ll never forget! Before you arrive to
the land of the rising sun here are a few helpful tips for planning your ski holiday.
WHAT TO KNOW?
Most nationalities qualify for a 90-day entry visa but you MUST have a return flight before you
arrive in Japan.
Carry cash! ATMs are hard to find in many resort towns and small businesses and restaurants
are yet to accept cards. Have enough cash to hold you over for a few days.
If you plan on hiring a car to get to and from the resort you will need an AAA International
driver’s license. If you’re not used to driving in harsh winter conditions there are plenty of on
resort options for you to get around.
Bathing suits are not to be worn inside onsens and it is customary to shower beforehand
Remove your shoes when entering a Japanese house or establishment and wear the slippers
your host provide.
HOW TO GET TO YOUR RESORT?
The best resorts and snow conditions in Northern Japan are in Hokkaido and Tohoku and in the
South are Niigata and Nagano. Most resorts are easily accessible by various different options and
are on time and efficient. Direct transfers to Nagano and Niigata from Tokyo, Narita and Haneda
airport involve getting a shared taxi service or a shuttle bus. (Read
The quickest way is to hop on the shinkansen (bullet train), there are a few connections but well
coordinated. To avoid an 18-20 hour bus journey to the Northern resorts of Japan book a
domestic flight to Chitose airport and take a direct ski bus to Niseko or your resort of choice.
Shinkansen’s usually require a bit more time and if you choose a sleeper seat be prepared to pay
extra even if you have a JR pass.
TIP: If you plan on travelling around Japan before or after your ski trip avoid hauling around
your heavy luggage through over crowded cities and use the Kuroneko (Black Cat Couriers)
service to and from the airport or to your accommodation.
WHERE TO STAY? - Find your accommodation in Japan
Japan offers a wide range of accommodation whether you are looking for a cosy suite or a
private chalet Japan has something to fit every taste and budget. Westernized accommodation
is found throughout the country but if you’re looking for an opportunity to experience a
traditional Japanese lifestyle Ryokans and Minshuku’s incorporate elements such as tatami
floors, futon beds and Japanese baths.
WHEN TO GO?
Choosing the right time to go skiing is a big consideration for anyone planning a trip and
depends on whether you want to avoid crowds, benefit from discounted lift passes and
accommodation or chase the best powder.
There are a number of factors to take into consideration and requires some careful planning.
Once you’ve found the perfect ski resort and booked your accommodation all you have to do is
count the weeks until your ski holiday begins.
Read also Skiing and Snowboarding in Hakuba, Myoko Kogen or Madarao Kogen.