Ride in luxury at Niseko Hanazono Resort’s shiny new Hanazono Lift 1, a six-seat hooded chairlift, or the ten-person Hanazono Symphony Gondola which travels at an industry-leading six meters per second. The 1,362-meter-long gondola will provide access to Hanazono’s Juicy Fruit beginner terrain via a new mid-station. Intermediate and advanced skiers can enjoy Colly’s Folly, a new run from the top station. This 550-meter course is located on the east side of the famous Legend of Shinya ski course.
The new lifts will also run in the green season to service Hanazono’s new zipline network opening June 2022, and a light exhibition.
Where: Niseko, Hokkaido
The all-inclusive Rusutsu Resort offers several fun activities and events throughout the season: the Powder Snowshoe Run (Jan. 23, Feb. 27) and the Snow Trail Run (Mar. 20). Guests can also enjoy the Kamakura BBQ using local vegetables and lamb, an outdoor sauna and live jazz back at the hotel.
Where: Rusutsu, Hokkaido
The annual Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival returns this winter to transform Lake Shikotsu into a frozen kingdom. The lake’s water is used to create massive ice sculptures which are illuminated at night.
You can also enjoy other wintry activities such as careening down an ice slide, gliding across an ice rink, horseback riding, hopping into a nearby hot spring and enjoying warm local delicacies like oden, soba and udon. Admission fee is ¥500.
When: Jan. 29-Feb. 23; 16:30-20:00
Plan your winter Hokkaido trip around the 2022 Sapporo Snow Festival, one of the most impressive ice sculpture festivals in the world. Odori-koen, Sapporo’s Central Park, is filled with creative sculptures during the event and resorts such as Sapporo Kokusai and Teine are nearby.
When: Feb. 4-11
Where: Odori-koen, Sapporo, Hokkaido
The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival is held every February in Otaru, a charming port town in Hokkaido. Enjoy a night stroll as the Unga Kaijo and Temiyasen Kaijo areas are lit up by lanterns.
When: Feb. 5-12; 17:00-21:00
Where: Otaru, Hokkaido
Join the Niseko Shootout and Film Festival, a season-long photo and video contest to win exciting snow season prizes including Roko skis, Gentemstick snowboards, cat tours, action cameras and more. Tag #NisekoShootout for your chance to win. Photos and videos will be featured at the film festival at the end of the season.
When: Until Mar. 12
Where: Niseko, Hokkaido
Ani Ski Resort is targeting young adults this season. 19-year-olds ride free and 20-year-olds receive a lift pass discount. The resort is located on Mt. Moriyoshi. This northern Akita resort is uncrowded yet offers special features like powder tree skiing, juhyou “snow monsters,” and a resident Akita dog, Hokuto.
Where: Ani, Akita
Appi Kogen, one of Tohoku’s biggest ski resorts welcomes ANA InterContinental Appi Kogen Resort this January. This international luxury hotel features 38 guest rooms overlooking the slopes. There is an on-site restaurant and onsen as well.
Where: Appi Kogen, Iwate
Geto Kogen was the first ski resort to open the whole resort this season, boasting the highest snowfall in November. This year their popular tree run will be expanded to 14 areas.
Where: Kitakami, Iwate
Lotte Arai Resort is the first ski resort in Japan to introduce O’Bellx, devices used to trigger avalanches remotely. Instead of relying on employees to deploy explosives from a helicopter, these devices help take down treacherous snow and ice and improve staff safety. A spark sets off the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, producing an explosion that releases snow.
The resort will also host several events such as Children’s Day when elementary school students ride free (Feb. 20, Mar. 20, Apr. 17, May 15). It will also host the Arai Championship in three parts (powder race, freestyle and banked slalom), the season’s third Freeride World Qualifier Japan series and the FIS Cup (ski jump).
Where: Arai, Niigata
Snow and surf brand Quiksilver presents Mountain Wave Park at Kandatsu Snow Resort, a snow park on the slopes. Check out their website for upcoming events.
Where: Yuzawa, Niigata
Enjoy fireworks over the snow at Kagura Snow Resort. Mitsumata Lift Station and Tashiro Station will each hold two fireworks celebrations.
When: Feb. 19, Mar. 12 (Tashiro) and Feb. 26-27 (Mitsumata)
Where: Yuzawa, Niigata
Unlock the backcountry with Freeride Japan, avalanche training and guided tours to safely grow your backcountry skills. Join the only AST 1 course with online training (and two full days in the backcountry) in Japan. Check website for course dates and up-to-date details.
Where: Niigata & Nagano
The 1,289-meter-high Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field will be expanding their powder area by removing the old Hikage and Line 6 lifts. The park from last year will be set up permanently on the south slope offering spectacular views of the mountain range. Enjoy kickers, waves, rails and boxes.
For those wanting to enjoy winter without riding, Iwatake White Park is a designated area on top of the mountain for families and pets. Take photos in kamakura igloos, let your dogs run around the pet zone and enjoy snowshoeing.
Chavaty Hakuba will also be opened at the Hakuba Hitotoki-no-mori Observation Area and will be offering warm tea lattes and scones.
Where: Hakuba, Nagano
Evergreen Outdoor Center offers four-night, five-day winter camps for children. These camps provide experiential learning for children in Hakuba’s winterscape with native English-speaking leaders. Activities include snowshoeing, ski lessons, mountain awareness and winter sustainability lessons, igloo building, tobogganing, campfires, a pizza party and more.
When: Dec. 1 – Apr. 20
Where: Hakuba, Nagano
Sign up for avalanche safety training courses certified by Avalanche Canada with Evergreen Backcountry Guides. AST 1 and 2 courses are available in Hakuba. The two-day AST 1 course, plus a one-day CRS (Companion Rescue Skills) course are a must for backcountry enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys recreational activities as it teaches life-saving search and rescue techniques. Check the website for dates.
When: Dec. 17 – Mar. 9
Where: Hakuba, Nagano
Check out the latest ski, snowboard, surf and skateboard gear and wear at Interstyle, Japan’s biggest snow, ski and surf trade show of its kind.
When: Feb. 15-17
Where: Yokohama, Kanagawa
The Freeride World Tour Japan series return this season starting at Hakuba on Jan. 17-20, Maiko Snow Resort on Jan. 29-30, Lotte Arai Resort on Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 and Appi Kogen on Mar. 5-6.
When: Jan. 17 – Mar. 6
Osorakan Snow Park in Hiroshima attracts skiers and snowboarders from Kansai, Kyushu and Shikoku. The northwestern region of Hiroshima is also famous for its oni (Japanese mythical beasts) folklore. Every year on Setsubun (the day before the beginning of spring), people dress up as oni and ski down while kids aim snowballs at them (and win coupons and special prizes).
While this area may not get as much snow as up north, it does get decent snowfall once or twice a year. Serious riders can get some powder riding in if they hike up to the top of Mt. Osorakan (Hiroshima’s highest peak). The nearby Mt. Shinyu is also a popular backcountry spot.
When: Feb. 5
Where: Akiota, Hiroshima
Take advantage of Earth Hopper, a season pass valid for 30 popular ski resorts throughout Japan. The Earth Hopper Snow Lite pass costs ¥29,800 and the Earth Hopper Snow Pass is ¥57,000, which also includes high quality ski rentals at 15 select rental shops. The passes can be redeemed for two day passes at each participating ski resort, so up to 60 passes total—meaning you’ll get your money’s worth if you use the Earth Hopper pass six times. Participating resorts include Kamui Ski Links, Sapporo Kokusai, Kiroro Snow World, Niseko Annupuri, Appi Kogen, Hachimantai Panorama, Shimokura, Geto Kogen, Akakura Kanko, Lotte Arai, Madarao Kogen, Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba 47 and more.
Score the first lines of the day at these resorts this season!
Where: Niseko Village New Year Sunrise Gondola
When: Jan. 1; 6-7:30 a.m.
Where: Niseko Annupuri Gondola
When: Jan. 1-3, 8-10; 7-8:30 a.m.
Where: Rusutsu Resort
When: Every Sunday in Jan. and Feb.; 8:15 a.m.
Where: Arai Lotte New Year Sunrise Gondola
When: Jan. 1; 6:30 a.m.
Where: Kawaba Ski Resort
When: Reservation only; 7 a.m. on weekends and 7:30 on weekdays
Price: ¥2,000 (includes breakfast)
Where: Naeba Ski Resort
When: Jan. 1, every Sunday between Jan. 2 – Mar. 13; 8 a.m.
Where: Kagura Ski Resort
When: Every Sunday between Dec. 19 to May 1, Dec. 31 – Jan. 1, 10, Feb. 12, Mar. 20-21, Apr. 30, May 2-5; 30 min. before regular hours
Price: Included with lift day pass
When: Dec. 29-31, every Saturday between Jan. 2 – Mar. 27, Jan. 3, 10, Feb. 11, Mar. 21; 7:50 a.m.
Where: Myoko Suginohara
When: Jan. 16, Feb. 13, 7:30 a.m.