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        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

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      • video

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Japan Snow Guide: December Skiing

Get a head start on the ski season or find a place to spend the holidays! Most of our favorite ski resorts in northern Japan open around mid-November to mid-December.
Open dates are tentative depending on whether there’s enough snow so be sure to check the resorts’ websites first before heading up.

HOKKAIDO

Niseko Grand Hirafu

Rusutsu Resort: Nov. 23 – Apr. 5

Sapporo Kokusai: Nov. 22 – May 10

Furano Resort: Nov. 23 – May 6

Niseko Grand Hirafu: Nov. 23 – May 6
New Year Torchlight Skiing: Dec. 31 – Jan. 1
Take part in Japan’s biggest torchlight skiing! 150 skiers and snowboarders will be riding down as the clock strikes twelve; register by Dec. 29 and you could be part of this spectacular occasion. There will also be fireworks and a New Year “Lucky Draw” where you could win prizes. 

Sapporo Teine: Nov. 23 – May 6
New Year Sunrise Skiing: Jan. 1
Catch the first sunrise of the year with the Summit Express, which runs from 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day. It is ¥1,800 for one lift ride and ¥3,500 for the whole morning (6 a.m. – 12 p.m.)

Sahoro Resort: Nov. 30 – Apr. 12

Niseko Annupuri: End of Nov. – Mid-May

Niseko Village: Dec. 1 – Apr. 7

Niseko Hanazono Resort: Dec. 7 – Mar. 31

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu: Dec. 1 – Apr. 5
Farm Christmas: Dec. 1-25
Get in the holiday spirit while experiencing Tomamu, which used to be an agricultural area. Enjoy the chimes of handbells while looking at adorable farm animals dressed in Christmas clothes.

Kamui Ski Links: Dec. 1 – Mar. 31

Kiroro Snow World: Dec. 8 – Beg. of May

TOHOKU

Tazawako Ski Resort

APPI Kogen: Nov. 30 – May 6

Zao Onsen Ski Resort: Dec. 7 – May 6

Eboshi Resort: Nov. 29 – Apr. 5

Grandeco Snow Resort: Dec. 11 – May 6

Hakkoda Ropeway: Mid-Dec. – Beg. of May

Hachimantai Resort: Dec. 14 – Mar. 29

Tazawako Ski Resort: Dec. 20 – Mar. 31

Hoshino Resorts Alts Bandai Snow Park & Resort: Dec. 21 – Mar. 29
New Year Countdown: Dec. 31
End the year night skiing and watching fireworks.

NAGANO

Madarao Mountain Resort

Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Super Value Tickets
Get more for less with these limited vouchers exchangeable for one-day lift passes at 21 ski resorts around the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo region in Nagano and Niigata. Each booklet (¥23,000) comes with five tickets per book and can be purchased online or at the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Activity Center at Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku bullet train line. Depending on the resort, you can exchange them for resort packages including lift passes, rentals, meals, access to hot springs and souvenirs. 
When: Oct. 1-Feb. 29 (usable from Dec. 14-Mar. 31) 

Yakebitaiyama: Dec. 7 – May 6
First Tracks: Weekends from Dec. 28 – Mar. 29, Dec. 30 – Jan. 3, Jan. 13, Mar. 20
Ride first tracks in Shiga Kogen from 7:50 – 8:30 a.m. Tickets are 1,500 per person including one drink. On New Year’s Day, wake up a little earlier for the 6:45 a.m. first tracks lift and watch the sunrise from 2,009 meters high. 

Nozawa Onsen: Dec. 10 – May 6

Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field: Dec. 13 – Mar. 29

Mt. Norikura: Dec. 14 – Beg. of Apr.

Madarao Mountain Resort: Dec. 14 – Mar. 31
New Year Fireworks: Dec. 31 – Jan. 1
Ride until 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve then enjoy a countdown and fireworks to ring in 2020. 

Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort: Dec. 14 – Apr. 5
Christmas Event: Dec. 22
Look out for Santa and his elves who will be skiing around the slopes giving out candy to kids.
New Year Festival: Dec. 31 – Jan. 1
Enjoy a spectacular countdown with fireworks on New Year’s Eve and sample free toshikoshi soba, noodles traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day. 

Togakushi: Dec. 15 – Apr. 1

Hoppo Bunadaira-Higashitateyama-Nishitateyama: Mid-Dec. – Mar. 31

Hakuba Goryu: Mid-Dec. – Beg. of May

Hakuba Happo-One: Mid-Dec. – Beg. of May
New Year Countdown: Dec. 31
Watch a spectacular fireworks show light up the Hakuba mountains.

Hakuba 47: Mid-Dec. – Beg. of May

Hakuba Tsugaike Kogen: Mid-Dec. – May 6

Okushiga Kogen Ski Field: Mid-Dec. – May 6

Tangram Ski Circus: Mid-Dec. – Beg. of Apr.

NIIGATA

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort

Kagura-Tashiro-Mitsumata: Nov. 23 – May 24

Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort: Dec. 7 – Apr. 5

Mt. Naeba: Dec. 7 – Apr. 5
Christmas with Santa: Dec. 24-25
This Santa might not arrive with flying reindeer but he’ll be in a snowmobile. The lucky children who spot Santa around the slopes will receive a gift. 

Akakura Onsen: Dec. 11 – Beg. of Apr.

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort: Dec. 14 – May 6
Fireworks Festival: Dec. 21, 31, Jan. 1, 11, 25, Feb. 8, 24
Spend a romantic evening watching fireworks which will be on display throughout December to February.

Charmant Hiuchi: Dec. 14 – May 6

NASPA New Otani: Dec. 20 – Mar. 29
New Year: Dec. 31 – Jan. 1
Watch the slopes light up with torchlight skiers on New Year’s Eve followed by fireworks. On New Year’s Day, take part in traditional mochi (rice cakes) pounding.

Fireworks Festival: Dec. 21, 28, 31, Jan. 1-4
This ski resort is explosive nearly every weekend as fireworks light up the sky. 

Iwappara: Dec. 21 – Mar. 29
Iwappara New Year Party: Jan. 1
Ring in Japan’s biggest celebration of the year with fireworks and a special show.

Myoko Suginohara: Dec. 21 – Mar. 29

Seki Onsen: End of Dec. – Beg. of May

GUNMA

Oze Iwakura

Kawaba: Dec. 1 – Mid-Apr.

Manza Onsen: Dec. 7 – Mar. 31

Okutone Snow Park: Dec. 8 – Beg. of Apr.

Tenjindaira Tanigawadake: Dec. 10 – Late May

Oze Iwakura: Dec. 14 – Beg. of Apr.
New Year Fireworks: Dec. 31
Enjoy an evening of night skiing from 5-9 p.m. and end with a fireworks show.

Kusatsu Kokusai: Dec. 14 – Apr. 5

Minakami Houdaigi: Dec. 15 – Beg. of Apr.

Norn Minakami: Dec. 20 – Mar. 31

GIFU

Dynaland

Takasu Snow Park: Beg. of Dec. – May 6

Dynaland: Dec. 14 – Apr. 5

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