Ski for the day — easy daytrips to the mountains
Ski and snowboard daytrips are very easy in Japan, with many resorts located close to major cities. Sapporo, in Hokkaido, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, and there are many world-class ski areas within an hour from the city center. Visitors can spend the morning downtown and hit the slopes in the afternoon after a short taxi or bus ride.
From Tokyo, the shinkansen offers you quick and easy access to a wide range of mountains. Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort in Niigata is just 70 minutes from the city and the only ski area in the world with its own high-speed rail station. Nagano's Karuizawa Prince Snow Resort is another shinkansen daytrip choice. It's only an hour from Tokyo Station to Karuizawa Station, from which the resort is a 10-minute walk. In addition to a ski area, the resort base has hotels, restaurants and a large shopping mall.
A ski daytrip is just as easy from Osaka or Kyoto. Biwako Valley offers a variety of trails and sweeping views of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest inland body of water. The resort is a 10-minute bus ride from Shiga Station, only 40 minutes from Kyoto or one hour from Osaka on JR commuter trains.