Fresh powder in Japan’s northern frontier
Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's main islands and is a paradise for winter sports and recreation. Winds from Siberia sweep over the island resulting in an abundance of fresh snowfall. With around 15 meters of snow a year, the mountainous regions of Niseko, Furano and Rusutsu offer perfect conditions for skiing alongside refreshing hot springs and renowned Japanese hospitality.
How to get there
Hokkaido is easily accessible via a short plane ride to Shin-Chitose (Sapporo) or Asahikawa airports from Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. The rail service in much of rural Hokkaido is not as frequent or extensive as in the rest of Japan. While JR connects major cities and towns, outlying areas are best accessed by bus or rental car.
From Shin-Chitose Airport
You can reach ski resorts in western Hokkaido directly from Sapporo’s Shin-Chitose Airport via the New Chitose Airport Limousine Bus. Depending on the destination, the trip takes two to three hours. The ski resorts closer to Sapporo are best accessed by rental car.
From Asahikawa Airport
Central Hokkaido's Asahikawa Airport is within an hour's drive or Asahikawa Airport Limousine Bus ride from a variety of ski resorts.
While air travel is arguably the most convenient method to reach Hokkaido's ski resorts, JR operates the Hokkaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in the island's far south. Travelers who have more time flexibility (or those with a Japan Rail Pass) should consider taking this trip.
An extra-long season
Hokkaido’s cold climate results in top-quality powder and a long ski season, with resorts open from November to May. The snow is still falling in Hokkaido even while cherry blossoms signal the arrival of spring on the southern islands, allowing eager snow travelers extra time on the slopes.
Each ski area in Hokkaido has its own distinct character. From built-up Niseko to rustic Asahidake, there is a resort for every type of visitor. The larger resorts are ideal for the whole family as they have slopes for all skill levels. Hokkaido's size and diversity lend itself to plenty of exploration over a longer trip.
The prime destination for fresh powder
Mountains cover much of Japan and snow resorts are easily accessible from almost anywhere in the country. Hokkaido, however, distinguishes itself with an extra degree of exclusivity and even higher-quality powder than most other destinations, including the many top resorts in Honshu.