Travel Guides & Tips

11 Japan Ski Resorts Besides Niseko Where You Can Enjoy The Snow & Let Loose

Japan ski resorts to visit in winter

When it comes to skiing in Japan, Niseko is no doubt one of the most popular places. Known for its powdery snow and sheer size, the mountainous region attracts tons of visitors every winter. But if you prefer a snowy getaway sans crowds of tourists, consider these 11 Japan ski resorts other than Niseko.

Hokkaido Prefecture

1. Kiroro Resort

Image credit: @kirororesort

Located in Hokkaido, Kiroro Resort is blessed with abundant snowfall, which means that you can ski down tracks blanketed with a layer of fresh snow all day.

The ski area has 9 lifts and a gondola. We recommend getting the day pass, which allows you to access all the lifts and the gondola. It costs ¥5,900 (~USD41.80) for adults, ¥5,200 (~USD36.84) for guests aged 13 to 18, and ¥3,100 (~USD21.96) for children aged 6 to 12.

Image credit: @kirororesort

There are 2 peaks – Asari and Nagamine – and a total of 23 courses. Beginner courses are concentrated at the Nagamine peak, while intermediate and advanced skiers can find courses at both locations. There are also some in-bound, off-piste forested terrains where advanced skiers can put their skills to the test.

Mini snowmobile.
Image credit: Kiroro Resort

Besides skiing, guests can enjoy a thrilling ride on a mini snowmobile, go snow rafting, or ride a snow banana boat. Kid-friendly activities and facilities such as tubing, riding a snow running bike, and an indoor playground, are also available. Do note that additional fees are required, from ¥500- ¥4,500 (~USD3.54-USD31.89) depending on the activities or facilities you choose. 

Though there are 2 hotels in Kiroro Resort, we’d pick Yu Kiroro for those travelling with kids. Unlike Club Med Kiroro Peak, which is limited to guests above 12 years old, Yu Kiroro is family-friendly. The apartment hotel is just a 12-minute walk from the main area at Kiroro Resort. Rates start from ¥39,776 (~USD281.63) per head.

Kororo Resort
Address: 128-1 Aza-Tokiwa, Akaigawa-mura, Yoichi-gun, 046-0593 Hokkaido
Opening hours: 9am-3pm, Daily (3rd December 2022-7th May 2023)
Contact: 0135-34-7111 | Kororo Resort website

Yu Kiroro
Address: 128-9 Tokiwa, Akaigawa, Yoichi District, 046-0571 Hokkaido
Contact: 0112-14-0657 | Yu Kiroro Website

2. Tomamu Snow Park & Resort

Image credit: @hoshinoresorts_tomamu

Tomamu Snow Park & Resort is operated by Hoshino Resorts, a popular hotel chain in Japan. Split into 2 parts – Tower Mountain and TOMAMU Mountain – the ski area has a total of 29 courses, 5 lifts, and a gondola. While the trails should satisfy both beginners and pros, adventurous guests can also venture onto off-piste slopes.

Securing an accommodation is a breeze here as the resort has 2 hotels, Tomamu The Tower and RISONARE Tomamu, both of which are conveniently located at the foot of the mountain. For easier access to facilities and ski trails, the Tomamu The Tower is a better pick. Prices start from ¥18,000 (~USD127.35) per person per night, and the stay comes with breakfast. 

One of the rooms available at RISONARE Tomamu.
Image credit: @hoshinoresorts_tomamu

On the other hand, RISONARE Tomamu offers spacious suites that are each equipped with a private jacuzzi. While the building is further away from the central skiing area, its prime location in a coniferous forest provides a far superior view of nature and a quiet respite from the crowd. Be prepared to fork out ¥42,728 (~USD302.29) onwards per person per night.

Image credit: @hoshinoresorts_tomamu

Making full use of the majestic snow terrain, the ski resort offers a range of fringe activities. Take a 13-min gondola ride up to the Terrace of Frost Tree Cloud Walk, where a sea of snow-capped trees are spread out against the backdrop of the Hidaka Mountains.

Limited to the period between December and March, the Ice Village is a seasonal special as it’s only available when temperatures drop to -30°C. Within the winter wonderland, everything – ranging from cafes to shops selling knick knacks – is made of ice. Day-trippers over the age of 6 are required to pay an entrance fee of ¥600 (~USD4.25), but hotel guests can enter for free. 

Image credit: @nekomaski

Tomamu Snow Park & Resort
Address: Nakatomamu, Shimukappu-mura, Yufutsu-gun, 079-2204 Hokkaido
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily (1st December 2022-3rd April 2023)
Contact: 0167-58-1111 | Tomamu Snow Park & Resort website

Ice Village
Opening hours: 5pm-10pm, Daily (10th December 2022-14th March 2023) | Last admission at 9.30pm)

3. Asahidake

Image credit: @na_mi__m

This one’s for the pros. If you consider yourself an advanced skier, head to Asahidake for a challenge. But fair warning, it’s intense and not for the faint-hearted. A part of Daisetsuzan, Hokkaido’s largest national park, Asahidake is a haven for skiers as the area is known for its intense snowfall. 

To access the ski area, take the Asahidake Ropeway up the mountain. Though initially built for hikers to access the mountain in summer, it has become popular among skiers. A round-trip costs ¥2,200 (~USD15.56) for adults and ¥1,500 (~USD10.61) for elementary students. One-way tickets (¥1,300, ~USD9.19) are also available if you’re only intending to ski down.

Image credit: @y0shiki_drifter

At Asahidake, there are 2 official courses, but most come here for off-piste skiing as it isn’t normally allowed at larger ski resorts. The ski areas are marked out, but demarcations aren’t prominent due to the high amount of snowfall. It’s best to stay within official boundaries if you’re not experienced.

Steam coming out of fumaroles.
Image adapted from: @lcpilon

On clear days, you can observe steam coming out of fumaroles since Asahidake is an active stratovolcano. Visibility can be low on days with poor weather conditions, so it’s wise to come with a seasoned guide who can lead you and help navigate the area.

Image credit: Agoda

There are a few hotels and hostels near the ropeway building, but don’t expect anything fancy. Hotel Bear Monte is the nearest facility to the ropeway, and room rates include breakfast and dinner. Prices for a standard twin room start at ¥18,950 (~USD133.96) per night. 

Address: Asahidake Onsen Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, 071-1472 Hokkaido
Ropeway opening hours: 9am-4pm, Daily (21st October-31st May)
Contact: 0166-68-9111 | Asahidake website

Hotel Bear Monte
Address: Asahidake Onsen, Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, 071-1472 Hokkaido
Contact: 0166-97-2321 | Hotel Bear Monte website

Nagano Prefecture

4. Shiga Kogen Yakebitaiyama Ski Resort

Image credit: @yii_stop

Part of Shiga Kogen, one of the locations used to host the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Yakebitaiyama Ski Resort is 1 of the 18 interconnected resorts in the region.

As the main resort, Yakebitaiyama has 15 trails with varying lengths and inclines that cater to both beginners and pros. 4 of the trails are for advanced skiers, with 1 being the course that was used in the 1998 Olympics. 

Image credit: @yii_stop

Due to the sheer size of the resort, it’s a good idea to get a pass as it allows you access to 52 lifts, gondolas, and ropeways that are spread out across the 18 ski areas. Depending on your length of stay, Shiga Kogen offers a variety of passes, from 1-day pass to a whopping 10-day pass. Prices range from ¥5,500-¥60,500 (~USD58.91-USD428.06).  

Image credit: @jessicaclairechew

There are 3 Prince Hotels buildings – East, South, and West – located in the area. With every room offering a stunning view of the snowy slopes, the East Building is the most luxurious of the 3. 

On the other hand, the South Building is conveniently located near the gondola, which you can easily hop on for a short ski any time. The West Building is the most affordable out of the bunch, and there’s a high-speed lift nearby. Prices for the most basic room at the West Building start at ¥8,800 (~USD56.60) per night.

Image credit: @husky27_rider

Rental shops can be found in all 3 hotel buildings, which means you don’t have to lug around bulky gears. A ski set, which includes standard skis, poles, and boots, can be rented for ¥5,500 (~USD38.91) for adults and ¥4,000 (~USD28.30) for children. 

Private lessons are also available for beginners, and a 2-hour session is priced from ¥19,000 (~USD134.42) onwards.

Address: Yakebitai-yama, Shiga Kogen, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, 381-0497 Nagano
Opening hours: 8.30am-4pm, Daily (3rd December 2022-7th May 2023)
Contact: 0269-34-3111 | Shiga Kogen Yakebitaiyama Ski Resort website

5. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Image credit: @nozawaonsenjapan

Another location used for the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is a traditional yet tourist-friendly resort that caters to both beginners and pros. The resort is one of Japan’s oldest, but it’s by no means run-down.

With a wide and gentle incline, almost half of the 36 trails at Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort are suitable for amateurs.

Image credit: @haggard_chen

There are over 20 lifts at Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, including 3 gondolas and a mix of double, triple, and quad chair lifts. A day pass, which includes access to these lifts and the ski resort, costs ¥6,000 (~USD42.48) for adults, ¥3,600 (~USD25.49) for children under 15 years old, and ¥4,800 (~USD33.98) for seniors aged 60 and above. 

Image credit: @taichi___._.___

Most of the beginner courses are concentrated around the Hikage base, and this is where you’d also find the ski school. Private and group lessons are available from ¥10,000 (~USD70.78) onwards.

If you’re experienced, head up to the summit of the 1,650m-tall Mount Kenashi via the lifts, then breeze your way down the more challenging paths. 

Bird’s-eye view of Nozawa village.
Image credit: Nozawa Holidays

After a day of skiing, head to the village that’s located at the foot of the mountain. Take a dip in one of the 13 free outdoor hot springs there. That said, though the hot springs don’t require admission fees, donations are appreciated as they are mostly run by the locals. This is also where you can crash for the night, as numerous accommodations are concentrated in this area. 

Kaiya Nozawa Mountain Lodge, a cosy hostel that’s a short walk from the centre of the town and a stone’s throw from the slopes, offers affordable rooms from ¥6,500 (~USD46.02) per guest per night.

Worried about committing an onsen faux paus? Read up on basic hot spring etiquette before you get steamy in the bath. 

Address: 7653 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotokai-gun, 389-2502 Nagano
Opening hours: 8M-5pm, Daily (11th November 2022-7th May 2023)
Contact: 0269-85-3166 | Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort website

6. Tangram Ski Circus

Image credit: @tangram.madarao

Tangram Ski Circus is a small ski resort with just 5 lifts, but it’s a beginner- and family-friendly option. Despite its size, it has 14 trails, one of which is a 2,500m course for those looking for long runs.

The ski resort is connected to the Madarao Mountain Resort, which has 30 courses. To enjoy access to both resorts, purchase an all-mountain lift pass at ¥6,000 (~USD42.45) for adults and ¥4,000 (~USD28.30) for elementary school students.

Image credit: Tangram

Tangram Ski Circus is great for beginners because of its wide slopes, making it safe for skiers who may not be able to control their speed well. There’s also a separate kids park and practice area, which means the inexperienced don’t have to worry about getting in the way of more seasoned guests. 

Playground equipment such as sledges, skis, and striders are available in the kids park, which lift pass-holders can access for just ¥500 (~USD3.54). 

View of Lake Nojiri.
Image credit: @saoringer_

On a clear day, it’s worth heading up the slopes to catch the view of Lake Nojiri and enjoy the fresh snow as you ski down.

Address: 3575-8 Furumi, Shinano-cho, Kamiminochi-gun, 389-1302 Nagano
Opening hours: 8.30am-4.30pm (17th December 2022-2nd April 2023)
Contact: 0262-58-3511 | Tangram Ski Circus website

7. Ryuoo Ski Park

Image adapted from: Ryuoo

Compared to other wider ski resorts in Nagano, the lesser-known Ryuoo Ski Park runs long. But do not scoff at it – the resort is equipped with 18 courses. 

Here, guests can hop on a single, double, or quad chair lift, and even an old ropeway. Able to ferry up to 166 people, Ryuoo Ski Park’s ropeway is one of the largest in the world. It takes you to the resort’s SORA Terrace and Cafe, which is situated at an altitude of 1,770m.

Image credit: @aiailee_

As the park is not too extensive, it’s possible to cover the entire area within a day. Get the day pass, which costs ¥5,200 (~USD36.79) for adults and ¥2,200 (~USD15.57) for children. Half-day tickets and 2-day tickets can also be purchased for ¥1,000 (~USD7.07) and ¥4,200 (~USD29.71) respectively.   

Image adapted from: @soraterrace_ryuooski, @soraterrace_ryuooski

For intermediate and advanced skiers or snowboarders, there are 2 snow parks with pipes and rails for jibbing. 1 of the parks is situated near the foot of the slopes, beside Lift Number 1, while the other is located along the course near the ropeway station. Be sure to put on safety gear such as helmets and protective pads before attempting any stunts and tricks.

Image credit: @hide.iwata

For a quick break, pay a visit to the SORA Terrace and Cafe. The spacious mountain-top cafe offers an outdoor space that overlooks a stunning sunset amidst a sea of hovering clouds. Enjoy a variety of mains such as curry, pasta, and rice bowls, or a cup of hot coffee or tea to warm yourself up.

Address: 11700 Yomase, Yamanochi, Shimotakai District, 381-0405 Nagano
Opening hours (Day skiing): Mon-Fri 8.15am-5pm | Sat, Sun & Public Holidays 8am-5pm (3rd December 2022-2nd April 2023)
Opening hours (Night skiing): Mon-Fri 5pm-9pm | Sat, Sun & Public Holidays 5pm-8pm (3rd December 2022-2nd April 2023)
Contact: 0269-33-6345 | Ryuoo Ski Park website

Niigata Prefecture

8. Maiko Snow Resort

Image credit: @sakurasakulife

Conveniently located near metropolitan Tokyo, Maiko Snow Resort is accessible via the Jōetsu Shinkansen. From Echigo Yuzawa Station, you can catch a free shuttle bus that takes you directly to the resort. If you’re driving, the resort is just 1 minute from the expressway’s exit.

With 9 chair lifts and a gondola servicing the ski area, travellers can easily explore the 3 main areas – Maiko, Nagamine and Okusoechi – and the 26 courses the resort offers.

Image credit: @kanala_.4869

The gondola brings you up to the Okusoechi area, the highest point of the resort which offers the best snow conditions. There, you’ll find a beginner course that runs all the way to the foot of the mountain. Within the area, there are intermediate and advanced courses, as well as several ungroomed runs.

Like most places on our list, it’s worth getting a lift pass to maximise your ski runs. A day pass costs ¥5,500 (~USD39.97) for adults, ¥5,000 (~USD36.34) for junior high and high school students, ¥3,000 (~USD21.80) for elementary school students.

Image credit: Iiji Sansō

Located within the ski area, Iiji Sansō provides a cosy stay for guests planning an overnight trip. A night’s stay at the mountain lodge costs ¥7,810 (~USD56.67) on weekdays, ¥8,910 (~USD64.65) on the eve of public holidays, and ¥9,570 (~USD69.44) during the year-end and New Year holidays. Prices are inclusive of 2 meals.

Maiko Snow Resort
Address: 1819-79 Maiko, Minami Uonuma City, 949-6423 Niigata
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 8.30am-5pm | Sat & Sun 8am-5pm (16th December 2022-2nd April 2023)
Contact: 0257-83-4100 | Maiko Snow Resort website

Iiji Sansō
Address: 2056 Maiko, Minamiuonuma, 949-6423 Niigata
Contact: 0257-83-3338 | Iiji Sansō website

9. GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort

Image credit: @galayuzawa_official

If you’re looking for a quick winter getaway, a 90-minute shinkansen ride from Tokyo will take you straight to GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort. Offering 16 courses and 11 lifts, which include double, triple, and quad lifts, as well as a gondola and ropeway, the scenic resort is impressive in size. 

Image credit: @galayuzawa_official

Tokoites and travellers based in Tokyo should get the 1-day lift ticket, which costs ¥6,000 (~USD43.53) for adults and ¥3,000 (~USD21.77) for children.

Pro tip: JR Tokyo Wide Pass holders are entitled to discounted lift tickets, which cost ¥3,800 (~USD27.57) for adults and ¥1,900 (~USD13.79) for children instead.

Image credit: @galayuzawa_official

GALA Yuzawa is split into 3 parts – Southern, Central, Northern areas. The Southern area comprises mostly intermediate and advanced courses, while its Northern counterpart has intermediate courses. For beginner-friendly routes, the Central area is the place to be.

If the courses at GALA Yuzawa aren’t challenging enough for you, head to the neighbouring Yuzawa Kogen and Ishiuchi Maruyama. Connected via a ropeway and buggy lift, the 3 resorts provide a whopping 48 ski courses where you can ski to your heart’s content.

A joint lift day pass, also known as the Yuzawa Snow Link, is available from ¥6,500-¥7,500 (~USD47.18-USD54.44) for adults and ¥5,000-¥5,500 (~USD36.29-USD39.91) for children.

Echigo Yuzawa Hatago Isen.
Image credit: Tripadvisor Echigoyuzawa Hatago Isen

For easy access to GALA Yuzawa, we recommend booking a stay at Echigo Yuzawa Hatago Isen, which is a 1-minute walk from the west exit of Echigo Yuzawa Station. Prices start from ¥6,600 (~USD47.96) per adult per night, depending on the type of room.

GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort
Address: 1039-2 Kayabira, Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, 949-6101 Niigata
Opening hours: 8am-4.30pm, Daily (17th December 2022-7th May 2023)
Contact: 0257-85-6543 | GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort website

Echigo Yuzawa Hatago Isen
Address: 2455 Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District, 949-6101 Niigata
Contact: 0257-84-3361 | Hatago Isen website

Gifu Prefecture

10. Meiho Resort

Image credit: @meihoresort

Boasting a 5,000m-long course, Meiho Resort is one of the largest ski areas in western Japan, making it the perfect destination for travellers based in areas such as Kyoto and Osaka. The resort’s 1-day lift pass on weekdays costs ¥4,500 (~USD32.69) for adults, ¥3,500 (~USD25.43) for high and middle school students, and ¥2,200 (~USD15.98) for children aged 4 and above.

Image credit: @sbkitsch

There are courses for both beginners and advanced skiers. For the intermediate to advanced skiers, challenge yourself to the tracks with S-curves and steeper slopes, but be on the lookout for bumps as you glide down.

An abundance of hotels and ryokan can be found in the vicinity of Meiho Resort, but Pension Shikisai offers the best location. The humble lodging can be reached via a 5-minute car ride from the resort, and a night’s stay starts at ¥8,000 (~USD58.08) per head.

Meiho Resort
Address: 3447-1 Meiho Okuzumi, Gujo 501-4304 Gifu
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4.30pm | Sat & Sun 7.30am-4.30pm
Contact: 0575-87-2980 | Meiho Resort website

Pension Shikisai
Address: 3447–14 Meihookuzumi, Gujo, 501-4304 Gifu
Contact: 0575-87-2811 | Pension Shikisai website

11. Dynaland

Image credit: @dynaland01

Opened in 1972, Dynaland offers 18 courses that cater to skiers of varying levels. Connected to the adjacent Takasu Snow Park, the ski resort offers a joint ticket that grants you access to 30 ski routes spanning the area.

For adults, the 1-day lift pass costs ¥5,400 (~USD39.06), while tickets for children aged 4-12 are priced at ​​¥2,400 (~USD17.37). With the pass, you can manoeuvre through the ski areas via 8 lifts and 1 gondola.

Image credit: @dynaland01

Unlike other ski resorts, Dynaland has long operating hours, from 6am to 11pm during select periods. In other words, if you plan your visit right, you can make your money’s worth with a 1-day pass and literally ski before the sun rises till well after it sets. 

Image credit: @dynaland01

Another highlight is the Dynaland Firework, which happens 4 times a year. The experience of gliding down snowy slopes while looking at bursts of colourful fireworks dance across the sky is magical, but don’t take our word for it. 

For an overnight stay, consider Dainichisō, a small, homely inn that’s equipped with Japanese-style rooms. Prices start from ¥11,000 (~USD79.59) per guest per night.

Address: 3035-2 Nishi-dong, Takasucho-cho, Gujo-shi, 501-5305 Gifu
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4.30pm | Sat, Sun & Public Holidays 6am-4.30pm (10th December 2022-18th March 2023)
Night opening hours: 6pm-11pm, Daily (29th December 2022-18th March 2023)
Contact: 0575-72-6636 | Dynaland website

Address: 3171 Takasucho Nishibora, Gujo, Gifu 501-5305
Contact: 0575-72-5823 | Dainichisō website

Japan ski resorts besides Niseko

The end of the year also marks the start of the winter sports season. Skiing through the snowy terrain in Japan is something all travellers should not miss out on, so start planning and shortlisting a few ski resorts in Japan that are suited to your level and itinerary. 

All hotel rates and exchange rates listed are accurate at the time of publication.

Check out these articles for more:

Cover image adapted from: Kiroro Resort, @yii_stop, @galayuzawa_official, @hoshinoresorts_tomamu

Ethel Chiang

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