Updated January 26, 2023

Your Guide to Snowboarding in Japan


Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

Japan is a great country for winter sports, especially snowboarding. 

This isn’t a surprise, of course. After all, Japan is home to the snowiest place on earth: Aomori City. And the country’s beautiful terrain makes for some of the best natural trails you’ll find anywhere.

With over 500 winter resorts, Japan is the place to be if you’re into shredding some of the best powder in the world. It’s got lots of different regions with distinct characteristics, so even the most experienced snowboarders can find a challenge.

And if you’re a beginner, you’ll have no problem finding the right gear and the best spots. Japan’s warm, welcoming culture will accommodate your every need.

In this guide, I’ll share the basics of snowboarding in Japan. You’ll learn all about snowboard culture in Japan and the best places to go. I’ll also give you tips on when you should go and how to keep expenses as low as possible. 

If this will be your first time in Japan, you’re in for a treat. Snowboarding in Japan is a truly unique experience.

In case you didn’t know, Japan is a very popular country for winter sports. People from all over the world come to Japan to see the country’s snowy peaks and enjoy the gorgeous views while cruising down the slopes. You’ll find the best snow here — it’s powdery, light, and untouched.

But that’s not the only thing that makes people keep coming back.

Hundreds of skiing and snowboarding areas span the country, and most of the resorts you’ll find will have an “Onsen” as well. 

What’s an onsen? It’s essentially a hot spring. Onsens are really popular in Japan, especially during winter. Most resorts will provide a chance to relax in the natural hot water, surrounded by the cold winter air.  Truly a magical experience.

But if this will be your first visit to Japan, you might be curious about how cold it will get. Check out our Japan weather guide to find out what to expect from the weather in each month of the year.

If you’re wondering what the winters are like in different regions, you can also check out my Winter in Japan post to learn more.

How Good Is Japan for Snowboarding?


Since Japan has many distinct areas, snowboarding conditions differ from region to region. 

This is actually great for beginners. Many skiing areas in other parts of the world are full of steep slopes that may be daunting for newbies.

But Japan has plenty of beginner-friendly areas where you can cruise in peace. It may even give you extra time to enjoy the views and add to the experience.

Another great reason to pick Japan as your next snowboarding destination is the quality of the powder. As you may know, powder (or “pow” for short) is what snowboarders like to call their favorite type of snow. And Japan has some of the best powder you’ll find anywhere. 

Some regions in Japan have low temperatures for most of the year. This means you don’t always have to travel to mountain tops for snowboarding. You can always find high-quality snow, even at lower altitudes.

Where Are the Best Areas to Snowboard in Japan?

If you’re into winter sports like me, you’re probably always looking for new and exciting locations to put your skills to the test.

We’ll focus on the four most popular areas in Japan for snowboarders. These are Hokkaido, Tohoku, Nagano and Niigata. Even though you’ll find ski resorts at pretty much every place that has snow, these four areas are preferred by snowboarders due to the overall piste and snow quality.

You’ll be glad to know that each area offers a different experience. 

For example, skiing areas around Hokkaido get the most snowfall. If you’re looking for the best snowboarding in Japan, you’ll enjoy visiting the resorts on the northern islands of Hokkaido (Japan’s most northern island). 

Speaking of resorts, let me add that most Japanese ski resorts are quite small — you might be surprised at how small they can be. The reason for this is simple: most resorts are only for snowboarding or skiing. 

If all you’re looking forward to is cruising down the slopes, this won’t bother you much. Since winter vacations are usually on the more expensive side, it might even be refreshing to find snowboarding resorts that are more affordable. However, if you’re looking for that perfect winter vacation, you might want to pick a fancier resort.

The Best Ski Resorts in Japan


As we mentioned above, Japan has many ski and snowboard resorts to choose from.


Hokkaido is considered to be the best place for snowboarding in Japan. The region has one of the highest rates of snowfall, with a record of 60 cm (23.6 inches) in 24 hours. And there are so many great ski resorts to pick from in this area. The best resorts are in the Niseko area. 

Kiroro, a resort located near the city of Sapporo, is one of the best options in Hokkaido. It’s not very popular among foreigners yet and offers a great variety of trails. Other great options in the area are Rusutsu and Sahoro.

Rusutsu is one of the largest ski resorts in Japan, and it has a little something for all winter sports enthusiasts. In addition to the snowboarding and skiing pistes, there’s also an onsen. You can relax in the open-air hot spring pool after a long day of snowboarding.

The Sahoro ski resort is another great option. Just know that there are actually two different hotels inside the resort. If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience with family and kids, you need to reserve a spot at Sahoro Club Med. If you just want to snowboard, on the other hand, you can go to Sahoro Resort Hotel, where locals stay. 


Tohoku is in the northeast of Japan, and it’s a part of Honshu (Japan’s main island). There are 6 prefectures in Tohoku: Iwate, Yamagata, Aomori Miyagi, Fukushima, and Akita.

The best thing about the Tohoku region is that you’ll find the lightest snow here. It’s not a popular area among foreigners, so there are also fewer tourists than in other regions. You’ll get to enjoy large areas of untouched, uncompressed snow all by yourself. 

There are also many onsens in the area. You’ll find many ski resorts with hot spring pools, and some of them are even outside.  The views are beautiful.

If you’re looking for the best views, you can check out Lake Tazawa Ski Resort. Located in the Akita Prefecture, Lake Tazawa is a great sightseeing spot.  It’s perfect for skiing and snowboarding. The trails are not too crowded either, especially on the weekdays.

Another great option in this area is Okushiga Kogen Ski Resort. What’s special about this place is that off-piste snowboarding and skiing are acceptable here. Going off-piste is not permitted in most areas in Japan, but in Okushigga Kogen, you can enjoy the freshest snow without getting in trouble.


Nagano is another region located on the main island of Japan, Honshu. The region has many small ski resorts you’ll like if you want to focus on snowboarding in peace. 

Nagano seems a bit flat compared to surrounding regions, so people assume it isn’t great for shredding powder. In reality, this is far from the truth.

Nagano houses one of the most popular skiing areas in Japan, Hakuba. Hakuba valley hosts many great resorts. The downside is that it can get pretty crowded. Since it’s one of the most popular spots for all winter sports enthusiasts, you have to share the fresh powder with others.

On the upside, you can find all kinds of accommodation options in Hakuba. If you’re feeling fancy, you can make reservations at a nice hotel, but if you are traveling on a budget, you can rent a small lodge. 

One thing to look out for when booking accommodation in Hakuba is the location. Unlike other regions, most trails and slopes in Hakuba are separate from each other. Try to pick a strategic location that doesn’t require much effort to get shredding, and you’ll have a great time in Hakuba.


Niigata is the place to go if you’re looking for the deepest snow. In February of 2022, Niigata received a record-breaking snowfall of about 3.6 meters (12 feet)! Winter sports pretty much started in this region, and there’s clearly a reason for that.

If you’re looking for snowboarding in Japan near Tokyo, Niigata is probably the most accessible option too. In addition, the area is filled to the brim with exciting slopes. The variety is excellent here too. Lots of options to choose from.

In terms of resorts, your best option is the Yuwaza Ski Resort. This resort is the easiest to get to from Tokyo because there’s a train station right inside the resort! It takes about 75 minutes to get here from Tokyo, and since it’s a train ride, it’s hassle-free.

One downside is that Niigata isn’t the best-looking skiing area if you’re a nature enthusiast. Since it’s a highly populated place with many resorts, it’s hard to ignore the man-made structures. If you’re keen on beautiful views, you’re better off looking elsewhere.  But this shouldn’t be a big deal if you just want to snowboard.

Want to learn more about skiing in Japan? Check out this article from Japan Switch.

When is the Best Time for Snowboarding in Japan?


If you’re planning a snowboarding trip to Japan, you’ll be glad to know that the season lasts for a long time. 

Since the country has snowfall for almost 6 months of the year, you don’t need to rush to catch the best quality powder. Besides, picking the right time also depends on what you’re looking for.

Generally, most resorts in Japan are open from December until early April. However, you can find alternatives that are open for longer than that. 

The Hokkaido region is famous for its early snow. Most resorts in other areas will often be pretty much empty during December due to insufficient snowfall, but the snowboarding season starts earlier in Hokkaido. The Kiroro area is your best bet if you plan to go in December. 

Of course, it’s always best to check the snowfall in the region you’re considering to avoid disappointment. Still, you’ll probably enjoy Kiroro in December if you’re a beginner or intermediate-level snowboarder. The amount of snow should be sufficient for on-piste skiing and snowboarding.

The peak season for snowboarding in Japan is from mid-January to late February, but it can sometimes continue until mid-March. It all depends on the weather conditions, of course, but going snowboarding in Japan in March is a generally safe idea if you’re not looking for the deepest snow. 

Late-Season Snowboarding in Japan

If you’re looking to do some cruising in the late-ski seasons, you can plan a trip as late as May. In fact, there are some exceptional areas where the snowfall is so intense that the resorts are inaccessible during December and January.

For instance, in the Mt. Gassan area, the season doesn’t start until late April. The resorts in this area need to be shut down due to extreme weather conditions during the winter. 

Similarly, the Kurodake area in the Hokkaido region also has a very long season. The resort is only closed during January and February, and you can book a trip any other month of the year.

You can check out my post “The best times to visit Japan” if you’re having trouble deciding on the right season.

How Much Does It Cost to Go Snowboarding in Japan?

Winter sports can be costly. 

You have to travel to places with specific weather conditions, the equipment is expensive, and accommodation costs add up fast. Luckily, Japan is an exception to this rule. 

Not only does Japan have some of the best snow in the world, but it also has an inclusive approach to skiing and snowboarding. If you’re on a budget, you’ll be able to rent out the necessary equipment for affordable prices wherever you go.

Plus, Japan has some of the coziest winter resorts in the world. You don’t have to go to a big, luxurious resort to enjoy the fresh, deep powder. Even the smallest resorts will have adequate trails, and some may surprise you. 

Another option is to rent small lodges that are available in most snowboarding areas. These lodges are an excellent option for snowboarding on a budget. Just make sure to book one with a small kitchen so you can cook your own meals and reduce expenses even more. 

If you’re on a budget, avoiding the Rusutsu area is a good idea as there aren’t many affordable options. As an alternative, you can check out the Asahikade area in the Hokkaido region. It’s a great option with lots of small, affordable resorts.  And the powder quality is top-notch.

Final Verdict: Is Snowboarding in Japan Good?

By now, you probably know the answer to this, but yes! Japan is a great place for snowboarding. It has diverse, distinct areas perfect for snow adventures and relaxation. 

It’s a country famous for its snow, so you know you’re in good hands here. You can book a fancy resort and enjoy riding the slopes in style, or you can opt for a small lodge and enjoy a relaxing vacation as you focus on your skills. 

There is snow for over half the year in Japan, so you can plan your travels as you wish. Remember to pick Hokkaido from late November to December to enjoy the earliest snow. Or you can do some late-season snowboarding in the Mt. Gassan area as late as May. 

Japan has many options that will surprise you regardless of where you go. 

It’s a magical country with a vibrant culture and an even more vibrant winter sports scene. Make sure to enjoy your time there, and don’t forget to relax at an Onsen after a long day of snowboarding: it’s the best feeling in the world!


Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.