The Best Places for Winter Sports in Japan

With nearly three quarters of the country’s landmass covered in mountainous terrain, it’s no wonder Japan is home to some of the finest winter getaways in the world. From Gunma to Hokkaido, the Japan Alps to Nagano, Culture Trip takes a look at some of the best places for winter activities in the country.


Niseko is located in central Hokkaido, a region famed for its ski resorts, onsen and apres ski acitivites. Making good use of Niseko Annupuri area’s ample powdery snowfall are four world-class ski resorts. Niseko is extremely popular among international skiers and snowboarders.

Shiga Plateau

The area known as the Shiga Plateau in Nagano Prefecture has nearly two dozen winter resorts on offer. One of these, Yamanouchi (located close to Nagano City), is a town known as an onsen hot spot. As an alternative to skiing, shoeing and boarding, it is also home to a snow monkey park inhabited by the famed red-faced macaques.


As Japan’s largest lake, Tazawako in Akita Prefecture sees its fair share of summertime tourists. But in winter, the region opens up to a whole new world of possibilities. Tazawako Ski Park is the largest winter resort in the area, and is accessible from Tokyo on the Shinkansen.

Mount Teine

Located on the outskirts of Sapporo is Mount Teine, offering a range of skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities. Because of its convenient location, Mount Teine is always crowded in winter, especially on weekends.


Located in Gunma Prefecture, Minakami is anything but a sleepy onsen town. With a reputation for outdoor adventure sport like white-water rafting; it’s also home to the Tanigawadake Ropeway and the only bungee jump from a bridge in the country. Snow sports are concentrated in the areas surrounding Tanigawa, Tenjin and Ichinokura mountains.


The town of Furano is located in Northern Hokkaido, and is one of the nation’s top destinations for winter fun. The slopes cater mainly to beginner and intermediate skiers, so it’s a good place to go if you’re just starting out.