Fulfil your snow-fuelled dreams at the best ski resorts in Japan, where days are spent carving through deep, fluffy powder and après ski means soaking in an onsen or refuelling with a steaming bowl of ramen.
The Land of the Rising Sun is one of the world’s most loved ski destinations. Japan is home to over 600 world-class resorts, offering everything from high-octane backcountry skiing to family-friendly runs. Combine this with authentic, mouthwatering Japanese fare, incredible off-mountain activities and soul-stirring scenery, and you have all the makings for the ultimate ski escape.
“The snow quality is unbeatable. The cold air and the moisture from the Sea of Japan hit the mountains and drop some of the deepest, lightest, fluffiest powder snow, known as ‘Ja-pow’ (Japan Powder),” says Aaron Corbett, Luxury Escapes’ Senior Partnership & Contracting Manager.
The best way to experience it? Staying in the heart of the action, at a dedicated ski-in, ski-out resort. These resorts are located adjacent to ski lifts or even directly on the slopes, offering the fastest and easiest access to the snow.
“A skier or board rider’s goal is to get first tracks in the morning and draw their own lines without worrying about bumps or divots left from other riders. A ski-in, ski-out resort gets them close to the lift with the ability to check the conditions by looking out at the mountain from their room,” Aaron adds.
Read on for our curated selection of the best ski resorts in Japan.
Ready to explore Japan? Browse our handpicked escapes here.
Yu Kiroro: ski valet service on the slopes
Point your ski poles towards the northern island of Hokkaido to reach Yu Kiroro, a luxe apartment-style stay perfectly set at the bottom of the snow-dusted slopes. Step out of your spacious abode and onto the Gateway Express Gondola to shred your way across unadulterated terrain. Powderhounds flock to the resort to escape the crowds and revel in the 21-metre annual snowfall, while families love the inviting, beginner-friendly runs.
If the location isn’t enough to win you over, the high-end onsite facilities will. Make use of the ski valet service and leave your equipment overnight, then collect your dry, warm gear the next day. Unwind at the indoor and outdoor onsens or the stone sauna, then sink your teeth into traditional fare at Yukashi restaurant.
How to get there: Located within Hokkaido's 'powder triangle,' Yu Kiroro is located approximately a 90-minute drive from New Chitose International Airport (CTS).
Chatrium Niseko Japan: perfect slopes backed by Michelin-star dining
Located in the very heart of Hirafu village – hugged by Mt. Yotei's wickedly steep slopes and Mt. Annapuri's ambling, well-groomed runs – lies one of Japan's most lavish ski-in, ski-out resorts, Chatrium Niseko Japan. Abundant apres-ski and apartment-style luxury abounds in this cutting-edge haven, with four spectacular onsite eateries, including the Michelin-starred Kamimura's exquisite French-Japanese plates. With a round-the-clock supermarket and breathtaking views of some of Hokkaido's most cherished snowscapes, there's no better place to savour Ja-pow aplenty.
How to get there: This luxury alpine retreat is located approximately a two-hour drive from New Chitose International Airport (CTS).
Higashiyama Niseko Village: the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Japan
Welcome to the ultimate skier's paradise: Higashiyama Niseko Village – the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Japan. This intimate retreat delivers harmonious and warming design elements that connect guests with the dramatic landscapes, and offers a blizzard of stunning facilities sure to tempt you away from slopes. Exquisite dining can be found at Yukibana and Sushi Nagi, or you can warm up by the fireplace at Ume Lounge while sipping Japanese whisky and an extensive selection of local and international spirits, wines or beer.
Mt. Yotei and Niseko Annupuri serve as the perfect backdrop for alpine adventures, and the hotel’s enviable location offers direct access to over 70 runs, 30 miles of groomed slopes and more than 12 miles of backcountry skiing for advanced skiers or boarders.
How to get there: This tranquil hideaway is located approximately a two-hour drive from New Chitose International Airport (CTS).
Hinode Hills Niseko Village: advanced runs and dedicated beginner-friendly areas
When it comes to perfect positioning within Hokkaido’s internationally acclaimed alpine mecca, it doesn’t get better than Hinode Hills Niseko Village. This ski-in, ski-out haven brings a discreet touch of contemporary luxury while paying homage to Japanese traditions, and offers a restful respite away from the elements. Each stay is elevated with access to the onsite onsen, fuss-free ski services and warm hospitality at the onsite FORAGE restaurant.
Throw open the curtains of your well-appointed room or suite to check the conditions and wake to scene-stealing views of Mt. Yotei. Choose to take on the challenge of advanced runs or dedicated, beginner-friendly areas across the resort.
How to get there: Tucked away on the northern island of Hokkaido is where you can find Hinode Hills Niseko Village, located approximately a two-hour drive from New Chitose International Airport (CTS).
The Vale Niseko: warm up with an onsen and crackling fireplaces
A host of gentle runs and a thrilling après-ski scene can be found within moments of The Vale Niseko – a sublime ski-in, ski-out oasis set within the bustling village of Hirafu.
Bask in the shadows of the mist-shrouded peaks from the comfort of a cosy resort room, then throw on your warmest waterproof gear, clip in your skis or board and weave your way across acres of irresistible, powdery terrain until the sun goes down. Afterwards, be enveloped by the warm waters of the hotel’s onsite onsen and heated swimming pool or take a seat by the fire in one of the many communal spaces to soak up the impressive scenery.
How to get there: New Chitose International Airport (CTS) is approximately a two-hour drive from the Niseko-located hotel.
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Lotte Arai Resort: home to Myoko’s longest run
The ultra-stylish Lotte Arai Resort packs a punch when it comes to ski-in, ski-out luxury. It’s perfect for devout skiers or boarders – and the proud home of Myoko’s longest run. Get acquainted with abundant off-piste skiing and snowboarding, and tree-top terrain. For an even greater adrenaline fix, make your way up to the ridgeline of Mt Ohgenashi and Mt Kogenashi for an impressive 1,101m vertical descent, or hit the slopes at night for an atmospheric experience. Families and beginners won’t be left out, with private lessons and kids’ group sessions available at the ski school.
Take a break from the slopes to enjoy a flurry of excellent facilities at Lotte Arai Resort, including a soothing onsen, lively karaoke bar, indoor and outdoor pools, plus Japanese, Italian and Western dining options onsite.
How to get there: The resort is located one hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train or less than a two-hour drive from Niigata Airport (KIJ).
Intuition Niseko: apartment luxury
Jaw-dropping views of the magnificent Mt Yotei steal the show at Intuition Niseko – a luxe ski-in, ski-out resort nestled in the forest, that is as serene as it is sleek. Each of the light-drenched apartments will feel like your very own alpine home-away-from-home and the exceptional location ensures you can maximise your time in the great outdoors. The ACE Family Quad Lift is directly opposite the hotel or the complimentary scheduled Hirafu Village lift shuttle bus stop is mere moments away, offering direct access to exceptional skiing, dining and shopping.
How to get there: Blessed with a superb location, the property is centrally located in Hirafu Village in Hokkaido; approximately a two-hour drive from New Chitose International Airport (CTS).
Feature image: Lotte Arai Resort.
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