【Updated for 2022】Recommended Ski Resorts, Winter Events, and Foods in Japan: Winter-Exclusive Fun Galore!

Winter in Hokkaido: The Colder the Merrier!

When in Hokkaido, enjoying skiing and snowboarding is a must! Here’s an introduction to Hokkaido’s popular ski resorts:

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort

If you want to casually enjoy skiing or snowboarding in Hokkaido, look no further than the Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort! Accessible from the center of Sapporo via a 60-minute car ride, this resort is ranked highly by skiers for its high-quality snow. It is also equipped with a “snow escalator,” making it an ideal place to practice and for beginners and children to have some relaxing fun. Head south, and you will also find Jozankei Onsen. After getting in some good exercise, take a dip in the hot springs to soothe your tired body.

December 1 to March 31: (Weekdays) 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, (Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays) 8:30 AM-5:00 PM
April 1 to End of season: 9:00 AM-4:30 PM

937 Jozankei, Minami-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido
60 min by car from the center of Sapporo, 90 min by bus from Sapporo Station Bus Terminal

Furano Ski Resort

8:30 AM-Sunset or 4:30 PM (Night ski until 7:30 PM)
*Spring Ski (March 22-May 7) 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Since opening in 1962, this international ski resort has hosted ten FIS Alpine Ski World Cup competitions. It is beloved by many skiers for its pristine powder snow. With 28 different ski courses, skiers of all levels can enjoy skiing or snowboarding on their preferred course! Another attraction is that you can ski while enjoying the vast panoramic view of the Daisetsuzan mountains spreading before your eyes.

Nakagoryo, Furano City, Hokkaido
80 min by bus from Asahikawa Airport

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Head to the major winter event “Sapporo Snow Festival”!

Sapporo Snow Festival, Sapporo’s main winter event, will be hosting its 73rd event in 2023. The Odori Site will showcase five massive snow statues, as well as many others big and small. Among them will be “Citizen Snow Sculptures,” sculptures carefully made by the citizens of Sapporo. Making a snow sculpture is far from easy, and those embodying the remarkable ideas of the sculptors can only be appreciated here at this time of the year. Don’t forget to visit the Susukino Site where you will find an array of majestic ice sculptures!

Access Odori Site (Nishi 1-Chome to Nishi 10-Chome), Susukino Site (Minami 4 jo to Minami 7 jo along Sapporo Ekimae-dori Street)
Business hours February 4, 2023 to February 11, 2023 (8 days)
URL https://www.snowfes.com/english/

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Marvel at the dazzling Shirogane Blue Pond in Biei Town

As the name suggests, this mesmerizing pond attracts many summer tourists for its blue waters. However, the pond freezes in the winter, creating a silver world wrapped in tranquility. There are night illuminations that take place from November to April, inviting you to bask in the magical scenery!

Address Shirogane, Biei Town, Kamikawa County, Hokkaido
Access 20 min by bus from Biei Station on the Dohoku Bus
Business hours November 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023 *Check the Biei Town website for details.
URL https://town.biei.hokkaido.jp/about/event/illuminate.html

Make special memories at the Kamakura Cafe!

Travel 60 minutes by car from Sapporo to Iwamizawa, and you’ll be ready to experience the Kamakura (snow hut) Cafe. Snow hut-making is a traditional winter event enjoyed in many of Japan’s snowy regions. Small, dome-shaped rooms are made out of snow, creating igloo-like huts warm inside. Having a hot cup of coffee inside of one will be an experience of your travel you’ll never forget!

© Iwamizawa Tourism Association
© Iwamizawa Tourism Association

Address Gathering Place: LOG HOTEL THE MAPLELODGE (183 Moyo-cho, Iwamizawa City, Hokkaido)
Access 20 min by car from Iwamizawa City, 60 min by car from Sapporo
Business hours Mid-January to Late February *May be unavailable depending on the condition of the snow
URL https://www.optbookmark.jp/plans/2277

Savor a delicious seafood bowl

If you want to enjoy a generous serving of Hokkaido’s fresh seafood, head to Shihachi Seafood Restaurant’s TANUKI COMICHI location! Their extensive menu of filling seafood bowls includes the extravagant “Three-Color Seafood Bowl of the Day” and the “Shrimp, Crab, and Salmon Roe Hokkai Bowl” at reasonable price.

Address TANUKI COMICHI 1F, 2-5 Minami 2 jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido
Access 5-min walk from Susukino Station
Business hours 11:00 AM-3:00 PM (Last order 2:30 PM), Dinner 4:00 PM-11:00 PM (Last order 10:00 PM)
URL https://www.shihachisengyoten.com/

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Ski Resorts Easily Accessible by Train

Do you ever want to go skiing, but worry about driving on snowy roads or not having enough time for a proper trip? If that sounds like you, we have just the ski resorts for you. These destinations are easily accessible by train and close enough for a day trip from Tokyo!

GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort (Niigata Prefecture)

Hop on the Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and arrive in as quickly as 74 minutes! Since it is directly connected to the GALA Yuzawa Station, you’ll be able to head out to the slopes in no time. Not only are there 16 ski courses that cater to the needs of beginner- to advanced-level skiers, but there are also various other ways to enjoy the snow, including snowmobiles and outdoor saunas.

2022-2023 Season opens on December 17, 2022

1039-2 Kayabira, Yuzawa, Yuzawa Town, Minamiuonuma County, Niigata
Directly connected to GALA Yuzawa Station

Karuizawa Prince Hotel Snow Resort (Nagano Prefecture)

This ski resort can be accessed via a 1-hour train ride on the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station. It offers snow parks for sledding and slopes for beginners, making it an ideal destination for kids and debut skiers. There are also outlet malls and other shopping centers nearby, so you can enjoy both skiing and shopping!

November 3, 2022-December 23, 2022: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM December 24, 2022-April 2, 2023: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

Karuizawa, Karuizawa Town, Kitasaku County, Nagano
10-min walk or 1-min taxi ride from Karuizawa Station

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Ski Resorts Where You Can Enjoy Onsen

The best treat after skiing or snowboarding to your heart’s desire is soaking in a relaxing bath!

Zao Onsen Ski Resort (Yamagata Prefecture)

This ski resort is one of the Tohoku region’s biggest snow resorts. Its best feature is none other than the close-up view of Zao’s frost-covered trees (juhyō) that you can see while skiing or snowboarding. The frost-covered trees are most beautiful around January to February. A strongly acidic sulfur spring, Zao Onsen is also known as the “Springs of Beauty” for its skin-beautifying effects.

2022-2023 Season: Opens December 10, 2022

709-1 Doai, Zao Onsen, Yamagata City, Yamagata
40 min bus ride from JR Yamagata Station to the Zao Onsen Bus Terminal

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort (Nagano Prefecture)

With 44 ski courses and slopes, this ski resort offers a view of the Sea of Japan from the mountain peak on sunny days. Furthermore, the onsen town at the foot of the mountain has 13 open-air baths, so you can go onsen-hopping to refresh both body and soul! Travel just a bit farther to see the wild “snow monkeys” taking a dip at Jigokudani Yen-Koen. You can get a rare glimpse into the lives of Japanese macaques!

November 26, 2022 to May 7, 2023

7653 Toyosato, Nozawa Onsen Town, Shimotakai County, Nagano
10-min walk from Nozawa Onsen Town, Courtesy shuttle bus service also available

Kusatsu Onsen Ski Resort (Gunma Prefecture)

The many courses for beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as the kids’ park, makes this resort highly recommended for families. You can even experience walking on snow with snowshoes! Kusatsu Onsen is one of Japan’s “Three Most Famous Hot Springs,” boasting the largest amount of natural spring water flow in Japan. There are plenty of public bathhouses, bathing facilities for day trips, and footbaths to warm up your feet after a day in the snow. And don’t forget to visit Yubatake, the symbol of Kusatsu Onsen!

2022-2023 Season: Opens December 17, 2022

158 Rinpan, Shirane Kokuyurin, Kusatsu, Kusatsu Town, Agatsuma County, Gunma
3 hours by Shinkansen or bus from Tokyo to Kusatsu Onsen (via Karuizawa)

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The information herein is as of December 2022

Hokkaido Article

Outdoor Article