Japan Adventure Travel: Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling & Winter Fun
Home to the majority of Japan’s tallest mountains, deep snow and the greatest number of ski resorts, it’s no surprise that Nagano and Central Japan are all about winter! Blessed with world-class powder, friendly resorts and plenty of winter activities, there’s plenty of reasons to choose Central Japan for your next winter adventure! On this page you will find the following:
For more travel adventures experiences and destinations, see our main ‘Japan Travel Adventure’ page. We hope this information is helpful in planning your next adventure in Japan.
1 / JAPAN SKI RESORTS
Whether you’re headed to Japan for the first time this winter or a seasoned veteran heading back for yet another winter getaway, there’s no end of great resorts to choose from. Boasting over five hundred ski resorts and blessed with an abundance of powder, Japan is Asia’s premier ski and snowboard destination. Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page is the ideal place to start when planning your trip including the latest news, offers and deals for the coming season.
2 / SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
Nagano alone is home to more than eighty ski resorts with more on offer in other regions of Central Japan including Niigata, Gunma and Niigata. Needless to say that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing which resort suits you best. Our ’30 Best Ski Resorts in Japan’ page has our suggestions the best resorts in Nagano, Niigata, Tohoku and Hokkaido while our ‘FAQs & All the Answers!’ page has lots of great tips of which resorts are best for you. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or advanced, looking for the resorts with the best nightlife, backcountry, kids facilities and everything in-between, it’s a great place to get start and choose the resort (or resorts!) best-suited to you.
Depending on the resort you are headed to, you can typically ski and snowboard from mid-December until late-March or into April in a good season. A couple of the higher resorts have longer seasons including Shiga Kogen Ski Resort. As Japan’s highest and largest resort, Shiga Kogen enjoys Nagano’s longest season with areas of the resort usually opening from mid to late-November and remaining open well into April or even early-May.
3 / SNOWMOBILING
Visitors wanting to experience the thrill of snowmobiling while in Central Japan can do so at Shiga Kogen Ski Resort or some of the ski resorts of Hakuba Valley. Snowmobiling experiences are typically led by a certified instructor on their own snowmobile with the group following behind on theirs. You can choose between single ride (by yourself and in control of the snowmobile) or tandem ride (with another person on the same snowmobile). To enjoy single ride, you must be 13 years of age or older and for tandem ride, 6 years of age and older*.
Snowmobiling is typically available from sometime in the second half of December until mid-March (dependent on snow conditions). During that time, our Snow Monkeys & Snowmobiling in Shiga Kogen Tour is a great way to enjoy the thrill of snowmobiling in combination with a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
*Guests aged 6 to 12 must ride with an accompanying adult while guests aged 13 to 17 can ride by themselves but must be accompanied on the tour by a responsible adult.
4 / SNOWSCOOTS & SNOWDRIVES
While you might not of heard of them, ‘snowscoots’ and ‘snowdrives’ are easy devices to learn, allowing visitors of any age to enjoy the snow. Snowscoots involve standing on a split board with a handle while snowdrives are odd devices comprising a seat on a single short ski. Both area easy to use and within one or two attempts you’ll be gliding down the slope and usually getting a lot of reaction from those going past you who may never have them before. Much easier to learn than skiing or snowboarding, snowscoots and snowdrives are great fun for newbies, kids and families, or anyone just wanting to have some fun on the slopes!
Our Snow Monkey & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen Tour operates from December to March and combine a morning of fun in Japan’s largest resort – using snowscoots, snowdrives, sleds, tubes and more – with an early afternoon visit to the nearby Jigokudani Monkey – a great way to enjoy the best of Nagano this winter!
5 / SNOWBIKING
Snowbikes are bicycles fitted-out with fat tyres allowing you to ride on snow. Anyone who can ride a bike can jump on and immediately enjoy the snow, a much easier learning curve than skiing or snowboarding or for those who already know, a fun alternative for a morning or afternoon of exploring a resort. With snow on the ground from December to March, snowbiking can be enjoyed through winter with ski resorts starting to introduce snowbikes to their range of winter activities. Located nearby Iiyama Station and the more famous Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort, Togari Onsen Ski Resort has recently branded itself Japan’s first ‘snowbike park’. The resort itself is small and while it can experience big dumps of snow and offers some decent sidecountry it’s worth setting your expectations when heading there as the location and direction of the resort means that the snow conditions are often poor when compared to Nozawa and other resorts in Nagano. The resort is also small with few facilities nor good accommodation options for international visitors. But if you fancy giving the snowbikes a shot, it’s a good option for a one-day visit.
6 / SNOWSHOEING
Snowshoeing is another way to enjoy the winter landscape of Central and North Japan, although at a notably slower pace than snowmobiling! Renting gear is inexpensive and once on your feet, walking over snow is easy and self-explanatory. Snowshoeing can be typically be enjoyed from the second-half of December until well into April in around the ski resorts, with more intensive snowshoeing available in the higher areas of the mountains from May until July (however this is not recommended for beginners and unless you are adequately experienced).
In terms of leisurely snowshoeing suited to anyone of reasonable fitness, Togakushi and Shiga Kogen are particularly well-suited with rental gear and local guides available at both locations. A great way to enjoy the landscape and hopefully spot some wildlife, snowshoeing is well-suited to anyone wanting an alternative winter activity to skiing and snowboarding, nature enthusiast and photographers.
7 / BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are a registered travel agent, tour and charter operator offering a full-suite of winter services including ski/snowboard packages, accommodation, lift passes, private charters and a range of tours including both group and private options – see our ‘Winters Deals in Nagano’ page for everything on offer this season.
We’re here all year round with experiences, tours and packages available through winter, spring, summer and autumn. For guests wanting to access these destinations in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination in the region. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule.
All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan this winter? Contact us and let’s get planning together!