Japan Snow Report 2022/23: Latest Updates & Everything You Need to Know this Winter
Whether you’ve been before or planning your first winter visit to Japan, you’ve probably know its reputation for lots of resorts, friendly locals, great food, hot springs and of course big, big powder! Boasting some of the best snow conditions in the world, Japan is Asia’s premier skiing and snowboarding destination. If you know then you know and if you don’t well it’s time to find-out for yourself! On this page you will find the following information and links to our many winter resources including:
Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are a registered travel agent, charter and tour operator offering a range of services including ski/snowboard packages, accommodation, lift-passes, transport, tours and more! We’re here throughout the year so you can plan now, book early and save more – so let’s get planning together!
JAPAN SNOW FORECAST 2022/23
No matter the time of year, we always have one eye on winter and can’t wait for the snow to start falling again. Here’s the latest news and updates for this season’s skiing and snowboarding in Japan:
November 15 2021: the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has released an early snow forecast for winter 2021/22. As with all forecasts, it should be read as a best possible prediction based on the current evidence, and as we move into winter, it will be updated and become more accurate. The early forecast for winter 2021/22 is that areas including central and western Honshu – Japan’s main island – can expect below-normal or normal temperatures, while northern Honshu and Hokkaido have a likelihood of normal to above-normal temperatures. This is good news for Nagano and Niigata, which has an increased likelihood of above average snowfall.
This forecast stems from a predicted La Niña event that is forecast to be strong in early winter and may last until the end of the season. La Niña events typically equate to lower than average temperatures and above average snowfall. The forecast shown above has been made for Japan for winter 2021/22. The early stages of winter have a 90% chance of a continuing La Niña event with January and February predicted at 80% and 60%. This is positive news meaning that winter is high likely to start early and with a bang, with a very good chance that we’ll be seeing above average snow fall into January and February and a healthy chance it will continue into March. As we move into winter we will update this page with further information.
NAGANO RESORTS: SNOW TOTALS & RESORT COMPARISONS
Through winter 2022/23, we will update the following table each week. Information is collected from a range including official websites – when available – and other sources to provide the best possible estimation. Please note that we are unable to independently verify the reported totals of each resort and during the early season, complete data may not be available for each resort.
Most resorts have their full / official opening sometime in mid-December. For more information including comparisons of the best Nagano ski resorts, see our ‘Nagano Ski Resorts Comparison’ page.
JAPAN’S SKI & SNOWBOARD REGIONS
With more than 500 resorts to choose from, Japan can be divided into four main regions when it comes to its best ski resorts:
Lying to the north-west of Tokyo, Nagano prefecture boasts the largest number of resorts of any area in Japan – 85 to be exact – and a reputation for having some of the best snow in the world. Among those 85, the resorts of Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Madarao and Hakuba Valley are the most popular. The resorts of Nagano offer Japan’s best mix of terrain, great powder, nightlife and ease of access.
Host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Nagano’s pedigree speaks for itself with more and more international visitors flocking to the region each winter. Easy to reach from Tokyo – not to mention Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka – using the train network allowing you to move around and combine your trip with other destinations.
Recommended Resorts: SHIGA KOGEN SKI RESORT / NOZAWA ONSEN SNOW RESORTS / MADARAO MOUNTAIN RESORT / MYOKO KOGEN SKI RESORTS* / KITA-SHIGA KOGEN SKI RESORTS / TOGAKUSHI SKI RESORT / HAKUBA VALLEY SKI RESORTS.
*Please note, Myoko Kogen is actually located in Niigata Prefecture, however given it close proximity to the resorts of Nagano, it is easiest to consider it part of Nagano rather than with the other other Niigata resorts.
Bordering Nagano Prefecture, Niigata also offers some outstanding boarding and skiing and some of the world’s deepest powder at the resorts of Myoko Kogen including Akakura Onsen/Kanko, Suginohara and Ikenotaira. Lying in close proximity of resorts in Nagano including Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, Myoko is part of Niigata but can be grouped with Nagano in terms of planning your visit.
Lying around 2-hours drive from Myoko Kogen, the resorts in and around Yuzawa are the other major ski area in Niigata. Gala Yuzawa is a popular choice given the ease of access from Tokyo however if you’re headed that direction, we suggest making a little extra effort and heading onto the resorts of Kagura, Naeba or Muikamachi Hakkaisan. Less developed than the resorts of Nagano, Niigata is known for its deep powder – of which there really is a lot!
Recommended Resorts: YUZAWA & NIIGATA SKI RESORTS.
Of the regions listed on this page, Tohoku will be the least familiar to international visitors. Lying to the north of Nagano and Niigata, this expansive region covers the northern prefecture of Japan’s main island – including Fukushima, Yamagata, Miyagi, Akita, Iwate and Aomori Prefectures.
The size of the area and relative distance between its best resorts mean that it can’t compete with Nagano and Hokkaido however a couple of resorts in Tohoku are building big reputations including Bandai, Zao, and Appi Kogen.
Chances are you’ve heard of Hokkaido or its most famous resort, Niseko. Boasting a very long season and some of the best snow in the world, the resorts of Hokkaido are fantastic and for many, offer the best skiing and snowboarding in Asia.
The most distant major ski area from Tokyo, getting to Hokkaido takes a little more effort and isolates you from the rest of the country. This in turn might limit or restrict your further travel around Japan however if your focus is purely diving into some of the world’s best powder, then Hokkaido is fantastic.
Now we’ve got an overview, let’s get into specifics with our suggestion of the:
30 BEST SKI RESORTS IN JAPAN
Boasting more than 500 ski resorts, Japan is the premier winter sports destination in Asia. Spoilt for choice, visitors headed this way can have a hard time choosing which region and resort best-suits what they want. Let us help you with our suggestion of the ’30 Best Ski Resorts in Japan’.
SKI PACKAGES & ACCOMMODATION IN NAGANO
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. For information about all our winter services, click through to our ‘Book With Us! Accommodation, Ski Packages & Recommended Nagano Resorts’ page or jump straight to our accommodation and ski package pages for:
SHIGA KOGEN ACCOMMODATION & SKI PACKAGES
As Japan’s largest and highest ski resort, Shiga Kogen is blessed with Nagano’s longest season and most reliable snow. Accommodation is dotted across the resort’s expansive 600ha of terrain with the nearby hot spring villages of Kanbayashi Onsen, Shibu Onsen and Yudanaka Onsen offering a great alternative for visitors wanting to enjoy Japan’s legendary ‘onsen’ culture – PLAN & BOOK IN SHIGA NOW!
HAKUBA ACCOMMODATION & SKI PACKAGES
The multiple resorts of Hakuba Valley are among Nagano’s most popular, offering a plenty of terrain and the region’s best backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Hakuba boasts the most services for English-speaking visitors and huge range of accommodation including plenty of mid to high-end options, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Always popular, it pays to book early – PLAN & BOOK IN HAKUBA NOW!
NOZAWA ONSEN ACCOMMODATION & SKI PACKAGES
Nozawa offers skiers and snowboarders around 300 hectares of terrain accessible via 36 trails and courses. By Japanese standards this makes Nozawa Onsen a medium-sized resort, ideally-suited to snowboarders and skiers who love its powder and lively village which offers plenty of dining and fun at night. Accommodation ranges from high-end to mid-range ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), Western-style hotels, budget ski lodges and an increasing number of luxury options including self-contained chalets – PLAN & BOOK IN NOZAWA NOW!
BOOK WITH US! TRANSPORT & TOURS IN NAGANO
Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy the region’s many ski resorts and other fantastic destinations and activities.
For guests wanting to access the resorts 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 including from/to Nagano Station and any resort 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 that experience 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.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan this winter? Click on the INQUIRY button below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get planning together!
SKI & SNOWBOARD IN JAPAN FAQs: WHICH RESORT IS BEST FOR YOU?
Got another question about skiing and snowboarding in Japan? Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned veteran of Japan looking for a change of scene, there’s a good chance that if you’re asking a question about skiing and snowboarding here, so too is someone else! Here are some of the most common questions when it comes to skiing and snowboarding in Japan – and of course the answers too.
JAPAN RAIL DEALS: TRAVEL PASSES & DISCOUNTED TICKETS
Many if not most people heading to the ski resorts of Nagano and Niigata do so via Nagano Station and Echigo-Yuzawa Station. Both are serviced by Shinkansen/Bullet Train lines running from Tokyo, making them quick and easy to get to.
Any foreign passport-holder – both international visitors and foreign residents of Japan – is eligible for the ‘Japan Rail (JR) East Pass’ for Nagano & Niigata. Covering 5 days of unlimited use within a 14-day period, the pass includes travel on both the Hokuirku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen lines – a great deal if you’re planning to move between the regions while here.
In addition, JR East offers a 3-Day ‘Welcome Pass’ for foreign passport-holders. The pass covers multiple shinkansen lines and other major train routes – a fantastic deal and great option for getting to and moving around Central Japan.
Japan Rail is currently also offering discounted prices on many train services, including shinkansen lines across the country. With discounts of up to 50% available when purchasing online, our ‘Discount Shinkansen Tickets: How to Buy Online’ page includes an English step-by-step guide of how to purchase tickets online.