Japan is a great place for spring skiing. Due to a combination of heavy snowfall and high mountain ranges, many places in Japan have snow throughout the spring. One area isn’t even open until April because the heavy snowfall makes it inaccessible until then. So if you want good spring skiing conditions, then you can’t go wrong with a visit to Japan.
Here are five spring skiing spots in Japan worth visiting:
Due to the higher latitude and proliferation of high mountains, Hokkaido’s famed powder snow can last up to May. Several of the best spring skiing spots are in Hokkaido. Asahidake and Kurodake may still get some snowfall during spring and the resorts close in May. Kiroro and Sapporo Kokusai have a higher snow base and often have a later closing date than Niseko. Due to the variety of terrain, skiers can select one of the resorts that have the difficulty they prefer.
A good thing about Hokkaido is that there are a lot of amenities available in the various resort towns. A lot of places do cater to English speakers. Niseko is also notable as having good nightlife due to the availability of pubs and bars.
Chosen to host the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Hakuba Valley is one of Japan’s premier skiing destinations. Heavy snowfall in winter and high mountains generally allow resorts to stay open until early May. Just like the resort towns of Hokkaido, there are many resorts, ski trails, and lifts to satisfy skiers. Heli-skiing is also offered at Hakuba Valley. Backcountry skiing is very good in Hakuba Valley.
As a resort destination, traditional Izakaya pubs, bars, hot springs are available for travelers to unwind themselves after a day of skiing. Like Niseko, Hakuba is westernized and many places cater to English speakers.
Shiga Kogen is Japan’s largest ski area and is composed of 21 linked resorts and 600 hectares of skiable terrain. Heavily influenced by Austria, there are many Tyrolean styled guest houses. It hosted several events from the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. The resort is good for intermediate to low-advanced skiers.
While it doesn’t have nightlife like Hakuba or Niseko, it is an accessible resort with plenty of “ski-in, ski-out” accommodations. The famous snow monkey onsen is located nearby, where families of snow monkeys bathe in the soothing waters of the hot spring.
Kagura is located in Niigata prefecture and is composed of three linked areas: Mitsumata, Kagura, and Tashiro. It is also linked to the famous Mount Naeba ski area by the “Dragondola”. The snow conditions here are so good that the Mitsumata area is open to mid or late May. While most of the groomed slopes may not offer much challenge to advanced riders, off-piste, sidecountry, and backcountry skiing is allowed.
Gassan receives so much snowfall that the area is not even accessible until April. However, the conditions may not be friendly to beginners. There is only a pair lift that serves part of the hill and some t-bars. However, the ski area is relatively open with very few trees. Intermediate and advanced skiers go here for the sidecountry and backcountry skiing. If you want late season skiing, Gassan is usually open until July.