Japan is just starting to appear on European skiers’ radars, and with very good reason. The powder is reliable, the resorts run like clockwork, there are hot springs to dip in to and volcanoes to ski on and what’s not to like about après-ski sushi? Even better, there are a mere 600 resorts to choose from on the main island of Honshu and the northerly Hokkaido island, so there’s likely to be somewhere to suit every type of skier. This being Japan there are no particularly budget options, granted, but if you want super original, and Original, skiing, Japan is the place to head.

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Miranda is here to help give you the inside track.

Key Stats

Best Time To Visit

Nov - May

Flight from London London

11:30 hrs

Time Difference

GMT +9 hrs

In terms of specific resorts, it's hard to look beyond Niseko, on the island Hokkaido, which boasts legendarily consistent (and enormous) snow falls, a huge network of lifts and runs across four areas, and easily accessible off piste skiing of a high quality. There's skiing for all standards from beginners through to powderhound pros, and an excellent range of accommodation, restaurants and bars to choose from, making this one of the most civilised ski resorts in the world, let alone Japan. If you ski in Hokkaido, it might be worth swinging by Sapporo, the island's capital and home of the famously good beer.

Back on the main island of Honshu, the snowfall is not quite as freakishly fecund as in Hokkaido, but still pretty outstanding in many of the resorts near the city of Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. Japan's hyper-efficient transport network means you can either stay in Nagano itself and ski different resorts daily, or stay in a resort complete with onsen hot spring town such as Nozawa Onsen, a wonderfully traditional resort that is now twinned with St Anton in Austria. Nozawa is also near the Jigokudani National Park, home of the iconic hot spring bathing snow monkeys. Not something you get in St Anton.

Whichever resort you choose, you can guarantee that the experience will be extraordinary because skiing with a Japanese twist is a deeply civilised affair with good facilities, outstanding restaurants and decent accommodation. The powder and snow monkeys await….

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Original Highlight

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The northern island of Hokkaido is famous for the quality and quantity of its dry powder snow.

Miranda, Original Traveller

Where to stay

Aman spa

Amanemu

On the Japanese island of Honshu, Amanemu is set within the Ise-Shima National Park on the Kii Peninsula. The new Aman Resort boasts spectacular views over Ago Bay and its mesmerising waters are scattered with islets and oyster rafts.

HOSHINOYA_Fuji_terrace

Hoshinoya Fuji

Japan’s first glamping resort, Hoshinoya Fuji is a luxurious hidden gem found overlooking Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji.

four seasons kyoto pond

Four Seasons Kyoto

Superbly located in the historic Higashiyama district, The Four Seasons Hotel in Kyoto is set on a hillside surrounded by lush foliage. With an 800-year-old pond garden situated in the heart of the grounds, the lavish hotel is a peaceful oasis.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Occupying the top 14 floors of Shinjuku Park Tower, Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel is an elegant oasis of space and calm overlooking Tokyo and the Kanto Plain, all the way to – on a clear day - Mount Fuji. Located in the Shinjuku district, the hotel has easy access to downtown.

Hoshinoya Kyoto

Hoshinoya Kyoto

Hoshinoya Kyoto ryokan (traditional inn) is located on the banks of the Ooigawa river in the scenic Arashiyama area on the outskirts of the fascinating city of Kyoto. Devoid of high rise buildings and with its beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge and Tenryuji Temple, this area of Kyoto is a real taste of the old capital.

Iwaso Gardens, Honshu, Japan

Iwaso

Iwaso Ryokan (whose doors first opened in 1830) is situated in Momijidani Park and boasts the same craftsmanship and architecture of many of the islands historical shrines.

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Palace Hotel Tokyo

The Palace Hotel, so named because it overlooks the Imperial Palace gardens, was completely re-built for its 2012 grand opening.

Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan is a luxurious ryokan (traditional inn) located in the grounds of a former Imperial residence in the beautiful Hakone region south of Tokyo.

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

If style, service and skyline views are the requirements, the Mandarin Oriental is the answer. Guests check in on the 38th floor of the Mitsui Tower with panoramic views over the bustling shopping and business district of Nihonbashi.

The Peninsula Tokyo

The Peninsula Tokyo

The Peninsula Tokyo is a five star hotel near the Imperial Palace in the Marunouchi business district with great views across the Tokyo cityscape.

Aman Tokyo

Aman Tokyo

The super chic Aman brand makes its debut in one of the world’s global cities with the opening of Aman Tokyo. Occupying the top six floors of the recently-built Otemachi Tower this five star urban sanctuary sits high above the buzzing metropolis with predictably fantastic views.

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Opened in February 2014, the Ritz-Carlton is a fantastic addition to Kyoto's luxury hotel scene. It's in a great location overlooking the Kamo River, and within walking distance of the downtown shops and restaurants of Kawaramachi, as well as the Gion and Pontocho geisha districts.

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Miranda is our Japan expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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